2021 Trailer Hitches Buying Guide : A trailer hitch is a versatile tool that has a lot of different applications. You can use it to attach a bike rack, to haul a boat or to tow a trailer carrying supplies and equipment. When they match your vehicle and are put on correctly, trailer hitches are among the most secure ways to transport items. One of your first decisions is whether you want a vehicle-specific trailer hitch or a universal model that fits just about any vehicle.
The next step is deciding what you wish to attach to the trailer hitch. At this time, you should make certain your vehicle is rated to haul whatever it is you wish to transport. In the case of a bike rack, this is unlikely to be a problem, but if you are hauling a trailer or a boat, you want to make sure your vehicle can handle it.
Trailer hitch balls are popular, inexpensive and durable and come in a variety of makes and sizes. For more serious needs, you can find a quality trailer hitch that matches your vehicle’s specifications and comes with the appropriate strength and safety features. Brands such as WARN, Curt, Reese and Draw-Tite make attachments that range from just over $50 to over $400.
What are the Different Types of Trailer Hitches
In addition to hitch balls, there is a trailer hitch made for just about every need. Most hitches fall into the following six categories:
- Receiver hitches
- Bumper hitches
- Gooseneck hitches
- Front-mount hitches
- Pintle hitches
- Fifth-wheel hitches
They each perform differently and are likely to be used in particular situations. Gooseneck hitches and fifth-wheel hitches are usually attached to large trucks and are built to carry big loads such as horse trailers and flatbed trailers. A bumper hitch is usually reserved for smaller loads and can only handle the bumper capacity, which is often stamped on or near the bumper.
It is important to note that the auto parts that accompany any installation need to match the hitch. In other words, a hitch system is only as strong as its weakest component.
How To Install A Trailer Hitching System
While it depends upon your vehicle and hitching system, the fundamental steps for a trailer hitch installation are similar. Begin by looking on your vehicle for the pre-existing mounting points on the frame. Then slide the hitch in place and thread the bolts through the hitch and into the frame and tighten with the washers. Tighten the bolts until the hitch is fully seated against the frame.
Next install the hitch ball, draw bar, draw bar pin and retainer. It is important to have the right size ball as well as the right height for the ball; the trailer must be level with the hitch. For help in the process, a second person often comes in handy, and you can also buy ball mounts that already have the hitch ball attached.
Whether you need a new trailer hitch or a VIN lookup, you can find what you need online or at your local auto parts store. Shop now for the best deals of the season.
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