Understanding Trailer Hitch Classes
For the family that owns a boat or camper, or regularly travels with a loved one who has a mobility scooter or power wheelchair, equipping your vehicle for handle towing capabilities can help you stay on the go and enjoy your favorite activities. Before you get started, it is important to understand trailer hitch classes and how to properly install your hitch.
For automobiles, there are three main hitch classes. These all vary in the type of receiver and the amount of weights that can be pulled.
A Class One (I) receiver has a Gross Trailer Weight (GTW) of up to 2000 pounds. This type of receiver will fit on all types of vehicles. This receiver is perfect for smaller cars, pickups or minivans and is generally used to carry bicycle racks, camping racks and other light towing items. If only a small rack is going to be used on this receiver, there is no need to set up a wiring harness.
A hitch that is rated as Class Two (II) is able to pull up to 3000 pounds GTW. This is ideal for larger cars, vans, full-size pickup trucks and SUVs. A class two hitch is generally used to pull a snowmobile trailer, small boat trailer, camper or motorcycle trailer.
A Class Three (III) hitch is able to pull up to 5000 pounds GTW. This is essential for pulling midsize campers and boats, and can be utilized on midsize pickup trucks, vans and SUVs. This class of hitch may not work on all automobiles.
The rating of the vehicle and its towing capacity should never be exceeded. Knowing this capacity will help to choose the correct class of hitch and avoid causing any damage to your vehicle or mobility device.
Along with the hitch classification, a ball mount is needed as well. This goes inside of the receiver and there are generally three different styles of mounts. Depending on the trailer that is being pulled, the correct mount must be utilized to pull it. If this is not done, there can be an extreme angle between the trailer and the vehicle. This can cause trailer sway and potentially cause damage to both the vehicle and the trailer. The ball mount drop will need to be calculated to determine which style to utilize.
Do I need a hitch adapter?
In some cases, you may need to install a hitch adapter. Here are a few simple measurements you will need to take in order to order the appropriate adapter:
First, determine which vehicle hitch class you have. The inside of a Class 1 or Class 2 hitch measures 1.25 inches by 1.25 inches. The inside of a Class 3 hitch measures 2 inches by 2 inches.
Next, you need to measure the bumper distance, which is the length from the hitch's bolt hole to the rear most point on the vehicle. Depending on your vehicle's bumper distance you should use a different length hitch adapter:
- A short adapter is used when the bumper distance is between 0 and 7.5 inches. This helps prevent the scooter or wheelchair lifts from sticking out too far from the back of your vehicle.
- A standard adapter is used when the bumper distance is between 7.5 and 10 inches.
- An extra long adapter is used when the bumper distance is between 10 and 13.5 inches.
Finally, if you drive a truck of SUV that sits high off the ground, you may need a hitch adapter with a drop.This allows the scooter / wheelchair lift's platform to reach the ground. Remember that the maximum travel on most lifts is 19 inches.
When towing any load, safety is of the utmost importance, so if you don’t feel confident about completing the installation process, take the time to hire a reputable installer. With the correct class of trailer hitch, you will be able to have a more versatile vehicle capable that can be used in conjunction with other devices.
AmeriGlide manufactures vehicle lifts and trailers for your mobility scooter or power wheelchair which are compatible with multiple hitch and receiver classes. Click here to view our full selection of lifts and carriers for wheelchairs and scooters!