How Do I Know What Trailer Hitch To Buy?

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How Do I Know What Trailer Hitch To Buy

We recommend 11” clearance from the base of your “loaded” trailer hitch ball mount to the floor or more. The 11-ft of clearance allows you many clear paths for dips, bumps, and slanted driveways to save you from scraping the bottom of your hitch. Kindly remember that this is a general recommendation and many other factors could affect the distance from the base of the hitch to the ground, like the quality or strength of your vehicle socks’ tension.

Selecting the best trailer hitch for your car is often simpler than you probably expect. This is because most hitches are built for specific vehicles, enabling you to find the hitch you need using your make, model, style, and year. After that, you then have to select the right size and type of receiver to match your lifestyle.

This guide will discuss the steps involved in getting the best trailer hitch receiver for your car.

There are five trailer hitch classes, with the number one class featuring the least capacity and the 5th class having the most capacity. Hitch classes importantly designate the size and weight capacity of the hitch opening.

Below is a fast check on the 5 hitch classes, their capacities, as well as their respective sizes of the receiver.

1. Light-Duty Receiver Hitches - Class 1

  • 1 1/4″ by 1 1/4″ receiver
  • Tongue weight capacity: maximum of 200lbs

Light-duty receiver hitches are typically built for towing bike racks as well as shipment carriers. This style of hitch trailer is also useful in towing smaller utility trailers, enclosed trailers, and motorcycles. The highest gross weight of the trailer should not be up to 2,000 lbs. the towing vehicle popularly associated with this actual type of hitch receiver is often a midsize car or a compact car, these vehicles can often tow with a transmission cooler of light-duty.   

2. Regular-Duty Receiver Hitches - Class 2

  • 1 1/4″ by 1 1/4″ receiver
  • Tongue weight capacity: maximum of 350lbs

This class of receiver hitch can tow up to 3,500 lbs and its tongue weight is 350lbs. Tow vehicles at a Class 2 type of hitch receiver include the likes of minivans, midsize SUVs, midsize cars, and small pickup trucks. Most of those vehicles come with regular-transmission coolers which should be able to accommodate a towing weight of 3,500 lbs. There are typical tow items for this style hitch such as ATVs, small fishing boats, and motorcycles, as well as cargo trailers up to a length of 12ft. Also, the regular-duty trailer hitch receiver is attached to the frame of the towing vehicle with a bolt. 

3. Heavy-Duty Receiver Hitches – Class 3

  • 2″ receiver
  • Tongue weight capacity: maximum of 750lbs

A heavy-duty receiver hitch is fixed onto the vehicle’s frame and is also referred to as an undercard receiver hitch. Heavy-duty trailer hitches are built to accommodate or tow up to 7,500 lbs and they feature a removal drawbar that is connected to the frame of the car. Lots of vehicles can tow using this type of hitch, such as vans, full-size cars, mid to large-sized SUVs as well as pickup trucks.

4. Super-Duty Receiver Hitches – Class 4

  • 2″ & 2.5″ receives available
  • Tongue weight capacity: maximum of 1,700lbs

Full-size pickups and SUVs come with higher capacity for towing; these trailers are capable of towing travel trailers, heavier machinery, and boats of 24ft or higher. The towing capacity of this receiver hitch is up to 17,000 lbs of gross trailer weight as well as a tongue weight of 1,700 lbs.

5. Fifth Wheel Hitches

Not to be taken for a bumper mount receiver hitch, this hitch is majorly built for pickup or flatbed moving trucks and can tow up to 30,000 lbs. The 5th wheel hitch mounts behind a truck and its plate are the same as a semi-tractor attached to by a kingpin on the fifth wheel.

How to pick the Right Trailer Hitch to purchase

Step 1: Check your vehicle:

Start by searching for your vehicle in our tool for “select your vehicle” closer to the top of the page. Enter the make, model, year, and sub-model, if necessary. Almost all the vehicles on the road today have a unique trailer hitch design made by CURT. With a custom fit, you get easy installation, the highest towing capacity, and the best look and integration together with the spare tire and other features of vehicle design.

Step 2: Pick a hitch class:

After you have supplied the year, model, and make, you will have the chance to see the trailer hitch or hitches that are specific to your vehicle. You may also see custom towing equipment. Some vehicles may feature more than a single option to pick from. In this situation, you need to understand the five separate classes. What is the best class of trailer hitch for you?

Pro Tip

Generally, 2WD possesses a higher towing capacity than AWD and 4WD vehicles. This is because the weight of 4WD models is much higher than the 2WD models, featuring a transfer case, extra axle, and extra drive shaft.

Step 3: Improve your vehicle’s potential:

What is the size of hitch I need? If many trailer hitches are compatible with your vehicle, you should just consider what and how frequent you will be towing behind your vehicle. If you will be towing heavier trailers more often, you should improve your towing potential using a top-rated hitch and large hitch receiver. If you will be towing only light-duty trailers or making use of the hitch receiver for shipment management with a cargo carrier or bike rack, you may get away with a smaller trailer hitch.

Step 4: Attach accessories to your trailer hitch:

A hitch receiver is only a receiver. It doesn’t give the direct link to a trailer. That is why, after you chose a hitch for your vehicle, you will need to buy some hitch accessories, like a trailer ball, wiring harness, ball mount, and hitch lock.

  • Bonus Tips: Consider a hitch’s appearance on your vehicle: You need to consider the look of your car when purchasing a trailer hitch. For instance, you likely don’t want your sporty SUV to look tainted by a huge, square hitch body protruding. CURT offers choices for hidden and exposed hitches. A hidden hitch implies that the actual body is concealed up below the vehicle, giving a more factory appearance and feel. The only visible part will be the receiver tube.

There are vehicles, like utility vehicles and work trucks, where it is not so important to hide the hitch. Also, some CURT tow hitches come with a round tube body against a square tube body. If the hitch body is not concealed, a round body hitch will bring a sleek appearance. 

FAQ about choosing Trailer Hitch to buy

Do all trailer hitches work on all vehicles?

Before we can tell you the specific vehicles that a hitch will work on, we will need to know the brand and part number of the hitch. Not all brand and model of hitch that works for your Escape Hybrid will work for all similar vehicles. The hitch should contain a safety/warning sticker that shows its brand as well as the part number.

How do I determine the size ball that works for my trailer?

To figure out the right size of ball required for your need, check the coupler on the tongue of your trailer. So many couplers come with the right ball size and towing capacity attached to them. The most popular sizes of trailer balls include 1 7/8”, 2”, and 2 5/16”.

What happens if the height of the trailer hitch is too much? 

If the height of the hitch is too much for the travel trailer, it will create a slanted look by tipping backward and cause an uneven weight distribution. Your aerodynamic will be less this way and your trailer has more chance to catch the wind and start swaying.

What height is the standard for a trailer hitch?

The height of the trailer coupler is about 17 inches, from the ground to the base of the coupler, and the majority of itch manufacturers build their hitches to fit with a ball mount that will be so close to this measurement.  

Which is better between having the trailer tongue higher or lower?

If the nose of a trailer is up too much, the tongue weight is reduced enough that the trailer may start to sway. So, that means the level is the best. If the level is difficult to attain, then make effort to reduce the nose.

Conclusion

Now, that you’ve taken all these details, you can then go ahead and practice some of it. Practice is important, so be sure to slowly drive for the first few miles once you are on the road. You are not in any race, so go easy with the throttle. Don’t forget that you will have much topping distances than normal, as well, considering the additional weight of the trailer. Buying the right size drop hitch will make sure you have a safe towing experience.

For trailer hitch installation companies, check our best trailer hitch installers.

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Thomas Curry
Thomas Curry
Thomas has a degree in literature from Stanford University and a profession in Mass Communication. Thomas is a member of the Moving Feedback research team, an expert in writing educative articles to help readers make the right buying decisions. He is well versed in moving industry matters to give the best advice on moving needs.
Thomas Curry - Moving Feedback Research Team
Thomas Curry - Moving Feedback Research Team

Thomas has a degree in literature from Stanford University and a profession in Mass Communication. Thomas is a member of the Moving Feedback research team, an expert in writing educative articles to help readers make the right buying decisions. He is well versed in moving industry matters to give the best advice on moving needs.

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