Buying a Trailer Hitch

Selecting the right trailer hitch for your vehicle is important to make sure there are no surprises once everything is hooked up and ready to go. If you’re in the process of selecting and buying a trailer hitch, take a moment to consider the following tips.

Know Your Vehicle’s Capabilities

The “right” hitch will be one that matches your vehicle’s capabilities. Make sure what you plan to hitch to your vehicle can actually be supported safely. Check your vehicle’s owner manual. Pay particular attention to gross trailer weight (GTW) and tongue weight (TW). GTW is the total weight of your trailer plus its cargo and hardware. TW is the weight that will rest directly on the hitch.

Note: As a general rule, tongue weight should not be more than 10 percent of the GTW.

Select the Appropriate Trailer Hitch Weight Class

Use gross trailer weight and tongue weight as your basis for the type of hitch you buy. Trailer hitches are available in five different weight classes. Curt hitches are especially popular because of their rust-resistant finishes and vehicle-specific designs. Some hitches offer a lower profile than others, but this doesn’t affect performance. There are the five hitch weight classes:

  • Class I hitches (rated up to 2000 lbs. GTW with a 200 lbs. maximum TW)
  • Class II hitches (3500 lbs. GTW; 300 lbs. TW)
  • Class III hitches (6000 lbs. GTW; 600 lbs. TW)
  • Class IV hitches (10,000 lbs. GTW; 1000 lbs. TW)
  • Class V hitches (12,000 lbs. GTW; 1200 lbs. TW)

Smaller cars and SUVs can only safely handle smaller loads, which usually means a class I hitch is what you would need to buy if you have vehicles of this type. Large trucks and vans are capable of handling larger loads, making these vehicles a better match for hitches in classes from III and up. Don’t forget related accessories you may need, including any of the following items:

  • Hitch adapter
  • Hitcher extender
  • Trailer ball
  • Coupler (to help a trailer make turns easier)
  • Hitch pin
  • Trailer wiring (for trailer lights)
  • Weight distributing hitch (for extremely heavy loads)
  • Sway control (to maintain stability when the hitch is in place)

Now that you have a better idea of what to consider when selecting a trailer hitch, buy with confidence by making Hitches Online your preferred destination. Contact us today to learn more about our products and services.