You’ve bought that sweet boat you’ve had your eye on—or that camper or utility trailer—and now you need to tow it wherever you’re going. The good news is that plenty of trucks and SUVs can be used for towing with the proper trailer hitch (also called the “tow hitch”) and trailer accessories—although not all vehicles will use the exact same equipment.
To get properly outfitted for towing, you’ll need to know what:
- Class and type of trailer hitch/tow hitch you need
- Trailer hitch accessories are required
- Capacity for towing you’ll have
- You should do for the maximum safety
Here are more specifics.
Classes and Types of Hitches & Trailer Accessories
Receiver hitches are the most common type—and those are broken down into five different classes, conveniently labeled as classes 1 through 5. The lower the class number, the lower the gross trailer weight (GTW) capacity will exist. Each of these hitches is typically bolted to the rear underside of a vehicle (although front hitches do exist) and comes with a tube that allows you to attach a ball mount or other accessory to create the right equipment setup for towing.
A ball mount has two parts: a shank and a platform for a trailer ball. You put the shank into the hitch tube and then the platform is where you place the trailer ball—which is a stemmed ball that you thread through the opening on the platform that allows you to make turns while towing a trailer. Wiring kits are needed to connect your vehicle’s electrical system to the trailer and dovetail its lights with your truck taillights.
Although receiver hitches are the most common kind, they aren’t the only type. Others include:
- Gooseneck hitches: Gooseneck trailers are typically longer, wider, and heavier, and can usually tow 30,000 pounds or more. So, gooseneck hitches are designed for that heavier duty work.
- 5th wheel hitches: 5th wheel trailers are large and need a full ton truck to tow them. So, they also require a unique hitch: the 5th wheel hitch.
What’s most important is to choose the hitch that fits your vehicle and suits your purpose—and then to install everything properly.
Towing Capacity and Safety Tips
It’s crucial that you know your vehicle’s towing capacity—meaning, with the specific equipment and options you have. If you bought your vehicle from a local dealer, you should be able to contact them, provide your vehicle identification number (VIN), and ask them for guidance. You can also consult your owner’s manual.
As far as safety goes, here are several tips:
- Stick to your towing capacity and do your best to spread what’s inside the trailer as evenly as possible.
- Double-check that trailer lights work well before towing.
- Make sure that tires are properly inflated before setting out.
- Consider using a hitch stabilization device to keep your trailer from swaying too much as you drive.
- Practice driving with a trailer in reasonable levels of traffic before heading out on hectic highways.
- Have someone guide you when backing up the first few times and consider getting a tow mirror to make it easier to see when driving in reverse.
- Use extra caution any time you’re changing lanes, especially in significant traffic.
- Begin to brake earlier than you normally would; practice to determine the optimal timeframe when towing a trailer.
- Regularly inspect your trailer, hitch, and trailer accessories to make sure they are in good shape and properly connected.
- Regularly inspect brakes, tires, and more on your truck or SUV, and maintain and repair the vehicle, as needed.
Shopping for Hitches
Here is high-level guidance when it comes to choosing the right class of tow hitches:
- Class 1 Trailer Hitches: These are for light-duty use with a GTW of up to 2,000 pounds.
- Class 2 Trailer Hitches: These are for moderate-duty use with a GTW of 2,001-3,500 pounds.
- Class 3 Trailer Hitches: These are for mixed-use with a GTW of 3,501-6,000 pounds.
- Class 4 Trailer Hitches: These are for heavy-duty use with a GTW of 10,000-12,000 pounds.
- Class 5 Trailer Hitches: These are for the heaviest use with a GTW of 16,000-20,000 pounds. Note that, with heavy-duty towing, you may want to look into these Timbren suspension products, as well.
Choosing the right brands is also important so that you can proceed with confidence. We offer Curt trailer hitches and the Enthuze brand, and both are well known in the industry for their quality and durability.
Action for Your Trailer Hitches and Trailer Accessories
As Canada’s leading automotive and truck accessory retailer, we’ve been serving customers for more than 40 years—including when they need hitches and accessories, which includes trusted name brands like the Curt hitches. We have more than 30 retail stores, along with our convenient online shop, and we’re here to help, ready and willing to take the guesswork out of buying what you need. Questions? Contact Action Car and Truck Accessories online!