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Discussion Starter #1
I have a Raw-tite hitch on my MDX and need to get the tongue and ball that go into it. I will be towing only general purpose trailers (friends/rentals) for now, so I am looking for advice on the length and style of tongue. The ball doesn't matter too much (bought a 1 3/4" and 2" to have), more wondering about how far it should go out from the back bumper and whether I need to get one that steps down for an average utility trailer. My mechanic guessed around 18" but I was looking for what others had used.

Thanks.
 

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sneville said:
I have a Raw-tite hitch on my MDX and need to get the tongue and ball that go into it. I will be towing only general purpose trailers (friends/rentals) for now, so I am looking for advice on the length and style of tongue. The ball doesn't matter too much (bought a 1 3/4" and 2" to have), more wondering about how far it should go out from the back bumper and whether I need to get one that steps down for an average utility trailer. My mechanic guessed around 18" but I was looking for what others had used.

Thanks.
Here's my take on it.

Your ball height is determined by the tongue height of the trailer you will be towing. If you don't know what trailer you will be using, wait until you actually identify the specific trailer, then pick out a draw bar with an appropriate drop and have the ball mounted in about 5 minutes (the trailer people can help you with draw bar selection). The idea is that you want the unloaded trailer to be level or just slightly nose up, assuming that with the 60% forward cargo weight (forward of the manufacturer's marked center line, not necessarily the trailer axle) will cause the fully loaded trailer to then have a slightly nose down angle. Why would you want a slightly nose down angle? If you cargo is strapped or mounted tightly, it doesn't matter, but habit of practice is that there may come a time of unintended shifting of weight, and it is preferable that the items shift forward in the trailer, rather than rearward, which would create negative tongue pressure and lift the rear vehicle axle, causing uncontrollable fishtailing. This happened to a friend of mine transporting plants interstate. After the frightning incident he moved more weight to the front and strapped down the items to prevent them from shifting to the rear again and all became well. People who rent different types of trailers will often end up with a whole selection of draw bars of varying drop heights in their garage. I'm up to 3 now. The one I use most often is the shortest 2" drop, mounted up side down, so that its actually a 2" lift. The MDX hitch actually sits lower to the ground than any body-on-frame truck/suv. As such, its not likely that you will ever need to use a drop, but a lift instead. Lastly, I recommended you choose a bar with a longer extension, as it will provide more clearance between you and the trailer, or objects extending forward of the trailer, when you make sharp turns - especially when backing up. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks! That helps a lot.

Does it matter how long the draw bar is (as in can it be too long)? I picked up a 3" drop/2" rise bar which is 10"... how much longer would you recommend going? I realize that, like you say, it depends on the trailer, etc, but my mechanic was suggesting longer as well and I wasn't sure what was reasonable or not.
 

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The Aura OEM draw bar is 6-1/2 inches, but I felt that was too short and am satisfied using the 10.5" variations I bought. I don't think anyone manufactures a draw bar that is so long that it would be unsafe, it would just look dorky. Remember to grease your ball before use with a light coat of heavy duty axle grease, and either place a ball cap over it or wrap it with a plastic bag before storing it, to prevent the grease from getting on everything. Unless you have a Generation II hitch with a double pin hole, the clanking noise from play in the hitch/bar assembly may be annoying. I use a threaded and locking hitch pin from Yakima to bolt the draw bar tightly against the inside of the hitch receiver. I'm sure your local trailer supply shop or U-haul will have similar products to tighten the drawbar to the hitch. To avoid anxiety that comes from last minute planning, you may want to keep the drawbar and trailer harness adapter in the storage compartment, allowing you to make an immediate decision to pick up the only trailer available as you are driving home from work.
 
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