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Major rust hidden on OEM hitches - check yours

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  • Major rust hidden on OEM hitches - check yours

    Here are pictures of a 2004 Escalade hitch, largely hidden under the rear bumper, after several years of rust. The hitch rusted from the inside out and outside in. I had a similar issue with a 2001 Yukon a few years back. Please check your original equipment hitches and replace if any sign of rust shows. The $ 200 investment could save your horses and / or prevent one heck of an accident. It is very difficult to see all the sand, muck and salt that collects in and around the hitch.

  • #2
    Wow that's scary. I'm sure a lot of us don't even think about that possibility. I had my trailer inspected yesterday but there was a problem with the lights - turns out it was a corrosion issue on my truck's wiring (2008, 193K miles, I'm the original owner) - the trailer people were under my truck working on it and were able to check things out. I also had the dealership check it out underneath last month before they put new front brakes on it - told them to look for serious rusting issues (before I put money into it). So far things look okay.

    Thanks for posting this!
    "When a horse greets you with a nicker & regards you with a large & liquid eye, the question of where you want to be & what you want to do has been answered." CANTER New England

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    • #3
      So a 14 year old vehicle has severe rust and that is...surprising? Are OEM hitches supposed to somehow be corrosion-proof but aftermarket ones are not?

      my 2002 Yukon looked factory new underneath because it was properly taken care of. I don't think that rust on old vehicles is exactly headline news.
      Originally posted by PeanutButterPony
      you can shackle your pony to a lawn chair at the show...so long as its in a conservative color.

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      • Original Poster

        #4
        Just read your response soloudinhere. A horse trailer with horse(s) detaching from a rusted hitch would be headline news. My post was simply to bring attention to a possible issue some folks may otherwise not think about. I don't expect any hitch to last forever - OEM or aftermarket. You are correct; based on where you drive and how you take care of your vehicle this may not be an issue. Safe travels.

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        • #5
          Jeez...I don't know what's up with that response...

          Horse Husband - 2013, thank you for the reminder! You may have just saved someone from a lot of heartache!

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          • #6
            Originally posted by soloudinhere View Post
            So a 14 year old vehicle has severe rust and that is...surprising? Are OEM hitches supposed to somehow be corrosion-proof but aftermarket ones are not?

            my 2002 Yukon looked factory new underneath because it was properly taken care of. I don't think that rust on old vehicles is exactly headline news.
            Wow that's crotchety.

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            • #7
              Thanks Horse Husband - 2013 for posting.

              I was actually going to post a couple of months ago about the failure of the hitch on our 2003 Chevy 2500 as a PSA to check your hitches on older vehicles but decided not to because I figured in typical CoTH fashion somebody would respond essentially saying "well what do you expect with an older vehicle?"

              I'm grateful that this happened when hauling gravel rather than the horses.


              Image may contain: outdoor

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              • #8
                My husband normally checks out our truck and horse trailer in the spring but man I am glad my state (PA) requires inspections of both the truck and trailer each year. I know that it is getting a good going over. The place that inspects my truck also does my trailer so they know I tow horses.
                There is a trailer place near me that has a bit of a reputation of just slapping a new sticker on the trailer and not actually inspecting it. I want that sucker inspected.
                Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community. (Tidy Rabbit)

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                • #9
                  Third, fourth, and fifth checking your hitch in your truck! It's not something that we think about, but it's always worth checking! So glad to read that all of these accidents were with empty trailers or close to home.

                  Several years ago when our very well maintained 1997 Chevy 3500 was still towing safe we had a similar issue. I don't tow as much in the winter and once spring rolled around I did the daily rounds and discovered that over the winter the mounting bracket that connects the tow bar (that the hitch is connected to) to the frame had somehow cracked in half on one side. I personally suspect it happened when an outside family member borrowed the truck to haul his Skidsteer home in an emergency - but who knows.. No way it could have happened hauling horses as we've always been well under limit, and it wasn't a corrosion issue. Anyway, you'd never think a solid hunk of metal would crack the way this did. Luckily another member of the family is a welder and he fixed it, but I don't use it to haul horses anymore.

                  For those that aren't sure what to look for - haul the trailer to an inspection and ask one of the workers to show you so going forward you know what to look for. Look for corrosion in areas around bolts, and welding points. Look for any sort of rust similar to OP's pictures across the bar -- and look to make sure that the brackets (pictured in Leather's post) are "sound" - the holes are not worn through with no bolts, no cracks along the surface, and bolts all intact. You will need a headlamp or a flashlight, and a saddle-pad or blanket under you while you do so for comfort. This check up takes all of two minutes but as we know, better safe than sorry.
                  AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012

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                  • #10
                    Thank you! The pictures really "made it real" and gave me a sense of what to look for. I'll crawl under my 2001 truck tomorrow. She spent her formative years in the rust belt.
                    The armchair saddler
                    Politically Pro-Cat

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                    • #11
                      Huh?! I can't believe they look that bad. I have a 1999 Ford Ranger that I used to haul my 2 horse trailer with. I bet if i crawl under there, it's just fine. That truck is still running strong. That's rather disturbing that people are having these problems. Makes you wonder what is going on and where car manufacturers get their parts from.

                      Someone posted a picture of their hitch on Facebook. The hitch itself, not the ball, snapped and it was only a few months old.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by 4horses View Post
                        Huh?! I can't believe they look that bad. I have a 1999 Ford Ranger that I used to haul my 2 horse trailer with. I bet if i crawl under there, it's just fine. That truck is still running strong. That's rather disturbing that people are having these problems. Makes you wonder what is going on and where car manufacturers get their parts from.

                        Someone posted a picture of their hitch on Facebook. The hitch itself, not the ball, snapped and it was only a few months old.
                        Rust happens. When was the last time you actually checked under your Ranger? My truck is closing in on 12 years old and it runs fine too (213k miles) but it has rust - nothing like photos above but it's still there. It gets checked on a regular basis.

                        You really should check yours. Sooner rather than later.
                        "When a horse greets you with a nicker & regards you with a large & liquid eye, the question of where you want to be & what you want to do has been answered." CANTER New England

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by 4horses View Post
                          Huh?! I can't believe they look that bad. I have a 1999 Ford Ranger that I used to haul my 2 horse trailer with. I bet if i crawl under there, it's just fine. That truck is still running strong. That's rather disturbing that people are having these problems. Makes you wonder what is going on and where car manufacturers get their parts from.

                          Someone posted a picture of their hitch on Facebook. The hitch itself, not the ball, snapped and it was only a few months old.
                          When I sold my 2001 Silverado the engine was running strong but it was literally rusting to pieces. I had the hitch inspected every year but interior rust that was hidden caused part of the frame to break, leaving my hitch attached to essentially a tiny strip of metal. I had it welded and repaired, hauled for another month, and then traded it on a newer vehicle. Unless you put it up on a lift you never would have known, and the dealer I traded it to basically bought it for the motor.
                          http://weanieeventer.blogspot.com/

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                          • #14
                            I checked my 99 Ranger. It's just fine, thank you. But perhaps it is because while I live in wet humid Florida, we don't have salt on the roads in the winter.

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                            • #15
                              Thanks for the PSA. I checked mine on my 2003 truck over the weekend. All is well, but I don’t know that I ever would’ve thought to check without this post.
                              "We need a pinned ears icon." -MysticOakRanch

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                              • #16
                                I dont know how some of these OEM hitches get their class rating because I would never consider mine a class IV, which is what its rated as.

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                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by endlessclimb View Post
                                  I dont know how some of these OEM hitches get their class rating because I would never consider mine a class IV, which is what its rated as.
                                  This is exactly what my husband was wondering when he was looking for a replacement hitch. Who knows if the rating system has changed in the last 15 years, but he said that the factory hitch was nothing compared to the aftermarkets he found. The factory was more like a current Class III.

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                                  • #18
                                    All y'all who posted pictures-- thank you again! I crawled under my 2001 truck and looked and felt around. It really helped me to have actual pictures of that terminal metal cancer so that I had a clear idea in my mind of what BAD looked like. Great thread!
                                    The armchair saddler
                                    Politically Pro-Cat

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