Apologies for the rambling thoughts and questions (new to the towing scene) . I'll summarize my questions:
1) Is the Home Depot rental trailer 3ft x 5ft compatible with 2001 Toyota Tacoma tow ball?
2) Is the tow ball considered a "bumper" tow ball, or considered attached to the frame (see pics below)?
3) Does the structural integrity of my truck look okay for towing?
4) Does this look like the standard factory installation of the bumper/frame, or was this a "custom" weld job?
5) Is it required for me to install a hitch receiver for this trailer? If not, what are some reasons for choosing to do so anyway?
Longer rambling version: I have never actually used a tow ball or a hitch, even though I have a tow ball on my 2001 Toyota Tacoma. I want to rent a small lawn and garden trailer 3ft x 5ft from Home Depot:
I just wanted to make sure that it's compatible and the truck is in good enough shape to do so. The specs for the trailer are a 2 inch coupler at 2000 lbs, which matches the specs written on my tow ball. The towing capacity of this truck is 3500 to 5000 lbs (not sure why there is a range specified instead of just a maximum...).
So when I called Home Depot and described my setup, they said that they wouldn't allow "bumper style" tow balls because they can't guarantee that the bumper is installed properly. But then they said if the tow ball is attached to part of the frame, it should be good. I'm not sure how to distinguish the difference so I took some pictures (I had removed the tow ball):
So it looks like the tow ball goes into a steel (?) plate that is a thicker/different material than the bumper itself. This steel plate ultimately is welded into the main frame:
I'm not 100% sure if this is the way the truck was built in the factory or if someone did some custom rebuilding (I purchased the truck used). I'm also not sure if the "dirty" look on everything means that the structure is compromised, or if this is normal.
The next thing I noticed when googling around is that you can get a hitch receiver kit for this truck:
It's unclear to me why you'd want to install a receiver hitch when you already have a tow ball. One thing I can think of is that the hitch receiver/ball will sit a little bit closer to the ground. Not sure if that's a desirable thing or a required thing or what.