A towing hitch is a must-have for every outdoor enthusiast. Whether you need to get your fishing boat to the lake, take camping gear to your spot, or transport your mountain bike to the location of your cycling adventures, a towing hitch will help. But how to choose one? This task can be daunting for a first-timer, but let us make it easier for you.
How to Choose a Tow Hitch
There are five classes of trailer hitches, and to choose the proper one, you need to be aware of two things - gross trailer weight (GTW) and tongue weight (TW). GTW is the weight of your trailer when fully loaded, while TW is the static force exerted on the hitch ball by the trailer tongue. The TW factor is very important. If the weight on the trailer tongue is insufficient, the trailer will sway from side to side, while if there’s too much weight, the rear tires of your tow vehicle will be overloaded. 10-15% of GTW is considered the proper tongue weight.
You also need to know the maximum towing weight your tow vehicle can tolerate. To find out that, check your vehicle manual.
Tow Hitch Classes
Class 1 - GTW 2,000 lbs, TW 200 lbs. This light-duty type is used in bike tow hitch racks. This class is compatible with compact cars, full-size cars, and CUVs.
Class 2 - GTW 3,500 lbs, TW 350 lbs. It’s the most common type of hitch suitable for regular loads. Class 2 hitches work with vehicles ranging from mid-size cars to minivans.
Class 3 - GTW 5,000 lbs, TW 500 lbs. This hitch is compatible with SUVs, full-size vans, and mid-size trucks and is used for towing mid-size trailers, cargo-carrying flatbeds, and mid-size boats.
Class 4 - GTW 10,000-12,000 lbs, TW 1,000-1,200 lbs. The hitch is used for towing trailers longer than 12 feet, boats longer than 24 feet, and heavy machinery. It’s compatible with full-size vans and trucks.
Class 5 - GTW 16,000-20,000 lbs, TW 1,600-2,000 lbs. This heavy-duty truck towing hitch is compatible with heavy trailers and machinery.
Pay attention to the tow hitch receiver. The typical hitch receiver size is 2″. Other sizes include 1-1/4″ for lightweight applications and 2-2/1″ for heavy-duty hitches.