Do you need a trailer coupler lock for your camper?

By Ryan Wilson

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trailer coupler lock installed on trailer

Yes, you NEED a trailer coupler lock any time you detach your trailer from your vehicle.  Unless you’re 100% sure you won’t leave your trailer unattended, you need a trailer coupler lock. 

Campers (and other types of trailers) are significant investments that we should do everything we can to protect. This doesn’t just include the camper itself, but all of the goods and gear stored in them. It also includes all of the work you have done to personalize your camper so its as comfortable as possible for you and your family. 

Like most people, I have insurance on my camper, so it would be covered if it were stolen.  But that doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t cost me any money to replace.  I’d still have to pay for the deductible, and the insurance would likely not cover the full amount to replace my camper.

Even if the insurance money is enough to cover the cost of a camper, you now have the inconvenience of trying to find a new camper.  You’ll also likely miss out on many camping trips you had planned before your trailer was stolen. We need to do everything in our power to make it as hard as possible for thieves to steal our campers and trailers!

There are a variety of lock types to secure your camper:

trailer coupler lock example

Trailer Coupler Lock: A trailer coupler lock is used to secure the coupler on a trailer or camper. It is typically a lockable clamp that fits over the coupler, preventing anyone from attaching the trailer to another vehicle. 

trailer latch pin lock example

Trailer Latch Pin Lock: This is a device used to secure the latch on a trailer or camper. It is typically a small, lockable pin or padlock that is inserted through the hole in the latch handle, preventing it from being lifted and releasing the trailer or camper from the towing vehicle. 

trailer hitch pin lock example

Trailer Hitch Pin Lock: These are small, lockable pins that are inserted through the hole in the hitch where the ball mount is attached. The pin locks in place, preventing anyone from removing the hitch, and attaching your camper to their vehicle. 

Trailer coupler locks are the best protection we have to secure our campers if stored outside and unattended.  This even includes when we’re camping!

Trailer thefts increased during the Covid-19 pandemic, so now is a good time to consider if your current trailer lock setup is adequate. Below, I present an overview of the styles of trailer coupler locks, how they work, and when you should use them.

One Key Three Locks

master lock

Trailer Lock Set

To get the best security and value, I recommend buying an all-in-one lock set for your trailer.

This trailer lock set by Master Lock gives you all three types of locks for your trailer so you can rest assured you’re doing everything in your power to protect your investment.

It’s also nice to buy a set of locks because then you only need one key rather than a bunch of different keys if you bought them all separately.

Buy on Amazon

Styles of Trailer Coupler Locks

There are three main styles of trailer coupler lock available for trailers that attach to a ball-hitch.  The first style is the least common and has two independent parts. It has a ball that fits in the coupler space to prevent others from attaching the trailer to their vehicle. To prevent thieves from simply removing the ball by lifting the trailer latch, it also includes a trailer latch pin lock.

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The next two styles of trailer coupler lock are very similar and really only differ in how they are locked to the trailer.  Both styles have a ball attached to the lock that fits in the trailer’s coupler space to prevent the trailer from being attached to another vehicle.  They both also have a bar that locks above the trailer coupler to prevent it from being removed from the trailer when locked. This is different from a trailer latch pin lock because the latch can still be used.  But because the bar is in place, a thief can’t remove the ball from the coupler space.

Where the two types of trailer coupler lock differ is in their locking mechanism.  One type has a solid pin that is inserted through two holes in the trailer coupler lock which is then locked with a padlock on one end.

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The other type of trailer coupler lock has an internal locking mechanism. The bar above the trailer coupler is lowered until it is snug with the trailer. The bar has “teeth” on it that are then locked into place by the internal locking mechanism


All three types of trailer coupler lock are easy to use and can quickly be attached to your trailer.  Although, application of the two-piece style is slightly more cumbersome to operate. For all styles, you first lift the trailer latch, then place the ball in the trailer coupler 

What Style of Trailer Coupler Lock is Right for your Trailer?

Any of the three styles discussed above will work for nearly all standard trailers with a ball hitch. You will need to ensure that the size of the ball on the lock fits with your trailer’s coupler. A trailer coupler lock is designed to fit specific sizes of coupler, so it’s important to choose a lock that is compatible with the size of your hitch ball. 

I personally would avoid the two-part style of trailer coupler lock because if a thief was successful at removing the trailer latch lock, they can then remove the ball in the coupler and steal your trailer.

Alternatively, with the other two styles of trailer coupler lock, the ball is locked in the receiver regardless.  This then gives you the option to add a trailer latch lock, making it that more difficult for a thief to steal your trailer.

How to Attach a Trailer Coupler Lock?

Installing a trailer coupler lock couldn’t be easier.  While there will be slight differences in how a specific lock operates, most follow these same general steps:

  • Unlatch the trailer latch
  • Place the ball of the trailer coupler lock to the coupler
  • Activate the trailer latch
  • Position the bar of the lock tightly over the coupler
  • Ensure it is locked

How to Increase the Effectiveness of Your Trailer Coupler Lock?

To ensure that your trailer coupler lock works effectively, there are a few things you can do. Make sure your  lock is properly installed and secured, with the lock mechanism firmly in place. 

Choose a lock that is the appropriate size for your trailer and periodically inspect the lock for signs of wear or damage, and to replace it if necessary. it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use, including any recommended maintenance and care.

Thieves may attempt to overcome trailer coupler locks in a variety of ways. One common method is to use bolt cutters or other cutting tools to remove the lock. To prevent this, consider using a high-quality, heavy-duty lock that is difficult to cut through. 

Finally, it’s important to park your trailer in a secure, well-lit area and to take other precautions such as using a hitch lock and a trailer latch lock to further deter thieves.

Maintenance and Care of your Trailer Coupler Lock

Because your trailer coupler lock will most likely be exposed to the elements, it’s important to maintain its functionality.  From time-to-time spray a lubricant such as WD40 to reduce rust and to make sure your lock doesn’t seize up.

I live in Alaska, so one of my biggest maintenance issues with my trailer coupler lock is ensuring that ice doesn’t form in the locking mechanism during the winter.  I will sometimes need to pour warm water or apply another source of heat to the lock to unfreeze it.

Certain models of trailer coupler lock have covers over the locking mechanism, so this should solve most trailer owners’ problem with icing.


A trailer coupler lock should be part of every trailer owner’s anti-theft arsenal. While no lock is completely foolproof, you can make it much harder for them to be successful. Taking a multi-layered approach to trailer security by using hitch locks, trailer latch locks, and a trailer coupler lock, will decrease your chances of becoming a victim of trailer theft.

If you can afford it, don’t just go with the cheapest trailer coupler lock as they will likely be the easiest for a thief to overcome. Try to find a lock with a thick, hardened steel bar that will require significant cutting tools for a thief to overcome. 

You may pay more upfront, but you’ll avoid all the costs and inconvenience associated with a stolen trailer!

See more about the type of camper I own, and why I want to protect it!

Photo of author


Ryan is an avid outdoorsman who loves camping, hiking, and backpacking. He was initially reluctant to join the camper world, but after his first camping trip in one, he became a convert. He especially loves how camper ownership extends the camping season and makes it easier to be more adventurous with young kids. When not enjoying his free time, he works as a professional wildlife biologist studying the ecology and conservation of large mammals in Alaska.