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Trailer Hitch Classes and Applications

 Updated on: June 11th, 2023

Trailer Hitch Classes and Applications

Understanding the different hitch classes, their capacities and their applications is perhaps the most important facet of towing. With the proper hitch applied and the correct considerations taken in regards to the weight of your payload, you’ll ensure safety, security and efficiency at all times, giving you peace of mind on the road about your cargo.

Take a look below at the five major hitch classes and the properties that define them, as well as some of the considerations that need to be made when utilizing each class and the common applications that are encompassed by them:

Class I Hitches

Class I hitches are almost exclusively utilized in conjunction with sedans, owing to their lightweight capacity for towing. Hitches in this category are defined by their 1-1/4" x 1-1/4" opening size, which allows them to accommodate a gross trailer weight of up to 2,000lbs and a tongue weight of 200lbs. Class I trailers are most frequently used to haul light to moderate cargo including motorcycles, small trailers, boats and more.

Class II Hitches

A step up in overall capability, Class II hitches are also defined by their 1-1/4" x 1-1/4" opening size, however their gross trailer weight capabilities can top 3,500lbs with an accompanying tongue weight of 350lbs. Class II hitches are frequently affixed to midsized sedans and small trucks and their common payloads include midsized boats, small campers, moderately sized trailers and more.

Class III Hitches

Class III hitches begin the foray into 2" x 2" openings, as to support much higher towing capacities. When applied to minivans, trucks and SUVs, Class III hitches encompass a gross trailer weight of between 3,500-6,000lbs and an accompanying tongue weight of 350-600lbs. Because of their versatility, Class III hitches can be used for a variety of towing applications, including moderate to large sized campers, larger boats and more. A variety of hitch adapters also make it possible for a Class III hitch receiver to be paired with Class I & II accessories. Class III is the minimum required for many, though not all, hitch-mounted carriers.

Class IV Hitches

When hauling larger campers, boats and trailers, Class IV hitches are required to accommodate the larger payloads of these types of cargo, specifically ranging between 6,000lbs-10,000lbs in gross trailer weight. Utilizing a 2" x 2" opening, these hitches are applied to more durable and rugged vehicles, including full size pickup trucks, larger SUVs, vans and larger sedans.

Class V Hitches (Including Curt Xtra Duty and Commercial Duty)

Class V hitches boast a 2" x 2" or 2-1/2" x 2-1/2" opening, a gross trailer weight capacity of more than 10,000lbs and a tongue weight of between 1,000lbs-1,200lbs. Optimal for heavy duty pickup trucks, vans and SUVs, these hitches represent the pinnacle of heavy payload towing and can support larger boats, full sized campers, trailers of all sizes and a myriad of other larger towing implements. Hitch Accessories and Adapters

Despite the numerous hitch classes and their capacities, there comes a time when towing requirements blur the lines between what’s needed and what’s available. For these situations, offers a myriad of hitch adapters and accessories, allowing you to safely and effectively accommodate your load.

We sell adapters of all kinds for targeted towing needs, including those used to correctly retrofit smaller shank sizes to be paired with larger hitch receiver dimensions, such as is the case with lighter towing accessories, including bicycle carriers. Folding hitch adapters, conversion risers, hitch extenders and dual-purpose hitch adapters are all prevalent throughout our inventory, to accommodate your need for a safe and effective towing system.

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For more information about specific hitch styles, classes and applications, please visit our Curt Trailer Hitch Selector Page to view over 200 different types of hitches, applicable with more than 4,000 different vehicle makes and models.