Trailer Hitches

Hitches

The Hitch is the mechanism that is typically mounted to the rear of a vehicle under the bumper. There are five classes of Hitches for towing trailers. Each class is designed for a specific trailer weight range. When selecting the appropriate hitch make sure the weight rating of the hitch is greater than the loaded weight of the trailer that will be towed. The tow vehicle capacity for weight carrying and hitch attachment will vary and will sometimes dictate the class of hitch that can be used. As you will see below under each class, always consult your owner’s manual for vehicle rating.

Class I
Class I hitches are weight carrying (WC) hitches rated up to 2000 lbs. gross trailer weight (GTW) with a maximum trailer tongue weight (TW) of 200 lbs. This style of hitch typically uses a 1-1/4″ square receiver opening. The use of a drawbar and hitch ball of the same rating or higher is required. Some hitches in this class may attach to the vehicle bumper or trunk pan. Most other Class I hitches attach to the vehicle frame. Always consult your owner’s manual for vehicle rating.

Class II
Class II hitches are weight carrying (WC) hitches rated up to 3500 lbs. gross trailer weight (GTW) with a maximum trailer tongue weight (TW) of 300 lbs. This style of hitch typically uses a 1-1/4″ square receiver opening. The use of a drawbar and hitch ball of the same rating or higher is required. Class II hitches normally attach to the vehicle frame and or bumper. Always consult your owner’s manual for vehicle rating.

Class III
Class III hitches are weight carrying (WC) and also are weight distributing (WD) hitches depending on the vehicle and hitch specifications. Not all Class III hitches are rated to be both. The hitch specifications will alert you to a hitch that is not weight distributing. Class III hitches used as weight carrying is rated up to 6000 lbs. gross trailer weight (GTW) with a maximum trailer tongue weight (TW) of 600 lbs. Hitches that are used for weight distributing are rated up to 10,000 lbs. gross trailer weight (GTW) with a maximum trailer tongue weight (TW) of 1000 lbs. This style of hitch typically uses a 2″ square receiver opening. The use of a ball mount and hitch ball of the same rating or higher is required. To use the weight distribution side of the hitch a weight distribution system is required. Class III hitches attach to the vehicle frame only. Always consult your owner’s manual for vehicle rating.

Class IV
Class IV hitches is very similar to Class III hitches except for the weight ratings. Class IV hitches are weight carrying (WC) and weight distributing (WD) hitches depending on the vehicle and hitch specifications. Not all Class IV hitches are rated to be both. The hitch specifications will alert you to a hitch that is not weight distributing. Class IV hitches used as weight carrying is rated up to 10,000 lbs. gross trailer weight (GTW) with a maximum trailer tongue weight (TW) of 1000 lbs. Hitches that are used for weight distributing are rated up to 14,000 lbs. gross trailer weight (GTW) with a maximum trailer tongue weight (TW) of 1400 lbs. This style of hitch typically uses a 2″ square receiver opening. The use of a ball mount and hitch ball of the same rating or higher is required for weight carrying. To use the weight distribution side of the hitch a weight distribution system is required. Class IV hitches attach to the vehicle frame only. Always consult your owner’s manual for vehicle rating.

Class V
Class V hitches is very similar to Class III & IV hitches except for the weight ratings. This style of hitch uses a 2-1/2″ square receiver opening. Class V hitches are weight carrying (WC) and weight distributing (WD) hitches. Class V hitches used as weight carrying is rated up to 12,000 lbs. gross trailer weight (GTW) with a maximum trailer tongue weight (TW) of 1200 lbs. Hitches that are used for weight distributing are rated up to 17,000 lbs. gross trailer weight (GTW) with a maximum trailer tongue weight (TW) of 1700 lbs. The use of a ball mount and hitch ball of the same rating or higher is required. To use the weight distribution side of the hitch a weight distribution system is required. Class V hitches attach to the vehicle frame only. Always consult your owner’s manual for vehicle rating.
Weight Distribution

Weight Distribution is used for distributing the weight of the trailer to the trailer axles and the tow vehicle axles. The components of a Weight Distributing System is made up of four products. 1). A Weight Distributing (WD) Hitch which would be attached to the tow vehicle. 2). A Ball Mount that connects to the Hitch. 3). A Spring Bar Assembly that actually distribute the weight. 4). A Sway Control device that helps the trailer from swaying.

Fifth Wheel Hitches

A fifth wheel is a specially designed hitch with a king pin receiver that mounts over or forward of the rear axle of the vehicle. The hitch connects with the king pin on the fifth wheel trailer. Fifth wheel hitches are easy to operate and require little maintenance.

Gooseneck

A gooseneck hitch is designed for use in a pickup truck similar to a Fifth Wheel. The difference is that the gooseneck uses a ball and coupler verse a kingpin and pin receiver. Typically, the trailers that are most commonly used for this type of gooseneck hitch is a horse trailer. Gooseneck hitches are offered in a few types of configurations, they are designed to be mounted above or below the trucks pickup bed. Either design (above or below) allows for minimal obstruction when the ball is not in the towing position.

Ball Mounts

The ball mount is designed to be inserted into the hitch. There are different styles of ball mounts, so please refer to “Selecting the correct ball mount” chart for your specific ball mount. Ball Mounts come in different lengths and are used in drop and rise positions, use the chart to help determine which ball mount fits your needs. When selecting a ball mount make sure to look at the weight rating, it should be equal to or larger than the hitch being used.

Hitch Balls

The hitch ball mounts to the ball mount or the weight distributing head. Hitch balls come in different sizes and styles so refer to “Selecting the correct hitch ball” chart for your specific need. Keep in mind the hitch ball weight rating should always be equal to or larger than the hitch and ball mount being used.

Size Differences

1-7/8″ balls have ratings up to 2000 lbs with a ¾” shank size
1-7/8″ balls have ratings up to 2000 lbs with a 1″ shank size
2″ hitch ball has ratings up to 3500 lbs. with a ¾” shank size
2″ hitch ball has ratings up to 6000 lbs. with a 1″ shank size
2″ hitch ball has ratings up to 8000 lbs. with a 1-1/4″ shank size
2-5/16″ hitch ball has ratings up to 6000 with a 1″ shank size
2-5/16″ hitch ball has ratings up to 14,000 with a 1-1/4″ shank size
Note: The shank size of hitch ball must match the size of the ball mount shank hole.

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