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How to Choose the Right Trailer Hitch

When it comes to towing a load, the destination doesn't matter - With the right equipment you can turn your vehicle into a road trip ready load-hauling machine! Trailing and towing necessitates an extra measure of precaution and choosing the right hitch for your vehicle is the most important step to take. With the wide variety of trailer hitches available, many are designed to be application specific, it is easy to get overwhelmed and intimidated. The Boys are here to help! We know trailering and we know towing. There are several factors to consider when shopping for a hitch, including your vehicle type and the load you plan to haul.

Finding the Perfect Hitch

First, be sure to check your vehicle's owners manual to find the specific TW (Tongue Weight) and GTW (Gross Trailer Weight) your vehicle can tow safely. The trusted experts at Pep Boys have outlined a few terms below to know when determining towing capacity. The chart below will help you choose the right hitch for you!


Helpful Terms to Determine Towing Capacity

Gross Trailer Weight (GTW)
The total mass of a fully loaded trailer, including the weight of the trailer itself plus fluid and cargo. Measure the gross trailer load by placing the
fully-loaded trailer on a commercial scale.


Trailer Tongue Weight (TW)
The downward weight applied by the towable equipment on the Hitch Ball. You can measure the tongue weight by measuring on either a commercial or bathroom scale. Be sure the trailer is level and the wheels are chocked.


Vehicle Towing Capacity
The manufacturer's specification of the weight the vehicle is designed to tow. Although some hitches may have higher stated capacity since they fit other vehicles, never exceed the manufacturer's stated trailer capacity. The specifications are found in your vehicle's owner manual, or can be obtained by writing to your vehicle's manufacturer.

Weight Distributing Hitches
Heavy tongue weight tends to pull your tow vehicle's rear end down and lift the front end up. This causes an uneven and less stable ride. This problem can be eliminated by using a weight distributing hitch, also known as a load equalizing hitch.



Trailer Weight and Class Ratings

Once you have determined the weight of your trailer and your vehicle's towing capacity you can decide which type of hitch you will need. Trailer hitches are available in five weight classes to accommodate every different type of trailer and vehicle. Use the following chart below to help you choose which hitch you need.


Class 1:
2,000 lbs. (GTW)
200 lbs. (TW)
Suitable for Subcompact
and Compact Cars

Class 2:
3,500 lbs. (GTW)
300 lbs. (TW)
Suitable for Mid-size cars,
Small Pick-ups
Class 3:
3,500 lbs. (GTW)
350-600 lbs. (TW)
Suitable for Mid-sized Pick-Ups,
SUV's and Minivans

Class 4&5:
6,000-18,000 lbs. (GTW)
500-1,800 lbs. (TW)
Suitable for Full-sized cars, Pick-Ups,
Vans and Utility Vehicles