Hitches connect a vehicle and the load that it pulls. A trailer hitch is a simply a metal contraption that attaches to your vehicle's chassis, beneath your rear bumper. Trailer hitches usually operate on a simple pin-and-loop arrangement. Most trailer hitches are permanently installed, but temporary hitches do exist and are available for rent. Most permanent trailer hitches either have a flat non-removable drawbar, or a receptacle ball mount for mounting a tire, ski or bike rack. A typical trailer hitch has two spring bars - one for each side of the trailer - to lift it and apply leverage to the tow vehicle. This provides stability while towing.
There are basically two types of trailer hitches available:
Weight-carrying (or deadweight-style hitch) - is typically used for towing smaller, lighter trailers and cargo.
Weight-distributing (or equalizing-style hitch) - is recommended for towing larger, heavier trailers and cargo.
The different types of trailer hitches are various and the one you choose will ultimately depend on the make and model of your vehicle as well as the load you're towing. You will need to bring the following information when shopping for a trailer hitch:
Before selecting a trailer hitch you will also require the following towing components in order to legally tow cargo:
Putting a trailer hitch on your vehicle is a relatively simple process. You should be able to do-it-yourself without the need of any specialty tools and without the services of a mechanic. However, drivers of tow vehicles have a responsibility to ensure that their trailer hitch is installed properly, that only professional equipment is being used, that the tow load is secure and that all trailer hitch and towing equipment is in safe and proper working order.
The following towing safety guidelines are very important to ensure the safety and protection of your vehicle, your tow load, yourself and other drivers on the road: