Hitch Weight Calculation

by Amy L. Gouger

Many factors go into successfully and safely hauling any trailer with any truck. Each piece — the hitch, the hitch ball, trailer tongue and truck — can only handle a specific amount of weight. To determine how much the setup can handle, load the trailer with weight not exceeding the maximum weight for the weakest component.

Hitch Classes

Manufacturers determine the maximum weight capacity of a each hitch and stamp it with a class rating. Class one handles less weight than class five.

Towing Capacity

Manufacturers determine the towing capacity (GTC) -- the maximum trailer weight the truck can haul -- of a truck and usually put the number in the manual or on their website.

Tongue Weight

Each hitch can only handle a certain amount of weight pressing down vertically. Tongue weight equals 10 to 15 percent of the trailer weight.


Add the weight of the trailer to the weight of the stuff within the trailer. For example, a horse trailer weighs 2,800 lbs and has two horses in it; the total gross trailer weight is 4,800 lbs. Average horses weigh 1,000 lbs. each. Multiply by 15 percent. This is the tongue weight, sometimes called hitch weight.

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