Types of Trailer Hitches & Hitch Classes

Last Updated on January 10, 2023 by Will Sabel

Trailer Hitch

So far, we are already familiar with what a trailer hitch is. 

But honestly, this tiny knowledge is barely enough before the monstrous wave of confusion you are about to face now.

If you are new here, here’s a short explanation only for you –

A trailer hitch is a structural piece that soothes the method of attaching carrier vehicles to the trailer while acting as a medium between them. In addition to that, a ball mount is just an accessory for a trailer hitch.      

If I dive into the depth of the subject, you can find receiver hitches and tow hitches. 

Receiver hitches are the sort of trailer hitches that are put onto the bottom of a vehicle, at the rear, and enforce a tube for coupling a ball mount or any other hitch accessory to it. 

The tow hitch is the additional name of the trailer hitch. Both are termed as pieces of equipment used in towing the trailers.

Trailer hitches are found in the abundance of different shapes, sizes, and varieties. If you are already an old fellow to the system, I’m going to walk you through a new section on our chapter of concepts of the trailer hitch. 

That is- Exploring the types of trailer hitches.

I found the types of trailer hitches in several forms while researching on the internet. Nevertheless, I’m including both of the sections using the class and the name of each of them.

Let’s begin with class one!

Types of Trailer Hitches: Part 1

From what I have found on the internet – Trailer hitches can be separated into five unique classes. These usually speak for a typical rating for tongue weight, gross weight, weight distribution and hitch receiver size. 

Basically, the ones that I talked about right now.

This is mostly ‘secret news’ but I realized from some articles that hitch manufacturers tend to judge hitches considering their classes.

Almost all hitch supplements and hitch ball mounts are available in the highest size like 2-inch sizes or it can go as low as 1 1/4-inch.

But that’s not all.

This size is similar to that of the hitch’s square receiver. 

Here’s how I’m going to exaggerate them: 

Class I

The rating starts with this one being the first. The size of the receiver would be 1 1/4 inches. Typically, it should have a gross trailer weight rating. It should not be more than 2,000 pounds nevertheless. The same goes for tongue weight rating as it is limited to 200 pounds.

Class II

Class II is slightly different. Although it has the same hitch receiver size as class I, it differs in other classes. That includes the gross trailer weight not being rated more than 3,500 pounds and the tongue weight limited to 350 pounds rating.

Class III

This one has slight modifications to the measures of the hitch receiver being a 2-inch in size. Like the previous measurements, this gross trailer weight is limited to an 8,000-pound rating and a tongue weight being an 800 pounds rating. 

You will also need a weight-distribution hitch rating and it needs to have a rating of no more than 12,000 pounds.

Class IV

This one maintains a hitch receiver of size 2-inch. 

Yes, it is similar to Class III. 

This has a tongue weight rating of up to 1,000 pounds. They also included the weight-distribution hitch rating limited to 12,000 pounds.

We have to count the gross trailer weight rating too, with a rating of up to 10,000 pounds. 

Class V

We reached the last one! This receiver mimics a similar receiver size to the previous ones (2-inch). 

The average trailer weight rating is not more than 17,000 pounds and the tongue weight rating is limited to 2,400 pounds. The weight distribution has a massive contrast of hitch rating up to 17,000 pounds. 

The fifth one was not on the list of the SAE standard officially, but the manufacturers use it for their convenience like- construction work. 

These are only some of the factors that you can consider before you commit yourself to a trailer hitch. 

This should do the task of picking the perfect one for your unforgettable journey venture.

Types of Trailer Hitches: Part 2

It’s amazing how trailer hitches can be used in other works apart from towing vehicles. Generally, most heavy-duty trucks arrive with a perfect receiver hitch. 

Still, perfection needs no bound, you can still attach many other hitches. In the second part of the types of tow hitches, I’m going to show you how different trailer hitches can be, apart from dividing them into classes:

Here’s a sneaky peek of the hitches that I’m going to mention:

  • Weight distribution hitch
  • 5th wheel hitch
  • Rear receiver hitch
  • Front mount hitch
  • Gooseneck hitch
  • Pintle hitch
  • Bumper hitch

Let’s not forget, the list doesn’t end here. I thought to add more but let’s stay relevant on this one!

Weight Distribution Hitch

weight distribution hitch

Although it might look somewhat similar to regular trailer hitches, it is going to have an attaching mechanism for some spring bars that are going to transfer weight through the vehicle over to the front axle. 

One fact that I’d like to point out is that – Even though weight distribution hitches are mounted to the rear hitch, you can still count them as hitch attachments. 

Its aim is to distribute weight evenly across the tow vehicle and trailer so it is carried for the vehicle to travel with it. When the trailer is overweight, there forms pressure on the posterior part of the tow vehicle while lifting the frontal part of the car from the ground. The center of the hitch will also sink or go down. We can call it the ‘squatting hitch’ situation. This will reduce the wrecking force of your car. Now that is a serious threat to your and your trailer’s safety. 

Using adjustable spring bars, a weight-distribution hitch distributes the excess weight forward and reward. It levels up the front axle so your driving is risk-free and velvety. Other than that, the main focus is known as ‘spring rods’, so you know where to use it now.

5th Wheel Hitch

5th wheel hitch

When I talk about heavy duty, I mean this one right here. If you are planning to haul larger travel trailers, larger campers, and car haulers, this one’s for you.

This hitch performs the best when mounted into the bed of a truck bed right over or forward part of the rear axle. Usually, the coupling device acts as a part of the trailer in most trailer cases. This is where the creators of 5th wheel hitches proved their creativity.

They made the coupling device a part of the hitch instead of the trailer. The mechanism proceeds as the hitch accepts a pin from the trailer and later it secures the pin with a jaw mechanism. How cool is that?

Amidst all this coolness, I’m going to bring you its limitations. Sadly, 5th wheel hitches are only available for pickup trucks. But here is another good news – they usually have a pivot ability that allows them to keep up with the bumps and settle with the contours of the traveling pathway. 

As I already mentioned they are heavy-duty, and can carry up to 24,000 lbs. You can still double-check to be completely sure of the fact.

See Also: Fifth Wheel Slider Hitches List

Rear Receiver Hitch

rear receiver hitch

The most standard and versatile truck hitch that you can get is this one. Not so ‘rare’, is it?

This is the kind of trailer hitch that almost becomes your comfort equipment to work with. You can use it for towing the trailer seamlessly and as it is universal, it is recommended for beginners. It’s mostly seen as a truck hitch.

Usually, this receiver hitch mimics a square-shaped receiver hitch tube. As it’s similar to that simple square-shaped tube one, the options are endless while the versatility is limitless. When you mount these hitches, they are directly mounted in the vehicle’s rear. Thus the name ‘rear receiver hitch.

As it is versatile and commonly used, it can haul and has weight ratings based on 5 class scales  (1 is being light-duty hitch and 5 represents heavy-duty hitch). The size of the receiver tubes depends on the rating of the hitches and changes according to that. 

As I mentioned above, the primary sizes are 11/4’’ x 11/4’’, 2’’ x 2’’, and 2 ½’’ x 2 ½’’. You can say the hitch’s rating is proportional to the receiver tube’s size. Keep in mind that it is not a written rule but only a discovery of my mere brain. So be sure to triple-check to be safe. 

People seem to love it regardless and made its reputation to be the most common type of hitch in the market.

Front Mount Hitch

front mounted hitch

In short, a very valid extension to your vehicle. As the name suggests, you can already guess it’s for the front part of the vehicle. 

It is very identical (if not exact) to the rear hitch except for the part that bolts directly. This hitch creates a front receiver that can be used for different applications. Lodge a snow plow, cargo, spare tire mount, put a winch into it, you name it. It does the job.

It is very flexible and versatile. Just like you saw on the rear receiver hitch. As I always like to say, double-check the hitch ratings before you begin to use them.

Gooseneck Hitch

gooseneck hitch

A gooseneck hitch is mostly known for its similarity to 5th wheel hitches. It does everything a 5th wheel hitch can, and surprisingly, even more, than it doesn’t. 

You need to mount it in a similar location near the rear axle. Like 5th wheel hitches, these are also designed for trucks only. But don’t get overwhelmed with the similarity that it’s showing, here’s a fact that makes it slightly better than the 5th wheel hitch – gooseneck hitches are less intrusive. 

They are designed to enjoy your bed without the need of towing anything. So it’s a lot more flexible than what you thought about this before. Check the weight rate and capacity before committing. They are usually rated for 30,000 lbs but it’s always a better option to confirm the rates and sizes.

Pintle Hitch 

pintle hitch

If I were to differentiate between a regular hitch or ball mount-ish structure, it can get a little vague. Especially if I’m talking about Pintle Hitches

But that doesn’t take away the fact that you still call it a hitch.  

The name has a reason behind it. The part which is attached to the truck is the hooking portion of the system. This region is the pintle. And the part that’s connected to the trailer is called lunette.

The interesting part is you can mount the pintle directly. It can be mounted to the receivers of huge commercial trucks or small ones. If you don’t want to do that, it can also be scaled to a mount that slips into a hitch receiver.  

Not gonna lie, these hitches are dramatically a tad bit on the noisier side than the regular ball mount connection. Users updated that the weight ratings are abnormally inflated.  

They are told to tow close to 60,000 Ibs from 10,000 Ibs. (approximately)  trailer weight. You can always find these hitches in construction enterprises.

Bumper Hitch

curt bumper hitch

This is the simplest trailer hitch type you can ever find on every list. It remains attached to the bumper of the truck directly or vehicle and makes the naming more meaningful. 

It has a simple square-shaped receiver tube. This pattern is suitable for universal usage and maximum versatility. The only drawback that I can think of is that it cannot carry excess weight as it is attached to the bumper. You might have already guessed this one considering how lightweight and simple this one is. 

In short- if you want something simple and versatile for small loads, this one does a great job. 

There will always be more hitches for the betterment and to ease out the hitching process. If you choose the perfect one for yourself, there’s no doubt your journey is going to be as smooth as butter. So choose your warrior and get ready to ace your task!

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Types of trailer hitches

Author: Will Sabel

Will Sabel is an avid car enthusiast. When he's not writing for RidersWant, you'll find him cruising the country in a new car. People are always wondering how many cars he has!

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