What Type of Trailer Hitch is Right for You?
If you are hauling a trailer around Michigan, there is no doubt you have encountered many types of trailer hitches. But as you consider your own options, how do you determine the right hitch is best for your needs? Let’s explore the options, and when each may be appropriate.
The bumper hitch is the general catch-all hitch that is installed on most passenger vehicles. These mount on the frame under the bumper, and uses a basic ball mount. They are available with many options, including styles, sizes and drop-depths. The best way to ensure you get the right one for your vehicle and trailer type is to work with the experts at USA trailers.
Weight Distribution Bumper Hitch
A weight distribution trailer hitch is very similar to the bumper hitch. The key difference is where the weight is supported on the frame. In a traditional bumper hitch, the weight is held at the read of the tow vehicle. This puts an excessive amount of strain on the rear axle and rear part of the frame.
A weight distribution hitch, on the other hand, has more advanced features that spread the weight across all axles. On this style hitch, there are spring arms that help lift the rear end of the tow vehicle. This effectively helps shift the weight forward to relieve some of the strain from the rear end.
A fifth wheel hitch is designed for much larger trailers with much heavier loads. This hitch uses a kingpin mechanism on the trailer, and the coupling system is actually part of the tow vehicle. Rather than being under the vehicle, the hitching mechanism attaches from over the vehicle, between the cab and rear axle. Typically, this kind of hitch may be used for car haulers, large campers, and semi trucks.
The downside to these hitches is that it limits your options in tow vehicles. Typically, these hitches are installed on vehicles like pickup or flatbed trucks. However, these vehicles are typically equipped with much better equipped with heftier transmissions and engines.
A goose neck hitch is very similar to the fifth wheel hitch in that it typically sets just above or slightly forward of the rear axle. Unlike a fifth wheel, these hitches contain the ball, and the coupling mechanism is on the trailer.
Much like the fifth wheel, these are used for heavier loads typically for car haulers, industrial trailers, and livestock trailers. The design of these trailers allow for taking much tighter turns than traditional bumper hitch options.
Front Mount Hitch
One of the challenges with many trailer configurations is parking in extremely tight spaces around Michigan. This is one time where having a front mount hitch becomes extremely useful. These are similar to bumper mount hitches, but are attached to the front of the trailer.
These hitches are useful for many applications, including a cargo carrier, snow plow, or even a spare tire. If you install a typical ball in the receiver, you can maneuver a trailer around in a more precise manner than when on the back.
Another heavy-duty hitch option is the pintle trailer hitch, which is commonly used for industrial, military, or agricultural application. The pintle is the hooking system, which is on the tow vehicle. On the trailer is the lunette, which is the main ring connecting to the pintle.
While these are not ideal for maintaining tight control of the trailer, they do allow for much heaver loads. They are also ideally suited for rough, off-road applications.
Choosing the Right Option
The first way to choose what hitch option is right for you is to consider your tow vehicle. This may significantly limit your options unless you are open to a new vehicle. If you are using an SUV or sedan, a standard bumper hitch or weight distribution hitch may be the only options.
Once you know the options for your vehicle type, then look at your towing application. If you are towing a standard trailer, the standard hitch may work. However, if you are getting a larger capacity trailer, you may want to consider one of the heftier options.
When in doubt, work with a trailer expert who can help you evaluate your vehicle and trailer needs. The team at USA trailers can help you find the perfect trailer, along with the best way to hitch it to your tow vehicle.