Chat with us, powered by LiveChat

Trailer Hitch Selection Guide

Aug 15 2023

So you want to tow something, but don't know what type of trailer hitch to get? You've come to the right place. Most vehicles can have a trailer hitch installed, but it's important to get the right type for your vehicle and what you want to tow.

There are three basic types of trailer hitches. These are receiver hitches, 5th wheel hitches, and gooseneck hitches. It's possible that your vehicle has one of these hitches and it's most likely a receiver hitch. Receiver hitches are the most common and they come in five different types depending on weight.

Gooseneck and fifth-wheel hitches are meant for heavy-duty towing and they install into truck beds.


Trailer Hitch Selection Guide

Trailers or Cargo Up To 2,000 Pounds - Class 1 Hitch

Trailers up to 2,000 pounds may include a boat trailer up to 14 feet or a regular cargo trailer up to six feet. These can be pulled by compact and midsize cars. It will require a 1 1/4 inch regular duty receiver hitch. This is known as a Class 1 receiver hitch. Along with towing light loads, Class 1 receiver hitches can also be compatible to use as a bike rack hitch or used for a hitch cargo carrier.

Trailer Hitch Selection Guide

Trailers or Cargo Up To 3,500 Pounds - Class 2 Hitch

For trailers up to 3,500 pounds, you'll need a Class 2 hitch. These hitches work with midsize cars, minivans, and midsize SUVs. You can tow a trailer up to 12 feet and a boat trailer up to 20 feet. As with the Class 1 hitch, you can potentially use it for cargo carriers and bike racks. For any hitch or intended load, it's always important to check the specs of your vehicle and what it can safely tow. Typical tow items at this weight include ATVs, motorcycles, and small fishing boats.

Trailer Hitch Selection Guide

Trailers Up To 10,000 Pounds - Class 3 or 4 Hitch

Trailers of this size can be used to transport a boat size up to 24 feet or an auto transport trailer. You'll need a Class 3 hitch or a Class 4 hitch, and these are typically compatible with minivans, midsize SUVs, full-size vans, full-size trucks, and full-size SUVs.

Vehicles that can tow around this weight are typically midsize to large SUVs, midsize trucks, and half-ton trucks. For Class 3 hitches, they can usually be used to tow up to 7,500 pounds. Class 4 hitches are used to tow travel trailers, heavy machinery, and large boats up to 10,000 pounds.

Trailer Hitch Selection Guide

Trailers Up To 20,000 Pounds - Class 5 Hitch

For trailers of this size, which can be used for large boats and travel trailers, you'll need a Class 5 hitch. To tow this weight, you'll generally need a full-size truck or large, full-size SUV. Class 5 hitches are generally used for campers, RVs, and heavy machinery. Your full-size truck or SUV may or may not come with this type of hitch installed from the factory.

Trailer Hitch Selection Guide

5th Wheel and Gooseneck Hitches

These hitches can only be used with full-size trucks and can be used to tow up to 30,000 pounds. A 5th-wheel hitch is mainly used for large RVs and horse trailers. The main difference between the two is that the 5th wheel hitch uses a kingpin, while the gooseneck hitch attaches to a hitch ball. There are also different types of gooseneck and 5th-wheel hitches available.

Trailer Hitch Selection Guide

Front-Mounted Hitches

Front-mounted hitches are typically used with trucks and SUVs. These hitches mount to the front of your vehicle and can be used for things like cargo carriers, winch mounts, or snow plows. A front CURT hitch equips a standard 2-inch receiver below your front bumper. The front hitch adds additional versatility to your truck, SUV, or Jeep by freeing up the rear tow hitch for something else.

Trailer Hitch Selection GuideImage courtesy of and copyright of CURT Manufacturing

How To Choose the Right Hitch

Choosing the right hitch is probably easier than you think. First, start with what you want to tow and make sure that your vehicle is rated for that weight. For example, if you have a 2023 Ford Expedition, you can find out that this vehicle is capable of towing up to 9,300 pounds at its most powerful. Depending on the trim, it should come with a Class 3 or Class 4 receiver hitch.

Remember, most SUVs and trucks come with factory-installed hitches. Cars and small crossovers may not, so you'll need to look up the tow rating for these vehicles to help you determine the hitch you need.

For example, a vehicle that can tow up to 2,000 pounds will need a Class 1 hitch. A vehicle that can tow up to 3,500 pounds can use either a Class 1 or Class 2 hitch, but it depends on what you want to tow.

To sum up: understand your vehicle's tow rating and then consider the weight of what you want to tow. These two items will help you choose the right hitch.

Count on Action Car and Truck Accessories for all your towing needs. You can find a wide variety of different hitch types, including CURT hitches, on the Action online shopping portal or at any well-stocked Action location. Look for the wrench icon on any product page to see if professional-grade installation is available at an Action location near you.