If you have ever had to lug a heavy load behind your car or truck, you understand the importance of a quality car towing hitch. It is easy to take a vehicle’s tow hitch for granted, but not having the right one for you could cause you to run into serious problems down the road.
In this piece, we will look at a few of the things you need to know when it comes to car hitches for towing.
Breaking Down the Different Towing Hitch Classifications
There are five different categories of tow hitches for cars, and they all have to do with how much weight a hitch can pull. Class 1 hitches are typically designed for small crossovers and passenger cars, and they come with either a fixed tongue that can directly mount a trailer ball or a 1 ¼” by 1 ¼” receiver tube opening. The weight carrying capacity is usually up to 2,000 pounds on a class 1 hitch, though it is important to know that the towing capacity is not the same across the board on hitches of the same class.
Class 2 hitches can tow up to 3,500 pounds, and while these hitches are usually found on sedans and vans, they can sometimes be featured on smaller pickup trucks and SUVs. On the other hand, a class 3 towing hitch is what you will most typically see on full-size SUVs and trucks. With a 2” by 2” receiver tube opening, a class 3 hitch can usually carry up to 8,000 pounds by itself and may also be compatible with a weight distribution system that can offer an additional 4,000 pounds in towing power.
Class 4 trailer hitches can tow up to 10,000 pounds and are also weight distribution hitch compatible. Finally, class 5 hitches are equipped with either a 2” by 2” or even a 2 1/2” by 2 1/2” receiver tube and can carry up to a maximum of 20,000 pounds, depending on the particular hitch.
While there are several other towing hitch categories, such as front mount hitches and bumper hitches, these are the five you should generally worry about.
The Best Kind of Towing is Safe Towing
It is a somber statistic, but towing-related accidents can and have led to serious injury and even death in past years. With that in mind, you need to pay a good deal of care and attention when dealing with your vehicle’s towing hitch setup, for your safety and for others’.
First, you want to make sure that your hitch itself is properly installed. A quick YouTube search will turn up a number of thorough installation videos. You then will want to make sure that your trailer is hitched correctly. Check and double check to make sure everything is perfectly secured.
When towing a trailer, you will also want to allow for a decent amount of stopping and starting distance. Keep in mind that it takes longer for you to start and stop with a trailer behind you, so you should avoid any sudden acceleration and braking as well as sharp turns if you hope to enjoy an accident-free towing experience.
You will want to be more vigilant than normal when towing a load. In particular, you will want to watch out for any trailer sway, which can be caused by anything from crosswinds to high speeds to downhill slopes. A trailer swinging back and forth can start out as harmless, but can turn out to be a more serious hazard if the swaying intensifies.
A good way to deal with this problem is to use a sway control unit. This allows you to take your foot off the gas and apply a trailer’s brakes manually. A simple press of a button will ensure that your trailer is lined up with your vehicle and that you are towing as safely as possible.
Choosing the Right Car Towing Hitch for You
As you have probably gathered, there is not simply one universal tow hitch for cars that you can just pick up from your local auto parts store. There are a number of different types of specialized towing hitches and accessories that can make sure you are prepared for every situation. If you are looking for an easier way to stow and retrieve any gear, you could always get a trailer hitch step for easier foot placement. There are also trailer hitch covers, which keep hitches protected from rain, mud, and anything else when you are not towing.
To guarantee that you are getting the most out of your towing experience, be sure that you are keeping your lifestyle and habits in mind and are doing the right amount of research so that everything is smooth sailing (or, in this case, towing).