Types of Trailer Hitches

by Contributor

Hitches are the essential connecting pieces that allow vehicles to pull trailers. There are a variety of hitches, each serving specific purposes and allowing the vehicle to pull different amounts of weight.

Ball Hitches

In North America, ball hitches are the most common trailer hitches. They usually consist of either a draw bar/ball mount combo that is attached directly to the vehicle's frame, or a receiver draw bar mounted to the vehicle with a removable ball mount.

Weight Distribution Hitches

Weight distribution hitches use ancillary "sway bars" in addition to the standard ball. These bars help distribute the weight of the trailer evenly between all axles of both the vehicle and trailer.

Goose Neck Hitches

Goose neck hitches are used exclusively for goose neck trailers. They are essentially a hitch ball mounted in the center of a truck's bed, which aids in weight distribution, steering and braking.

Fifth Wheel Hitches

Fifth wheel hitches are mounted in the center of a truck's bed just as goose neck hitches are, but aside from that, these two types differ greatly. Commercial semi trucks are equipped with fifth wheel hitches because they are the strongest of all hitch types, and can therefore carry much more weight.

Pintle Hook/Lunette Ring Hitches

Pintle hook/lunette ring hitches consist of a pintle hook, which basically is a vertical ring that opens, and a horizontal lunette ring on the trailer. Pintle hook/lunette ring hitches are the most secure and stable hitches on rough terrain like construction sites and off-road.

Weight Classes

All hitches fall into a weight class. Class 1: 2,000 lbs. gross trailer weight; Class 2: 3,500 lbs. gross trailer weight' Class 3: 5,000 lbs. gross trailer weight; Class 4: 10,000 lbs. gross trailer weight; and Class 5: over 10,000 lbs. gross trailer weight.

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