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> Trailer Hitches for Trucks: Classes and Designs

Trailer Hitches for Trucks: Classes and Designs

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One of the greatest benefits of owning a truck is the ability to take anything you want anywhere you need to go. No other accessory enhances your truck’s ability to get items from point A to point B the way a hitch does. If you’re looking for a hitch to fit your truck, you’re likely to come across a myriad of options both in terms of weight class and overall hitch design. In this guide, we’ll examine those different hitch designs to help you make the best choice for your towing needs.

Image of a rear mounted receiver hitch
A rear mounted receiver hitch


Receiver Hitches: A receiver hitch is probably the first thing comes to your mind when you think of a trailer hitch. Receiver hitches mount to a vehicle’s frame (usually on the rear) and provide a square tube into which a shank for a ball mount can be inserted. This hitch design is also used to mount accessories such as bike racks.

Receiver hitches usually fall into one of five weight classes which can be seen in the table below.






Class Weight Capacity Receiver Tube Opening Common Applications
I Up to 2,000 LBS 1 1/4" x 1 1/14" Small cars and CUVs
II Up to 3,500 LBS 1 1/4" x 1 1/4" Sedans, minivans, some small trucks
III Up to 8,000 LBS 2" x 2" Mid and full size pickup trucks
IV Up to 10,000 LBS 2" x 2" Full size pickup trucks
V Up to 12,000lbs 2" x 2" or 2 1/2" x 2 x 1/2" Full size pickup trucks


Receiver hitches are usually application specific and require little to no drilling, making them one of the easiest hitch designs to install. Keep in mind when choosing a trailer hitch that regardless of the hitch’s specified maximum weight limit, it won’t allow you to increase the maximum weight your vehicle can tow. This weight limit differs from one application to another and can be found in your vehicle’s owner manual.



Image of a front receiver hitch
A front receiver hitch


Front Receiver Hitches: While receiver hitches usually mount on the rear of a vehicle, front mounted receivers are available as well. These usually serve as mounting points for accessories such as skid shields, winch plates, and step pads. Front receiver hitches are also necessary to mount snow plows from manufacturers such as Meyer and SnowSport






Image of a fifth wheel hitch
A fifth wheel hitch


Fifth Wheel Hitches: A fifth wheel hitch mounts in the bed of a pickup truck, usually over or just ahead of the rear axle. This style of hitch accepts the kingpin of a fifth wheel trailer and is ideal for towing large, heavy payloads such as camper trailers, car haulers, and horse trailers. Depending on the brand and features of the hitch, a fifth wheel can haul as much as 20,000 LBS. Fifth wheel hitches do require extensive drilling in the bed of the truck during installation, making them more difficult to install than a trailer hitch in most cases.




Image of a gooseneck hitch
A gooseneck hitch



Gooseneck Hitches: Gooseneck hitches are perhaps the best choice for a truck intended to be used as a dedicated towing and hauling vehicle. Capable of hauling up to 30,000 LBS, this hitch design installs from underneath the bed, making the hitch ball sit level with the truck bed rather than above it like a fifth wheel. The design of a gooseneck hitch makes it easy to remove the hitch ball when it’s not in use, making this one of the most versatile hitch designs on the market. The installation of a gooseneck hitch requires extensive drilling as well as cutting; for this reason, professional installation is strongly recommended.




Image of a bumper mount hitch
A bumper mount hitch



Bumper Hitches: As the name implies, a bumper hitch bolts straight onto your vehicle’s bumper rather than attaching to the frame. This makes for a quick installation but limits your towing capacity to your bumper’s weight rating rather than that of the whole vehicle. If you don’t need to tow heavy items but do want a mounting point for accessories such as cargo carriers, a bumper hitch may be a good choice for your needs.





Image of a pintle hook hitch
A pintle hook hitch


Pintle Hook: The strong and simple pintle hitch consists of a pintle hook mounted on a towing vehicle which latches to onto a round eye on the trailer. The weight capacity of a pintle hitch can be even higher than a gooseneck, as high as 60,000 LBS in some cases. However, pintle hitches are very noisy compared to other hitch designs, making them less than ideal for over the road use. This hitch style is common on farm trucks and trucks that move construction equipment across work sites.






If you have any questions about hitches or towing in general, contact our expert staff today. They’re standing by to help you choose the best hitch for your truck.