Different Types of Trailer Hitches & Hitch Classes

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Last Updated on May 18, 2022

Somebody who does not have much experience with handling varying classes of trailer hitches would find things extra confusing when having to decide which one would be right for their use. 

Questions will pop up in their mind one after another. From what these different classes exactly mean to their size, relevant differences, and more.

So, we thought it’s going to be worth the time to work for an all-inclusive guide where we discuss types of trailer hitches & hitch classes in depth.

And looks like it’s happening today!

7 Types of Trailer Hitches

Let’s sort things out by first talking about the different types of trailer hitches.

Front Mount Style

This is the type perfect for supporting many ways of using it. You can use the front mount trailer hitch for parking the trailer in a tight spot. Then it also works for cargo carrier insertion. And more.

The hitch type directly connects with the vehicle’s front area. You want to check the rating scale before using it for towing a certain amount.

5th Wheel Style

This is a go-to style of trailer hitch type that works excellent in heavy-duty towing usage. You can install it on the truck bed. And it usually goes over the rear axle area. Heavy campers, car haulers, and 5th wheels are the vehicles this style specifically suits best.

The 5th wheel trailer hitch comes with excellent pivoting capability. And so, you can get great results for absorbing bumps in the road when using it.

Rear Receiver Style

The next trailer hitch type is the rear receiver trailer hitch and is one of the more common styles people use. There’s a square-shaped receiver tube with it. And due to these designs, the application range is pretty wide.

You get easy mounting with it. And by the name, one can easily tell this goes on the vehicle rear area. It is directly installed on the frame of the tow vehicle. The rear receiver style trailer hitch can work for light to heavy-duty towing. And you can find these in 3 major sizes.

Pintle Trailer Hitch

This trailer hitch type does not come with the regular ball mount and coupler. Instead, there’s a hook and lunette combination for the overall mechanism. The hook works with the truck. And the lunette is fixed with a trailer.

This is one impressive style of trailer hitch that can work with towing capacities ranging from 10 to 60 thousand lbs.

However, one problem with the pintle hitch is that it is pretty noisy.

Gooseneck Trailer Hitch

Gooseneck hitch is targeted for heavy-duty trailers that are basically 30 thousand lbs. For example, car haulers and livestock trailers. Installation of the gooseneck hitch is simple enough. 

It fits with the truck bed. And it’s less intrusive compared to the 5th wheel hitch type. This is because the rear side of the truck is available for use when you are not towing.

The gooseneck hitch will work fantastic for anyone who wants to use the truck for not just towing the trailer but other stuff as well. However, you can only install this trailer hitch type on pickup trucks.

Bumper Style Trailer Hitch

Another common trailer hitch type that gets used mostly for light towing. One needs to attach it to the vehicle’s rear bumper. And there’s a square-shaped receiver tube with this as well.

You can use the bumper style hitch on SUVs as well as a few cars along with heavy-duty trucks. It can be used for towing capacity between 2000-21000 lbs.

Those who use small teardrop trailers will find it useful to tow with an SUV. Similarly, this type will help those who want to use bike racks for carrying bikes on trips.

It’s also possible to pull a gooseneck trailer with a bumper hitch.

Weight Distribution Trailer Hitch

Weight distribution hitch is attached with the vehicle’s backside available rare hitch. There’s a tongue weight distribution mechanism that works equally between the travel trailer and tow vehicle.

There are rods for connection point leverage purposes. And this makes weight redistribution enabled. So that no one point has to take it all.

The weight distribution trailer hitch type helps in making a vehicle stable enough. So steering on the road is easier. 

For camping RVs as well as heavy load towing, this type works fantastically. Just make sure the tow vehicle’s maximum weight for towing never gets exceeded.

Different Types of Hitch Classes

Mostly it’s about the load capacity of a certain hitch along with the vehicle compatibility. That’s what a class defines for a hitch. When you check a trailer hitch compatibility chart there are classes for the purpose.

Here’s a sneak peek of all classes of hitch.

Class 1 Trailer Hitch

The ratings of class 1 trailer hitch include 200 tongue weight capacity max. The towing capacity for the class is around 2000 pounds. You’ll commonly find a 1 ¼” receiver with the hitches in this class. However, some also come with a 2” receiver.

Class 1 hitch suits small towing trailers or smaller accessories. You can use it for a bike rack, jet skis, and small tent camper. It also works for compact cars as well as sedans.

Class 2 Trailer Hitch

In terms of weight carrying, it is similar to the class 1 hitch. However, the class 2 hitches can handle more weight. The class 2 hitch rating of tongue weight is 350 pounds. And the max towing would be 3500 pounds.

Recover sizes for class 2 hitches are two, one is 2” and the other 1 ¼” in size. You can use the hitches for sedans as well as SUVs. Good examples would be boats, small campers and bike rack towing or using.

Class 3 Trailer Hitch

This is the class that handles mostly small-size tricks, huger sedans, and SUVs. The ratings of tongue weight are around 500/600 pounds and at max could be 5000 pounds. There’s a 2” receiver with it. and you can find adapters for conversion needs.

These class trailer hitches are great for using weight distribution to have ended out load for better towing and less sag with trailer tongue. You can tow more weight that way.

You can get these class hitches for heavier trailer hauling. Use class 3 trailer hitches for medium size campers, bike racks, cargo trays, utility trailers, and similar ones.

Class 4 Trailer Hitch

The beefy-looking hitch that comes with a huge size truck belongs to this class. The tongue weight rating for class 4 hitches is around 1000/1200 pounds. And at max, it can be 12000 pounds for towing. 

Other class IV hitch specifications include 2” and 2.5” receivers. Heavier towing gets started with these class hitches. And you will most likely require weight distribution to pull.

Class 4 hitch works great for toy haulers, huge boats, utility trailers, and small travel trailers.

Class 5 Trailer Hitch

This is the highest one available for most cases and works for huge size SUVs as well as vans and truck pickups. The class 5 hitch weight rating is typically around 1200/1700 pounds tongue weight. At max, it can tow 20,000 pounds.

Other class 5 hitch ratings include 2” and 2.5” receivers. This class works for the heaviest towing works. And basically, makes the whole driving exudence smooth once you use weight distribution and sway control, which are probably things you definitely would need. Examples would be huge size boats, large travel trailers, multi-car trailers, equipment haulers, and more. 

Beyond Class 5 Trailer Hitch

Nowadays the trucks are becoming heavier and the same goes for other towing and hauling vehicles. This is to accommodate the user’s greater need for strength to ensure towing and hauling. So appropriate hitches for these heavy and strengthened vehicles are also in demand.

The beyond class 5 trailer hitches include the ones that have two ratings of 3000 pounds tongue. For towing it is 30,000 pounds including weight distribution. And that just makes the only limit to worry about associated with the truck handling ability. 

Some hitches come with a patented dual receiver-style for making towing safe, along with giving enough flexibility to withstand more.

How to Tell What Class Hitch I Have?

  • If you use a super-duty or heavy-duty truck or SUV then the class 5 hitch is what you have.
  • Those who use huge trucks or SUVs probably have the class 4 hitch.
  • Folks using an SUV, truck, van or crossover can have the class 3 hitch.
  • Heavy-duty minivans, crossovers, and car users likely have class 2 hitch.
  • Those driving a crossover or car probably have the class 1 hitch.

Wrapping Up

And that was about the various types of trailer hitches & hitch classes. This discussion was necessary for someone who is looking into buying a hitch for their use. 

Having enough idea on this matter will further assist you in making the right decision. Hope that’s exactly what happens next, good luck!

types of trailer hitches

About the Author: Brian Silvestro

Brian Silvestro is the founder and chief editor of OffroadersArena. He spends his free time tending to his BMW iX SUV and explaining its merits to anyone who'll listen.

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