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Selecting the Right Trailer Hitch

Aug 13, 2008
When you are looking to tow a trailer, attach a cargo carrier or essentially connect one vehicle to another, you'll find that you need to look for the right trailer hitch. After a brief consultation, though, you'll realize that trailer hitches come in a wide variety of classes and that each class is meant for a different function. When you are trying to find the right hitch for your situation, you'll find that there are several different things that you need to keep in mind when it comes to what class is best for your purposes. Remember that for the definitions below, GTW refers to gross trailer weight, which is the weight of the trailer when fully loaded, not when it is sitting empty.

Class I

Class I trailer hitches are meant for the lightest towing duties. They tend to be rated up to 2000 pounds GTW, and they tend to be fitted with a draw bar or a ball mount where the accessories will be attached to the hitch itself. You'll find that they will work with any class I accessory and that they will usually use a 1/2" pin to secure the ball mount in place. A Class I trailer hitch is ideal for hitch adapters, cargo carriers or bike racks.

Class II

Class II hitch adaptors tend to be made for light towing duty, and as such, they will be rated at 3500 pounds GTW. As the name implies, they can be used for Class I or Class II accessories, and thy will use a removable drawbar. Keep in mind that it will work with a Class I and II hitch balls, but that a 2 and 5/16" hitch ball will not work in this setup.

Class III

Class III trailer hitches are also known as round receiver hitches and they will be rated up to 6000 pounds GTW. There is usually a 2" by 2" receiver opening, and you'll find that these hitches tend to have the most options when you are looking at things like bike racks and cargo carriers. You'll also find that you'll be able to make sure that you can simply carry more gear. When you are looking at Class III trailer hitches, you'll find that the ballmounts can be sold separate, and you'll find that there are many available which can ensure that your trailer rides level with the tow vehicle in question.

Class IV

Class IV will more or less duplicate what has been said for Class III except that it will be rated for an impressive 12,000 pounds GTW and that it is mean to carry accessories that are Class III and below. Make sure that you get your trailer weighed appropriately, as overworking the trailer hitch can have disastrous consequences.

Class V

Class V trailer hitches have a system in place that is meant to handle up to 17,000 GW without a problem, and you'll find that a Class V trailer hitch is meant to take care of class III accessory as long as an adapter is in place. Ball mounts are frequently sold separately, and that this class of trailer hitch is designed for heavy duty trucks and vans.
About the Author
Jack Turney is an automotive nut and an editor for www.TrailerJunction.com, your source for a wide selection of new and used trailers , accessories, and parts.
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