Types of Trailer Hitches and Hitch Classes – Comprehensive Guide

Trailer hitches are not easy to deal with, they can really mess up with your head if you don’t know the basics of them. 

You can’t just go and grab one to tow the trailer, only on the basis of built quality. There is much more to look into before you bet on any of them. Because all the hitches are different in terms of their capacity, sizes, applications and built for specific purposes, and are made vehicle specific.  

Otherwise, using the hitch that does not go well with your vehicle can be an imbalance at any time, and detach or break out of the vehicle. Whilst risking other lives, who are driving alongside you! But do you know what’s less risky to do?

Learning about the types of trailer hitches and Hitch Classes, so you could maneuver the market easily and get the suitable one, for your vehicle and trailer. And this detailed guide is meant to serve the same purpose. 

Types of Trailer Hitches and Hitch Classes

Let’s explore every nitty-gritty of the trailer hitches, to avoid the consequences;

7 Types of Trailer Hitches

The Trailer Hitches come in different sizes, shapes, and types that determine their purpose and way of use. There is no one fit for all, instead of finding one as per your need is the only way forward. 

7 Types of Trailer Hitches

Here are the types explained, go through all of them and decide which one is meant for your needs;

1. Receiver Hitch

A Receiver Hitch is one of the widely used types because of being versatile enough that it can be used for a number of applications. All thanks to its Square spaced receiver tube, which allows you to insert it into a variety of accessories. 

Receiver Hitch - Type of Trailer Hitch installed on Chevrolet
Receiver Hitch – Type of Trailer Hitch installed on Chevrolet

You can mount the receiver hitch tube into the car’s frame directly and can use the square tube to attach the trailer to it. It could carry a weight ranging from 2000 to 12000 pounds, depending on the class of your hitch type. 

Classes of receiver hitch are categorized from 1 to 5 and come with different capacities. The higher the number is, the higher the tube size and capacity to carry weight will be. We will discuss them later on in detail. 

If you are not yet familiar with the different classes, you can also check out the weight capacity of your receiver hitch by consulting the manufacturer or reading the labels.. 

2. Front Mount Hitch

Front Mount Hitches are no different from the receiver hitches, as they come with the same square receiver tube. Hence, Offer the same functionality that a receiver hitch does. The only difference is that it has to be attached to the front of your vehicle’s frame, which changes the way you will be using it. 

Front Mount Hitch - Type of Trailer Hitches

You will surely not find it useful in towing a trailer. Instead, you can use it for carrying the cargo, for attaching Winch mount, a snow plow, or setting up a step up to easily access your hood. 

Who can tow the trailer attached in front of this vehicle? 

No one, this is why it is better to forget using it for towing purposes and get benefitted from it only on the off-road by keeping the spare wheel on it, or in the snow by attaching a snowplow on it. 

The best thing about this hitch is that you could easily use it alongside the rear receiver hitch, which makes it easy for you to carry more cargo when towing a trailer from the rear hitch. 

However, when practicing it, don’t forget to remain within the weight limit that your vehicle is designed to handle. Otherwise, problems do not take much time to knock on your door. 

3. Bumper Mount Hitch

A bumper mount hitch is the conventional receiver hitch, designed to attach to the bumper of your pick-up vehicle. Allows you to slide-in multiple accessories into its square receiver tube. But the overall application of this hitch is reduced because of the point of getting attached to the bumpers. It can’t bear the heavier loads, instead the lightweight loads only that your bumper could withstand. 

Bumper Mount Hitch – Type of Trailer Hitches

It is most likely to be used by boat trailers, small sedans, campers, SUVs, and by those who have to carry lightweight objects. 

4. Pintle Hitch

Pintle Hitch is the rarely found hitch type that consists of a hook and the ring. The Hook gets attached to your vehicle and the ring gets attached to the trailer, to couple them up. 

Unlike receiver hitch, it falls under the category of heavy-duty hitches, as it could easily hold the weight up to 60000 pounds. The powerful capacity makes it more appealing to be used in agricultural, construction, military or industrial settings. 

They are not recommended to use for non-commercial purposes because you normally don’t need to have such power to tow a trailer. Most importantly, they are way more expensive than you can imagine.

Let’s say even if you have bought it, the roaring noise it produces as soon as you hit the road will not leave you in peace. 

Therefore, we won’t recommend it for your common use. Relying only on the standard receiver hitch with sufficient weight capacity would be more than enough for you. 

5. 5th Wheel Hitch

5th wheel hitches also fall into the category of heavy-duty hitches. They are designed to mount into the center of the truck bed to tow heavy trailers. 

Contrasting others, you find its coupling device in the hitch instead of a trailer. The trailer’s pin gets secured with the hitch by using its jaw mechanism which ensures a smooth, safe, and secure towing experience. 

Being installed at the center of the truck bed, it also offers the pivoting capability that keeps on absorbing the bumps throughout the journey. As far as the capacity is concerned, they can easily deal with a weight of up to 24,000 pounds.

Therefore, it is recommended to use it along with large campers, travel trailers, car haulers, and larger RV vans. 

6. Gooseneck Hitch

Gooseneck Hitches are almost similar to the 5th wheel hitches and are also installed at truck beds with minor changes in them. They are installed flat at an angle of 180 degrees and come with a ball to couple up with the trailer. 

Their installation also makes it easy to use the truck bed, when the hitch is not in use. The weight capacity of the gooseneck hitch is also more than the 5th wheel hitch, as it can bear a load of up to 30,000 pounds. 

But here’s a twist; 

It is not normally used for towing the Big RV vans but rather used more for farming, commercial purposes, towing livestock trailers or gooseneck trailers because of its offering of above-average weight capacity. 

7. Weight Distribution Hitch

The weight distribution hitch is not a hitch in itself but an attachment to use along with the hitch receiver. Knowing about it is as important as understanding the hitch types if you tow the heavier trailers. 

Heavier trailers sometimes turn out hard to get control over and even make you lose control of the steering as well. In this case, you need to plug in the weight distribution hitch that works to put the weight off from the hitch tongue and redistribute it equally to other parts of the trailer. 

Ultimately, help you get control over the trailer, avoid the weight imbalance and make the journey smooth by not letting the trailer sway at all. 

Quick Comparison of Different Trailer Hitch Types

Hitch TypeTowing CapacitySuitable For
Receiver HitchFrom 2,000 to 10,000+ PoundsSpare tire, cargo, bike rack, small or medium-sized trailers
Front Hitch Vary from brand to brandOff-road journey, to attach snow plow or carrying cargo
Bumper HitchUp to 19,000 PoundsSmall Sedan cars, SUVs, boat trailers and campers
Pintle HitchUp to 62,000 PoundsIndustrial, construction or agricultural setting
5th Wheel HitchUp to 24,000 PoundsLarge campers, travel trailers, car haulers and larger RV vans.
Gooseneck HitchUp to 30,000 PoundsCar haulers, large flatbed trucks, to tow livestock trailers
Weight Distribution Hitch20,000 PoundsTravel trailers
Comparison Table of Trailer Hitch Types

Types of Hitch Classes

Types of  Hitch Classes

Class 1 Hitch

Class 1 is the smallest hitch design to help you tow the lighter weight loads, as its tongue capacity is around 200 pounds and can only tow the load up to 2000 pounds. 

They can be easily installed on your smaller car frames with their 1-1/4″ x 1-1/4″receiver tube. Some can also be attached to the bumper or the truck bed. However, passenger cars, small sedans and compact cars are normally found using these class hitches. 

Towing cargo carriers, bike racks, kayaks, and smaller trailers are a few instances where class 1 hitches can be useful for you. 

Class 2 Hitch

Class 2 is not different from the class 1 hitches, and comes with almost the same design and receiver tube size of 1 ¼”. But allows you to load more weight due to the extension in its towing and tongue capacity. 

They allow you to tow the weight up to 3500 Pounds and come with a tongue weight of up to 350 pounds, which is good enough to use for multiple towing applications. 

Similar to class 1, they also have to be used with the smaller passenger sedan cars, and small SUVs crossovers and can be used to tow bike racks on Jeeps, boats, kayaks, jet skis, cargo, and mid-sized trailers. 

Class 3 Hitch

Class 3 offers the tongue weight up to 600 pounds and lets you tow the weight up to 8000 pounds easily, which turns out to be the best option for those who usually tow larger trailers. 

The receiver size of class 3 is also bigger, as it comes with the 2 receiver size at least. And the interesting thing is that you can make it capable of loading more weight up to 12000 pounds by adding a weight-distribution hitch attachment. 

They are suitable for you if you have a larger SUV, truck, Pick-ups and any other larger vehicle to get it attached with. 

As far as the towing application is concerned, you can use it for different types of trailers and different load sizes. Such as Motorized boats, mid-sized campers, boats, bike racks, cargo, utility trailers, and a lot more than that. 

Class 4 Hitch

Class 4 hitches are available with a 2″ receiver tube, but can also be found with a 2.5″ receiver tube (if needed). And meant to pull at least 10,000 pounds of weight, while having a tongue capacity of around 1000 pounds. 

Alike class 3 hitches, they are also compatible with the weight distribution hitch for added control over the steering and adding a few more weights to its overall capacity. Though, they are not normally used for casual towing but rather used for commercial purposes. Such as towing livestock trailers, larger commercial boats, and toy haulers. 

Class 5 Hitch

Class 5 hitches are also usually used for commercial purposes, as it holds the capacity to tow larger vehicles. The receiver size is the same as class 4, but the difference comes in the tongue and towing weight limit. 

The tongue of class 5 hitches is rated at 1200 to 1700 pounds and enables you to tow up to 20000 pounds. Unlike others, using a weight distribution hitch is not optional with this class. You should be using it, whenever towing anything to keep the process smooth.

Comparison of Different Hitch Classes

Remember we mentioned the hitch comes in different classes that determine who it is suitable for. Let’s give a quick rundown on all of them;

ClassesTongue RatingGTW (Gross Trailer weight)Receiver sizes
Class 1200lbsUp to 2,000 Pounds1- 1/4” 
Class 2350lbsUp to 3,500 Pounds1- 1/4”
Class 3600lbsUp to 8,000 Pounds2”
Class 41000lbsUp to 10,000 Pounds2”, 2.5”
Class 51700lbsUp to 20,000 Pounds2”, 2.5” 3.0” 
Comparison Table of Different Hitch Classes

Wrapping Up Types of Trailer Hitches and Hitch Classes Guide

You just need to be conscious of two things when buying hitches the first time to avoid the wrong purchase. Here they are;

  • What do you want to tow?
  • What your car can support?

Answering these questions will help you maneuver your way to the right hitches to choose from.  

One precaution to keep in mind is to double-check the capacities of hitches from manufacturers. Because our mentioned ones are standard and not every manufacturer follows them strictly.


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