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safety question concerning a hitch assembly

BadgerMcAdams
Explorer
Explorer
The DW and I have a 2017 Ram 1500 that will be our TV. It has the 5.7 hemi, and the complete tow package (brake controller, connections, HD hitch for the truck, etc). It will tow the trailer we are looking at, so that isn't the problem. Just laying the ground work.

The other day she was rear-ended on the way home from work. She is a bit sore but otherwise okay. The truck suffered a slightly bent bumper and a scuffed tailgate. The other vehicle (GMC Denali) met our Trailer Hitch. They did not become friends. The hitch took the brunt of the impact but appears to be completely undamaged.

My question. When we take it in to have it checked for the insurance claim, should we insist that the hitch be closely inspected and or replaced? I have looked under the truck and see no damage, but then I am not taking anything apart to check it either. I am sure they will check for a bent frame, damage, etc...but as we will be pulling a trailer with this truck eventually, I am concerned about the hitch's integrity now.

I am of the mind to tell them to replace the entire hitch assembly, regardless of whether they feel it might be good or not. IF they decide that it is in safe condition and won't replace it, I will insist that the underwriters give me a signed notarized statement indicating that the hitch meets DOT safety standards and that there is absolutely no damage to the hitch that will cause it to fail during normal usage. (of course, they will probably tell me to go pack sand too...but that will be another story)

So am I being over cautious? I know that the hitches are designed to meet DOT standards for towing and such, but they are also not designed to act as a bumper in an accident either.
14 REPLIES 14

DutchmenSport
Explorer
Explorer
Yea, thanks for the follow up post. Glad the repair shop and insurances did the right thing too.

FYI, after your post, our Chevy Equinox (not our towing truck) got T-boned when a Chevy 1500 ran a stop sign. Wife was driving, I was in the passenger seat. Vehicle got hit on the drivers side. We are with AllState. Long story short, we took the car to their authorized collision center and they had the car for over 2 months. But the car was restored back to factory, and GM provided all original GM parts and even had GM inspectors review the work before they put the skin back on the car. And oh ... the cost on the other guys insurance? It was a little over $10,000. Yea, really. Both doors, the bar between the doors going in into the roof and under the floor, and the rear quarter panel. And of course, they replaced all the parts with new. When the car was finally done, it was beautiful!

However, we never had any hassles about anything. Any haggling that might have happened, well .... between the collision center and AllState, we never heard a word, except from the collision center that called us and told us they found new problems which would cost more to repair and take longer. It started out at $5,000 initially, and ended up over $10,000. We didn't pay a single penny.

JBarca
Traveler II
Traveler II
Thanks for posting back.

The use of non OEM parts, yeh you have to read the fine print in your insurance policy. Many state that have the right to use aftermarket parts. You may be able to add that ability for OEM parts pending the insurance carrier.

I have Nationwide in our area and I wanted the OEM parts, they offered it, I paid more but they only offer it up to 10 years old vehicle. After 10 years they can use aftermarket. I guess in some cases, after 10 years OEM may or may not actually exist.

Glad the shop did the right thing. They are a keeper.

Thanks

John
2005 Ford F350 Super Duty, 4x4; 6.8L V10 with 4.10 RA, 21,000 GCWR, 11,000 GVWR, upgraded 2 1/2" Towbeast Receiver. Hitched with a 1,700# Reese HP WD, HP Dual Cam to a 2004 Sunline Solaris T310R travel trailer.

campigloo
Explorer
Explorer
Badger thanks for your service. In the field you were in ask insurance if u could set up a half done warning bomb in their office.
(just kidding)

BadgerMcAdams
Explorer
Explorer
Well a followup to the original post...

The person who hit us, and we ourselves have State Farm. So I will refer to their insurance as SFA and ours as SFB. Anyway, we took the truck in and had it inspected. The bumper was replaced...SFA insisted that they use an aftermarket bumper, siting cost differential. We spoke with SFB and they said that if the situation was reversed, they would do the same thing for cost savings. I asked if the aftermarket bumper is cheaper in cost, isn't it likewise cheaper in construction and therefore LESS safe? They had no answer for my question. So yeah, it seems Safety takes a backseat sometimes in the name of profits, at least in my opinion.

So when the body shop manager received the piece of ****, I mean aftermarket bumper when it arrived, it already had problems. The chrome was flaking in spots and it was twisted. He said the twist was slight, but it was enough to notice and he wasn't going to use it, not to mention the chrome problem.

So he ordered a OEM bumper, which SFA proceeded to gripe about. They said that they could just order another aftermarket bumper. Steve (the body mgr) told them that he was on a deadline and was not going to wait for them to ship the other bumper back for a Return, then wait longer for the new one to come in. The difference in price was a couple hundred dollars. SFA can get over it.

Next, Steve calls and asks if we had a key to the additional cable lock that was securing the tire to the truck to prevent theft. We said, "What Key?"...He told us that had we needed to use the spare, we would have been hosed as the cable lock that secured it took 2 minutes to cut off with a angle grinder and he didn't figure we had one in our back pocket for such situations...The dealer never gave us a key to the lock (which was added by the previous owner). Which makes me wonder if they even looked...or cared.

When we took the truck in, we told Steve that the hitch took the biggest brunt of the impact. He inspected it and said that while it didn't show any visual damage, they were replacing the entire assembly (why he had to remove the spare) because it was a safety issue and they didn't want to be liable in case there was a problem they missed. I love it when they do the right thing and not the cheap thing.

So they replaced the hitch assembly (hitch, brackets, everything), and even replaced the little stub ball hitch that was in there when it was hit, and a new 2" ball (for our smaller flatbed trailer).

All told, it was $3,600 in damage which included parts, paint and labor. Not exorbitant, but more than I would have wanted to shell out of pocket.

But at least I know that 1) The trailer hitch is reliable now, and 2) The people at the collision center went out of their way to make sure the job was done Right.

Thanks for reading!

ACZL
Explorer
Explorer
Not only the hitch could be damaged, but what about where it attaches to the frame? Is the frame tweaked? Bolts ok? I agree w/ everyone that this area is of utmost importance (besides OP's health and well being.....Glad she's ok BTW) as you have "X" pounds behind you which is essentially a "X" pound missile.
2017 F350 DRW XLT, CC, 4x4, 6.7
2018 Big Country 3560 SS
"The best part of RVing and Snowmobiling is spending time with family and friends"
"Catin' in the Winter"

nevadanick
Explorer
Explorer
I got bumped into and it took the paint off the end of the hitch. The insurance company included the hitch in the payment without question.

BadgerMcAdams
Explorer
Explorer
Thank you all for your input...It pretty much mirrors my thoughts on this. After 20 years of military service working in the munitions field, I at times tend to err on the side of caution and over-engineering...comes from working around things that can really ruin your day if you mess up.

I will tell the shop that we want the entire hitch assembly replaced...Period. Our safety and the safety of all those who drive beside, behind and anywhere around a trailer we would be towing is more important than the Insurance Company's bottom line.

TurnThePage
Explorer
Explorer
Having looked at my own Ram 1500 hitch pretty closely, I would absolutely insist it be totally replaced. In the old days it might just be another stout cross member to the frame, but the current one looks designed specifically for a single purpose. I wouldn't trust it outside of that use.
2015 Ram 1500
2022 Grand Design Imagine XLS 22RBE

eHoefler
Explorer
Explorer
there is a pair of pucks welded to it where it sits in the frame and cannot be seen unless the hitch is removed, which requires the bed be raise off the fraim rails. I would have the hitch replaced anf the frame inspected and jigged up on a frame machine
2021 Ram Limited, 3500, Crew Cab, 1075FTPD of Torque!, Max Tow, Long bed, 4 x 4, Dually,
2006 40' Landmark Mt. Rushmore

carringb
Explorer
Explorer
Definitely have it replaced. Most hitches have at least one major cast component, so it won't bend, but it could be cracked under the paint. If there's any "spider web" marks on the receiver/crossmember, or any other indication it's deformed, I'd demand that be replaced too. This could required a new rear frame section, but better than chancing a trailer coming loose.
2000 Ford E450 V10 VAN! 450,000+ miles
2014 ORV really big trailer
2015 Ford Focus ST

downtheroad
Explorer
Explorer
BarneyS wrote:
Were it my truck I would insist on a new hitch. Those things take too many forces in all different directions to take a chance on one that has been hit in an accident.
Barney

This is good advice...I sure wouldn't chance it. Too much at stake.
"If we couldn't laugh we would all go insane."

Arctic Fox 25Y
GMC Duramax
Blue Ox SwayPro

DutchmenSport
Explorer
Explorer
Absolutely get the hitch inspected and if damaged, it should be restored to it's original condition, no other alternatives there. Make it perfectly clear to the "shop" that you tow a trailer. Not only is YOUR safety paramount, but so is everyone else's on the road around you.

If the hitch cannot be fixed, replaced, restored to it's original condition, then it's time to dispute the functionality of the truck with your insurance company as it cannot be used then, for the purpose it was originally intended ... towing!

BarneyS
Explorer III
Explorer III
Were it my truck I would insist on a new hitch. Those things take too many forces in all different directions to take a chance on one that has been hit in an accident.
Barney
2004 Sunnybrook Titan 30FKS TT
Hensley "Arrow" 1400# hitch (Sold)
Not towing now.
Former tow vehicles were 2016 Ram 2500 CTD, 2002 Ford F250, 7.3 PSD, 1997 Ram 2500 5.9 gas engine

ScottG
Traveler
Traveler
Glad your wife is OK.
If the 1/2 ton is like the HD trucks, the hitch assembly is actually a cross member. I would check it over very closely for damage. They are designed to rotate upward in a crash. You should be able to put a drawbar in it and see if that has happened at all. I would also inspect welds for cracks.
And yes, have the shop check it very closely too.

Good luck,
Scott