Towing 101: Types of Trailer Hitches and Classification

Trailer Hitches
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TIP: Firstly, always remember to consult your owner’s manual for vehicle ratings and types of trailer hitches that match your vehicle towing capacity.

There are many types of hitch that are being used for towing a trailer, depending on your vehicle capacity and its purpose. Receiver hitches are divided into five classes and each of them has a unique purpose as well as its size, set of capacities and style. The higher the class number, the higher the capacity and the receiver tube that it has. (Always remember the tip above before choosing the types of trailer hitches intended to your vehicle, however.)

Class I: Light trailers.

  • Weight carrying (WC) rated up to 2000lbs gross trailer weight (GTW).

·      200lbs. maximum trailer tongue weight (TW).

  • Usually has 1-1/4” square receiver opening.

·      Higher class ball mount does not increase the towing capacity of the hitch.

  • Class I hitches are usually attach to the bumper, truck pan or vehicle frame.


Typical Tow Vehicles: compact cars, midsize cars, full-sized cars, SUVs, and Minivans.


Typical Loads: bikes (maximum of 2), cargo carriers, kayaks, canoes, mobility scooters, and small trailers.


Accessories: bike racks, cargo carriers, drawbars made for Class I.

IMPORTANT: REMEMBER THAT NOT ALL HITCHES ARE RATED AT THE SAME CAPACITY AND THAT NO HITCH CAN EVER INCREASE THE MAXIMUM WEIGHT THAT YOUR VEHICLE CAN TOW.

CLASS II ACCESSORIES WILL NOT WORK WITH CLASS I HITCHES.

Class II: Medium Weight Trailers.

  • Weight carrying (WC) rated up to 3500lbs gross trailer weight (GTW).

·      300lbs. maximum trailer tongue weight (TW).

  • It usually has 1-1/4” square receiver opening.

·      A higher class ball mount does not increase the towing capacity of the hitch.

  • Class II hitches usually attach to the bumper or the vehicle frame.


Typical loads: bikes, cargo carriers, kayaks, canoes, mobility scooters, small popup campers, small boats, and small trailers.


Typical tow vehicles: midsize cars, full-size cars, SUVs, and minivans.


Accessories: bike racks, cargo carriers, drawbars that are made for Class I and Class II hitches.

Class II hitches are typically found on full-sized sedans, minivans, and crossovers. It can also be found on small SUVs and even pick-up truck. Secondly, class II trailer hitches have a 1-1/4” x 1-1/4” receiver tube opening that is used for lightweight towing applications and are able to tow up to 3500lbs gross trailer weight.

Class III: Larger Trailers.

·      It is used as weight carrying rated up to 6000lbs. gross trailer weight (GTW).

  • With 600lbs. maximum trailer tongue weight (TW).
  • It is used for weight distributing rated up to 10000lbs. gross trailer weight (GTW).
  • With a 1000lbs. maximum trailer tongue weight (TW).
  • Class III hitches are weight carrying (WC) and also weight distributing (WD) butdepending on the vehicle and its hitch specifications.
  • Class III hitches are attached to the vehicle frame only.
  • It usually has a 2” square receiver opening.
  • Some Class III hitches can also be used in combination with a weight- distribution hitch.


Typical loads: midsize campers, utility trailers, lawn maintenance equipment, bikes, cargo carriers, kayaks, canoes, motorcycles, snowmobiles.


Typical tow vehicles: full-sized cars, SUVs, minivans, large SUVs, and trucks.


Accessories: bike racks, cargo carriers, ball mounts that are made of 2” x 2” receiver.

A higher class drawbar does not increase the towing capacity of the hitch. To use this class of hitch for weight distribution requires a weight distribution system. The class III type of trailer hitch is the common receiver hitch class installed on SUVs and full-sized pick-up trucks.

TIP: IF YOU’RE FULL-SIZED TRUCK USER AND IT HAS A TOWING PREP PACKAGE, IT WILL PROBABLY HAVE A CLASS III HITCH.

AN ADAPTER ALLOWS YOU TO MOUNT HITCH ACCESSORIES MADE FOR A 1-1/4” RECEIVER.

Class IV: Larger Trailers and Accessories:

·      It is used as weight carrying, rated up to 10000lbs gross trailer weight (GTW).

  • With a 1000lbs maximum trailer tongue weight (TW).
  • Used for weight distributing are rated up to 14000lbs gross rate trailer
  • With a 1400lbs maximum trailer tongue weight (TW).
  • A class IV hitch usually has a 2” square receiver opening.
  • Class IV hitch attaches to vehicle frame only.


Typical loads: large campers, large boats, and toy haulers.


Typical tow vehicles: heavy-duty trucks and SUVs.


Accessories: bike racks, cargo carriers, and ball mounts that are made for 2” x 2” receiver.

Class IV hitches are commonly mounted on a full-sized pick-up trucks and SUVs. They also feature a 2”x2” receiver tube opening and generally have a weight carrying capacity of up to 10000lbs. gross trailer weight. Also, most class IV types of trailer hitches can also utilize a weight-distribution hitch for ratings as high as 12000lbs. But class IV is restricted to a 2” receiver.’

TIP: AN ADAPTER ALLOWS YOU TO MOUNT HITCH ACCESSORIES FOR 1-1/4” RECEIVER.

Class V: Largest Trailers:

·      Used as weight carrying rated up to 12000lbs gross trailer weight (GTW).

  • With a 1200lbs maximum trailer tongue weight (TW).
  • Used for weight distributing rated up to 17000lbs gross rate trailer (GTW).
  • With a 1700lbs maximum trailer tongue weight (TW).
  • A class V hitch usually has a 2-1/2” square receiver opening.
  • Class V hitch attaches to the vehicle frame only.


Typical loads: large toy haulers, equipment haulers, multi-car trailers.


Typical tow vehicles: heavy-duty and commercial trucks.

IMPORTANT: YOUR BALL MOUNT AND HITCH BALL NEEDS TO BE BOTH RATED FOR CLASS V TO SAFELY TOW THESE WEIGHT LOADS.

Class V type of trailer hitches have the highest weight ratings of the receiver hitch classes, offering as much as 20000lbs GTW. They are used on full-sized pickups and commercial trucks.

It is also classified as two types of class V hitches that CURT offers. Xtra Duty (XD) class V hitches have a 2” receiver and rated up to 17000lbs. while Commercial Duty (CD) class V hitches have a 2-1/2” receiver and rated for as much as 20000lbs.

TIP: YOU CAN USE A REDUCER SLEEVE TO MOUNT HITCH ACCESSORIES THAT ARE MADE FOR A SMALLER HITCH RECEIVER SIZE.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, choosing the right trailer hitch class is now listed above to help you in choosing the right one intended for your vehicle and for its use. Finally, always remember to select the one that is right for your vehicle in order to avoid any misconceptions that may lead you to accidents.

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