A tow hitch is a device attached to the chassis of a vehicle for towing. It can take the form of a tow ball to allow swiveling and articulation of a trailer, or a tow pin, or a tow hook with a trailer loop, often used for large or agricultural vehicles where slack in the pivot pin allows similar movements.
A trailer hitch is the primary connector between the tow truck and the trailer. It is the structural component that bolts onto the vehicle and provides the coupling point for the trailer to be attached. There are many different types of hitches used to retrieve a trailer. The receiver hitches are perhaps the most common, divided into five classes. Some of the other types of hitch include 5th wheel hitches and gooseneck hitches. Each type of trailer hitch has its own unique purpose and coupling style, as well as its own set of capacities and sizes.
While it is helpful to distinguish between the different tow hitch classes, it is important to note that most of the receiver hitches are vehicle-specific. In other words, not all five classes are available for each vehicle.
Across the five hitch classes, weight ratings vary considerably from 2,000 lbs. Up to 20,000 pounds. Each individual hitch comes with its own specific weight ratings that may or may not reach the maximum range of the designated hitch class.
Remember, your towing capacity is always limited to the lowest rated towing component, whether the hitch, the accessory, the vehicle, the trailer or any other part of the towing system.
Class 1 trailer hitches are generally intended for passenger cars and small crossovers. They are equipped with a 1-1/4 "x 1-1/4" receiver tube opening or, sometimes, with a fixed tongue for direct mounting of a trailer ball instead of a ball mount.
Most Class 1 hitches are rated as tow trailers of up to 2,000 lbs. However, it is important to remember that not all hitches are rated at the same capacity and that no hitch will ever increase the maximum weight a vehicle can carry.
Class 2 trailer hooks have a 1-1/4 "x 1-1/4" receiver tube opening and are used for lightweight towing applications. Most of the Class 2 hitches are capable of carrying up to 3,500 lbs. The gross weight of the trailer.
Class 2 hitches are typically found on full-size sedans, minivans and crossovers, but can also be found on small SUVs and pick-up trucks.
Class 3 trailer hitch is the most common receiver hitch class installed on full-size pick-up trucks and SUVs. If your truck is equipped with a towing prep package, it is likely to have a Class 3 hitch.
Class 3 hitches are equipped with an opening of a 2 "x 2" receiver tube and have a load capacity of up to 8,000 lbs. The gross weight of the trailer. Some Class 3 bumps may also be used in combination with a weight distribution bump.
Class 4 trailer hitches are commonly mounted on full-size pick-up trucks and SUVs. They have a 2 "x 2" receiver tube opening and generally have a carrying capacity of up to 10,000 lbs. The gross weight of the trailer.
Most Class 4 hitches can also use a weight distribution bump for ratings as high as 12,000 lbs.
Class 5 trailer hitches have the highest weight ratings of the receiver hitch class, offering as much as 20,000 lbs. They are typically used on full-size pick-ups and commercial trucks.
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