This story is funny now, but when it first happened I was really upset…
A couple years ago, I was at the ranch making my rounds – checking water and
making sure that the cows’ feeders had ample salt and minerals. I had brought my
dachshund Trixie along for the day’s ride, and at one of my stops I had to get
out and fix a trough float that was unseated and overflowing.
I didn’t turn the truck’s engine off. As I had hundreds of times before, I
just hopped out with my tool box and left Trixie in the truck while she watched
me through the window.
This truck had automatic locks and as it was a hot day, I had left the
windows up with the air conditioner running.
I happened to look up and see her standing with paws on the window ledge; I
heard the locks click as she hit the button. We were 15 miles from the nearest
town and my mobile phone was in the truck.
But it didn’t matter because I kept a spare key in a magnetic box stuck
against the inside lip of one of the trucks rear quarter panels. Except when I
started feeling around for the box, I discovered it was gone. It must
have bounced off as I drove down one of the coleche ranch roads.
What to do?
I had no choice. I picked up a rock and broke what I hoped would be the least
expensive window to replace – the passenger side wing window.
It took $80 to replace that window, and I was still finding nuggets of
glass inside the truck’s cab month’s later. But my dog was safe, and I wasn’t
left standing in the 100º heat with no way
to get help.
I would be willing to bet that if I were to conduct an informal poll, it
would show that a surprising number of people that have lost their magnetic key
box. Of course, this loss would most likely only be discovered when the spare
key was needed – defeating the purpose of having had the lockbox in the
first place. Whether because it bounces off on a bumpy road, or it is discovered
by a would-be auto thief, magnetic key boxes are an unreliable backup plan for
lost keys and lockouts.
But until recently, I wasn’t aware of any other door unlocking option that
didn’t involve an OEM numeric keypad on the driver’s door or
OnStar. As I was
flying back from Washington DC, I was flipping through the
which is where I noticed one of the most clever gadgets I had seen in a long
time: the HitchSafe Key Vault.
Any truck, SUV, Recreational Vehicle or automobile that has a built-in 2" tow
hitch receiver will work with the HitchSafe.
Included in the package are the HitchSafe, instructions, warranty paperwork,
various EVA foam spacers, and a dustcover.
The HitchSafe measures approximately 5" long x 3" wide on the combination
end, and it weighs one pound six ounces. The HitchSafe’s body is made of metal
with a black finish. It will fit into any standard 2" receiver, and the included
EVA foam inserts make the HitchSafe adjustable for pin hole variances. According
to the specifications listed on the site, "the maximum hole reach from front of
receiver to middle of pin hole is 2-9/16", and the maximum body depth into
receiver is 4-3/8.".
The body of the safe is solid and substantial; once it is inserted into the
steel trailer hitch receiver it becomes a impenetrable box
On the front is a four digit combination lock.
Pressing the lever above the combination opens the drawer.
The combination is set by turning the silver flathead screw from the
…to the vertical. Now the desired four digit number can be set. After
returning the screw to the horizontal position the HitchSafe will almost
be ready to install. It is really important that before the drawer is fitted
back into its receiver, the user tests the new combination to make sure that the
lever will move. If not, the combination should be set again by moving the
Here is a shot of the drawer removed from its receiver. The drawer measures
3 9/16" long x 1.25" wide x 1.75" tall.
The drawer can hold a set of keys along with a clicking key fob…
…or it can hold up to two IDs or credit cards and some rolled up cash. You
should not try to force more than two cards in, as that may damage them.
Installation is a breeze. Here is a shot of the receiving hitch on the front
of my truck.
There are up to three included foam inserts that go between the HitchSafe and
the receiving hitch so that the hitches’ holes will line up with the HitchSafe’s
The chrome plated hardened steel bolts slide into the receiver hitches’
holes, and they are insulated by an EVA foam gasket.
Inside the HitchSafe, there are metal brackets that slide out on either side
to capture the bolts as they are inserted. Here is a bracket in the open
…and here it is locked and operational. This is done on both sides of the
Once the HitchSafe receiver has been installed…
The HitchSafe drawer can be inserted and locked into place.
The included rubber dustcover installs over the combination front, keeping
the contents from prying eyes as well as protecting the combination front from
Looks great right?! Installation is so simple that even the most mechanically
inept can confidently do it.
image to play the QuickTime video (34sec, 1.1mb).
The video is encoded in the H.264 codec. You will need the latest version
to view it. VLC is another free
The HitchSafe is the perfect gadget for people with unused or seldom
used hitch receivers. Never again will a magnetic key box of mine be lost on a
bumpy back country road, and never again will I have to smash a window to get
inside my locked vehicle. Well, never again after I order an additional
HitchSafe for myself; this one went on my 16 year old daughter’s truck. Now I
have peace of mind that she will not only be able to get into her truck if she
loses her key, she’ll also have access to the emergency $20 bill that I’ve
tucked inside. If your or someone you care about has a vehicle with a hitch
receiver, I can highly recommend this ultra-secure method of carrying extra keys
The HitchSafe Key Vault
is available directly from their
site and from other retailers.
1 thought on “HitchSafe Key Vault”
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Spectacular. You sir could not have done a more clear or precise job, and I thank you for it. My wife has just been rescued by our local automobile association, and I have been searching for an alternative, since our hidden key, under her vehicle is either too well hidden, or like yours, has gone for a wee wander. I will be purchasing this product ASAP and, because of your directions, feel entirely confident that I will be able to install it -easily. I thank you.