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Old 04-15-2014, 03:32 AM   #1
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Reese Hitch Failure?

So, a friend of ours sent us bad news about Reese hitches failing.
http://www.rv.net/forum/index.cfm/fu...d/27647785.cfm

This is what was stated:
"I've read many threads that dropped trailers are a result of operator error. I believe that, but I've now come to believe that equipment can and do fail from time to time. I have a Reese Pro Series 20K hitch that I use to tow my 37ft Keystone Raptor. Both trailer and truck are within manufacturer specs; pin weight, rear axle weight, GVWR, you name it...I'm in compliance because I've weighed everything on Black Cat scales.

So here's what happened:

I hitch up, raise the landing gear and visually check hitch and pin. I note the hitch jaws correctly wrapped around the kingpin. I engage the latch and lock with a Reese small brass pad lock. During my visual inspection I note the pin is not "pin high," I plug in my trailer electrical cable and close the tailgate. I shake the gate; it's secure and I ask my wife to double check the pin and hitch. She does, gives me the thumbs up and we both jump in the cab. I release the parking brake, grab the brake controller and pinch lever to full close; thus fully engaging trailer brakes and give the truck a little fuel. The truck moves forward, and I get the familiar "clunk" of the kingpin tapping the rear of the hitch jaws. Test complete!

I engage the "tow mode button" on my 2011 GMC Sierra 2500HD Duramax 6.6, press the exhaust brake button and say to the family..."and they're off!"

I roll up 25ft, say "standby for brake test" and conduct brake test. Trailer breaks engage, we again fell the familiar lurch of brakes engaging and the "clunk" and I say "brake check complete: sat."

I roll up our street, stop at a stop sign and begin my familiar left turn at the top of the hill that I have made a gizzlion times and BAMMM! The kingpin separates from the hitch and the trailer falls on my bed rails! I immediately stop, place truck in park, engage parking brake and hop out of the cab.

I see the trailer resting on my truck bed side rails and think I screwed this up, but every one is ok. I'm in the middle of the intersection in the midst of left turn and I note the safety latch, padlock and jaws are closed and intact. I look at the pin box and kingpin and I see no damage and no failure. Immediately, I think I did something wrong and I caused this. I even mentioned this to my wife who is watching with a horrified look on her face. I lower the landing gear on the trailer so that pin box and pin clear the tailgate of the truck, by the way - has been severely dented and bowed, so that I now cannot drop the tailgate. I disconnect the pad lock, throw back the latch, pull on the jaw release lever and the jaws spring open. I realize that I need to clear the intersection, so I maneuver the truck to place the hitch directly under the pin box and lower the kingpin back in the hitch. I close the hitch jaws by the jaw lever and note the jaws close around the pin box. I note about a 1/2 inch gap between the jaws! I raise the landing gear and manage to get the trailer back home after I make another left turn to arrive home in less than 3 minutes.

After closer inspection and after many jaw lever actuations, the jaws never fully close leaving a 1/2 gap between jaws, even with the safety latch engaged and pad lock in place. I surmise the cause of the accident was that the jaws never fully closed creating a very loose gap around the kingpin and the left turn on the hill as the truck rolled down while the trailer pitched up, gave the kingpin the perfect path to release."


We had a Reese 25 Elite installed by the RV dealer as part of the package.

Have any of you had a situation like this happen to you? or to anyone you know? I keep telling my hubby that we need to compare "apples to apples", and not rely on what happened to a certain individual ESPECIALLY since I cannot find another instance of the hitch failing in internet searches.

Thoughts? Should we be concerned?

Thanks,
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Old 04-15-2014, 04:57 AM   #2
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I have the same hitch as you. If you look at the hitch, the jaw is one piece that curves around and locks the pin. I think the hitch that was referred to above is the style that has two jaws that cone in from the sides.

I don't see any way it could release when properly locked with the pin.
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Old 04-15-2014, 01:50 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by piper guy View Post
I have the same hitch as you. If you look at the hitch, the jaw is one piece that curves around and locks the pin. I think the hitch that was referred to above is the style that has two jaws that cone in from the sides.

I don't see any way it could release when properly locked with the pin.
Thanks, appreciate your input!
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Old 04-15-2014, 02:13 PM   #4
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We have a signature series Reese hitch which I believe has a similar jaw mechanism to your hitch. I had some difficulty getting the jaw to "trip" when hitching up until I re-read the instructions to have the head at a slight angle so the trailer pin goes slightly uphill when it enters the hitch head. If you don't do this the jaw won't trip, I had to bang on the handle to get a trip.

Once I changed the procedure the jaw trips and locks every time. I always thought that having the hitch and trailer pin perfectly at the same level was best but this doesn't work with the Reese.
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Old 04-15-2014, 03:01 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by almcc View Post
We have a signature series Reese hitch which I believe has a similar jaw mechanism to your hitch. I had some difficulty getting the jaw to "trip" when hitching up until I re-read the instructions to have the head at a slight angle so the trailer pin goes slightly uphill when it enters the hitch head. If you don't do this the jaw won't trip, I had to bang on the handle to get a trip.

Once I changed the procedure the jaw trips and locks every time. I always thought that having the hitch and trailer pin perfectly at the same level was best but this doesn't work with the Reese.
X2! That's exactly how we hook up. My problem is unhooking. The arm often doesn't want to release. Have to find the sweet spot by pulling forward after backing and raise our 36RL just above the hitch plate before I can get it to open.
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Old 04-15-2014, 03:16 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Adamsvr View Post
X2! That's exactly how we hook up. My problem is unhooking. The arm often doesn't want to release. Have to find the sweet spot by pulling forward after backing and raise our 36RL just above the hitch plate before I can get it to open.
Yes, we've seen this as well. I attribute it to the higher speed at which the hydraulics lifts the trailer compared to the electric jacks on other RVs (you can lift too high and force the bottom lip of the pin groove against the hitch jaw preventing the release). Also, if the campsite is on an angle the pin is sometimes hard against the jaw. I find that most times putting the truck in neutral from park (then back into park!) after I set the front landing gear solves the problem.
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Old 04-15-2014, 04:07 PM   #7
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You have to keep reading that thread, the general thought that something was missed, even tho the poster says there wasn't.
Another thought was that during their tight left hand turn, the underside of the 5er hit the release handle and caused a release.
Most of the other posters agree that if properly hitched there is no way to come apart.
Plus read closer, in the beginning the OP says the jaws were closed, then later says there was a 1/2" gap in the jaws, so which is it.
For me, I'm not going to loose any sleep over such a post.
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Old 04-15-2014, 04:22 PM   #8
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Anything man-made can fail.... especially if man is involved in the use of it

You do your best, and buy insurance for the rest !

After many times, I can tell from the sound when I back into the hitch that it's latched, but I still go back and STARE at my superglide hitch jaws and pin every time I hitch up,

even using a bright flashlight in the middle of the day to ensure it LOOKS ok!

even been known to paint the pin or jaws so I can more easily see the wrap around jaws

but this comes from years ago dropping my first 5er on the bed pulling up the hill from my storage area
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Old 04-15-2014, 04:29 PM   #9
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It looks like the "Pro Series" 20K actually had jaws rather than the locking bar or wrap-around, but Reese confuses me with all the different models most of the time.

http://www.amazon.com/Reese-30120-Se...20k+pro+series
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Old 04-15-2014, 04:31 PM   #10
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Me neither Michelle, I have the Reese Elite 18K that I installed myself. One day, I hit a bridge seam that the recoil practically pulled the dualies' rear wheels off the ground, but the removable hitch stayed locked down & jaws closed. I have total confidence in their products.

BTW, I thought that story was written a little too "cutesy" to be a "this could happen to you..." warning. I would use the same style if I was trying to CMA.
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Old 04-15-2014, 10:32 PM   #11
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Well, I for one am relieved! Thanks for all of your posts, observations and experiences.

I too, thought it was ironic that the pin had to be lower than what you would think it should be for the clamp to engage. I thought for sure we were going to ruin it, but it just slides right up into it and clamps right in! In fact, when we try to disengage and pull the truck out, it actually wants to clamp itself back in again!
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Old 04-15-2014, 11:16 PM   #12
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As I mentioned above, I've got the 25k Reese Elite that Ford supplies (even says Ford Accessories on it, made it part of truck deal). I've found when un-hitching, if I raise the rig till the hitch unloads the weight and then just a bit more till I can see a bit of gap between hitch plate and trailer plate, the latch 99% of the time just pulls easy with one hand and releases. If there is any weight on the hitch, it won't release.
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Old 05-14-2014, 05:23 AM   #13
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Wow, you discribed our exact situation last week with our Reese R20 hitch. The R20 has the two piece jaw that you are referring to. Long story short we hitch our 38fl before leaving Moab only to find the jaws wouldn't close all the way leaving an apprx. 1/2 gap. Tried re-opening the jaws to release the pin with no joy! Ended up having to have a mobile repair outfitt come out to get us going. Got back to Denver safely, and called Reese immediately. I don't have the words to give you a picture of the failed parts but. the mechanizm that opens the jaws of the hitch failed. I thought they were made of some sort of metal instead they seem to be made of some sort of composite type of material. That material shattered not allowing the jaws to open or close.

Reese has agreed to send an entirely new hitch, in the next few weeks I will be shipping the failed united back to them for their inspection and investigation as to why it failed. By the way just for the record, this was not the first failure of this unit. Originally, we purchased the hitch with slider rails. Unfortunately, the locking mech. would allow the coach to slide back when a large enough bump was encounter on the road. Ended up switching the legs out for the standard static legs that worked fine up to this last issue.
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Old 05-14-2014, 05:37 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JellyStonePark View Post
Wow, you discribed our exact situation last week with our Reese R20 hitch. The R20 has the two piece jaw that you are referring to. Long story short we hitch our 38fl before leaving Moab only to find the jaws wouldn't close all the way leaving an apprx. 1/2 gap. Tried re-opening the jaws to release the pin with no joy! Ended up having to have a mobile repair outfitt come out to get us going. Got back to Denver safely, and called Reese immediately. I don't have the words to give you a picture of the failed parts but. the mechanizm that opens the jaws of the hitch failed. I thought they were made of some sort of metal instead they seem to be made of some sort of composite type of material. That material shattered not allowing the jaws to open or close.

Reese has agreed to send an entirely new hitch, in the next few weeks I will be shipping the failed united back to them for their inspection and investigation as to why it failed. By the way just for the record, this was not the first failure of this unit. Originally, we purchased the hitch with slider rails. Unfortunately, the locking mech. would allow the coach to slide back when a large enough bump was encounter on the road. Ended up switching the legs out for the standard static legs that worked fine up to this last issue.

This is great information.....
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Old 05-14-2014, 05:38 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by piper guy View Post
As I mentioned above, I've got the 25k Reese Elite that Ford supplies (even says Ford Accessories on it, made it part of truck deal). I've found when un-hitching, if I raise the rig till the hitch unloads the weight and then just a bit more till I can see a bit of gap between hitch plate and trailer plate, the latch 99% of the time just pulls easy with one hand and releases. If there is any weight on the hitch, it won't release.
Vaughan - we have the same hitch and this is the same process I have found that works to unhook. One of the chaps at the dealer showed us when I was trying to get it released one day.

I also painted the rear of the jaw to aid in determining that it has closed fully when hooking up.

We aren't at home now so can't take a photograph and post it.
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Old 05-14-2014, 05:39 AM   #16
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I have helped a few people unhook in the campgrounds. If you trailer is at the wrong height, sometime the hitch wont want to release. If this happens, release the handle, apply the trailer brake and then slowly pull away.
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Old 05-14-2014, 11:37 AM   #17
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Not trying to be a wise guy or anything, but if your trailer is at the wrong height why not just not just put it at the right height before unhooking. That's what I do when mine Reese is stuck. Maybe I am missing something here.
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Old 05-14-2014, 01:46 PM   #18
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I've had trouble unhooking. I found when I stop after getting the rig where I want it and put it in park the truck rolls forward putting weight on the pin. If I back up against the wheel chocks forcing everything deep into the hitch and apply the parking brake it releases easily. Once the handle is locked open I can then pull away. Sometimes as I pull forward if I didn't take off enough weight the trailaire slides forward with the truck and it snaps closed before I can get off, and have to start over taking more weight off.
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Old 05-14-2014, 02:25 PM   #19
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Agree, the right height is critical to the release for our pullrite superglide too...

can't be too low or it still has weight on the locking mechanism,
can't be too high or the locking ring will bind on the bottom of the hitch pin,
has to be just right (about a half and inch either way
like with yours, just a bit of separation between the pin box plate and hitch plate.

Another thing with ours since we have the trailair triglide, is that the forward and backward pressure of the truck on the pin has to be in a neutral position.
not so much a problem with pull thru sites, but more so back in sites.

i.e. by design the triglide bottom plate can slide forward and backwards to mitigate chucking when underway...
so when backing into a spot the triglide will be pushed back further under the 5er.

It seems to work best for me - with my slider - to lock the rv brakes and pull forward a bit to 'pull' the triglide forward.

but, no matter how perfect I do it, sometimes it still is hornery especially with the way the tranny will move the truck just a bit when going from gear into park... so one more thing is to go to neutral first to release the tranny pressure on the driveline and then to park...

Like some say, the backing in, unhooking, and set up is MUCH entertainment for those of us that like to get to the sites early !
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Old 05-14-2014, 02:52 PM   #20
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Oh, I'm SOOO looking forward to learning to do this... :-) I've only had 24 years of hitching a bumper hitch to a 30' TT, but this sounds like it'll be so much more entertainment! This, and watching the roof bubble up! (Sigh)
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