RV & Trailer Towing | Trailer Hitch Guide

sway control hitch credit-amazon
"Optimists Share Knowledge Generously" - Vanessa Angel
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Last Updated on March 31, 2021 by Tanmay Sarkar


This is the fact that people keep asking questions about towing and trailer hitch. In this article, you will know about all the RV trailer hitch and towing accessories you need and also how you can select the correct hitch for you.

The first thing that you should know is that you are not going to get everything needed to tow behind altogether.

There are three things required a towing vehicle, trailer, and trailer hitch that keeps towing vehicle and trailer together.

Let us know about them.


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What is a tow vehicle?

A tow vehicle is a vehicle that can tow a trailer, fifth wheel, or any other vehicle behind it. Examples of tow vehicles are:

  1. Truck
  2. Car
  3. Van
  4. RV
  5. SUV or sport utility vehicle
  6. CUV or crossover utility vehicle

It is worth knowing that all tow vehicles cannot tow everything behind them because of their towing capacity.

Let’s look at the towing capacity of different towing vehicles:

  1. A full-size car can tow up to 3.5k lbs.
  2. A crossover can tow up to 3.5k to 12k lbs.
  3. Minivans can tow up to 3.5k to 12k lbs.
  4. ¼ ton truck/SUV can tow up to 3.5k to 12k lbs.
  5. ½ ton truck/SUV can tow up to 16k to 20k lbs.
  6. A ¾ ton truck can tow up to 16k to 20k lbs.
  7. A 1-ton truck can tow up to 16k to 20k lbs.

The stronger the towing vehicle the larger weight it can tow behind itself. That’s why you should know the towing capacity of your vehicle before you tow something behind it. Towing beyond the capacity can blow off the engine or damage it in the long run.

Click Here to find the Towing capacity calculator.

Related Reading:

Best Trailer Hitch Locks 

35 Things to Know Before Buying a Pop-Up Tent Trailer

Best Fifth Wheel With Bunkhouse


What is a trailer?

A trailer is an unpowered vehicle towed by a powered vehicle, it is used for the transport of goods and material. It is also used as a recreational vehicle, travel trailers, or mobile homes with limited living facilities.

Commonly used trailers are:

  1. Utility trailers
  2. Travel trailers
  3. Flatbed trailers
  4. Pop-up campers
  5. Car haulers

All these trailers have different GTW (gross trailer weight) and TW (tongue weight) that you will find later in this article.

Further Reading:


Best Small Travel Trailers


Trailer Hitch

A trailer hitch is that keeps the trailer and the tow vehicle together with other components. It can be welded or bolted onto the vehicle. There are many types of trailer hitches in use.

Types of trailer hitch


1. Rear Receiver Hitch

This is the most commonly used hitch. It has a square receiver tube that can be used on a variety of platforms. You can mount it directly to the rear frame of the vehicle.


Front Mount Hitch credit-amazon

Front Mount Hitch credit-amazon

2. Front Mount Hitch

This type of hitch is similar to the receiver hitch but it is bolted directly to the front frame. It can be used for many types of applications such as to insert a cargo carrier, install a snowplow, use it as a spare tire mount or use it to park the trailer in a small space. Like This One.


5th Wheel Hitch credit- amazon

5th Wheel Hitch credit- amazon

3. 5th Wheel Hitch

It is mounted into the bed of the truck over the rear axle. You can haul a travel trailer on it. Here the coupling is a part of the hitch. the kingpin of the trailer is received on the hitch and the hitch safely holds it with its jaw mechanism.

Further Reading: 5th Wheel Hitch Vs Gooseneck: Which is Better?



Gooseneck Hitch credit-amazon

Gooseneck Hitch credit-amazon



4. Gooseneck Hitch

It is similar to the 5th wheel as it is mounted into the bed of the truck over or just forward to the rear axle. Like this one.


Pintle Hitch credit- amazon

Pintle Hitch credit- amazon

5. Pintle Hitch

It has a hooking system which is known as pintle, that has to be attached to the truck. The lunette is attached to the trailer. Check it here.


6. Bumper Hitch

It is attached directly to the bumper of the vehicle. It is used for towing a lightweight trailer.


Weight Distribution Hitch credit- amazon

Weight Distribution Hitch credit- amazon

7. Weight Distribution Hitch

The weight distribution hitch distributes the weight all across the tow vehicle and the trailer like this one.

sway control hitch credit-amazon

sway control hitch credit-amazon

8. Sway Control Hitch

A sway control hitch uses a variety of components and techniques to make sure that the trailer does not sway while it’s moving. These are the most expensive hitches out in the market. They use chains, pulleys, and hydraulic pistons to safely pull the trailer.

A few good sway control hitches in the market are Blue Ox Sway Pro, ProPride Hitch, and Hensley Hitch.


Trailer Hitch Parts

There are different parts and component which makes a trailer hitch. let us look at them one by one.

1. Ball Mount

A ball mount is comprised of a shank and trailer ball platform. The shank is inserted into the hitch receiver tube, and the platform provides a solid base for the trailer ball.

It comes in many varieties where some are fixed means they are made up of one piece and others are adjustable according to the need. Generally, there is a hole in the shank for the hitch pin or hitch lock.

2. Trailer Ball

It is a connection point between the trailer and the vehicle. It is comprised of a metal ball and a threaded shank. A trailer ball is needed as when connected to the trailer coupler the trailer ball allows you to turn around corners easily.

They come in different standard sizes.

3. Hitch Pin

It is a metal rod that keeps the ball mount shank from sliding out of a hitch receiver tube. Generally, hitch pins come in an “L” shape.

4. Trailer Coupler

A trailer coupler with the help of a trailer ball connects the trailer to the vehicle. They come in standard sizes and you can adjust most of them. The size of the trailer coupler must match the size of the trailer ball for maximum safety.

5. Safety Chain

A safety chain is a metal chain that is strong enough to keep the trailer from complete separation if the hitch fails. For better safety use two safety chains.

6. Trailer Wiring Harness

A trailer wiring harness is a wire which allows the vehicle’s electrical system to connect to the trailer. It supplies power to the trailer taillights as by law it is mandatory to have tail and brake light in the trailer.



Trailer Hitch Receiver Sizes

They come in different sizes depending on the load they carry.

  1. Class 1 & 2:25 inches or 31.8 mm receiver tube
  2. Class 3 & 4: 2 inches or 50.8 mm receiver tube
  3. Class 5: 2 or 2.5 inches or 50.8 mm or 63.5 mm receiver tube


How To Select  A Travel Trailer Hitch

Selecting the right trailer hitch is important as it holds a travel trailer and vehicle while you move on the road. A wrong hitch will give a bumpy ride and in the worst-case detach from your towing vehicle.

The first thing to do is to tow the travel trailer with the right vehicle if you exceed the maximum towing capacity of the vehicle then it can do serious damage to it. Second thing is to select the correct type of trailer hitch.

Down below you will find how to select the correct trailer hitch for your travel trailer.

Today’s trailer is sometimes referred to as bumper pull campers because they are connected at the bumper of the truck. The receiver hitch is fitted onto your travel trailer which is pre-installed by the manufacturer. It is in best practice to check it and if needed to upgrade the hitch before you use it because sometimes they are of low quality.

Trailer Hitch Classes

  1. Class 1: this hitch is used by small SUVs and passenger cars to tow up to 2,000 pounds.
  2. Class 2: this type of hitch is also designed for small cars and pickup trucks that can tow up to 3,500 pounds max.
  3. Class 3: this type of hitches is used on vans, pickup trucks, and mid-size SUVs which can pull up to 6,000 pounds max.
  4. Class 4: it is used for vehicles that can tow up to 12,000 pounds max.
  5. Class 5: this is a heavy-duty hitch that can tow up to 18,000 pounds.

Now you have to check the towing capacity of your vehicle. Use a vehicle manual that came with your vehicle to know the maximum towing capacity. Use the above list to find out the correct hitch for you.


Common Terms & Definitions

  1. Dry Weight/Shipped Weight: the weight of the RV or trailer without passengers, cargo, water, or accessories.
  2. Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW): the combined weight of the trailer, passengers, cargo, accessories, and water (tanks).
  3. Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR): this is the maximum weight that is allowed in a vehicle including passengers, cargo, accessories, and water.
  4. Tongue/Hitch Weight: this is the weight or pressure that is applied from the trailer tongue or coupler to the bumper hitch of the vehicle.
  5. Pin Weight: this is the weight or pressure applied from the fifth wheel kingpin to the hitch in the bed of the truck.
  6. Cargo Weight: the combined weight of passengers, cargo, accessories that in on the trailer or RV.
  7. Max Towing Capacity: this is the maximum weight that can be carried by a towing vehicle safely. You can add the weight of the trailer and all the weight of the passengers, cargo, accessories to find out.
  8. Payload Capacity: this is the weight that you can safely add to the bed of the truck.

Click Here to download the 2020 Good Sam Guide To Towing.


Video: Trailer Hitch Installation



Before you tow, check all connections, braking system, and the towing capacity of the vehicle to ensure safety

Happy Travelling!


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"Optimists Share Knowledge Generously" - Vanessa Angel
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