Selecting the Right Trailer Hitch

Selecting the right trailer hitch is dependent on the type of vehicle used for towing and the size and weight of trailer to be towed. Gross Trailer Weight and Trailer Tongue Weight determine the class of hitch.

Types of HitchesThere are two basic types of hitches: 1) Weight Carrying Hitches are the most popular and carry all the trailer tongue weight on the rear of the tow vehicle. They are commonly used to tow small & medium sized trailers. These hitches attach to the frame of the towing vehicle and provide a connection point between the towing vehicle and whatever you are towing; 2) Weight Distributing Hitches are recommended for heavier trailers because they even out the trailer load between the wheels of the tow vehicle and the wheels of the trailer, thus improving steering and brake control. Two parts are required: The Receiver, which bolts to the vehicle, and the spring bar assembly. Before deciding which type is right for you, consult vehicle manual for the manufacturer’s recommendation and the load capacity of your vehicle.

Hitch Ratings:

Hitches are rated as follows: C = Class / GTW = Gross Trailer Weight / TW = Tongue Weight

C      GTW     TW 

I up to 2,000 lbs up to 200 lbs

II up to 3,500 lbs up to 300 lbs

III up to 5,000 lbs up to 500 lbs

IV up to 10,000 lbs up to 1,000 lbs

More About Gross Trailer Weight (GTW)Gross Trailer Weight, or GTW, is the total weight under fully-loaded trailer conditions, including food, water, gear, etc. Measure the GTW by placing the fully-loaded trailer on a commercial scale.

More About Trailer Tongue Weight (TW)Trailer Tongue Weight is the downward pressure that the tongue of a fully loaded trailer exerts on the hitch ball. Tongue weight can be measured on a commercial scale, or on a bathroom scale. Just place the weight of the trailers ball receiver on the scale (The trick is to make sure that the scale is at the same height as the hitch ball on the tow vehicle). Usually a small box or a cinder block will do the trick.  Make sure the trailer is level and the wheels are chocked.

More About Vehicle Towing CapacityVehicle Towing Capacity is the manufacturer’s specification of the weight the vehicle is designed to tow. Although some hitches may have a higher stated capacity since they fit other vehicles, never exceed the manufacturer’s stated towing capacity. These specifications can usually be found in the vehicle owners manual or by calling a local dealership.

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