How Do I Choose a Tow Hitch?
To choose a trailer hitch, you need to consider your vehicle’s towing capacity and the weight of the load you’ll be towing. This information is usually found in your owner’s manual.
It also helps you understand if you’ll need to increase the capacity of your tow hitch by using hitch accessories like a hitch adapter or hitch extender.
Determine Your Towing Needs
Before you decide to purchase a tow hitch, it’s important to understand your vehicle’s towing capacity. This can be determined through the owner’s manual or by consulting the manufacturer.
Your car or truck’s towing capacity is based on the total combined weight of your vehicle, passengers and cargo, plus the trailer you plan to tow. It can also be figured out by weighing your fully loaded vehicle at the nearest weigh station.
A ball mount is the most common type of towing hitches, but it may not be the right choice for your specific towing needs. For example, if you frequently tow large, heavy cargo like a travel camper or other vehicle, then a trailer hitch is the best option for your car or truck.
Determine Your Vehicle’s Towing Capacity
The towing capacity of your car, truck or SUV is a number that tells you how much weight it can safely haul. It depends on a variety of factors, including the distribution of the vehicle’s interior load, the type of trailer you’re towing and the strength of the frame, suspension, axles and wheels.
The best way to determine your vehicle’s towing capacity is to read the owner’s manual or check out a manufacturer’s website. Most manufacturers also provide a chart that can be found in the owner’s manual.
Determine Your Trailer’s Weight
The weight of your trailer is a critical factor when choosing a tow hitch. It includes the weight of your trailer, your passengers and luggage, and any equipment or supplies you have inside it.
Once you know how much your trailer weighs, you can choose a tow hitch that will handle the load safely and efficiently. Typically, trailer hitches are rated by class to indicate their maximum towing capacity and tongue weight.
Hitch systems are usually made up of three components: the receiver hitch, ball mount and hitch ball. The receiver hitch rating indicates how much weight your truck can tow, while the ball mount and hitch ball are rated separately. Some ball mounts are removable, and have a varying rise or drop to accommodate a range of heights between your truck and trailer. This helps to prevent squatting, which can be dangerous to the tow vehicle and your trailer.
Determine Your Trailer’s Tongue Weight
When towing a trailer, it’s crucial to know its tongue weight. This is the amount of downward pressure exerted by the trailer’s tongue onto the hitch ball of your tow vehicle.
This can impact the way your tow vehicle steers, and how smoothly it turns on the road. Ideally, the tongue weight of your trailer should fall within a 9- to 15-percent range of its gross trailer weight (GTW).
There are several ways to determine your trailer’s tongue weight. You can use a simple bathroom scale, or you can visit a commercial weighing station.
Determine Your Trailer’s Drop Length
If you’re planning to tow a trailer, you’ll need to choose the right tow hitch. This is important because it ensures that your trailer and vehicle are both safe and balanced when you drive.
In order to do this, you’ll need to determine your trailer’s drop length. This is the distance from your truck’s hitch receiver to the coupler on your trailer.
This distance is typically used to determine the required height of a ball mount for your towing needs.
Many ball mounts are reversible, so you can flip them in and out for use in the drop or rise position to meet your specific towing requirements.