Before attaching a trailer to your vehicle, you will need to make sure that you have the proper trailer hitch installed on the back of your car or truck. Having the right trailer hitch is an absolute necessity for safe and secure trailer towing.

There are three basic kinds of trailer hitches: weight carrying, weight distributing, and fifth wheel.

A weight carrying hitch is usually what is used for cars and SUVs, and smaller trucks. A weight distributing hitch is usually called for with large trucks, and a fifth wheel hitch is reserved for the largest vehicles. However, if you’re not sure what trailer hitch is right for your vehicle, it’s fairly easy to figure out.

Part 1 of 4: Collect basic information about your vehicle and trailer

Step 2: Compare the ratings to the measurements you made earlier. After measuring the gross trailer weight and tongue weight of the trailer, compare them to the car’s ratings.

If the measure numbers are lower than the ratings, you are good to proceed with buying your trailer hitch.

If the numbers are bigger than the ratings, you will need to either lighten the load of the trailer, or purchase a stronger vehicle.

Part 4 of 4: Find the right style of trailer hitch

Step 1: Match the gross trailer weight and tongue weight to the right hitch. Use the table above to figure out what kind of trailer hitch is best for your car, based on the gross trailer weight and tongue weight that you measured earlier.

It’s very important that you use the right trailer hitch with your vehicle. Failure to use the right trailer hitch is unsafe, and can cause malfunctions easily. If you are at any point unsure about what trailer hitch to use, or how to install it, simply have a reputable mechanic - such as the ones at YourMechanic - come and check out your vehicle and trailer.

This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How to Pick the Right Trailer Hitch for Your Car and was authored by Brady Klopfer.


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