Types | Trailer Towing Guidelines | Tips | Car packages

Class I (light-duty) 2,000 lbs. Max. Gross Trailer Weight (GTW) & 200 lbs. Tongue Weight (TW).
Receiver hitch uses 1-1/4" sq. mounts with 1/2" dia. receiver pin.

Class II (medium-duty) 3,500 lbs. GTW & 350 lbs. TW.
Receiver hitch uses 1-1/4" sq. mounts with 1/2" dia. receiver pin.

Class III (heavy-duty) 5,000 lbs. GTW & 500 lbs. TW.
With Weight Distribution Configuration1: 10,000 lbs. GTW & 1,000 lbs. TW.
Receiver hitch uses 2" square mounts with 5/8" dia. receiver pin.

Note 1: Some "Class III" hitches are listed at lower GTW capacity; The distinction for class III here seems to be the 2" receiver as opposed to 1-1/4". See Hidden_hitch Rating Codes below.
Read the label on your hitch. I got a Draw-Tite Max_e_Loader (41531) which is listed at 6,000 lbs. on their web site, but the label on the hitch listed it at 3,500 lbs.

Note 2: If you are going to use an accessory such as a bike carrier or cargo rack you may want a Class III hitch to get the 2" receiver which will provide more stability even if you don't need the towing capacity.

Class IV 8,000 lbs. GTW & 800 lbs. TW.
With Weight Distribution Configuration: 12,000 lbs. GTW & 1,200 lbs. TW.

Class V 15,000 lbs. GTW & 1,500 lbs. TW.
With Weight Distribution Configuration: 16,000 lbs. GTW & 1,600 lbs. TW.
receiver hitch uses 2" square mounts with 5/8" dia. receiver pin.

Hidden-Hitch Rating Codes for Class III hitches

Ball Mount Weight Distributing Hitch1
Code GTW TW GTW TW
F 3,000 300 4,000 350
G 3,000 300 5,000 550
H 3,500 300 3,500 300
I 3,500 500 5,000 550
J 3,500 300 6,000 600
K 3,500 500 10,000 1,000
Ball Mount Weight Distributing Hitch
Code GTW TW GTW TW
L 5,000 500 5,000 550
M 5,000 500 7,500 750
N 5,000 500 8,000 800
O 5,000 500 10,000 1,000
P 6,000 600 6,000 600
Q 6,000 600 10,000 1,000
Sources at JC Whitney.com and RatParts.com and others have different values for the above table.

GTW - Gross Towing/Trailer Weight, TW - tongue weight
GVWR - Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (same as GTW or GTWR)

Note: Some hitches are not rated to support Weight Distribution.

1. A "weight distributing hitch" has extra spring bars to transfer some of the weight load to the front of your vehicle.


Source: OnTheBall.com
Note: Check the specifications of your hitch. Some are not rated for weight distribution setups.

See also: About Weight Distribution and Trailer Hitch Weight Distrubition at etrailer.com

Sway Control:
Many factors can contribute to trailer sway - the design of the trailer, the suspension, tire inflation pressures, configuration of the tow vehicle, towing speeds and hitch weight.
A sway control is particularly useful for longer trailers or for those with a large surface area. The addition of a friction or dual cam sway control dampens sway caused by traffic and crosswinds and contributes positively to tow vehicle and trailer stability.
They are frequently integrated into a Weight Distrbiution system.
See: Sway Control at drawtite-hitches.com

Trailer Towing Guidelines:
Most trailer problems I have heard of are caused by the ball connection; Either the ball breaking off, comming loose or the hitch separating from the ball.
Always make sure the ball's weight rating is greater than the gross trailer weight rating. As for the hole diameter, it must be less than 1/16" greater than the ball shank diameter. When tightening, always use the lock washer and make sure a portion of the ball shank extends past the bottom the nut.

The tongue weight on the vehicle's hitch should be within 10-15 percent of the total (fully loaded) trailer weight. These specifications should never be exceeded and can lead to dangerously unstable driving conditions along with excessive wear and tear on your vehicle.

Towing capacity, Gross Towing/Trailer Weight (GTW), is a combination of the engine and transmission in your vehicle plus things like the wheelbase. A jeep Wrangler with short wheelbase has a lower GTW because of its shorter wheelbase. (See jeep page).

Tips:

  • Weight Distribution: Amount of a trailer's weight that rests on the tow vehicle; should be 10 to 15 percent with conventional trailers, 15 to 20 percent for fifth-wheels.
    Move heavier items to the front of the trailer to avoid sway.
  • Speed: Maximum speed is 55 or 60 MPH. See your trailer manual and state vehicle codes. e.g. Calif., Others
  • Following distance: Allow double the amount of space between you and the vehicle in front of you when towing a trailer.
  • Braking: Remember the extra weight will increase your stopping distance.
  • Curves: Avoid applying brakes when going around a curve; The trailer can push the back of your vehicle out and cause a jackknife. Instead break before the curve and accelerate in the curve so you pull the trailer thru the curve rather than it pushing you.
  • Turns: Take wider turns to avoid hitting the curb.
  • Hills: Use lower gears for climbing and descending grades to avoid unnecessary transmission shifting and overheating brakes.
  • Sway: At the first signs of trailer sway, slow down by taking your foot off the accelerator. Let vehicle speed decrease but do not put your foot on the brake pedal, which can make the situation worse. Keep the steering wheel steady; Don't try to steer out of a sway. Once you're down to a safe speed, carefully apply the brakes and drive slower. If the trailer contues to sway, stop and adjust your load.
    Sway may also be caused by wind or gusts from passing traffic if you have a trailer with a large surface area e.g. a travel trailer. In this case there are sway control devices you can add to your hitch.
See tips at: ETrailer.com
edmunds.com/ownership/howto/articles/
govt.nz
trailers-r-less.com/trailer-towing-safety.html

Safety Checklist:

  • Maintenance Checklist (Up to date)
  • Hitch Ball Tight
  • Hitch Ball Lubricated
  • Hitch Secured in Receiver
  • Safety Chains Crossed (too act as a cradle for the tongue if the ball breaks) and Attached with enough slack
  • Coupler Latched onto Ball
  • Load Distributed Correctly and Securely
  • Trailer Level when Hooked Up
  • Trailer Lights Working Correctly
  • Lug Nuts Checked and Tightened
  • Inspect Tires for Cuts
  • Tire Pressure Checked
  • Breakaway Battery Charged
  • Breakaway Cable Hooked Up
  • Pin or Bolt Through Coupler Latch
  • Check coupler tightness, lights and safety chains after 50 miles
  • Block Tires When Loading or Unloading

Auto/Car Hitch packages SUVs and trucks might get all the attention when it comes to towing capability, but there are quite a few sedans, hatchbacks and wagons that also have the goods to haul some fairly heavy loads. While their tow ratings aren't as impressive as those of, say, a full-size SUV, these choices are certainly robust enough to haul a small boat for a weekend at the lake or a small camper for a few days of decadent glamping (as the British like to call luxurious camping).
Make Towing
Capacity
Mileage Price
Honda Pilot 2,000
Honda Crosstour 1,500 21 $27,530 - $37,390
Honda Odyssey 3,500
Top 13 Best Cars for Towing for 2013 on Edmunds.com
1. Porsche Panamera 4,850
2. BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo 4,630
3. Lincoln MKT 4,500
4. Toyota Venza 3,500
5. Volvo S60 3,300
5. Volvo S80 3,300
5. Volvo XC70 3,300
6. Subaru Outback 3,000
7. Volvo C30 2,000
8. Toyota Corolla 1,500
8. Honda Crosstour 1,500
8. Toyota Matrix 1,500
8. Acura ZDX 1,500
See:
High Gas Mileage Cars with towing ratings
Curt Trailer Hitchs | CurtMfg.com
Trailer Hitches, Fifth Wheel, Ball Mounts, Hitch and Towing Accessories - etrailer.com
Auto Anything.com
Torklift Central | Find Your EcoHitch© - Trailer Hitch and Towing


See:
Hitch alternataives at Hensley Concept
Trailers and towing article.
Dealers:
OnTheBall.com
HitchFinder.com (After 2 weeks they still had not shiped my Draw-Tite order)
JC Whitney
ETrailer.com
USA-Trailer-Hitches.com
Manufacturers:
  Cequent Towing Products, Plymouth MI, 734 656-3000, a TriMas Corp. operating group, now owns the following Brands:
Draw-Tite®
Reese®
Hidden-Hitch®
Fulton®, Wesbar®, Bull Dog®

See Also:
RVs and Trailers

last updated 17 July 2005