Regardless of what you tow, ensuring you have the right trailer hitch for your vehicle is a necessary step in guaranteeing your safety and comfort on the roads.
Using the right trailer hitch can help protect both your vehicle and whatever it is, you’re hauling, especially in hazardous conditions or over long journeys.
So whether you plan on hauling a boat, camper or trailer here are some key factors to consider when selecting which trailer hitch is right for your vehicle.
Determine your tow vehicle weight
Before purchasing your trailer hitch, you’ll need to understand just how much weight your vehicle can safely tow; this is known as its towing capacity. To do so, you’ll need to find the Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) of your towing vehicle and trailer. Your towing vehicle’s Gross Vehicle Mass can be found amongst its specifications. This is important to be aware of as the total weight of your vehicle, along with its occupants, fuel and cargo, must not exceed the GVM.
So if GVM equals the total mass of the vehicle, we also need to factor in the weight of the vehicle, plus the contents. Calculating gross vehicle mass looks like this:
KW + Payload = GM
KW stands for the Kerb Weight; this represents the weight of the vehicle by itself. Meanwhile, Payload consists of all additional weight being added to the vehicle, including the tow ball’s load, any occupants or luggage and any other accessories attached to the vehicle.
We refer to the strain put on the hitch itself as Tow Ball Mass. Most tow setups ensure a ball-mass rating is 10% of the maximum tow rating.
Check your trailer’s GTW and TW capacities
After collecting your GVM the next step is to check the trailer’s Gross Trailer Weight (GTW) and its Tongue Weight (TW) to decide which trailer hitch and hitch class are right for your hauling needs.
Gross Trailer Weight much like (Gross Vehicle Mass) is the weight of a fully-loaded trailer when towed while Tongue Weight, refers to the downward force placed on the trailer created when the coupler attaches to the ball mount onto the hitch.
Cross-check: Matching tow vehicle, trailer and hitch class
After finding out the trailer weight, gross trailer weight and gross vehicle mass, you’re ready to select from the range of different hitch types and categories to find the right man for the job.
Here we’ll cover the three basic heavy-duty trailer hitch types:
5th wheel hitch: These robust hitches are used to haul large caravans, pick-up trucks, and car hauliers. These hitches have Four Steel Tie-Rods rated at up to 7,300 kg with an assurance of 29,200kg shock and sheer rating. On top of that, the 5th wheel hitches also come with pivot capability to absorb road imperfections and ensure a smooth ride.
Gooseneck hitch: Similar to 5th wheel hitches, these gooseneck hitches are designed for pick-up trucks only. These hitches are V-19 certified and rated to 36,000 GTW.
Weight distribution hitch: Classified as a hitch attachment these hitches work to evenly distribute the TW (Tongue Weight) across both tow vehicle and trailer.
Find out the hitch height and coupler height
When selecting a tow receiver hitch, you need to choose the right shank sized ball mount to match the receiver tube opening of the trailer. To do so, you’ll need to find both the height of your hitch and coupler.
To measure the hitch height start from the ground and measure to the top of the hitch receiver opening. To measure the coupling height start from ground measure to the bottom of the coupler at trailer level.
Keeping all these factors in mind, you can measure and find the right kind of hitch your any vehicle or trailer. For further advice, you can also consult with experts at any authorised trailer hitch dealers nearby.