A South Island towbar manufacturer phoned me earlier this week about one of their Dunedin customers who had complained about her towball rusting; she had a towbar fitted back in April and had since moved to Auckland. Obviously the Dunedin towbar fitters could not help their customer so they asked me to remedy the fault on their behalf. The towball was pretty awful looking and we quickly replaced it with a new chrome plated towball and fitted a shin protector and chrome towball cover too. The towbar looked new again and the motorist was completely satisfied.
This towball was unusual in that it had deteriorated very quickly, but rusted towballs are a quite common issue. And it should be stressed that this is a question of asthetics, there is no suggestion that the towballs strength has been compromised.
I am quite often asked if chromed or zinc plated towballs will rust and I always reply ” I guarantee they will rust!” Its as simple as that. The best way of avoiding rusty towballs is to use them regularly and keep them out of salt water! Use them regularly, and rust will not get a chance to develop on the ball. In the old days, motorists used to keep their towball covered in grease with an old tennis ball used as a towball cover. This worked ok but would be fatal to Al Ko couplings as found on English Caravans etc. (apparently the best method of cleaning Al Ko head high rise towballs is the use of a nylon abrasive pad and brake cleaner spray) One of our chrome towball covers which we sell for $6.00 is an excellent solution; at least they hide the rust! It is important to note that the SURFACE rust found on towballs is not a safety issue. But deep rust on a very old towball may be.