Trailer Hitches: A Good Basic Overview

One of the most important parts of the gear required to tow RV’s and various other vehicles is the hitch. There are countless different options of hitches for towing a trailer, but they are all divided into 5 major categories. In this article, I will be giving a basic overview of these classes, and explaining the similarities and differences between them.

The five different major categories are the receiver hitch, the 5th wheel hitch, the gooseneck hitch, the weight distribution hitch, and the pintle hitch. Of these five, the main one, most commonly used, is the receiver hitch.

Before we get into the specific types of hitches, it is important to explain the different classes and sizes that all of these various hitches fall into. 

Hitch comes in many different classes. These include class 1, class 2, class 3, class 4, class 5 Xtra duty, and class 5 Commercial duty. Of these different classes, the hitches also come in four standard sizes. The four sizes are 1-1/4″, 2″, 2-1/2″ and 3″. 

  1. Receiver Hitch

Use of the receiver hitch is available to most vehicles, such as cars, crossovers, minivans, SUV’s, and trucks. Depending on which type of receiver hitch you are using, you can expect to be able to tow anywhere from 2,000 pounds to 20,000 pounds. 

The weight that the hitch can support and handle, and the type of vehicle it is used by both depend on the class and size of the receiver. 

  1. 5th Wheel Hitch

Use of the 5th wheel hitch is limited to only pickup trucks. Depending on the 5th wheel hitch you are using, you can comfortably tow weights sometimes as high as 30,000 pounds. The 5th wheel hitch is also considered a heavy duty type of hitch, meant for jobs of heavier weight classes.

  1. Gooseneck Hitch

Use of the gooseneck hitch is also limited to only pickup trucks. The weight limit of gooseneck hitches can stretch as far as 38,000 pounds if using one of the most expensive options available. The gooseneck hitch is also considered a heavy duty hitch, and is most commonly used on and around farms.

  1. Weight Distribution Hitch

Use of the weight distribution hitch is available for most vehicles, and is used together with the hitch receiver. Various different weight distribution hitches are available, with weight ranges reaching a maximum of about 15,000 pounds. This type of hitch is an accessory to the receiver hitch, with its main purpose being to distribute the tongue weight of a trailer across the towing vehicle to ensure stability.

  1. Pintle Hitch

The pintle hitch is only used with heavy duty vehicles. Of the many types of pintle hitches, the maximum weight capacity of one of the higher rating options is 60,000 pounds. The mechanism consists of a hook and a ring, and is mainly used in the manufacturing and industrial work scene.

There are the major different types of trailer hitches that are available. Each type has its own specific pros, cons, and requirements, which should influence the decision making process of someone interested in purchasing and/or using one of them.

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