Towing Hitch Types

Written by denise brown
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Towing Hitch Types
Get the right towing hitch for your vehicle. (camping,trailer image by Greg Pickens from

Pulling a trailer with your vehicle gives you the option of hauling larger objects than what would ordinarily fit into the bed of your pickup truck. Just as trucks come in different sizes, trailers and their loads vary as well. It's important that you have a good understanding of how a trailer hitch works so that you can purchase the right hitch type for your needs.

Standard Hitch Type

A standard hitch either attaches directly to the bumper of the vehicle or it may be a separate attachment. With this hitch type you can pull between 907.2 and 7711kg based on the class size or towing capacity of your vehicle. A Class I vehicle hitch can hold up to 90.7kg on its tongue and pull up to 907kg. These are suitable for light duty towing. At the top of the class range a Class V vehicle can safely tow 544kg tongue weight and over 4536kg. Horse trailers are an example of a Class V hitch type. Choose a standard hitch from the five categories based on the weight and size of the trailer as well as the weight of the load.

Most standard hitches use a ball connector. The ball mounts directly on the bumper of a pickup or on a special tow bar installed on the vehicle. The trailer's hitch receiver then slides over the ball. A locking mechanism holds the hitch and ball together. To complete the hitch, you fasten safety chains in place and connect the trailer's brakes and lights to the vehicle's braking and electrical system. This is the most common type of trailer hitch.

Fifth Wheel Hitch Type

To pull extra heavy loads with a heavy-duty pickup, you may want to consider a fifth wheel hitch. This type of hitch mounts permanently in front of the rear wheels in the bed of the pickup. This gives you greater pulling capacity. It also helps prevent vehicle sway as you drive down the road. You can expect to pull loads weighing from 6804 to 13608kg with this type of hitch. In order to turn corners easily with this type of hitch, a long bed pickup works best; however, it is possible to find fifth wheel hitches that fit on a short-bed pickup.

Gooseneck Hitch Type

An alternative to the fifth wheel hitch is the gooseneck hitch. It doesn't use the large receiver and connector that the fifth wheel hitch does. Instead, it uses a ball hitch that you permanently install in the bed of the pickup in front of the wheel wheels. More elaborate models may fold out of the way or snap out of the pickup bed, thus allowing you full use of your pickup bed when you're not pulling a trailer. Because a gooseneck hitch takes up less room, it's a good option for a short bed pickup.

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