What Are The Different Types Of Truck Tow Hitches?
Discovering the perfect tow hitch types for your truck can be a game-changer when it comes to hauling trailers, boats, or any heavy load. But with so many different trailer hitches and terms to navigate, it’s essential to understand the ins and outs of tow hitches.
In this post, we’ll explore the various types of trailer hitches, decode common towing hitch terms, and provide expert advice on selecting the right hitch for your needs.
Common Terms of Towing & Trailer Hitches
Before delving into the different caravan tow hitch types, let’s familiarize ourselves with a few common terms associated with towing and tow bar types:
Coupler: The device that connects the trailer to the tow vehicle, ensuring a secure attachment.
Sway Control: A mechanism that reduces trailer sway caused by crosswinds or sudden manoeuvres, enhancing stability during towing.
Hitch Class: A classification system used to categorize hitches based on their towing capacity. The higher the class, the greater the towing capacity.
Tongue Weight: The downward force exerted on the hitch ball by the trailer’s coupler.
Tongue Weight Capacity: The maximum weight the hitch can handle in terms of tongue weight.
Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR): The maximum weight of the fully loaded tow vehicle and trailer combined.
Gross Trailer Weight (GTW): The total weight of the trailer and its contents when fully loaded.
Weight Carrying vs. Weight Distributing Trailer Hitches
Weight-carrying and weight-distributing trailer hitches are two categories of towing hitches used for trailers. Their various tow bar types are designed to distribute the weight of the trailer and its contents between the towing vehicle and the trailer axles, ensuring safe and stable towing.
Weight Carrying Trailer Hitches
Weight-carrying towing hitches, also known as conventional hitches or standard hitches, are designed to carry the entire tongue weight directly on the rear of the towing vehicle.
In this case, the trailer’s tongue weight is added to the rear axle of the vehicle, which can lead to an imbalance and cause the front of the vehicle to lift, reducing its steering and braking capabilities.
Weight-carrying camper trailer hitch is typically used for lighter trailers, where the tongue weight is within the towing vehicle’s recommended capacity.
Weight Distributing Trailer Hitches
Weight-distributing hitches, also called equalizing hitches or load-levelling hitches, are designed to distribute the tongue weight more evenly across the towing vehicle and the trailer axles.
A weight-distributing towing hitch uses spring bars or torsion bars. The bars transfer a portion of the tongue weight to the front axle of the vehicle and the trailer’s axles. This helps restore balance and stability, improving steering, braking, and overall control.
Major Categories of Weight-Carrying Tow Hitches
Weight-carrying Towing hitches are designed to bear the entire tongue weight of the trailer. They are suitable for smaller trailers and lighter loads. There are several major tow hitch types.
Receiver Hitches: The most common type of hitch, receiver hitches attach to the rear of the tow vehicle and accommodate various hitch accessories. They are further categorized into hitch classes (1 to 5) based on their towing capacity.
Class I: Suitable for light-duty towing, such as small trailers or bike racks.
Class II: Ideal towing hitch for hauling small boats or lightweight trailers.
Class III: Versatile camper hitch capable of pulling mid-sized trailers, including campers.
Class IV: Designed for heavy-duty towing of larger trailers, such as horse trailers or RVs.
Class V: Heavy-duty hitches with the highest towing capacity, often used for commercial purposes.
Bumper Hitches: Typically found on older vehicles, bumper hitches are attached directly to the vehicle’s bumper. They have limited towing capacities and are best suited for light loads.
Front-Mount Hitches: Installed at the front of the vehicle, these hitches enable towing while maintaining rear clearance for cargo. They are commonly used for manoeuvring trailers in tight spaces.
Fifth Wheel Hitches: This off road trailer hitch is primarily used in heavy-duty trucks, fifth wheel hitches provide exceptional stability and weight distribution for towing large trailers, such as RVs or horse trailers.
Gooseneck Hitches: Similar to fifth wheel hitches, gooseneck hitches also connect to the bed of the truck but utilize a different coupling mechanism. They offer increased manoeuvrability and are commonly used in commercial applications.
Pintle Hitches: This off road trailer hitch is known for its strength and durability. Pintle hitches consist of a hook and loop combination that securely connects the trailer to the towing vehicle. They are often used in military and heavy-duty industrial settings.
50mm Tow Ball:Widely used in Australia and Europe, the 50mm tow ball hitch is a standard coupling mechanism for light and medium loads.
Treg or Trig Hitch aka Polyblock Hitch: This versatile off road trailer hitch utilizes a polyurethane block to provide articulation and shock absorption, making it suitable for off-road adventures.
Mchitch: An Australian-designed off road trailer hitch featuring an articulating head, allowing for smooth and stable towing on uneven terrain.
Mchitch Auto Coupler: Building upon the original Mchitch design, the auto coupler variant offers the convenience of automatically coupling and decoupling the trailer.
DO35 and DO45: These advanced off-road towing hitches from Australia incorporate innovative features like 360-degree articulation, self-aligning couplers, and superior shock absorption.
Hitch Ezy: A user-friendly, self-aligning hitch designed to eliminate the hassle of reversing and aligning the trailer to the vehicle.
Alko Off-Road Ball Coupling: Engineered for off-road adventures, this caravan hitch offers exceptional articulation and durability, ensuring a smooth towing experience on challenging terrains.
Air Hitches: These towing hitches utilize airbags to provide improved ride quality, reduced shock transfer, and enhanced towing stability.
Weight Distributing Hitch
For heavy loads and improved weight distribution, a weight-distributing tow hitch comes into play. It effectively redistributes the tongue weight across both the tow vehicle and the trailer axles, enhancing stability and control during towing.
Essential Gear | Hitch Components & Accessories
Hitch components and accessories are essential parts of a towing system that allow you to connect a trailer or other equipment to your vehicle securely. Here is a description of various towing hitches components and accessories:
Ball Mount: A ball mount is a removable device that slides into the trailer hitch receiver and provides a mounting point for the hitch ball. It comes in different sizes and styles to accommodate various trailer heights and weight capacities.
Hitch Ball: The hitch ball is a spherical metal attachment that connects to the ball mount. It provides the point of contact between the towing vehicle and the trailer coupler, allowing for the articulation and movement of the trailer.
Trailer Jacks: Trailer jacks are mechanisms that support the front or rear of a trailer when it is not connected to the towing vehicle. They help in stabilizing and levelling the trailer, making it easier to hitch and unhitch.
Hitch Pin, Locks, and Clips: These are used to secure the ball mount and other hitch components to the trailer hitch receiver. The hitch pin slides through the receiver and the corresponding holes on the ball mount, while locks and clips prevent the pin from coming loose during towing.
Safety Chains: Safety chains are vital safety features that provide an extra line of defence in case the trailer becomes disconnected from the towing vehicle. They connect the trailer’s coupler to the tow vehicle, preventing the trailer from completely detaching if the hitch fails.
Trailer Brakes and Brake Controllers: Larger trailers often require their braking systems. Trailer brakes are designed to work in tandem with the towing vehicle’s brakes and help in controlling and stopping the trailer. Brake controllers are devices installed in the tow vehicle to manage and apply the trailer brakes.
Hitch Adapters and Extenders: These accessories are used when there is a mismatch between the trailer hitch receiver and the trailer coupler. Hitch adapters allow you to use a different size or type of hitch, while hitch extenders provide additional clearance for towing when the trailer may interfere with the rear of the tow vehicle.
Cargo Carriers and Bike Racks: These accessories attach to the trailer hitch and allow you to transport additional cargo or bicycles. Cargo carriers provide a platform for carrying luggage or equipment, while bike racks secure bicycles for convenient transport.
Tube Covers: Tube covers are protective caps that fit over the trailer hitch receiver when not in use. They prevent dirt, debris, and moisture from accumulating inside the receiver, keeping it clean and preventing rust and corrosion.
Hitch Wiring and Lights: When towing a trailer, it is crucial to have proper wiring to connect the trailer’s lights to the towing vehicle’s electrical system. Hitch wiring kits include connectors, harnesses, and adapters to ensure that the trailer’s lights, brake lights, and turn signals work in sync with the tow vehicle.
Hitch Immobilizer: A hitch immobilizer is a device that prevents the theft of your trailer or hitch-mounted accessories. It securely locks the hitch ball mount or accessory to the trailer hitch receiver, making it difficult for unauthorized individuals to remove or tamper with them.
Choosing the Perfect Tow Hitches | Key Factors to Keep in Mind
Tow hitches considerations are important when it comes to towing trailers or other vehicles behind your vehicle. Here are some key points to keep in mind:
Your tow hitch needs to suit the trailer and vehicle you have:
Different trailers have different hitch requirements, such as weight capacity and attachment methods. Ensure that your tow hitch is compatible with both your vehicle and the trailer you intend to tow.
Tow hitch type should keep your door or tailgate clear:
Depending on the type of hitch, it may protrude from the rear of your vehicle. Make sure the hitch design allows for clearance of your vehicle’s doors or tailgate when it is installed. This will ensure easy access to the trunk or cargo area without interference.
Consider the towing capacity and class rating of tow hitches. The hitch should be capable of safely towing the weight of your trailer or load. It is crucial to match the hitch’s capacity to the weight you intend to tow.
Your tow hitch should be of the right length:
The length of the tow hitch determines the distance between the rear of your vehicle and the trailer. This can affect the manoeuvrability of the trailer, especially when making turns. It is important to choose tow hitches with an appropriate length to ensure safe and smooth towing.
Your tow hitch should sit at the right height:
The hitch height should be adjusted so that the trailer is level when it is attached to your vehicle. This promotes stability and ensures proper weight distribution between the vehicle and the trailer. You may need to use a drop or rise hitch adapter to achieve the correct height.
Your tow hitch should suit the brake style:
Some trailers have electric brakes, hydraulic brakes, or surge brakes. Ensure that your tow hitch is compatible with the brake system on your trailer. This may involve having the necessary electrical connections or hydraulic lines.
Your tow hitch should be easy and safe to use:
Consider the ease of installation and removal of the tow hitches. Look for features such as a quick-release mechanism or tool-free installation. Additionally, ensure that the hitch provides a secure and stable connection between your vehicle and the trailer to ensure safe towing.
Where to Get a Tow Hitch?
When looking for tow hitches, it is recommended to visit reputable towing equipment dealers, automotive stores, or authorized camper hitch installers. They can provide expert advice, guidance, and quality products to ensure a safe and reliable towing experience.
Ready To Find The Perfect Tow Hitch For Your Needs?
Understanding the different tow hitch types Australia is crucial for safe and efficient towing. Familiarize yourself with common towing terms, distinguishing between weight-carrying and weight-distributing towing hitches.
Explore various tow hitch types, learn about essential tow bar types and accessories, and consider important factors when choosing a tow hitch, to make an informed decision that meets your towing needs.
Visit your nearest towing equipment dealer or authorized hitch installer today to find the perfect tow hitch for your truck and towing requirements.