Heading out for your next road trip or camping adventure and planning to turn your SUV into a trailer-hauling machine? Then you’ll need a hitch!
Not all trailer hitches are the same. There are actually a lot of them available on the market, each specifically designed for different trailer types and applications. And since there’s too much to choose from, it can get extremely easy to get intimidated making it awfully hard to decide which one to get.
So, to help you, here’s a list of the things you can do to select the best hitch for your SUV:
- Check Your Vehicle’s Owner Manual
In the manual, find the TW (Tongue Weight) or the amount of weight which rests directly on your hitch and the GTW (Gross Trailer Weight) or the total weight of the trailer you’re going to attach when fully loaded. These two figures would determine how much you can tow safely.
Keep in mind, however, that each vehicle has its own TW that is different from the others. And this depends on the car’s model, year, and make. For example, there are top-notch trailer hitches for BMW X5, as well as ideal hitch trailer options for a Ford Explorer.
To point you towards the right set of hitches, you may use the Curt trailer hitch selector. Curt hitches are popular, finished with rust-resistant powder coat, and they fit well with designs that are unique for specific vehicles.
- Find Out Your Proper Weight Class
After knowing your trailer’s weight and your car’s towing capacity, you will now have an idea of the hitch you need. Now, hitches are categorized in five classes, depending on their size and weight capacity. You can use this table below as your guide:
|Hitch Class||GTW (Gross Trailer Weight)||TW (Tongue Weight)|
|Class 1||2,000 lbs.||200 lbs.|
|Class 2||3,500 lbs.||300 lbs.|
|Class 3||3,500-6,000 lbs.||350-600 lbs.|
|Class 4||6,000-10,000 lbs.||600-1,000 lbs.|
|Class 5||10,000 lbs. and above||1,000 lbs. and above|
Since you’re driving an SUV, you can use Class I and Class 2 receiver hitches, or Class 3 and Class 4 receiver with weight distribution hitches.
It is important to know that the lowest rate of the hitch you choose determines the max weight capacity you can safely tow. So, even if you have a vehicle which can carry as much as 10,000 lbs. but you choose a hitch that’s only rated for 3,500 lbs., then your overall tow rating will drop to only 3,500 lbs.
Consequently, a higher class of hitch does not increase your SUVs tow capacity. Thus, even if you buy a Class 5 hitch but your vehicle can only hold 5,000 lbs., then, you shouldn’t tow a trailer beyond that. Towing a trailer with a GTW greater than your vehicle’s rating will only cause serious damage to your engine transmission and frame.
Tip: purchase a hitch with ratings higher than the amount you think you need.
- Choose a Ball Mount
After choosing your hitch, you have to choose a ball mount which fits your hitch. This is to provide the correct amount of rising and dropping, and if needed, to level the trailer.
Ball mount, or also known as stinger or drawbar, is a square tube which consists of a heavy mounting plate to keep the hitch ball in place. It comes in many sizes to match different trailer balls.
- Choose a Trailer Ball
The last thing to do is to find a trailer ball which fits your trailer’s coupler. A trailer ball, or called tow ball or hitch ball, is your hitch’s “business end” or the point where your vehicle connects with your trailer.
A hitch ball is designed to allow your SUV and trailer to turn corners and manage bumps on the road. Typically, the lighter your trailer is the smaller trailer ball you need.
Aside from the aforementioned, you will also need a few more parts to complete your towing rig. And they are the following:
- Hitch Pins and Locks – these locks the ball mount in the hitch. They can add an extra security from thieves, holding the ball mount to your vehicle and making it technically impossible to remove the ball mount without a key.
- Hitch Wiring – to legally drive on public roads, you will need to have a trailer which has turn signals and brake lights. And you can do this by connecting your trailer lights to your car’s lighting system through wiring.
- Safety Chain – for safe towing, you will need at least one safety chain. It will catch the nose of your trailer when your hitch fails, holding it and preventing it from separating from your vehicle completely.
Don’t let having many selections stop you from choosing the best for your vehicle. You deserve to drive with ease and comfort in knowing you, your family, friends, and your valuables are completely safe, thanks to your perfect towing gear.