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Trailer Hitches Particularization

The towing industry specifies different classifications of trailer hitches: Class I, Class II, Class III, Class IV, Class V, fifth wheel and gooseneck. These hitches correspond to vehicle types. All five are classified as weight-carrying, but Classes 3, 4 and 5 can be fitted with weight-distributing attachments that allow them to carry heavier loads by redistributing the hitch tongue weight. Tongue weight is defined as weight carried both on the hitch and on the rear of the towing vehicle. Class 1 and Class 2 are lighter, weight-carrying hitches. The weight rating of the trailer hitch should be greater than the loaded weight of the trailer you’ll be towing, and the class of hitch you use is also dependent on your tow vehicle’s capacity for weight carrying. Hitches Defined • There are two types of hitch systems: One type is the fixed tongue hitch, a permanent under-car hitch. A receiver style hitch has a receptacle for removable ball mounts. Classification of hitches is based on gross trailer weight (GTW), which is the maximum weight the trailer can hold, as well as the tongue weight, which U-Haul defines as “the downward weight applied by the towable equipment on the hitch ball. Generally tongue weight should not be more than 10 percent of the gross trailer weight.” • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration division of the U.S. Department of Transportation has published a brochure on towing safety that offers information and tips on what to consider when driving a tow vehicle. The NHTSA identifies three types of hitches within the industry’s broader classification system as the weight-carrying hitch, which carries all of the trailer’s tongue weight; the weight-distributing (or load equalizer) hitch, which distributes the trailer tongue weight among both vehicle and trailer; and the fifth-wheel hitch, or gooseneck hitch; which mounts in the middle of a truck bed. The NHTSA cautions that this brochure “is not a substitute for the technical information found in manufacturers’ towing guides and vehicle owner’s manuals,” and notes to observe all safety guidelines. Class 1: Light Duty • Class 1 hitches are suitable for towing by compact, mid-size and full-size cars, mini trucks and vans, and full-size trucks, vans and SUVs. The maximum gross trailer weight for Class 1 is 2,000 lbs. and the maximum tongue weight is 200 lbs. This class of hitch typically uses a 1¼-inch square receiver opening. Some hitches in this class may attach to the vehicle bumper or trunk pan, others to the vehicle frame. Class 2: Medium Duty • Class 2 hitches are suitable for towing by mid-size cars and full-size cars, mini trucks and vans, and full-size trucks, vans and SUVs. Maximum gross trailer weight is 3,500 lbs. and the maximum tongue weight is 350 lbs. This hitch uses a 1.25-inch square receiver opening and attaches to vehicle frames or bumpers. Class 3: Heavy Duty • Class 3 hitches are suitable for towing by full-size cars, mini trucks and vans, and full-size trucks, vans and SUVs. Weight-carrying maximum tongue weight is 600 lbs. and maximum gross trailer weight is 6,000 lbs. This hitch uses a 2-inch square receiver opening and attaches only to a vehicle frame. Class 3 weight-distributing hitches are rated for a maximum trailer tongue weight of 1,000 lbs. and up to 10,000 lbs. gross trailer weight. Class 4: Heavy Duty • Class 4 hitches are suitable for towing by full-size cars, mini trucks and vans, and full-size trucks, vans and SUVs. Weight-carrying Class 4 hitches are rated for a maximum trailer tongue weight of 1,200 lbs. and up to 12,000 lbs. gross trailer weight. This hitch uses a 2-inch square receiver opening and attaches only to the vehicle frame. Weight-distributing Class 4 hitches are rated for maximum trailer tongue weight of 1,500 lbs. and up to 15,000 lbs. gross trailer weight. Class 5: Extra Heavy Duty • Class 5 hitches are suitable for towing by full-size trucks, vans and SUVs. Weight-carrying Class 5 hitches are rated for a maximum trailer tongue weight of 1,200 lbs. and up to 12,000 lbs. gross trailer weight. They have 2.5-inch square receiver openings and attach only to the vehicle frame. Class 5 weight-distribution systems are rated for a maximum trailer tongue weight of 1,700 lbs. and 17,000 lbs. gross trailer weight. Fifth Wheel and Gooseneck • Beyond the Class V, fifth wheel and gooseneck hitches are designed to mount directly into a pickup truck bed, and can handle up to 24,000 pounds GTW and up to 25,000 pounds GTW, respectively. The fifth wheel type of hitch has its own motor home classification, according to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association. The fifth wheel motor homes feature two-level floor plans and can sleep up to six people. www.rightnowloads.com www.findfreightloads.com www.freightbrokerscourse.com