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

Now the GM girls are all about the displacement. What a dumb argument. We won't mention the FACT that nothing is the same in the engine since 2001 except the displacement. What a great argument GM fan girls.

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


Posted by: Sean | Jul 19, 2018 4:57:38 PM

When did I say this? I don't give a $h!t about you nor GM and it's engine.

fvck0uttah3re!d!ot

@ Elvis

You still miss the point!! Its comical! The duramax has kept same engine displacement since its introduction in 2001 BTW...not 2002...get it straight!

Why Ford has tried 3 different engine displacements and still can't compete with it. 2 of them are junk and in scrap yard! While the other is still trying to prove itself....and i n the last PUTC comparison, it didn't put down the claimed HP/TQ it was supposed to. Not even close! So your best in class is another Ford lies propaganda!!!

@ Sean

U have to excuse Frank. He can't remember what he said 5 minutes ago. Let alone a day, week, month, or year. There's no help for him

Ahh now you have amnesia lol...why are you posting if you don't care dummy?? 😂

Amnesia?

Try again cvnt.

You got me confused with some else. Again, fvck0uttah3re

@ Elvis

You still miss the point!! Its comical! The duramax has kept same engine displacement since its introduction in 2001 BTW...not 2002...get it straight!

Why Ford has tried 3 different engine displacements and still can't compete with it. 2 of them are junk and in scrap yard! While the other is still trying to prove itself....and i n the last PUTC comparison, it didn't put down the claimed HP/TQ it was supposed to. Not even close! So your best in class is another Ford lies propaganda!!!


Posted by: TNTGMC | Jul 19, 2018 5:11:51 PM

Well considering that all.of the International engines Ford used and the current powerstroke is in truck that can and have outworked the duracrap, I say it competes just right. In fact GM had to go to CAT for a diesel to put in their kodiac to do the same work as a 6.0L and 6.4L. and the current gm medium duty truck gm is releasing don't even come close to the Ford medium duty trucks on the market. So you can keep your dumb displacement and I'm so fast argument. Ford just let's the work do all the talking.

and i n the last PUTC comparison, it didn't put down the claimed HP/TQ it was supposed to. Not even close! So your best in class is another Ford lies propaganda!!!


Posted by: TNTGMC | Jul 19, 2018 5:11:51 PM

That is interesting you mentioned that. Do you even know how the manufacturers rate their engines power and how putc did the Dyno test? Just proves you have no clue about diesels.

@ Elvis

It hasn't competed well in a head to head comparison since its introduction in 2001. The Duramax has one every comparison. So I'd say they out work your powders strokes all the time. So much that they had to scrap the 6.0L and 6.4L bc they were so reliable?? Lol..NOT!!!//

@ Elvis

It is interesting isnt it! Watching your truck not put up the claimed HP/TQ is amusing, but your used to getting lied too..its just natural to u.

I love watching you gm fan girls try every angle to appear prominent. First it was speed. Well who cares. Then you tried braking. Well that blew up in your face didn't it. Then you tried the displacement thing. Boy was that dumb. Maybe you can come up with something that include Russia next. Because you guys are grasping for straws here. But the facts remain, Ford is still King of towing and is certified by SAE in doing it. You GM girls don't have that do you.

Elvis

It is interesting isnt it! Watching your truck not put up the claimed HP/TQ is amusing, but your used to getting lied too..its just natural to u.


Posted by: TNTGMC | Jul 19, 2018 5:28:37 PM

Hey, what were the RPMs of those max torque numbers?

@Elvis
Just curious what do you drive.? Have you ever driven an HD TRUCK..?
You claim to know a lot about them. So tell me how does the super dooty feel driving at full load and towing capacity.? Your own experiences not what you read in the Ford brochure.

@ Elvis

Ford is king of recalls and trying to find another engine to compete with the Duramax!

Owe and you have your SAE max towing to brag, but like I've said, u tow that much...you better use a semi truck!

But hey, at the bar, u sure can sound like Denise Leary claiming best in class...blah, blah, blah ....what a joke.

That is interesting you mentioned that. Do you even know how the manufacturers rate their engines power and how putc did the Dyno test? Just proves you have no clue about diesels.


Posted by: Elvis | Jul 19, 2018 5:25:11 PM

Yep, dyno testing varies by barometric pressure on said day, and let alone, 1 MILE ABOVE SEA LEVEL.

He's a b!tich, I wouldn't waste my time on that chump.

Of course he hasn't, Elvis drives a car...guaranteed

And poor Frank in his 5.4 😂

@ Elvis

Ford trying to find another engine to compete with the Duramax!

Posted by: TNTGMC | Jul 19, 2018 5:37:33 PM

Now that's some bad info, please remove this person from the site, they are toxic and posting incorrect info.

This person is a liability.

And poor Frank in his 5.4 😂


Posted by: Sean | Jul 19, 2018 5:40:01 PM

Wrong again, just like all your post.

GM builds work trucks,
Ford builds Junk,
Any Question's ?

@Elvis
Just curious what do you drive.? Have you ever driven an HD TRUCK..?
You claim to know a lot about them. So tell me how does the super dooty feel driving at full load and towing capacity.? Your own experiences not what you read in the Ford brochure.


Posted by: What the heck | Jul 19, 2018 5:37:28 PM

Dafuq you care what he drives, he can comment on any subject.

@ frank

So just last week u claimed that the ecoboost 1 mile above sea level out performed the 6.2L and it didn't matter, but now u change your story that bc it was above sea level that this powder stroke didn't put down numbers.. You are absurd!!
Your the one that needs to be removed. You can't go 1 day without insulting bc you spout off crap constantly bc you have been blessed with small mans disease! Get out of her your a complete joke!!! But we all kniwbthisnbc of your posts....clueless anyone!!!

Must be one of Frank's boyfriends!!

I bet he was at Franks big party lol

and Ford has tried 3 engines to try and compete with the Duramax. That's a fact...

Let's see...I'll put it Down for frank bc he is veeeerrry slow

6.0L.....junk...scrapped

6.4L....more junk....scrapped

6.7L....still trying to compete... Had won a comparison yet

Anything else there Franky boy?


@tnt

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

Posted by: TNTGMC | Jul 19, 2018 4:54:54 PM"

So if Ford's 2 previous diesel motors would have been 6.7L you would say that they are the same PowerStroke? Because that's what gm did when they introduced a new "duraless" for 2017 and scrapped the old design right?

Here come the gm fan excuses......

Totally off topic again with a bunch of air head comments...couldn't scroll thru all the posts fast enough. This site has become a joke...the topic and info there is good...then come the comments and useless....zero.

GM builds worked on trucks,


Posted by: Chingon | Jul 19, 2018 5:40:37 PM

Yup, got that right.

How many of the comments today relate to hitches?

Yep, dyno testing varies by barometric pressure on said day, and let alone, 1 MILE ABOVE SEA LEVEL.

He's a b!tich, I wouldn't waste my time on that chump.


Posted by: Frank | Jul 19, 2018 5:38:42 PM

And they were way past the RPMs of the peak power numbers

@ Elvis

Excuses excuses... Duramax was tested same way. Still put down more power!!!

@ Budsy47

You don't have to read the comments or even comment if you don't want to?

No one is forcing you to

I like having conversations with each other and getting after it...except for Frank bc he can't be civil....he needs to leave

Everyone else I enjoy.

Excuses excuses... Duramax was tested same way. Still put down more power!!!


Posted by: TNTGMC | Jul 19, 2018 6:08:44 PM

But it was not at the rated RPM that the engine was rated at. But, of you want to compare, the powerstroke put down more HP than the duracrap.

@ Elvis

It did?? Your wrong again

http://news.pickuptrucks.com/2017/08/2017-one-ton-heavy-duty-pickup-challenge-dynamometer.html

Get your facts strait

SD..360 HP. 663TQ
HD 383HP. 786 TQ

Any More excuses??


here is the 3/4 ton

Same results. HD put down more HP and TQ

http://news.pickuptrucks.com/2017/05/whats-the-best-34-ton-premium-truck-for-2017.html

Facts, not Denise Leary propaganda.

https://www.tfltruck.com/2017/03/2017-heavy-duty-turbo-diesel-dyno-battle-truck-puts-power-video/

So who do you want to use?

Lol and then it turned around and got beat up the hill by both GM and Ram. What happened?? The GM even had a 3.73 rear axle...awesome!

@TNTGMC
Ur right I don't have to...but...maybe reading comments can bring up new ideas...be informative...bring up information from people who may been there done that. Anyway I have come up with a way to go thru the comments- look at who posted first..then don't read from the airheads..for me it works...you are one of them.

Lol and then it turned around and got beat up the hill by both GM and Ram. What happened?? The GM even had a 3.73 rear axle...awesome!


Posted by: Sean | Jul 19, 2018 7:19:27 PM
And then we go back to fastest this and fastest that. How fast is a semi pulling a load up a long hill. You gm people really don't have a single clue about towing do you. And based on your constant posting here, you don't even drive your vehicles. You don't have time because your online bragging how fast you are.

@ budsy47

Airhead? Really. Ha..OK. U have your own opinion..not a very useful one but whatever floats your boat!

Like I said. No need for u to comment then.

@ Elvis
It's about performance genius. The dyno is a performance test. Testing the trucks up the steepest interstate in the country is also a performance test. So...why are you whining?? Oh ya, because the Ford falls short everytime

@ Elvis

I'll take PUTC bc they tested it at sea level. Where over 70% of population lives.

@ budsy47
You realize you just contradicted yourself by saying you over look TNTs comments, yet you are directly responding to him. Sounds like an airhead

Elvis
It's about performance genius. The dyno is a performance test. Testing the trucks up the steepest interstate in the country is also a performance test. So...why are you whining?? Oh ya, because the Ford falls short everytime


Posted by: Sean | Jul 19, 2018 7:39:28 PM

Your right. The Ford handled the safety part the best. Down hill engine braking. The gm was uncontrollable and dangerous. The Superduty handles the heavy loads more securely. But yes, the Chevy was 15 seconds faster over 8 miles. Whoopi! Give me better brakes and handling and you can keep your 15 seconds.

You must be thinking of a different test. The trucks got an even score going downhill. 25 points across the board. In fact they praised how well they did with both trucks...not sure where your getting "uncontrollable and dangerous." They both had an even amount of brake applications. Point is the trucks are pretty even, other than up the mountain, which also isn't much. So why bash on the other brand?? Ford has improved a lot since the "rumble in the rockies" comparison when the new 6.7 first came out. Duramax beat it up the mountain by more than 2 mins!!

Your wrong. They had to do that because the gm over braked down to 35 mph and that was not in their normal grading score. In fact every gm diesel they have tested over braked uncontrollably down to 35 mph on the highway. Very dangerous.

How can you say that chain style hitches are the least expensive and have little to no sway control??? You have a picture of the Anderson weight distribution hitch, which is usually more expensive and is advertised as a ‘No-Sway’ hitch. Please explain Mark.

Just to set the record straight the Duramax engine was creation of Isuzu. It was called a joint venture and Isuzu stills owns 40% of the Dmax plant. So at best the Duramax is 60% GM.

RAM Australia has the pintle hitch listed but NO Gooseneck or 5th Wheel hitch or ratings .That applies too the 2500 and 3500 models A head scratcher indeed

@FrankinFlorida
Correct and Isuzu engineers do the updates of the engines. GM does not own the patent rights for the engine. They do have the right for production



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