This Ford F-150 is equipped with a pair of Mohr Mfg's new front trailer hitch receivers. (Mohr Mfg)
A couple of months ago, my son-in-law, the one with the commercial driver’s license who can back anything from a semi trailer to a pop-up camper precisely into place, could not suppress his laughter as he watched me try — over and over yet another jack-knife again — to back a 5-foot-by-8-foot U-Haul trailer up his driveway.
I was so glad he wasn’t there a few days later to see my embarrassment when I returned the trailer and needed four increasingly frantic attempts to back the beast into its place among the other orange-trimmed and angle-parked trailers.
A few weeks after my ordeal, I received a news release from Mohr Mfg that seemed to present the solution to my embarrassment.
If the name Mohr rings some sort of bell in your memory, it’s because we’ve written in this space about the company’s Superbumper, a tubular, energy-absorbing device that plugs into a trailer hitch receiver and protects your truck or utility vehicle should you be struck from the rear (see www.superbumper.com for details).
Jeff Mohr’s latest creation is a front-mounted hitch receiver that replaces the tow hooks that come as original equipment on many pickups and sport utility vehicles. For now, the product is designed for Ford F-150 pickups, the Ford Explorer and Lincoln Navigator SUVs, and for the Ford Crown Victoria sedan (model years 1998-current). However, Mohr anticipates versions for GM, Ram and other brands as well.
With a front-mounted hitch receiver, a trailer could be pushed into place without having to go through the gyrations of trying to remember that, when backing up, you turn the wheel left to make the trailer go to the right, right?
Mohr’s inspiration was twofold. He’d been working on a front-mounted energy-absorbing device — but needed a convenient way to mount it. He came up with a solution after his own Lincoln Navigator needed to be flat-bedded.
When the tow truck arrived, Mohr noticed that the operator didn’t use the SUV’s tow hooks but attached his cables directly to the truck’s frame.
“We never use the tow hooks,” the operator told him.
If such people don’t use them, why are they there, Mohr wondered, and so he and his team in Burnsville, Minn., went to work and devised a trailer hitch receiver that can replace the hooks and the brackets that hold them in place. A pair of such devices costs $139.95 — most vehicles have a pair of tow hooks — or you can buy a single one for $89.95.
With a pair of front hitch receivers, you can mount a winch or other device, including the front bumper protection equipment Mohr plans to unveil early in 2014. With a single front hitch receiver, you can push a trailer into position.
“Having it (a front hitch receiver) offset slightly doesn’t hurt anything,” Mohr said of his experience with parking trailers. “You can still swing a trailer around.”
In fact, he added, “when you hook the trailer to the passenger side one, you have a little more visibility as a driver” as you maneuver the trailer.
Not only is Mohr’s new device less expensive than buying a traditional front-mounted trailer hitch receiver, but it reduces the weight load on the front end of the vehicle, provides enhanced ground clearance, and offers a hitch receiver position that can eliminate the need for a high-rise hitch.
It also makes your vehicle more versatile, since you can use the front hitch receiver(s) for things other than towing. For example, there are lights, shade awnings, barbecue grilles and many other devices designed to plug into a hitch receiver.
Mohr notes that removing the hooks and installing the hitch receivers involves removing one bolt and loosening another.
For information or to order the front hitch receivers, visit this website: http://sparebumper.com/index.php?act=viewProd&productId=92&catId=9&mc=5 or call (800) 852-6752.
Larry Edsall is a Phoenix-based freelance writer. You can reach him at email@example.com.