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An Introduction to Trailer Hitches

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

An Introduction to Trailer Hitches

Elizabeth Morgan
March 1, 2006

Pickup trucks and SUVs with trailer hitches have a wide range of uses. They can pull boats, campers, cargo trailers and a number of other items. There are several types of trailer hitches. Most pickup trucks have what is called a ball trailer hitch. Other types of trailer hitches are gooseneck trailer hitches and fifth wheel hitches.

It is important to have a strong enough truck to haul whatever is connected to the trailer hitch. The truck must have enough engine strength to build up momentum to pull the trailer. This is why you very rarely see cars equipped with trailer hitches.

Trailer hitches must be installed correctly to the truck or the entire hitch rig can come off, leaving the cargo behind. Usually, the hitch is mounted on a type of bumper that must be installed under the tailgate. The strength of this rig determines how much weight the hitch can handle. Different classes can pull different amounts of weight. Class-1 trailer hitches are the weakest; they can usually pull up to 2000 pounds. Class-5 trailer hitches are the strongest, with a pulling capacity of over 10,000 pounds.

Most pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles have ball trailer hitches. The hitch consists of a metal ball that attaches to a socket on the cargo. Larger trailer hitch balls can usually support more weight than smaller balls. Ball trailer hitches are more versatile than many other types and can be used to haul small cargo trailers, boats, and some campers.

Gooseneck trailer hitches also use a ball, but they are attached to the truck differently. Gooseneck trailer hitches are attached to the top of the truckbed, rather than at the bumper.

Fifth wheel trailer hitches are the strongest type of trailer hitch. They can be used to carry heavy cargo. Heavy-duty cargo trucks usually employ fifth wheel hitches.

Trailer hitches allow trucks to haul cargo. Without the proper type of hitch, it would be impossible to attach and pull a trailer.

Trailer Hitch Covers provides detailed information on Trailer Hitches, Trailer Hitch Covers, Trailer Hitch Accessories, Motorcycle Trailer Hitches and more. Trailer Hitch Covers is affiliated with Tractor Tires.

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