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Trailer Hitches

Hitches are divided into classes that specify the gross trailer weight and maximum tongue weight for each class.

There are three popular hitches for cars and light trucks:

  • CLASS I has a 2,000 pound GTW
  • CLASS II has a 3,500 pound GTW
  • CLASS III has a 5,000 pound GTW

To tow, you need three things:

Tow Vehicle Towing Package Trailer

The basis of every towing package, and the first thing to select, is the hitch.

Before you begin the hitch selection process, it's important that you realize that the hitch by itself will not provide the ability to tow. In addition to the hitch, you must have towing components such as a hitch ball and/or ball mount, wiring, safety chains and automatic transmission cooler in order to safely and legally tow.

Determine GTW & TW Capacities

The two most important factors in selecting towing equipment are gross trailer weight (GTW) and tongue weight (TW). Always use a hitch with the same class number as the trailer or greater.

For the trailer:
Gross trailer weight (GTW) is the weight of the trailer fully loaded in its actual towing condition. Tongue weight (W is the downward force exerted on the hitch ball by the trailer coupler). In most cases, it is about 10 to 15 percent of GTW.

For the tow vehicle:
Like the trailer, the tow vehicle has a maximum weight capacity it was designed to tow. Its maximum towing capacity can be found in the owner's manual.

Trailer Laws

Things such as lighting, registration, trailer brakes, gross vehicle weight, etc., vary widely from state to state. Contact your state Department of Motor Vehicles (and that of other states through which you may be traveling) for laws with which you must be in compliance of.