How Does a Trailer Hitch Coupler Work?

Ever wondered, “how does a trailer hitch coupler work?“. In simple terms, the hitch coupler is a mechanism that links the trailer to the tow van.

It’s the part of the hitch system that pivots around the hitch ball, which makes it possible for a turn and trailer control.

The hitch system comprises the hitch receiver of the van, where the ball Mount fixes, the coupler, the tongue of your trailer, and the safety chains.

This article guides you on how trailer hitch coupler work and the types of hitch coupler latches that work best for you.

how does a trailer hitch coupler work

How Does a Trailer Hitch Coupler Work?

First off, understand the hitch system.

Picture this; at the left is your Land Rover, and at the right is your camp trailer.

Around your bumper, Land-Rover is the hitch receiver welded or bolted to the vehicle. The hitch receiver is where the ball Mount is fixed.

From your camp trailer, you’ll see a straight or Triangular bar welded to your trailer’s frame, known as the trailer tongue.

On the trailer tongue are bolt holes where your hitch coupler is fixed or welded. The hitch coupler latches on the hitch ball connected to your Land Rover for towing and control.

Then the safety chains to ensure your trailer doesn’t fall off the road if the coupler should bounce off the hitch ball.

Parts Of The Hitch Coupler And Their Functions

If you’re wondering, “how does a hitch coupler work?” you should consider the parts of the hitch coupler and their functions.

There are different hitch couplers. Nevertheless, all are similar in operations and have a typical installation part which is:

  • The coupler base: the point that’s bolted on the trailer tongue
  • Ball wedge: a mechanism inside the latch hole that holds the ball in position
  • Coupler lock: There’s always a latch Lock to make sure the ball wedge doesn’t bounce off the ball. A latch Lock can be automatic or manual, depending on the type of hitch coupler you have.

Types of Hitch Couplers/Latches

Though all Hitch couplers perform the same function of latching around the hitch ball for towing and control, their latching modes are unique.

For Preference, below are types of Hitch couplers/Latches with pros and cons.

#1. Trigger Style

The trigger hitch coupler has a trigger at the top. You pull the trigger to unlatch, and you push to latch.


  • Latch won’t fall off while in transit because of the safety pins.
  • Easy to latch


  • Harder to latch and unlatch over time because of iron rust.

#2. Yoke Style

The yoke Style coupler latches like any other Coupler. You have to lift the latch handle, drag it to unlatch, then return and push to Latch. The yoke protects the hitch ball from external interference.


  • The best Protector of the hitch ball


  • Difficulty in usage over time due to iron rust
  • Complicated mechanism

#3. EZ latch

EZ latch is an almost automatic latching mechanism. The EZ Latch, pronounced “Easy Latch,” doesn’t require pulling or pushing anything.

Just have a hitch ball of the right size, and it will automatically unlatch and effortlessly latch on the hitch ball.


  • Super duper easy to use
  • Top-notch Latch won’t fall off when bumped into a pothole
  • Durable, not hardened in the future due to iron rust


  • You have to determine the right ball for the coupler.

#4. Collar Lock Latch

Collar Lock hatch grips like a grizzly bear. You’ll have to remove the safety pin, slide the collar backward and lift the hinge to unlatch. Return the hinge, raise the collar, and put back the Safety pin to latch.


  • Sure-grip, no unnecessary unlatching when in high gravel ride.


  • Harder to latch and unlatch with time due to rust

There are also specialized couplers for heavyweight and special duties such as:

  • Gooseneck couplers: heavyweight duties. Used for the gooseneck hitch ball. Can safely tow from 3000lb up to 30,000 lb.
  • Lunette Rings Couplers: A Lunette ring Coupler is attached to a van through a pintle hook. It’s an ideal tow mechanism on a rough and distant route. The Lunette ring and pintle hook offer the best connection compared to the hitch ball couplers.
  • Lock N roll: this is a heavyweight coupler. It’s made of alloy metal, ideal for off-road trips and overlading. It promises the safest of couplers and is the easiest to use.
  • Brake Actuator Couplers: The brake Actuator Couplers enable you to hold the brake from your tow van, and it gets to the trailer. It’s a heavyweight coupler with an emergency brake mechanism. It’s ideal when your trailer has a brake system installed. You can choose from hydraulic, pneumatic, electrical, and mechanical actuators.


#1. What is a Triangle Coupler?

The triangle coupler, AKA; the A-Frame coupler, looks like a “triangle” or an “A” shape. They are suitable for the 2-inch or 25/16 inches hitch ball. Also, it can tow Weights between 5000 lbs to 15,000 lbs.

#2. Which are the best Hitch Couplers?

Your choice of hitch coupler depends on the weight of your choice trailer and the capacity of your van.

There are lightweight hitch couplers and heavyweight Couplers.

Some lightweight Couplers are collar lock, trigger, EZ Latch, and York-style Couplers. The heavyweight couplers include the gooseneck, lock N roll, and Lunette ring couplers.


The hitch coupler latches on the hitch ball for movement and control. It links your trailer to your van.

Important: the tongue weight of your trailer should be between 10% and 15% of the trailer’s gross weight when you want to tow.

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