Chevy SSR Forum banner

1 - 20 of 21 Posts

·
Senior Privileged Member
Joined
·
4,100 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I will qualify this post right from the beginning by admitting that I do not know if there is some obscure "standard" for "height of trailer hitch ball from ground", but if there is, our SSRs probably don't meet it!

I installed the SSR hitch bar the other day, and my local U-Haul lady installed the standard ball on it for me (I had "air wrench envy" as she got to use a BIG air wrench and an even BIGGER socket to properly torque it!!).

Then I attached my lightweight aluminum trailer that hauls my motorcycles, and guess what: it's nowhere NEAR level! The front is too high compared to the rear of it.

Now, since that trailer, and every U-Haul trailer I have ever rented, IS level when I attach them to my Mazda Tribute SUV or Ford Escape SUV, I assume that in a reasonably standardizd World, they SHOULD be level when atatched to the SSR!

I did some measuring.

From the ground to the top of the ball on the two SUVs, the distance is about 14.5 inches.

From the ground to the top of the ball on the SSR is 19.5 inches!

Now, I recognize that there is porbably a need for a "range" of acceptable ball height to allow for different vehicle shapes and ride heights, but 5 inches seems a little much.

What's more important is that with a standard drawbar / receiver hitch, you can CHANGE the height of the ball from ground by simply using a drawbar with a different "drop" dimension. Go to any trailering shop or U-Haul store and you'll find drawbars with a wide range of different drop (or if you prefer "rise") heights, so that you can get exactly the height you need to get a perfect level matchup with with vehicle and the trailer tongue.

This perfectly level matchup is pretty important, as any trailering technician will tell you that if your trailer is leaned forward (front end of trailer low compared to back), you have proportionately more weight on the hitch and vehicle than should be there, AND there will be a tendency for the trailer load to move forward. If the trailer is leaning backward (like on our SSRs), you are transferring proportionately more wieght onto the trailer axle and wheels, AND there will be a tendency for the load to try to move backward.

The load wanting to move backward is especially not good for two reasons:

1. If the load is something with wheels (like a motorcycle or ATV), it will be fighting its tiedowns trying to roll backwards, putting a lot of additional load on the tiedowns, and of course leading to catastrophe if it manages to roll off the trailer.

2. If the load manages to shift rearward enough, it creates a HIGHLY unstable situation in which the trailer will first fishtail and then, if conditions are right, break loose of the tow vehicle, or cause the tow vehicle to lose control.

Furthermore, if the trailer happens to be a tandem axle (not likely with a 2500lb or lower trailer, but possible), then the trailer tilting EITHER forward or backward can prevent proper weight distribution between the two axles; one axle will carry much more load than the other, with the amount depending on the suspension design and construction.

Because our SSRs use that custom "only one drop available" (It's actually not even a "drop" but rather a "rise"!!) hitch bar, we apparently cannot make the necessary ball height adjustment to get the correct height. I asked a specialty trailer builder about this yesterday as I was making the appointment to get my wiring connections added, and he admitted that HE ddn't know of any add-on device that would enable us to lower our ball height (The trailer's ball, not ours!) on our SSRs because of the non-standard construction of the SSR bar.

Anybody out there who is smarter about trailering than me or this trailer builder? Is there a solution that we are not seeing?

If not, be careful about renting or buying a trailer to tow behind your SSR. Every U-Haul trailer I have ever rented expects a 14" to 16" height to the top of the ball.

Jim G
 
B

·
Guest
Joined
·
0 Posts
It is just about right for me pulling my bass boat. it is about 2 or 3 inches high in front which I need for the surge brakes not to wear out or get too hot per trailer mfg. of course it weighs about 3200# but it never overheated this summer either.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
407 Posts
i was very concerned about the trailer not being level and in fact didn't use my trailer for many months because of this concern.

i finally used it about a month ago to haul my 900 pound bike on a five plus hour haul and there were no problems. the car handled amazingly well and there did not seem to be any issues whatsoever. i actually posted how happy i was with the results on this site because it was so effortless.

there have been many posts on this site about the beauty of the SSR when trailering so there does not seem to be any problems at all.

rick
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
9,382 Posts
Jim,

You're right about the ball height of the SSR not being adjustable, and the height is probably a bit high for some trailers - but that varies with the design of the trailer.

The unfortunate thing is that unlike the stock receiver system you can't purchase a series of drop hitches - I have a 2, 4 and 6 inch drop, all in 2", plus a 2 5/16 for my car hauler, and can change them in seconds on my Duramax. On my Sonoma, (photo attached) we used a 2" drop. Tried to change the setup to a billet aluminum drop hitch, but the shank was too short for the ball to clear the rear valence.

My intent with the SSR is to remove the entire GM system, and replace it with system designed for the Trailblazer - we will cut and reweld it so it hides behind the license plate, like we did with the Sonoma. The hardest part on the SSR is removing the entire rear panel to slide out the GM receiver and install the new one.

Once completed, it will be a very clean, simple system to use, and will give me the range of height adjustment I want.

Keep in mind if you are towing heavier weight, the problem isn't the SSRs ability to tow the weight - the concern is with the limitations of the cooling system. Should be fine for short hauls, but I wouldn't want to tow mountain passes with a heavy load.

Ray
 

Attachments

·
Original SSR Centerfold
Joined
·
3,147 Posts
JimGnitecki said:
Now, since that trailer, and every U-Haul trailer I have ever rented, IS level when I attach them to my Mazda Tribute SUV or Ford Escape SUV, I assume that in a reasonably standardizd World, they SHOULD be level when atatched to the SSR!

I did some measuring.

From the ground to the top of the ball on the two SUVs, the distance is about 14.5 inches.

From the ground to the top of the ball on the SSR is 19.5 inches!

Jim G
from the Uhaul towing site:

Ball height
Measurement from the ground to the center of the hitch ball or hitch ball coupling (trailer) when parked on a flat surface and parallel to the ground. Used to determine the amount of drop or rise needed in the ball mount to make the trailer ride parallel to the ground when being towed. The maximum recommended hitch ball height for U-Haul trailers is 25" from the ground measured to the center of the hitch ball.

SSR is well under their max height.
 

·
Senior Privileged Member
Joined
·
4,100 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Wow, I didn' t realize they were engineered to handle that amount of height variation! That is incredible!

Jim G
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
102 Posts
I have been towing various lenght, weight and single - triple axle trailers for many years and NOT being able to adjust the ball height is a major problem for several reasons and the larger and heavier the trailer the more serious the issue is:

1) With any multiple axle trailer it's vital that the trailer sit level in order for each axle and spring assembly to work properly and spread the load evenly as designed. If this is not done the trailer ride suffers and likely damage to the axle(s) and spring attachment points, especially with leaf springs and conventional spring shackle attachments. In severe cases you will bend or break attachment points and or spring shackles.

2) A trailer that sits too high in the front can cause too low of a tongue weight thereby causing dangerous trailer sway at highway speeds. The absolute suggest ratio is 10% (15% more ideal) of the total trailer and load weight be on the tongue to not cause sway problems.

I have other heavy duty tow vehicles so I won't be towing with my SSR but any qualified hitch shop can modify the stock Chevy ball mount to create a larger drop and weld and brace it accordingly to make it more than adequate for the towing limit of the SSR. I checked with a local shop that we have had many custom ball mounts and weight distributing hitches made for our needs for other vehicles and they said "anything can be done by a properly qualified shop". They suggested getting another or second ball mount from Chevy for anyone who will be towing with their SSR so they can have a modified unit set at the more "average" ball height of 18" and a stock unit in case they need the higher stock ball height. It's higher than 90% of all trailer manufactures designs so it is pretty clear Chevy just missed the mark on their design or compromised some to get the "look" they wanted with the mount that comes stock.

Finally, the SSR has more than enough power to tow very heavy loads but the frame, transmission and cooling components are NOT designed for true heavy duty use. Keep your total loads under the suggested maximum stated in the owner's manual to be safe. Nothing is harder on a vehicle than towing a trailer. I have done it for years with 800 pound trailer up to 10,000 pound trailers and have worn out our share of vehicles towing near their designed limits.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
85 Posts
So if one wanted to tow on a trailer a vehicle that weighed approx 3100 LBS from Bowling Green Kentucky to Southern California would it be ok or you would advise against it? The SSR would be a six speed if that mattered.
 

·
Senior Privileged Member
Joined
·
4,100 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Ticketbait: I think hpdjv's opinion is much more qualified than mine, but I7d point out the following:

- A manual is less vulnerable than an automatic to overheating (good). The life of an automatic is pretty directly related to the average and highest temperatures it runs at.

- Manual transmissions are not in general recommended for towing, as you don't have the torque multiplication of the torque converter and the starts from a dead stop are hard on the clutch (bad)

- The manual transmission we are talking about was NOT designed for towing. It was designed for higher rpm / lower torque requirements use in a much lighter weight vehicle (most Tremec equipped vehicles are 3000 to 3500 lb) (bad)

- Since you are above the recommended weight range for the trailer, you are stressing and heating the brakes (bad) and you will definitely have much longer stopping distances (bad). On long downhills, you are going to have to be VERY careful, using engine braking versus brakes when possible. Premature brake disk warpage is likely (bad)

- I'm sure the hitch bar design has SOME overengineering in it, but you ARE going to need to run 25% more hitch weight than GM thinks you are going to run, and that's bad

- Since you are towing a trailer 25% heavier than the manufacturer's recommended limit, if you do have an accident, regardless of apparent rules of the road fault, your doing so will automatically shift at least a portion of the legal responsibility to you (bad), and if the accident results were grevious, a police officer or victim's attorney could make this sound like "reckless disregard".

Don't overlook what COULD happen. When I was just 17, with only a year's driving experience, I would often help my dad by driving his car with attached trailer in his contracting business. One day, he overloaded the trailer with bricks that weighed more than he had stopped to calculate. I was driving at 35 miles per hour across a bridge so no evasion paths.

A dozy pedestrian literally walked into the path of my car/trailer combo. I hit the brakes hard, AND NOT ENOUGH HAPPENED. I blared the horn, she finally figured out what was going on, and made a last second dash for the curb with her groceries. I barely missed her.

I have never forgotten that incident, and what it might have done to her and to me. My dad NEVER overloaded the trailer again.

Be very, very careful if you do this.

Jim G
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
85 Posts
Well I counted seven bads vs, 1 good in JimGnitecki response. I think I'll come up with another way to haul a vehicle rather than chance the SSR. Many good points made by everyone.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
102 Posts
TicketBait said:
So if one wanted to tow on a trailer a vehicle that weighed approx 3100 LBS from Bowling Green Kentucky to Southern California would it be ok or you would advise against it? The SSR would be a six speed if that mattered.
As I mentioned above I do have lots of towing experience and I can say NOTHING good ever happens when you pull more weight than ANY vehicle is designed or rated for. You mentioned a 3,100 pound vehicle but don't forget the trailer weight. Any safe and decent trailer that can carry 3,100 pounds likely weight another 1,000 pounds (if alum) or as much as 2,000 (if stee). That's WAY over the limits suggested for our SSR's and given the distance you have in mind I personally wouldn't advise doing so. :nono As so appropriately pointed out in another post, anything can happen so why risk damage to your SSR at best or injuring yourself or other at worst.

Hope this helps.

Del
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
347 Posts
There are ways around the hitch height. I am not recomending anyone do this, this was just my solution. I have lowered my car 5" in the rear so my problem was the opposit of yours. My ball height is 20" on my trailers. It worked out I needed to raise my ball on my hitch 2". I removed my reciever from the the truck, cut the reciever apart removing the center where the hitch goes in and raised it 2" and welded everything back together now my trailer is level. Your trailer must be level to tow properly with the correct tounge weight!
If you are wondering how I had clearence to raise my hitch without hitting my bumper is 4" shorter than stock. Maybe this will give new ideas for hitch problems. My 2 cents
Ken
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
178 Posts
trailer height

another way to adjust height is to put larger diameter wheels on your trailer. a lot of small trailers have wheel diameters of less than 13". the bigger the wheels, the higher the trailer sits off the ground.


comley 04 redline red #3703 :jester
 

·
SSR Pit Crew
Joined
·
1,742 Posts
Ken Thurm said:
We only work half days if you are interesred, 12 hours!

Ah, you must be on the metric system!

Work 7, and then off 3?....................... (Hours that is!)
:jester
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
615 Posts
Some people THINK to much. Having trailered for probably a Million miles (Pickup Truck and trailer(Goose and Tag-a-long). No Trailer, has set level, there are too many variables. I do want over level tong weigh in other words, at least 60% resting on the receiver. Otherwise, you are in for one bouncy and noisy ride.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
17,317 Posts
nothing quite like doing a follow up on a conversation nearly 3 years old. :lol
 
1 - 20 of 21 Posts
Top