Having a trailer hitch on the back of your truck is not only great for towing, but it may be used for other things such as carrying coolers for fishing, hunting or picnicking. They're also great for a good bruise on the shin if you're not paying attention to what you're doing. Depending on what you're towing, you may need a particular type of hitch. You'll most certainly need to pay attention to ball size. It's a good idea to have a couple different size balls, though 1 7/8 is the most common. Larger trailers may require a 2-inch or larger ball.
What are the Different Kinds of Hitches?
Several different types of hitches are available so that you can haul many different kinds of trailers. The four most popular include:
Rear receiver hitch. This is the most common hitch. Use it to tow a trailer, add hitch steps, a platform for coolers or bicycles and other things that will fit. The receiver hitch has a square receiver tube that allows you to change from a ball to anything else you might want to add to it. A rear receiver hitch is mounted directly to the frame of the truck.
Front mount hitch. This hitch is just like the rear receiver hitch except it mounts to the frame at the front of the truck. The square receiver portion of the hitch allows you to add a cargo carrier, a winch, spare tire mount or even a snow plow. And, if you're not good at backing trailers up, hook up the trailer so you can push it into a small space while being able to see what you are doing.
. This heavy-duty hitch mounts in the bed of a truck over or just in front of the rear axle. It's used to haul larger campers, horse trailers and car haulers. The coupling device on a 5th wheel is part of the hitch instead of the trailer.
Gooseneck hitch. This hitch is similar to a 5th wheel in that it is mounted in the bed of the truck in the same place. Unlike a 5th wheel hitch, you have full use of the bed when you're not towing anything. Common uses include livestock trailers, big flatbeds, car haulers and commercial or industrial trailers.
What Kind of Weight Can a Hitch Haul?
The amount of weight you can haul is limited by the trailer hitch and the amount that your truck can haul. The gross combination weight rating includes the truck, passenger, equipment, gas, cargo and your trailer. If your truck has a 15,000-pound GCWR and the truck weighs 7,000 pounds, the most everything else can weigh is 8,000 pounds.
The gross trailer weight is the trailer fully loaded. This is sometimes referred to as wet weight. It includes the trailer, everything in it, fuel, cargo straps, wheel chocks and other equipment.
The hitch class also limits weight. They have a maximum weight capacity. A class I is the lowest weight capacity and a class V is the highest. It also has the largest opening size for the receiver. Tongue weight is how much of the trailer's weight is pressed onto the hitch of the tow vehicle. This is usually about ten percent of the gross trailer weight.
How to Determine Which Hitch You Need
Finding the right hitch means that you need some information. The first piece of information is the towing capacity of your vehicle. If your vehicle can only tow 3,000 pounds, you won't need a gooseneck or 5th wheel hitch.
Determine the gross weight of the trailer. Once you have the gross weight, compare it with the towing weight of the truck. You can only tow up to the lowest number. Hitches are rated for weight. You'll need a hitch that can hold at least the smaller number, but preferably a little bigger. However, you won't need to go into overkill mode and spend a ton of extra money for a hitch that you'll never use. Once you get the hitch, choose a ball mount that fits the hitch, and then a ball for the size of your trailer's coupler.
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