HOW TO CHOOSE THE CORRECT TRAILER HITCH
I am Harold Kiefer and I own the Hitch Corner, which has 2 stores in Colorado. I opened in 1990, so this is my 34th year of business. So I have seen just about everything & one of the main questions I get from customers is how to choose the correct trailer hitch. I hope the following will help you as well, but if it does not answer your questions, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will answer all your questions to the best of my ability.
Choosing the correct trailer hitch for towing involves several factors, including the weight of the trailer, the weight capacity of your vehicle, and the type of hitch that is appropriate for your vehicle and trailer. Here are some steps to follow when choosing a trailer hitch:
- Determine the type of hitch required for what you will be towing. There are several types of hitches available & The type of hitch you need will depend on the type of trailer you are towing and your vehicle’s towing capacity.
A) 5th wheel hitch for a 5th wheel trailer
B) Gooseneck hitch for a gooseneck trailer or with an adapter to pull a 5th wheel trailer
C) Rear or bumper pull trailer
- Determine your vehicle’s weight capacity: Your vehicle’s owner’s manual should list the maximum weight it can tow. This number is usually listed as the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). Be sure to include the weight of any passengers or cargo in your vehicle when calculating this number. This is a big issue as most people forget to include the weight of the passengers.
- Determine the weight of the trailer: The weight of the trailer is also important when choosing a hitch. This includes the weight of the trailer itself, as well as any cargo it will be carrying. Make sure to choose a hitch that is rated to handle the weight of your trailer.
- For 5th wheel hitch, the hitch depends on the size of bed the truck has. Currently, over 80% of all trucks sold have a short bed – 6 ½’ bed or shorter. NOTE: 5 ½’ bed trucks are really not designed to tow a 5th wheel trailer but it can be done
A) If you have a long bed truck, then everything is pretty simple. You just need a fixed 5th wheel hitch that can handle the weight of the trailer. We have under bed mount kits (and for those trucks that have the factory puck system) and above bed kits that have rails in the bed. Completely user choice but the B&W gooseneck with Companion 5th wheel hitch is our most popular for long bed trucks.
B) For short bed trucks, and here I am talking about 6 ½’ bed trucks, you have various options. However, the first item to check is if the trailer you are interested in is a a trailer designed for short bed trucks. These will be usually be noted as 88 degree turn trailers, which means you can make an 88 degree turn with a short bed using a fixed 5th wheel hitch. If it is designed for a short bed, then you have the option of using a fixed 5th wheel hitch but s slider is still recommended.
C) For most short bed trucks, you will need a slider 5th wheel hitch to avoid hitting the cab of the truck or your back window with the trailer. Here are the various options:
– Manual Slider 5th wheel hitch. This means you have to get out of the truck once to unlock the slider. You then get back in the truck, hold the manual on the brake control & pull forward. The hitch will slide & lockout when it gets to the back. When you are in town or trying to get into a tight space or most common, getting into a gas station, you will want the hitch slid back. When you are getting ready to get on the highway or you are traveling at higher speeds, you will want to be slid forward. You do not want the weight of the trailer behind the axle. Again, like the fixed, you can do an under bed mount, above bed with rails in the bed, as well as for factory puck mounts. To slide the hitch forward, you just do the opposite. Jump out to unlock the slider, get back in the truck, hold the manual on the brake control, back the truck up. The hitch will slide & automatically lock in the forward towing position.
– Automatic slider. This unit will automatically slide backwards when you turn. You never have to get out of the truck & you are never looking over your shoulder trying to determine if you need to slide your manual slide 5th wheel hitch. The most popular hitch here is made by Pull-Rite and requires a capture plate to be mounted to the king pin of the trailer. It just mounts with a set screw, so very easy to install but the capture plates are specific to the king pin on the trailer. We have these for under bed, rails & factory puck systems.
– Final option, is to change the king pin on the trailer to a sidewinder which moves the pivot point back as much as 19” and you would then use a fixed 5th wheel hitch
- For gooseneck trailer, the B&W under bed gooseneck is our most popular. The ball flips over when not in use & we can add a Companion 5th wheel hitch if you wish to tow a 5th wheel trailer. Or, we have adapters that adapt your 5th wheel trailer to be towed with a gooseneck ball. Biggest issue here is to verify if your trailer is under warranty. If so, verify that the warranty will allow you to use an adapter to pull their trailer.
- For Rear or Bumper Pull Trailers. You need to choose the appropriate hitch class: Trailer hitches are divided into classes based on their weight capacity. Class I hitches are rated for up to 2,000 pounds, while Class V hitches can handle up to 27,000 pounds. Choose a hitch that is rated for at least the weight of your trailer. These are frame mounted & built for very specific year, make & models of vehicles. I would never suggest a universal hitch. We also recommend a professional to install the hitch as you will also need wiring for the trailer lights. You can cause a lot of problems to your vehicles computer system if not wired correctly.
- Weight distribution & sway control – Some trailers will require a sway control or weight distribution systems, that can make towing safer and more stable. A weight distribution system distributes weight to the front axle of the towing vehicle, as well as distributing the weight of the trailer between the towing vehicle and the trailer itself. Almost all of the weight distribution systems we sell have sway control built into them. You want a system that can handle the full weight of the trailer fully loaded, but you do not want to go overboard. You can actually make the ride rougher. Our most popular units are the Equalizer and Curt TruTrack 4 points of sway control with weight distribution system. The easiest way to know if you need a weight distribution is if you hook up the trailer & the rear drops to the ground, you NEED a weight distribution system. Moreover, check the weight rating on your hitch. If your trailer is heavier than the weight carrying capacity, you will need a weight distribution system to reach the weight distribution weight capacity listed on your hitch.
- Depending on your needs, you may also want to consider additional features such as towing mirrors, hitch lock and RV accessories like levelers and sewer hoses.
- Installation: Finally, make sure to have your trailer hitch installed by a professional to ensure it is installed correctly and safely. Every thing can be done as a DIY, BUT you want to make sure these items are installed correctly as you do not want any issues down the road due to failure to install or setup correctly. The Hitch Corner specializes in all types of trailer hitch, 5th wheel & Gooseneck hitches, wiring and weight distribution systems.
By following these steps, you can choose the correct trailer hitch for your vehicle and trailer, and ensure safe and reliable towing.
Please let the Hitch Corner help you decide the best hitch and features for your vehicle and trailer. We can also install all of these products as well.
Check us out on the web at www.hitchcorner.com
or give us a call. Denver store – 720-277-7782 or Littleton store – 303-904-1558
or email us at email@example.com
Harold Kiefer – Owner of the Hitch Corner since 1990