Nothing takes the intimidation out of towing a trailer behind a pickup truck like selecting the right hitch for the job. All it comes down to is having a firm understanding of your towing needs. This means not only evaluating the situation from the viewpoint of the truck but the trailer as well.
Today’s trucks — including compact models — are built with the muscle to haul surprisingly heavy payloads. That means pickup truck and SUV owners are more likely to find themselves needing a trailer hitch in one of the last three classes where weight distribution systems are available.
To determine which class of trailer hitch to use, it will first be necessary to know the maximum towing capacity and tongue weight of your pickup truck in addition to the weight of the load being pulled.
A Class III trailer hitch is for trucks that can pull a maximum of 5,000 pounds and have a tongue weight of up to 500 pounds.
A Class IV trailer hitch is for trucks that can pull a maximum of 10,000 pounds and have a tongue weight of up to 1,200 pounds.
A Class V trailer hitch is for trucks that can pull a maximum of 17,000 pounds and have a tongue weight of up to 1,700 pounds.
For extra heavy-duty towing, there is the fifth-wheel trailer hitch that handles up to 24,000 pounds and gooseneck hitches that handle up to 30,000 pounds. Unlike traditional trailer hitches that attach to the pickup truck rear chassis, these types of trailer hitches are mounted in the bed of a pickup truck in order to provide added stability and support.
Because there is a potential for disaster for you and everyone on the road should something go wrong, it is imperative to never use a substandard or improperly installed trailer hitch. Investing a good amount of money in a well-built, transferable hitch not only contributes to safety. It also means getting your money’s worth in the long run.
For safe towing:
Be sure to know the exact towing capacity of your pickup truck. This information can be located in the vehicle owner’s manual or sometimes on a tag located just inside a truck’s driver side door.
Make sure tires are properly inflated and all lights and brakes are working on both your pickup truck and the trailer.
Only haul loads that have been properly balanced.
Maintain a reasonable speed and avoid sudden stops.
Take safety up a notch by installing back-up cameras or opting for a trailer hitch specifically designed to decrease trailer sway.
When it comes time to move your car, boat or camper, it is paying attention to detail and safety that will get you moving down the road “without a hitch.”