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What are the Different Types of Hitches

If you’re going to be towing something, especially a trailer, you’ll definitely need a tow hitch or trailer hitch to attach it to. In this article, we’ll take you through the five most common types of hitch, how they are mounted to your vehicle, and any considerations you should take.

Of course, you should also learn the basics of controlling your vehicle when it has a trailer attached to it. Some of the newest SUVs have trick tech that makes the job of steering a trailer much easier, especially when traveling in reverse. Regardless, we’d recommend that you take your SUV and trailer to a wide, flat, and open area and get some practice maneuvering with it before embarking on a long journey.

Looking for towing gear? At 4 Wheel Parts carry a great range of all things towing, which you can browse right here. Want to talk to an expert? You can do that as well and receive customized advice for your vehicle and requirements.

BW Hitch 20K lb Companion OEM 5th Wheel Hitch Kit

5th Wheel Hitch

A fifth-wheel hitch is a heavy-duty hitch that can only be mounted if you have a pickup truck. This hitch requires modifications and is typically mounted atop the bed, directly above, or as close as possible to the rear axle. Fifth-wheel hitches place some of the load of the trailer or camper being towed on the rear axle of your truck, and they typically have a pivot capability that moves up and down as well as sideways, absorbing bumps and moving according to road contours.

Fifth-wheel hitches can handle impressive loads of up to 24,000 pounds (dependent on your truck’s load capacity of course), but they are more or less a permanent installation in your truck bed. Depending on the size and shape of the hitch, it can take up a significant portion of the bed, reducing your cargo-carrying capacity as a result.

bumper hitch

Gooseneck Hitch

The gooseneck hitch also mounts in the bed of a pickup truck in a similar fashion to a fifth wheel hitch, but they are much less intrusive than a fifth wheel hitch due to their lower profile by design, thus granting you better cargo carrying capacity when not in use. They do not have as much pivot freedom as a fifth-wheel hitch, but some can handle up to 30,000 pounds of load.

gooseneck hitch

Bumper Hitch

The bumper hitch is the most accessible type of hitch that can be installed on almost any vehicle, although it’s recommended to pair it with a sturdier aftermarket bumper rather than attempt to install it on the vehicle’s stock bumper. The bumper hitch also has the lowest load capacity of all types, but can be considered suitable for light trailers.

However, you should ensure that your vehicle’s bumper is securely attached to the body or frame before attempting to install a bumper hitch, or else you will encounter a ripped bumper the moment you try to tow anything with it. If you’re in doubt, 4WP experts can advise you.

02 pro series adjustable hitch

Weight Distributing Hitch

Strictly speaking, a weight-distributing hitch isn’t a separate hitch in its own right but an attachment to an existing hitch that better distributes the weight of the trailer, motorhome, or other load being towed. Weight distribution hitches use long rods, also called spring rods, to leverage the connection point and ease some load off the tongue connection point. This reduces some of the weight on the rear of the towing vehicle, enhancing your steering and maneuvering ability. This makes the weight distribution hitch very popular with campers and RVs because it eases the handling of the towing vehicle when a load is connected.

08 smittybilt tow hitch

Front Mount Hitch

Why would you install a front mount hitch when towing is done with the rear of a vehicle? There are some circumstances where a front mount hitch makes a lot of sense. One of these is when using an attachment such as a snowplow or snow blower that is typically mounted at the front of a vehicle. You could even attach a small luggage carrier or additional spare wheel to it, although you should check the legality of this on public roads.

Another way that a front-mounted hitch is handy is if you need to park your trailer or RV in a confined space. Attaching it to the front-mounted hitch grants you a great view of it through the windshield, allowing you to make minor course corrections and gently ease it in. 

Bear in mind that front-mounted hitches have a different load carrying capacity than the same hitch would have if mounted at the rear due to the weight distribution of the vehicle, the presence of steering wheels at the front, and additional weight such as the engine and gearbox up front. Therefore, you should always check with your vehicle manufacturer before installing a front-mounted hitch.

front mount hitch

All Towing Needs Can Be Met At 4 Wheel Parts

Whatever you need for towing, you can find right here at 4 Wheel Parts. We operate a comprehensive network of 100 stores nationwide and have six distribution centers catering to our online clientele, who can browse, compare and shop from our inventory via our website

Regardless of your preference, you’ll be met with top-notch customer service, competitive prices with a price-match policy, friendly expert advice, and warranties where applicable. There’s really no reason not to choose 4 Wheel Parts!