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Your 101 Hitch Bar Introduction – Complete Guide

Introduction

Looking to simplify your vehicle towing? You need the right hitch bars.

For towing, you’ll need a hitch bar with a ball mount. This bar has to be parallel to the ground level. That makes the vehicle’s handling easy. Therefore, selecting specific hitches that match your trailer needs is important.

Furthermore, having receiver hitch bars can help you in towing. It’s necessary to ensure a safe towing. For this, you need to install and maintain the bar correctly.

We’re here to tell you the types of hitch bars and hitch classes available for different vehicles. You can also install and maintain your hitch bars using our simple steps.

What Is A Hitch Bar?

Hitch bars are used for towing. This bar attaches to the vehicle and the trailer. Then, the vehicle tows the trailer. This towing is commonly known as flat or dinghy towing.

The hitch bar keeps the towed vehicle’s wheels on the ground surface. It’s a connection point between the vehicle and the trailer. With the hitch bar, you’ve to use a weight distribution shank, attachment rods, hitch pins, and ball mount with this accessory.

In addition, the hitch bars connect to the bottom of the vehicles at the rear. On this, you have to place a ball mount or hitch ball. It links to the towed vehicle or trailer’s front portion. The vehicle then tows. It helps to pull the trailer smoothly. Thus, there is no need for extra effort.

Types of Hitch Bars

If you have a hitch bar, you can connect two vehicles. Just couple a tow vehicle with the towing trailer. There are different types of hitch bars. You choose the bars depending on the type of vehicle.

Fixed Hitch Bars

The hitch bar keeps the towed vehicle’s wheels on the ground surface. It’s a connection point between the vehicle and the trailer. With the hitch bar, you’ve to use a weight distribution shank, attachment rods, hitch pins, and ball mount with this accessory.

You’ll find fixed hitch bars for light-duty vehicles. These include cars, boats, horse trailers, and ATVs.

Adjustable Hitch Bars

When it’s possible to adjust the hitch bars to a specific height, you call them adjustable hitch bars. These are flexible and versatile. It’s easy to modify these bars to any height. That helps to level the vehicle with the ground.

These are the most preferred hitch bars for towing vehicles. You can use adjustable hitch bars for boats, cargo, and trucks.

Receiver Hitch Bars

Receiver hitch bars are the most common for towing trailers. This bar is placed below the vehicle at the rear end. It has a receiver tube opening to connect with a hitch ball or ball mount.

Use receiver hitch bars for towing campervans, SUVs, or pickup trucks. No matter what type of vehicle you’re using, receiver hitch bars can be used for all types.

Hitch Class and Rating

Selecting a hitch isn’t an easy task. You’ve to choose the right hitch depending on the type of vehicle. There are five hitch classes I, II, III IV, and V. These have different receiver sizes and towing capacities.

Match the receiver’s size with the hitch ball. It’s better to get a hitch that can handle heavy vehicles. You can use heavier hitches to tow lightweight trailers.

Here is a detailed guide on the Class I to V:

Class I

When you want a towing component for light-duty vehicles, a Class I hitch receiver is the best. It has a towing capacity of 2000 lbs with 250 lbs of trailer weight. Apart from this, its 1.25-inch receiver opening fits in the hitch ball.

Uses

  • Small cars
  • Boats
  • Bikes

Class II

These trailer hitches are also suitable for light-duty vehicles. These receiver tube openings come in 1.25 inches. It can handle 3500 lbs of total trailer weight. That’s also suitable for towing trucks and SUV’s.

Uses

  • Passenger cars
  • Minivans
  • Cargo trailers

Class III

Towing 6000 lbs of trailers is easy with class III hitches. It’s because pickup trucks are heavier than light-duty vehicles. That’s why tow using a 600 lbs tongue weight. Besides, you get a 2-inch tube opening to mount on the trailer hitch ball.

Class III hitches two different trailers having a maximum load. You get two types of class III hitches: round tube and square tube. Choose the one that mounts better on the ball mount.

Uses

  • Pickup trucks
  • Large boats
  • SUV

Class IV

Class IV hitches bear a towing capacity of 10,000 lbs with 1000 lbs tongue weight. These 2-inch receiver tube opening mounts on ball mounts of heavy-duty vehicles. Hitches with 12,000 lbs gross trailer weight also come under this category.

Uses

  • Livestock trailers
  • Campervans
  • Pickup trucks

Class V (Xtra Duty – XDC)

Class V hitch features a 2-inch receiver tube. It bears up to 17000 trailer weight capacity. The tongue weight capacity is 2400 to 2550 lbs. Thus, available for commercial vehicles, including pickup trucks.

Uses

  • Vans
  • Lorries
  • Tractors

Class V (Industrial Duty – IDC)

The increased capacity of Industrial duty hitches is 20,000 lbs with a 2700 lbs tongue weight. Its 2.5-inch receiver tube is made for heavy-duty trailers. These hitches come in different designs, such as Gooseneck and Fifth wheel hitch. This depends on the trailer’s needs.

Uses

  • School buses
  • Dual cab trucks
  • Five wheel trailers

Read the table below to know the features of each hitch class:

Hitch ClassReceiver SizeGross Trailer Weight CapacityTrailer Weight Capacity
Class I1.25 inches2000 lbs250 lbs
Class II1.25 inches3500 lbs350 lbs
Class III2 inches6000 lbs600 lbs
Class IV2 inches10,000 lbs1000 lbs
Class V (Xtra Duty)2 inches15,000 to 17,000lbs2400 to 2550 lbs
Class V (Industrial Duty)2.5 inches18,000 to 20,000lbs2700 lbs

These five hitch classes are available in different weight ratings, starting from 2000 up to 20,000 lbs. You should know the towing capacity before buying a hitch component for your towing system.

Hitch Bar Installation & Maintenance

Many vehicles do not come with hitch bars. You have to install the hitch bar yourself. You don’t require screwdrivers or drills to fasten the bolts. Instead, you can get a hitch bar that’s free from such requirements.

Install Hitch Bars

Install the hitch bars in the bolt holes of the vehicle. You should read this step-by-step guide for simple and easy installation of hitch bars:

Record the Trailer’s Height

The first important factor is to measure the trailer’s height. But make sure to level the trailer to the ground. You can use the tongue jack for it. Here is what you’ve to do:

  • Measure the distance from the trailer hitch bar up to the ground.
  • Measure the distance from the trailer coupler up to the surface.
  • Measure the distance from the trailer fenders up to the ground.

Install a Hitch Receiver

Many vehicles, including pickups, minivans, and coaches have holes to fit the receiver. So, there’s no need to attach the hitch receiver with bolts. If the pre-drilled holes don’t match the holes, get the design that fits best.

Use Weight Distribution Shank

After measuring the trailer’s height, you’ve to connect the shank. The trailer hitch has a receiver tube. Fit the shank in the tube with pins or bolts. Besides this, placing the hitch head is another step. You’ve to place the head hitch on the WD shank. Adjust the head assembly above the trailer ball and coupler. No nuts or bolts are required for tightening.

Adjust the Hitch Head

When buying hitches, check the instructions given for the adjustment. Otherwise, do the following steps:

  • Keep the hitch head to the bottom
  • Add the washers on the rod (washers make the hitch bars parallel to the trailer’s tongue)
  • Install the adjustment rod in the head
  • Pivot the hitch head in the vertical position
  • Place the head on the shank
  • Put the bolts in the head
  • Tighten with nuts

All the adjustments have to be done using the washers. That’s for achieving the required angle.

Insert the Hitch bars

For inserting the bars, connect the chain to the bars. And attach it to the hitch head. Then couple the trailer. You should lift the coupler of the vehicle to three inches. It’s important to pair up the vehicle to the hitch ball.

Adjust the Hookup Brackets

It’s necessary to use the hookup brackets for securing the bars. For this, place the brackets on the trailer frame. You can use bolts or bar chains. Besides, hookup brackets have handles for lifting. Use the handles to lock the brackets, such that the space between the brackets and bar chains is the same.

Adjust the Hitch

Once you’re done with installing the hitch, you’ve to adjust it. For this, place the trailer weight on the hitch bar. Do this using the trailer jack. Record the height of the bumpers up to the surface level.

For example, if it was 12 cm in the first step, now it should be 6 cm. That means half of the original measurement.

Adjust by using the bar chains or position the head assembly. Now uncouple the trailer to fasten the bolts tightly.

Maintenance Of Hitch Bar

Maintenance is another important part of ensuring safe towing. You can’t skip it. If you do, you’ll find wear and tear. Therefore, keep a regular check for signs of damage.

Check if the bar has any cracks or uneven surfaces.

  • Clean the hitch bar to remove dirt or debris
  • Lubricate with grease to prevent corrosion
  • Secure the hitch bar with bolts and nuts
  • Fix the bar tightly (It shouldn’t be loose)
  • Position in the proper level
  • Ensure wiring functions properly

FAQS

Q.1. How to choose the right trailer hitch bar?

Knowing the type of vehicle is important. Only then you can decide on the hitch bars. Before you buy the hitch bars, you also should consider these factors:

  • Receiver Size
  • Towing capacity
  • Tongue weight
  • Gross trailer weight capacity
  • Weight distribution capacity

Q.2. What is the towing capacity?

Towing capacity is the weight a vehicle can bear to tow a trailer. Vehicles differ in weight. When it comes to towing, you should measure the trailer’s weight. As the vehicle pulls the trailer for towing, the towing accessory has to match the trailer’s weight.

Q.3. Can I use a Class IV or V hitch to tow a light-duty vehicle?

Yes, you can. There’s no problem in using a class IV or V hitch receiver for cars or minivans. However, it’s better to get heavier hitches because these support the towing system. Also, making the process simple and smooth.

Q.4. Why is it important to maintain hitch bars?

Anything that isn’t maintained ruptures and damages faster. To increase the lifetime of the hitch bar, inspect it regularly. Before you tow, check for wear and tears. And fix it to avoid issues during towing.

Conclusion

Want to go for flat towing? You should consider some important factors before choosing a hitch bar. Know the vehicles you’re using, the hitch bar size, and the towing capacity. You’ll also need other towing components to connect the vehicle to the towed trailer. So, you can go to a camping site or transfer a malfunctioned vehicle.

Now, read the above guide on the hitch bars to get the right hitches for your towing. It’ll make your towing smooth and easy.

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