Pickup Trucks 101: Know Your Hitch Types

Ford Towing II

By Mathew Barnes

There are many trailer types on the market today, and with that comes a variety of hitching systems. The hitching systems for trailers can be divided into two categories: bumper-pull hitches and in-bed hitches. To achieve better overall stability and tow heavier loads, bed-mounted hitches are the best choice. For those towing smaller trailers or who have SUVs and are unable to tow a gooseneck or fifth-wheel trailer, then bumper pull is your only option.

Bumper-Pull Hitches

When towing with a bumper-pull hitch, standard guidelines recommend that 10 percent of the total trailer weight not be exceeded on the trailer tongue. This is a good rule regardless of the type of bumper-pull hitch being used.

Fixed Ball Mount II

Fixed ball mount: Fixed ball mounts are generally the cheapest and most common type of hitch available. They are connected to conventional receivers and come in a variety of fixed heights. They are available in almost any drop or rise needed, but the most common are straight 2-inch, 4-inch and 6-inch drop/rise hitches. Weight ratings range from a few thousand pounds to more than 20,000 pounds; every hitch should be identified with its weight rating. Generally, they are equipped with a removable hitch ball, but there are versions with three different size hitch balls and a tow hook for added versatility. They usually are made of steel, but aluminum versions can be found.

 

E-Series HD II

Adjustable ball mount: These are some of the most versatile hitches on the market. They are a great option for those who tow multiple trailers. Many have two or three different hitch ball sizes on them, and they can be adjusted to keep the trailer level (i.e., safer). While useful for single axle trailers, an adjustable height hitch is especially beneficial on multi-axle trailers for towing safety and longevity of trailer tires. Both steel and aluminum versions are available. Some of them have built-in locks, tongue weight scales and anti-rattle features. Like fixed ball mounts, adjustable ball mounts are available in many sizes, but are most commonly found in the 4-to-10-inch drop/rise range. They are also available in weight ratings from a few thousand pounds to more than 20,000 pounds. While their cost is significantly more than fixed ball mounts, their versatility is often worth the extra money.

 

Pintle Hitch II

Pintle hook: Pintle hitches can either be a fixed height or adjustable. They are typically used in heavy-duty applications and by the military. The trailer side of the pintle hitch connection is an eyelet. The tow vehicle side is a hook that closes, creating a second eyelet. This forms a strong connection and when one of the loops is installed in a manner that allows it to rotate, it makes for a great connection for off-road vehicles because of its strength and flexibility. The major downside to pintle hitches is that they are generally a loose connection; this can create a lot of noise.

 

Equalizer on Travel Trailer II

Weight-Distribution Hitches

Weight-distribution hitches use conventional bumper-pull connections but have added components to redistribute a good portion of the load to the front axle of a tow vehicle from the rear bumper. This improves handling, braking and overall driving dynamics when towing. Many weight-distribution hitches also provide sway control, which helps keep the trailer in line with the tow vehicle. This is especially useful in windy conditions and for passing, or when being passed by tractor trailers. They are most useful on trailers that are easily affected by wind, like travel trailers, or for light-duty pickups and SUVs towing near their limits.

 

Chain Style Hitch II

Chain-style hitch: Chain-style weight-distribution hitches are generally the least expensive. Most chain-style hitches have arms, but some do not. For chain-style hitches with arms, the arms have chains attached to the end of them that connect to the trailer. This makes adjusting the amount of weight distribution easier, as the placement of the chain on the trailer can be adjusted to the application. As you might imagine, chain-style hitches provide little to no sway control.

 

E2 Hitch II

Rigid-bracket hitch: There are a variety of weight-distribution hitches that use rigid brackets, but they mostly work in a similar fashion, using solid arms that rest on brackets attached to the trailer frame. The arms can be round bars with tapered ends, square bars with tapered ends or straight square bars. Depending on the hitch, adjustments are made in the hitch head, to the sockets that the arms slide into and/or on the brackets attached to the trailer. These hitches vary greatly in the amount of sway they can handle and the way sway is controlled. Some are active systems that use friction at all times to reduce sway, while others are reactive and only respond once sway hits a specific point.

 

Bed-Mounted Hitches

For bed-mounted systems, standard guidelines recommend that up to 20 percent of the total trailer weight can be placed on the trailer tongue, which is located in the bed over the rear axle.

FIfth Wheel 1 II

Fifth Wheel 2 II

Fifth-wheel: These are most commonly used on large recreational camping trailers, but they are available for a variety of other trailer types as well. They connect a truck to a trailer via a connection in the bed of the truck. The major benefit of using a fifth-wheel is its moves a significant part of the weight from the rear bumper to the rear axle. While there are some fifth-wheel trailers designed to be towed behind a half-ton pickup, three-quarter-ton or one-ton pickups with long beds create the best and most stable towing experience. The trailer has a kingpin on it that slides into the jaws of the fifth-wheel hitch. The jaws are then locked closed, securing the trailer to the truck via the hitch frame to the truck frame. In many states, this is the only hitch style that does not require safety chains to be used. There are two major downsides to using a fifth-wheel hitch. First, fifth-wheel hitches take up a significant amount of space in the truck bed, leaving little room for storage. Second, they are heavy and cumbersome, making them difficult to remove when not in use.

 

Gooseneck in Bed II

Gooseneck: Gooseneck hitches are most often used on heavy-duty work trailers. The highest tow ratings available on pickup trucks are achieved using a gooseneck hitch, mostly because they are easy to use. The truck side of a gooseneck hitch is a simple hitch ball that is installed in the truck bed, located in a cross-member between the frame rails. Many trucks now come equipped with gooseneck/fifth-wheel attachment points built into the truck frame from the factory. They take up little room in the bed and are easy to remove if you need a completely flat floor for a load. Gooseneck connections aren't quite as stable as fifth-wheel hitches for highway towing, but they are better for rough, uneven terrain, as the hitch ball provides more flexibility in off-camber situations.

In Summary

We've covered the most common, readily available hitch types. Yes, you can find others, but these are the ones that meet the needs of most folks who tow. When choosing a trailer hitch, it's crucial to consider the type of trailer being used and the vehicle towing it.

Cars.com photos by Matthew Barnes; manufacturer images

 

Ram Towing Boat II

 

Comments

The titled should be know your Ford won't haul what it says it can, but if you do keep a clean pair of underwear and a towel to wipe your eyes when a Duramax blows your AL pop can Ford off the road, hauling twice as much weight as your little s$%^t box Furd.


Sounds like a cheby fan saw that beautiful white SuperDuty and felt the need to spew some fan boy hate. Thanks for the laugh!

@FullSize

Agreed, everytime I see a FORD SD I see a beefy truck, and RAM too. When I see a Silverado, I see a wimp.

Sounds like a cheby fan saw that beautiful white SuperDuty and felt the need to spew some fan boy hate. Thanks for the laugh!

Posted by: FullSize_only | Jul 19, 2018 2:15:16 PM
@FullSize

Agreed, everytime I see a FORD SD I see a beefy truck, and RAM too. When I see a Silverado, I see a wimp.

Posted by: Frank | Jul 19, 2018 2:19:50 PM


Hey fools, the SILVERADO is at the camp site already. Stop being so slow.

Hey fools, the SILVERADO is at the camp site already. Stop being so slow.


Posted by: GMSRGREAT | Jul 19, 2018 2:33:17 PM

yep but only half the payload and weight it's headed back to get the rest of the supplies it needs to

Hey fools work smarter not harder

@ Frank
Without being a fan boy we all know the Duramax out performs both of your "beefy trucks" LOL

@ Ford Drools
What would you know with your "small" truck that can't tow sh*t..LMFAO

So what's up with all the Chevy truck pictures only showing it towing a landscape trailer while Ford and Ram is hooked up to large manly trailers? Oh that's right, check can't tow jack. But hey, at least they are fast right. Many the new 4 cylinder Silverado will be fast to. Well at least after the owners install the giant tuna can on the back to compete with the Honda Civic's out there.

Hey fools, the SILVERADO is at the camp site already. Stop being so slow.


Posted by: GMSRGREAT | Jul 19, 2018 2:33:17 PM

So are you the first one there is your mini pop up trailer with your 4 cylinder Silverado that has a tuna can for exhaust . Maybe you can do a rev battle with a Hyundai Veloster with your 4 banger Silverado. Hahahaha

Frank
Without being a fan boy we all know the Duramax out performs both of your "beefy trucks" LOL


Posted by: Jeff | Jul 19, 2018 2:50:28 PM
See what I mean. Sure my Chevy can't work hard but at least I'm fast. Hahahaha what a joke. But at least you recognize that the other trucks are beefy.

The titled should be know your Ford won't haul what it says it can, but if you do keep a clean pair of underwear and a towel to wipe your eyes when a Duramax blows your AL pop can Ford off the road, hauling twice as much weight as your little s$%^t box Furd.


Posted by: johnny doe | Jul 19, 2018 1:40:17 PM

And why is the Ford hooked up to a real trailer and your precious Chevy is hooked up to a landscape trailer?

Did anybody see the TFLs HD comparison?? Ya the Duramax has a lower tow rating but it'll out tow the other two any day..In the TFLs comparison, the Duramax out towed the Super Duty and it was nearly at max weight while the Ford couldn't cut it pulling only about 78% of its max. Good Job Ford LMFAO!

Seriously?!? The Ford can claim anything for max weight, doesn't mean it's worth a damn...

Did anybody see the TFLs HD comparison?? Ya the Duramax has a lower tow rating but it'll out tow the other two any day..In the TFLs comparison, the Duramax out towed the Super Duty and it was nearly at max weight while the Ford couldn't cut it pulling only about 78% of its max. Good Job Ford LMFAO!


Posted by: Sean | Jul 19, 2018 3:18:18 PM

Hahahaha, see again you tools are all about speed. "Look at me, I'm so fast". But we won't mention the parts GM uses are weak and can't handle more towing load will we Sean. But Sean, least your fast right?

Seriously?!? The Ford can claim anything for max weight, doesn't mean it's worth a damn...


Posted by: Sean | Jul 19, 2018 3:21:01 PM

Hey Sean. Was it not here on putc that they compaired a GMC and Ford and the GMC was getting pushed by the trailer while the Ford was rock solid? But we won't mention that will we. But hey, at least the seats were comfy right?

@ Frank
Without being a fan boy we all know the Duramax out performs both of your "beefy trucks" LOL


Posted by: Jeff | Jul 19, 2018 2:50:28

I could care less about ONE thing, I'd like an entire package, not just the engine, that's what it is, the wrapper is garbage.

@ Elvis
Again please check out the TFL comparison. The Duramax was better going down hill too with 98% of max weight compared to the Fords 78%..thats pretty sad

@ frank and Elvis

The wrapper and the power train are junk on furds super poppy!

As for Elvis

Its about being fast, reliable, dependable, and ABLE to pull the claimed manufacturers weight! All which the Duramax does better than your powderstroke

Elvis
Again please check out the TFL comparison. The Duramax was better going down hill too with 98% of max weight compared to the Fords 78%..thats pretty sad


Posted by: Sean | Jul 19, 2018 3:52:45 PM

Are you referring to the Chevy not controlling the load down hill safely by having excessive and dangerous over braking and the Ford and Ram controlled the speed limit requirements. Wow, you really got me on that one.........

@ Sean

Those guys can't stand facts, they have their Ford shutters on. Can't see past their hoods!

The Duramax has beat up on the Powder stroke since it was I troduced 18 years ago. Denial is in their blood now. Lol

Its about being fast, reliable, dependable, and ABLE to pull the claimed manufacturers weight! All which the Duramax does better than your powderstroke


Posted by: TNTGMC | Jul 19, 2018 3:54:11 PM

Reliable? Ha! JD Powers 3 year study puts Chevy below Ford for reliability. Good one! And claimed manufacturers weight? Well Ford is certified through SAE to pull 34,000 lbs and we'll Chevy, 5 tons less than that. Nice try though tnt.

@ Elvis

Nice try? It has beaten it for 18 years! Fords gone through 3/different engines still has no answer. And if your pulling the 34k with that junk powder stroke. I'd be nervous has H@LL. That's what semi trucks are for! You fail and I can tell u drive a Ford claiming to pull that ridiculous amount of weight around in a truck.

@ Elvis
LMFAO, your obviously a little slow. I guess it's hard for you to comprehend. The TFL Ike Gauntlet one ton comparison..check out how good the Ford did, even the Ram beat it

Oh and BTW, pulling heavier trailers than they did on the PUTC comparison

Nice try? It has beaten it for 18 years! Fords gone through 3/different engines still has no answer. And if your pulling the 34k with that junk powder stroke. I'd be nervous has H@LL. That's what semi trucks are for! You fail and I can tell u drive a Ford claiming to pull that ridiculous amount of weight around in a truck.


Posted by: TNTGMC | Jul 19, 2018 4:03:48 PM

Get a clue tnt. The Duramax has had countless revisions over the years. Or are you one of those weirdos that bieve the 2002 Duramax is exactly the same till 2017. You failed!

LMFAO, your obviously a little slow. I guess it's hard for you to comprehend. The TFL Ike Gauntlet one ton comparison..check out how good the Ford did, even the Ram beat it


Posted by: Sean | Jul 19, 2018 4:09:54 PM

Hahahaha, now you are trying to jump ship to ram in an attempt to out do Ford. I can understand that. But Ford still braked better and didn't they climb the hill in the same time? Oh, pulling 6,000 more lbs than that Chevy junk can't?

Oh and BTW, pulling heavier trailers than they did on the PUTC comparison


Posted by: Sean | Jul 19, 2018 4:10:42 PM

Yes, that's because Chevy cannot even come close to Ford or ram in pulling durability.

@ Elvis

Lol..is it still a 6.6L?? Thats what I thought! Sure its been updated. Everyone knows that! But, it hasn't been scrapped like Ford did with the 6.0L and 6.4L....YOU FAIL, hound dog!!

Elvis

Lol..is it still a 6.6L?? Thats what I thought! Sure its been updated. Everyone knows that! But, it hasn't been scrapped like Ford did with the 6.0L and 6.4L....YOU FAIL, hound dog!!


Posted by: TNTGMC | Jul 19, 2018 4:16:46 PM

Haha, what a turd. You think because displacement is the same it's the same engine. So does that mean GM's 2.0L is the same as Ford's 2.0L? Man you Chevy guys are killing me.

Same Time?? No. Ok you are a little slow. You obviously didn't see it so why are you still responding? Jumping ship to Ram? No, just stating the facts. Duramax was 1st, Ram 2nd, PS 3rd. The new updated PS with most torque was last up the hill! Pulling 78% of its max rating LMFAO! 👍

Same Time?? No. Ok you are a little slow. You obviously didn't see it so why are you still responding? Jumping ship to Ram? No, just stating the facts. Duramax was 1st, Ram 2nd, PS 3rd. The new updated PS with most torque was last up the hill! Pulling 78% of its max rating LMFAO! 👍


Posted by: Sean | Jul 19, 2018 4:20:42 PM

Hahahaha you gm turds are great. When you run out of anything to say you go back to speed. Because that is what trucks are all about right? Speed? But at least GM has a medium duty truck now. Unfortunately it can't do medium duty work. But maybe it will be fast to. HAHAHAHA

Oh and BTW, pulling heavier trailers than they did on the PUTC comparison


Posted by: Sean | Jul 19, 2018 4:10:42 PM

Yes, that's because Chevy cannot even come close to Ford or ram in pulling durability.


Posted by: Elvis | Jul 19, 2018 4:16:11 PM

They were pulling the same trailer...wow

@ Elvis
It ain't my fault you can't comprehend the video. You asked if they went up the hill same time?? You brought it up not me dummy

😂

Let's don't recap for the GM clowns

They argue reliability, but Ford is higher than GM according reports..oops, GM girls failed.

They argued down hill braking. Oops the gm could not control the load down hill safely. Opps, GM girls failed.

They argued towing ratings. But Ford was more secure towing the load than the gm. In fact being pushed around was the words mentioned. Opps GM girls failed

But at least they have speed towing their landscape trailers hahaha

Maybe we can do a work truck recap for the GM girls.

Worst braking. Opps, GM girls failed.
Worst acceleration. Opps, GM girls failed and that is their go to argument.
Worst bed durability. Opps GM girls failed.

I notice a trend here.

@ hound dog

I never once compared 2 different company engines on displacement. All I said was the 6.6L has been same displacement since 2001. Sure its been updated but its still a 6.6L...man u trying yo pull out all kinds of garbage here! Do you drink and do drugs like the king did?

😂

Work truck recap 😂

. All I said was the 6.6L has been same displacement since 2001. Sure its been updated but its still a 6.6L..


Posted by: TNTGMC | Jul 19, 2018 4:37:53 PM

So, it's not the same engine since 2001 is it. So you failed! Hahahaha. The 6.0L was updated to the 6.4L. or don't you know that? Do you know what is common between those two engines? You just gave one of the dumbest arguments ever.

@Tnt

Suree its been updated. Everyone knows that! But, it hasn't been scrapped like Ford did with the 6.0L and 6.4L....YOU FAIL, hound dog!!


Posted by: TNTGMC | Jul 19, 2018 4:16:46 PM


Updated?? Shows how much a gm fan knows about the mediocre Duraless motor, for 2017 the Duraless is an all new motor and shares nothing with the previous. Guess gm had to do something to keep up with Ford.

Elvis is just blabbing...work truck recap? Surely your not talking about the PUTC comparison. That has absolutely nothing to do with what we're talking about. Those were gas engines, we're talking diesel and towing. So explain, or nice try on changing subject LMFAO!

If it's a Duraless motor, what's the Ford called?? 😂

Elvis is just blabbing...work truck recap? Surely your not talking about the PUTC comparison. That has absolutely nothing to do with what we're talking about. Those were gas engines, we're talking diesel and towing. So explain, or nice try on changing subject LMFAO!


Posted by: Sean | Jul 19, 2018 4:47:07 PM

What's the matter, don't have anything else other than how fast your truck is?

Seriously? Your the one that changed the subject...completely. So you are talking about that comparison Lol. Why did you abruptly change the subject?

@ Elvis

Lol..is it still a 6.6L?? Thats what I thought! Sure its been updated. Everyone knows that! But, it hasn't been scrapped like Ford did with the 6.0L and 6.4L....YOU FAIL, hound dog!!


Posted by: TNTGMC | Jul 19, 2018 4:16:46 PM

The Duramax is not the same motor you DOLT, only the Displacement and liters are the same.

You know nothing.

@ Elvis

Lol. Your argument about the 6.0 to the 6.4 is futile! They acraooes both of those junk motors...what's your point?

@ full size

Of course its all new but what is so hard for you and Elvis to realize it displaces and has always displaced 6.6L!!

Ford had tried displacements of 6.0,L, 6.4L, and now ,6.7L and still can't out perform the 6.6L of GM....

Man what is so hard by that?? R u drinking and smoking with Elvis too??

I'll add frank in the.mix too..

He knows absolutely nothing but chimes in. Its fum putting this small guy in his place. Done it to many times.

Guess gm had to do something to keep up with Ford.


Posted by: FullSize_only | Jul 19, 2018 4:45:13 PM

That's been happening since the early 1900s when some bozo name William Durant thought he can compete with FORD, but even back then, GM was going bankrupted.

@ Frank
What do you know, you tried saying the Duramax was built in Mexico



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