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How to Choose the Right Size Trailer Hitch
How to Choose the Right Size Trailer Hitch:

Which Class of Trailer Hitch is Best Suited for You?

If you've never dealt with trailer hitches before, it can be kind of confusing. What do the different classes mean? What sizes are there, and what size do you need?The hitch class and receiver size you need depends on two factors: what you want to tow or carry, and what your vehicle can handle. (You can put the strongest hitch in the world on the back of a Ford Focus, but you're still not going to transform your Focus into a trailer-towing giant!)The quickest and easiest way to figure out which hitches will work for your vehicle is to use our fitguide. Just input your vehicle's year, make, and model, and we'll show you only the hitches that fit.But what if multiple hitch classes or sizes turn up, and you have options? What trailer hitch class do you need then?We'll go over hitch classes in more detail below, so you can confidently make the choice best suited for your vehicle and towing situation.
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What are the Different Trailer Hitch Classes?

There are a total of 5 trailer hitch classes, with Class I having the lowest capacity and Class V having the highest. Hitch classes essentially designate the hitch opening size and weight capacity. Here's a quick breakdown of the 5 hitch classes, their associated capacities, and their typical receiver sizes.
Trailer Hitch Class Capacities
Okay, great, you may be thinking. But what do these numbers actually translate to? For context, we've broken out the 5 trailer hitch classes below, including the typical tow vehicles, trailers, and accessories you'll see associated with each size.Keep in mind that you are always limited by your lowest rated component. For instance, if your hitch can haul 8,000 lbs but your vehicle can only haul 3,000 lbs, you're maxed out at 3K.*You can also check out our Tips on How to Tow a Trailer article as well as our Determining Trailer Tongue Weight article for more help towing your trailer!
KEY TERMS
Gross Trailer Weight (GTW): Weight of the loaded trailer. To determine GTW, weigh the loaded trailer on a vehicle scale.Tongue Weight (TW): The downward pressure placed on the ball by the coupler. To determine TW, use a tongue weight scale or other method described here.
Class I Trailer Hitch Receiver

What is a Class I Trailer Hitch?

A Class I trailer hitch is the lightweight champion of the 5 available classes, making it perfect for small loads like kayaks or cargo carriers. These hitches are most often found on passenger cars and smaller SUVs.Class I and Class II trailer hitches typically have a 1-1/4" x 1-1/4" receiver opening. Class II accessories will not work with Class I hitches.Max GTW: 1,000-2,000 lbsMax TW: 100-200 lbsReceiver opening: 1-1/4"
Class I Typical Loads
  • Bikes (max 2)
  • Cargo carriers
  • Kayaks
  • Canoes
  • Mobility scooters
  • Small trailers
Bicycle
Kayak
Cargo Carrier
Class I Typical Tow Vehicles
  • Compact cars
  • Midsize cars
  • Full-size cars
  • SUVs
  • Minivans
Class I Tow Vehicles
Class II Hitch Receiver Size
Class I Accessory Tab

What is a Class II Trailer Hitch?

A Class II trailer hitch is just a bit heftier than a Class I hitch. Like Class I hitches, they are typically found on passenger cars and smaller SUVs. Because Class I and Class II hitch receivers are usually the same size, many people wonder if their Class II accessories will fit their Class I hitch. But alas, this is not the case!Class I hitch receivers have a built-in stopper so that drawbars and accessory shanks can only slide into the trailer hitch opening to a certain point. Class II accessories have a longer shank, so they'll run into the stopper and won't be able to slide all the way into the receiver. This is to keep you from accidentally overloading your Class I hitch with a heavier Class II accessory. On the other hand, you CAN use a Class I accessory in a Class II hitch.Max GTW: 2,000-3,500 lbsMax TW: 200-525 lbsReceiver opening: 1-1/4"
Class II Typical Loads
  • Bikes
  • Cargo carriers
  • Kayaks
  • Canoes
  • Mobility scooters
  • Small trailers
  • Small pop-up campers
  • Small boats
Bike
Kayak
Cargo Carrier
Covered Trailer
Boat
Class II Typical Tow Vehicles
  • Compact cars
  • Midsize cars
  • Full-size cars
  • SUVs
  • Minivans
Class II Typical Tow Vehicles
Class III Hitch Receiver Size

What is a Class III Trailer Hitch?

Class III hitches are some of the most common due to their wide range of weight capacities (about 3,500 lbs GTW to 8,000 lbs GTW). If you want to tow a camper, you're best off sticking with at least a Class III hitch. Since this is the most common hitch size, you have way more options for everything from trailers to bike racks to cargo carriers. Class III hitches have 2" x 2" wide receiver openings. However, you can still use 1-1/4" accessories if you've got them by using an adapter.Max GTW: 3,500-8,000 lbsMax TW: 300-800 lbsReceiver opening: 2"
Class III Typical Loads
  • Midsize campers
  • Utility trailers
  • Lawn maintenance equipment
  • Bikes
  • Cargo carriers
  • Kaykas
  • Canoes
  • Motorcycles
  • Snowmobiles
Bike
Kayak
Cargo Carrier
Boat
Camper
Trailer
Class III Typical Tow Vehicles
  • Full-size cars
  • Large SUVs
  • Minivans
  • Trucks
Class III Typical Tow Vehicles
Class IV Hitch Receiver Size

What is a Class IV Trailer Hitch?

We again step up the weight capacities with Class IV hitches. Like Class III hitches, Class IV hitches typically have 2" x 2" receivers. However, they come with an even beefier weight capacity (up to 12,000 lbs GTW).Class IV hitches have 2" x 2" wide receiver openings. However, if you want to use your 1-1/4" accessories with your 2" hitch, you can use an adapter.Max GTW: 5,000-12,000 lbsMax TW: 500-1,200 lbsReceiver opening: 2"
Class IV Typical Loads
  • Large campers
  • Large boats
  • Toy haulers
  • Horse trailers
Bike
Kayak
Cargo Carrier
Boat
Camper
Trailer
Large Camper Trailer
Toy Hauler
Class IV Typical Tow Vehicles
  • Heavy-duty trucks
  • Large SUVs
Class IV Typical Tow Vehicles
Class V Hitch Receiver Size
Class V Hitch Receiver Size 3 Inches

What is a Class V Trailer Hitch?

Class V trailer hitches are as big as they come. These are the heavy-duty hitches made for hauling your heaviest trailers and toy haulers. Most Class V hitch receivers have a 2-1/2" receiver opening, although some have a 2" opening, and the largest even have a 3" opening (these giants are welded to the tow vehicle's frame).If you need to carry a smaller accessory with a Class V hitch, adapters are available. (Special shout-out to our B&W adapters, which are designed with pinched ends to make lining up your pin holes effortless.)Max GTW: 10,000-25,000 lbsMax TW: 1,000-4,000 lbsReceiver opening: 2", 2-1/2", or 3"
Class V Typical Loads
  • Large toy haulers
  • Equipment haulers
  • Multi-car trailers
  • Horse trailers
Large Camper Trailer
Toy Hauler
Class V Typical Tow Vehicles
  • Heavy-duty trucks
  • Commercial trucks
Class V Typical Tow Vehicles
Still have questions?Give our experts a call at 800-298-8924, or contact us online. We're happy to assist any way we can! Related ArticlesRelated ProductsUpdated On: 4/8/20

Artnav19

7/15/2023

Hi guys. I am looking for a good hitch that allow my Nissan Rogue 2022 to be more versatile when it comes to carry bikes or small trailers. With this being said I'm not sure on what decision to make. As per my manual the vehicle towing Max capacity is 1350 pounds which means the class I would be the best option. However, I saw a Class II of 2" x 2" being installed in a Rogue 2023. My question is. What if I get a Class II installed to make the vehicle more versatile? How can this affect it or make unsafe the driving experience?

Etrailer Expert

Mike L.

8/2/2023

@Artnav19 A class III hitch has the more common 2 x 2 inch receiver, the Class II has the 1-1/4 x 1-1/4 inch receiver. We don't offer a Class I. Because the Class III style receiver is more common, you'll have a much better selection of bike racks. Installing a hitch won't have any effect on the drivability of the vehicle. For a Class III hitch, I'd recommend the Curt # C24HR. If you had your heart set on a Class II, go with the Curt # C57HR. I've linked to the hitches mentioned as well as some install videos.

Jack

7/13/2023

Need front 2” receiver hitch for 2008 Winnebago 30 ft sight seer. Please advise.

Etrailer Expert

Chris R.

8/2/2023

@Jack Your best option is going to be with a universal design like the Ultra-Fab # UF35-946403. If you have frame access at the front, this will work as long as the frame width is between 47-1/8" and 77".

Angel

5/4/2023

Have a 3" hitch on my truck and having a really hard time finding rec accessories that work without an adapter. Do you think bike racks will eventually come out made to fit this size or are adapters always in my future? Thanks.

Ken N.

4/21/2023

I have a 2023 Highlander XLE. I have a small trailer 5 x 6. I need a 2”x 2” I/D hitch. What hitch would you recommend and price.

Moses R.

11/14/2022

I have a Lexus ct200h I want to put a motorcycle with a yes I’m 800 lb trailer What type of hitch do I need

David B.

11/15/2022

Hi Moses, I need to know what year your CT200 was made so I can get you the right hitch receiver. Do you already have a wire harness and brake controller(if applicable)?


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