Manufacturers Discuss Safety Benefits of Aftermarket Hitches

Jul 16, 2013

Chrysler Group in June announced plans to place Mopar hitches on 1.56 million Jeeps in response to federal regulators’ safety concerns for the ’93-’98 Jeep Grand Cherokees and ’02-’07 Jeep Liberty vehicles in the event of rear-end crashes above 50 miles per hour. The National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) said having the hitch installed on those vehicles will reduce the risk of post-crash fire and fuel leak incidents.

Restyling recently caught up with Larry Sorenson—engineering manager for Humbolt, Kan.-based B&W Trailer Hitches—and Jay Taylor (J.T.) and Jack Kay (J.K)—general manager and vice president of operations for Sumner, Wash.-based Torklift International—for a brief qustion-and-answer session to discuss the vehicle safety benefits of installing an aftermarket hitch.

Restyling (RE): What are some other safety benefits of installing an aftermarket hitch on a vehicle?

Larry Sorenson (L.S.): “Anytime you add structure, if done correctly, it could help in certain crash situations. Adding an aftermarket trailer hitch can, in low-speed crashes or fender benders, help mitigate body damage to a vehicle.”

Jay Taylor (J.T.): “When you are traveling on uneven road conditions or offroad terrain and you happen to bottom out, that hitch can mitigate or prevent damage to the exhaust and the fuel tank.”

Jack Kay (J.K): “When something hits that vehicle, the hitch can act as a barrier to help minimize a collision. Everything else on the rear of a vehicle is like a marshmallow and will accordion, sustaining significant damage upon impact.

“What breaks hitches and kills people every year on the highway is inadequate tongue weight capacity, not necessarily towing capacity. An aftermarket hitch with the proper weight ratings will prevent hitch failure. The consumer must pay attention to tongue weight capacities to make sure it is not being overloaded. A general rule of thumb is the tongue weight is usually 10 percent of the tow-capacity rating on the hitch.”

RE: What safety features do your hitches have compared to other manufacturers’ products?

L.S.: “Receiver hitches don’t traditionally have a lot of bells and whistles. What makes one safer than another would be mostly the design of the structure and how it absorbs an impact. The other important thing would be the strength of the welds and the specifications of the steel it’s made from. B&W purchases only U.S. steel and closely monitors the important specifications of the steel we use for a strength and flexibility combination that provides the best result in both crash situations and everyday fatigue.”

J.K.: “Our SuperHitch Towing Series comes with reinforced hitch-pin locations to prevent damage at common wear points, ultimately preventing hitch failure. Our hitches bolt directly to the vehicle frame, making it one solid unit. They are universal. You can tow anything from a utility trailer to a boat to a travel trailer. Unlike most factory installed or aftermarket receiver hitches that carry minimal weight ratings, SuperHitch capacities are very high so you are only limited by your vehicle’s tow capacity.”

*Top photo courtesy of Chrysler Group