Shopping for towing components is not an easy task. There are a variety of options which may confuse you, especially if you do not know anything about hitches. There are terms used to describe the various towing parts, which I will not get into. However I will let you know what is compatible with what.
Weight Carrying Vs Weight Distributing Hitches
Weight distributing hitches are used to equalize or balance out the weight of the trailer evenly across the four wheels of the towing vehicle thus the vehicle is not weighed down on the rear end. These have an advantage over weight-carrying hitches because you can use sway controllers on them to reduce swaying significantly and be more balanced on the road.
Weight Carrying Hitches on the other hand, do not distribute the weight evenly. It is therefore up to you to balance out the weight of your trailer with that of the towing vehicle.
Front Mount Hitch Vs Rear Mount Hitch
Most hitches are installed at the rear end of the towing vehicle. Most people, however, are not aware that there are hitches that can be mounted at the front end of the towing vehicle. The classes of the front-mount hitches do not differ from those of rear-mount hitches. Front-mount hitches are in fact easier to install on any full size vehicle plus they are more convenient because you can easily track the situation of your trailer.
Class 1 and 2 Receivers
This type of hitches is used on small cars of any model (passenger cars). They usually use a 1 ¼-inch receiver tube for the ball mount. Hitches may be hidden or not. We will concentrate on the hidden trailer hitches.
Class 1 hidden trailer hitches have a maximum towing capacity of 2,000 pounds.
Class 2 Hidden Hitches, on the other hand, can be used to tow a 3,500 pound trailer.
Class 3 Receivers
This is most commonly installed in full-size vehicles like pickup trucks and SUVs. They use a bigger receiver tube compared to that of Class 1 and 2 hitches, measuring 2-inches. They have a maximum towing load of 8,000 pounds.
Class 4 and 5 Receivers
Class 4 and 5 hidden trailer hitches are heavy-duty. Class 4 receivers have a load capacity of between 10,000-12,000 pounds. Class 5 receivers, however, have an extra 2,000 carrying capacity on the class 4 receivers. Both Class 4 and 5 hitches use a 2 inch receiver tubes, although some Class 5 hitches use a 2 ½-inch receiver tube.
Fifth Wheel Hitch
Fifth wheel hitches are installed on commercial trucks like Uhaul. They are heavy duty and are usually used on large campers/travel trailers, movers and car haulers. They move the weight forward of a pickup truck’s rear axle. Their carrying capacities range from 16,000 to 30,000 pounds. They are easily maneuvered and are able to hold bumps and contours of the road hence are more stable. This is the only type of hitch where the coupling device is part of the hitch and not the trailer.
The Gooseneck hitches can only be used on specialized trailers like trailers used to haul livestock, cars & toys, and industrial or commercial trailers. They, like fifth wheel hitches, are used in commercial towing vehicles and move the weight forward of a pickup truck’s rear axle. Gooseneck hitches can handle up to 30,000 pound trailers.
Now that you know the different types of towing parts, you can comfortably go to shop for your own trailer hitch. Just remember that the towing vehicle determines the kind of a hitch you can use on it and vice versa.