Pickup towing fishing boat

The Different Types of Trailer Hitches

Trailers are now an extremely common item on the roads and with each one there is generally a trailer hitch that is pulling it. Although the most common use for trailer hitches is for towing, there are still many other applications for them with things like bike racks, steps,  and cargo management. Currently, most heavy duty trucks already come with a standard receiver hitch in the rear but there are still many other types that can be added to a truck. In this blog I will do an overview of each of the seven common hitch types which include:

  • Rear Receiver Hitch
  • Front Mount Hitch
  • 5th Wheel Hitch
  • Gooseneck Hitch
  • Pintle Hitch
  • Bumper Hitch
  • Weight Distribution Hitch

Let’s Begin!

Rear Receiver Trailer Hitchcurt trailer hitch

The rear receiver hitch is by far the most common type of truck hitch.  This type of trailer hitch can be used for towing a trailer along with many other uses like I mentioned above.  The classic rear receiver hitch has a square receiver tube that you insert a wide variety of things into.  Since the receiver is a simple square tube, the options for applications are almost endless. When it comes to mounting, these hitches mount directly to the frame of the vehicle in the rear. The weight ratings for these are based off of 5 class scale with 1 being the most light-duty and 5 being the most heavy-duty. Something that also varies with the rating of the hitches is the size of the receiver tube. The three primary sizes for the receiver tubes are 1 1/4″ x 1 1/4″, 2″ x 2″, or 2 1/2″ x 2 1/2″.  Generally speaking, as the rating of the hitch goes up so does the size of the receiver tube.  However, there are some hitches that do not follow that perfectly so it is always safe to double check. The standard rear receiver hitch is by far the most common type of hitch.

curt front mount hitchFront Mount Hitch

The front mount hitch can be a very useful addition to the front of your vehicle.  This type of hitch is very similar to a rear hitch because it bolts directly to the frame except for in the front. The hitch then gives you a receiver in the front that you can use for a wide variety of applications.  You can insert a cargo carrier, insert a winch into it, install a snow plow, use it as a spare tire mount, or use it to park your trailer into a small space.  These hitches are very versatile like the rear hitch.  One thing to note is that there is not the same rating scale as the rear, so always double check what the hitch is rated at before use.

5th Wheel HitchCurt fifth wheel hitch

The fifth wheel hitch is a heavy-duty hitch that mounts into the bed of a truck bed right over or just forward of the rear axle. Generally, these hitches are used to haul large campers, travel trailers, and car haulers.  One thing that makes a 5th wheel hitch unique is that the coupling device is a part of the hitch and not the trailer. The hitch receives the king pin from the trailer and then the hitch secures it with with a jaw mechanism.  5th wheel hitches are also only available for pickup trucks.  The last cool feature of fifth wheel hitches is that they generally have a pivot capability which allows it to absorb bumps and move with the contours of the road.  These hitches can generally hold up to 24,000 lbs. but you still always want to double check.

curt gooseneckGooseneck Hitch

Curt gooseneck 3

Gooseneck hitches are very similar to 5th wheel hitches in many ways. First of all, they mount in a similar location which is over or just forward of the rear axle. Gooseneck hitches are also designed for pickup trucks only. One thing that is very nice about Gooseneck hitches is that they are less intrusive than 5th wheel hitches. Gooseneck hitches are designed so that you can have full use of your bed while you are not towing something.  These hitches are generally rated for around 30,000 Ibs; however, every truck has different weight capabilities so it is wise to double check.  Typically, these hitches are used for towing livestock trailers, car haulers, large flatbeds, or other commercial and industrial trailers.  Gooseneck hitches are a very useful hitch to have.

Pintle Hitch

curt pintle hitch
curt lunnette

Although the line of distinction between a standard hitch or something like a ball mount can be a little faint with Pintle Hitches, we still call it a hitch.  The hooking part of this system is called the pintle, which is attached to the truck, and the lunette (which is the ring it hooks to) is attached to the trailer.  The pintle can be mounted either directly to the framing of large commercial trucks and dump trucks or it can mounted to a mount that slides into the receiver of a hitch.  Although these hitches tend to be a little more noisy than a standard ball mount connection, their weight ratings can be drastically higher.  They can tow anywhere from 10,000 to 60,000 Ibs. gross trailer weight.  These hitches are very common in the construction industry.

Curt Bumper MountBumper Hitch

A bumper hitch is a very simple hitch that attaches directly to the bumper of the vehicle.  It provides a Square receiver tube which can then be used for a wide variety of uses.  Since it is mounted to the bumper it cannot carry much weight so that is one drawback.  Overall, these can still be useful for light applications.

Weight Distribution Hitchcurt weight distribution

Although weight distribution hitches are mounted to rear hitch of a vehicle, they are still classified as hitch/hitch attachment. The purpose of a weight distribution hitch is that they distribute the tongue weight across the tow vehicle and the trailer. The main focus of a weight distribution hitch is the use of long rods called “spring rods” which leverage the connection point.  These rods take some of the tongue weight off and redistribute it to other parts, thus taking weight off the rear of the tow vehicle and helping it steer better.  These hitches are very common with camping RVs.

Overall there is a wide variety of hitches out there now to help you with any task.  Like we mentioned above, the standard rear receiver hitch is one of the most common but the others are still very widespread.  Remember that we sell and install all of these hitches at all six of our stores, so call or visit any to help get your vehicle set up properly!

Have Questions About the Different Types of Hitches?

Call one of our convenient Bay Area locations to get help finding the right hitch for your situation. Our expert trained staff will help you determine the appropriate type of hitch, model, and capacity that works best for you.

Warning: Towing can be very dangerous if the proper steps are not taken.  Always double check your weight ratings and read user manuals for anything that you are towing. Safety features should also be checked every time a trailer is hooked up along with all major components in order to make sure that they are working properly.


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