What Is the Difference Between a Class III vs. a Class II Rating for a Towing Hitch?

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Choosing the proper trailer hitch for a load is very important. The incorrect hitch can lead to dangerous conditions such as trailer sway. Trailer hitch class ratings make it easier to choose the proper hitch.

Trailer Hitch Classes

  • Trailer hitches are broken down into classes. Each class spells out the gross trailer weight that the hitch can handle. The trailer hitch class also determines the tongue weight of the hitch. Hitch classes range from I to IV. There are also 5th wheel and goose-neck hitches that are mounted in the bed of a pickup.

Class II Trailer Hitches

  • A class II trailer hitch is rated for up to 3,500 pounds of gross trailer weight. Its rated tongue weight is 350 pounds. A class II trailer hitch could be used for a smaller boat or a pop up camper. These hitches fit most mid-size cars, trucks and sport utility vehicles.

Class III Trailer Hitch

  • A class III hitch is rated for up to 5,000 pounds of gross trailer weight. Its tongue weight rating is 500 pounds. This type is appropriate for a larger boat or a horse trailer. A class III hitch fits mid-size SUVs, vans and pick-ups.

Tongue Weight

  • Tongue weight is a measurement of the downward force a trailer tongue puts on the hitch. It is important to keep the tongue weight between 9 and 15 percent of the gross trailer weight. If the tongue weight is exceeded it can cause trailer sway.

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