The three most common types of hitches are the receiver, gooseneck, and fifth wheel hitch. The receiver hitch is typically attached to the frame at the rear of the vehicle. The receiver hitch will have a 1-1/4” or 2” square opening which accepts a ball mount. The ball mount has the hitch ball attached and is held in the receiver by a pin.
There are five different classes of receiver hitches and they range from Class 1 to Class 5. Class 1 and Class 2 receivers have a 1-1/4” square opening; most Class 3 to Class 5 hitches will have a 2” opening. Hitch manufacturers will normally produce a hitch that best matches the weight capacity of the specific vehicle. They do not produce a hitch in each class for every vehicle. The gross trailer weight capacity of the receiver hitch increases from a Class 1 to Class 5 with each hitch having its own specific rating.
What can cause some confusion is that most Class 3 to Class 5 hitches carry two ratings. One is the weight carrying rating; the other is the weight distribution rating. The first is when a ball mount is used in the receiver; the second is when weight distribution is used. To achieve the greater of the two hitch receiver weight ratings, weight distribution will need to be used.
Weight distribution achieves a greater weight rating by using a heavy-duty, adjustable hitch head with either round or trunnion style bars that attach to the tongue of the trailer. The weight distribution system allows the load to be more evenly distributed on the trailer wheels and tow vehicle. This even distribution allows for a more stable ride and better control for braking and steering.
Gooseneck and fifth wheel hitches mount in and through a truck bed, and offer an increased gross trailer weight towing capacity. In addition to a greater capacity, these hitch types also offer improved maneuverability of the trailer. Gooseneck and fifth wheel hitch models vary based on their weight capacities, ease-of-use, and ability to be removed.
The purpose of a sway control unit is to reduce the lateral movements of the trailer caused by the wind. Sway control can be added to a weight distribution system to help the trailer track in a straight line. Most sway controls work by friction and have a lever release to restore turning ability at slow speeds.