When I first got my hitch-mounted rack, I was very enthusiastic. I could finally carry my bikes and get going with my active weekends. However, after only a few miles with the mounted hitch rack, I noticed an annoying rattle. The more I drove the more it became a problem. On bumpy roads, it becomes an even bigger problem. After some research, I have tried and tested a few anti-rattle hitch devices. While all of them are different, they all do the same thing.
An anti-rattle hitch device is mounted on top of the drawbar and lopped underneath the actual hitch of the trailer. Tightened into position, this applies a downward force on the drawbar and on the rack itself. It allows it to stay in a fixed position with no rattle.
The Hitch Clamp Cross Clamp 2” is one of the first anti-rattle hitch silencers I’ve tried. It is very easy to use with a design which is not pretentious and which you can mount yourself. It simply works by eliminating possible wobble and rattle space between the drawbar and the hitch of the trailer. The best part is that it can be easily installed without even removing the hitch or rack.
I’ve also tried the Hitch Clamp – Heavy Duty Hitch Tightener. It can also be installed easily with your 15 or 16” wrench. Based on the same principle, it actually works well with its large bolt which reduces the space between the actual hitch and the drawbar of the bike rack, utility carrier or the trailer hitch. To install it, you first need to place it on the drawbar, which means it cannot be installed while a rack is actually on the hitch.
The StowAway Hitch Tightener is another solution which can be mounted directly on the trailer’s hitch. It works well with its two large bolts and washers which tighten and reduce the rattle between the drawbar and the hitch. This issue can also cause premature wear and it is why the tightened can be recommended, especially with bumpy roads.
Once I saw what is possible in terms of rattle reduction, I was wondering if I can keep the rack on the hitch at all times. But my rack didn’t come with an anti-theft protection and this is why the Softride Quiet Ride Locking Tightening Hitch Pin proves to be a good solution. With an included pin and lock with keys, it was the solution need to eliminate these two problems. It secured the rack against rattle while protecting it against theft. The good news is that the system works with most popular racks as those made by Thule, Yakima or Saris. As with all anti-rattle designs, there are a few questions you might still have for your own trailer.
Why Does My Trailer Hitch Make So Much Noise?
Noise can come from different sources. A hitch-mounted design is basically metal on metal. Unless it is really made to fit perfectly, it will rattle and make noises. Depending on the hitch of your RV, which is typically a 2” hitch, you will need solutions to tackle this noise.
The noise can come from vertical movement, which is typically the case with bumpy roads. But it can also come from lateral movements, which is also caused by a smaller drawbar than the size of the hitch. In many cases, this can be tackled by the rack or trailer’s manufacturer. But if you are experiencing these noises, you also need to know that aside from the discomfort it comes with, it can also lead to a premature wear of the hitch itself.
How to Stop Trailer Hitch From Rattling?
There are a few methods used to minimize or eliminate trailer hitch rattling. The simplest solution is to insert noise-canceling materials into the hitch. These can be made from plastic or rubber. But at the same time, this solution is inefficient as the insertions can move and break off while driving.
It is why the anti-rattle hitch is the best solution for this purpose. It comes to minimize and eliminate rattle. So is it complicated to install?
Depending on the rattle hitch you choose, there are a few considerations to make. The good news is that most designs can be installed by you, with no extra help. The way they work is quite simple, Installed vertically, the apply pressure from the top of the hitch or from the bottom of the hitch by simply closing in and keeping the drawbar closer to the bottom edge of the hitch. This eliminates rattle and it also limits the amount of possible future problems with noise.
Further tips also involve a better weight distribution in the rack. If you are carrying various loads, it is indicated to distribute the weight evenly to reduce pressure points on the rack. In turn, this will also put pressure evenly on the hitch of the RV. Having the load secured and strapped to the rack is also recommended. If your load is jumping up and down, it is likely that you are going to experience rattle in the hitch mount.
How Does the Anti-Rattle Hitch Devices Work?
An anti-rattle device is very easy to use. It comes in a simple metal U shape in most cases. In rare cases, it comes in the shape of a pin which secured the hitch from the sides from the left to the right. A regular U-shaped anti-rattle hitch comes with bolts and washers. It is tightened into position up to the point where there is no more rattle space, even with a heavier load for the hitch to support.
Made from pure metal, these devices are durable and they can handle the large weight. This durability is needed when it comes to keeping the pressure between the drawbar and the hitch. Of course, from time to time, you might also need to re-tighten the bolts of the device. In many cases, this can be done while a rack is mounted.
When you want to secure your own hitch, you need to fully read the instructions. In many cases, you will need a 15-16” wrench and a pair or work gloves to protect your hands. Before tightening the bolts, you need to ensure the washers are in place. Some designs come with two washers in able to further secure the bolts into position and to protect them against damage.
When tightening the bolts on both sides of the U-shaped anti-rattle device, you should always go progressively from one side to another, applying equal pressure on both sides. If you fail to do this, you may still experience rattle as one side will be looser than the other. Furthermore, it is also important to consider these aspects when constantly placing and removing the anti-rattle system in order not to damage it in time. Another pro tip is to use the right wrench to avoid damaging the bolts in time.
What to Look for In An Anti-Rattle Hitch Device?
When you choose an anti-rattle hitch device, you can find various solutions to work with. The standard u-shaped version is a good way to go for its simplicity. Its main advantage comes from the fact that you do not need to remove the drawbar to install it.
Other designs include solutions which are mounted together with the drawing board. But their principles are the same as they apply pressure upwards, limiting the possible movement and rattle in the hitch mechanism. The pin anti-rattle system is one of the lowest profile solutions to consider. It comes as one of the solutions which are used to tighten the hitch from the sides. At the same time, it only uses one pin which is easy to install and remove. In some cases, it comes with an included lock as an extra safety measure. Furthermore, it is also important to consider the options you have when it comes to the type of hitch you have and for your own rack.
If you leave your rack on the car overnight while away from home, an anti-theft design is highly recommended. At the same time, there are plenty of great choices to consider when it comes to the ultimate rattle-reduction and the most important characteristics is given by its materials, which need to last in time. Steel is the first option for this purpose. If you have any bolts, washers or nuts to work with, you also need to ensure they are in good condition.
In some cases, they can become prone to rust, especially if you leave your trailer out in the rain. Snow can also be one of the main causes of stuck rattle hitches. The temperature influences its ease of use. It is why you should simply avoid taking off the anti-rattle hitch early in the morning during the winter. The frost might work against you. It is also recommended to oil the anti-rattle device from time to time, to ensure it works well, especially if used often.
If your hitch is damaged or slightly bent and it can still take a drawbar, a fully adjustable hitch clamp is recommended. For example, the U-shaped hitch clamp comes with adjustability on both sides and you can even try different levels of tightness in this case, to make up for the different shape of the hitch receiver. This is not possible with other types of clamps, such as the pin clamp.
Types of Anti-Rattle Hitch Devices to Consider
Pins, sleeves, and wedges are available for the average hitch. They are crucially important and they represent different designs, although they all have the same purpose in the end.
The pin design is great for its compactness and ease of use. It is often used instead of the pin your rack comes with. It can also be one of the few solutions which are protected against theft with a lock and keys.
The sleeve design or the U-shaped design is a great solution for practicality as it is mounted on most hitches within minutes. It can also be used in addition to a pin-anti rattle design if you are working with heavier loads and if you need the extra help.
The wedges get their name from the hedge between the hitch receiver and the shank. They can be an affordable way of dealing with a rattle.
The efficiency of these systems can differ according to their design and according to how well you have installed them. In some cases, trailer owners even secure the drawbar with one pin anti-rattle system and one sleeve anti-rattle system.
The best trailer hitch tightener is not hard to find. There are many inspiring solutions to consider for your hitch. A quiet hitch can be ensured when you purchase a solution which can be adjusted well and it is why the designs with two bolts such as the U-shaped designs allow for the best custom fit.
Depending on your needs, you can find an anti-rattle hitch device for your own trailer or rack. If you travel for days and you need to protect it against theft, an included lock is the minimum recommended solution for your device. On the other hand, if you take the rack off every day or multiple times per week, the simplicity of the U-shaped anti-rattle device is hard to match.
Such a device to deal with rattle is recommended for bike racks, dirt bike rack, snowboard racks, cargo carriers, and trailer hitches. Being easy to install, they also represent one of the best solutions when it comes to the ultimate freedom as you will not need a mechanic to install it on your hitch. If you own a small car and you want to use the same anti-rattle clamp, you need to ensure the hitch is actually 2” as on most RVs or trailers. Most importantly, an anti-rattle clamp is a safety issue as it considerably reduces distractions to the driver.