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What are the Different Types of Hitches?

By Katharine Swan
Updated May 23, 2024
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There are five classes of hitches, so people need to have a good idea of what this device is going to be used for before purchasing one. Each has a different weight rating, with class 1 being able to tow the least amount of weight and class 5, the most.

Class 1 hitches tow up to 2,000 pounds or 907 kilograms; they can be used to pull a trailer that is 6 feet (1.8 meters) long, or a boat that is 14 feet (4.3 meters) long. They are good for use on smaller cars, such as small sedans, sports cars, and compact cars. Although some class 1 hitches are only available in designs that attach to the bumper, one that attaches to the frame in some fashion is more desirable. People can also get a hitch with a removable tongue, so that when the car is not towing anything, it doesn’t have to have the device sticking out of the back end of the car. Someone who plans on towing frequently is are probably better off with a hitch that has a permanently affixed tongue, however.

Class 2 hitches tow up to 3,500 pounds or 1,588 kilograms; they can be used to pull a trailer that is 12 feet (3.7 meters) long, or a boat that is 20 feet (6 meters) long. These work well on larger cars, such as midsize sedans and minivans, but are not suitable for compact cars. Like all larger hitches, the class 2 type attaches to the frame of a vehicle.

Class 3 hitches are more heavy-duty. They come in different sizes, but the largest of them can tow up to 5,000 pounds or 2,268 kilograms. A class 3 hitch can be used to pull a 24-foot (7-meter) boat trailer.

Class 4 hitches are also used for much more heavy-duty purposes, especially because their mounting brackets distribute weight more evenly along the frame of the truck that is doing the towing. They are designed for use with full-size trucks, and will easily pull 7,500 pounds (3,402 kilograms).

Class 5 hitches are the largest size available. Like class 4, they utilize heavy-duty mounting brackets designed to distribute weight more evenly along the frame of the truck, which helps prevent an uneven load from being placed on the driveshaft or suspension in the rear of the car. The class 5 type can pull as much as 14,000 pounds (6,350 kilograms).

Clearly, choosing a hitch for a car is an important decision, one that a person needs to be fully prepared and well educated to make. It’s important to know what it will be used for, and how much weight could possibly be pulled with it, as well as what kind of vehicle will be doing the pulling.

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Discussion Comments
By anon6774 — On Jan 09, 2008

is it possible-legal-safe to set up a bumper hitch to tow a 9500lb load?

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