Home Diagnosis and TroubleshootingWeights and Dimensions Hitch Weight Rating – Why Is It So Important?

Hitch Weight Rating – Why Is It So Important?

by Jordan Harris
Hitch Weight Rating

Are you planning on getting a towing hitch for your truck or car and you are asking yourself what is the right hitch weight rating? This information is crucial for you if you want to have a properly working hitch for your car or truck. And we are going to explain everything you need to know when it comes to this.

Towing heavy objects can be a real mess if you don’t know these ratings. Imagine that you haul something really heavy and you are not using the right towing hitch on your car or truck. The hitch is probably going to fail and you will get your load damaged. This damage can cost thousands of dollars. So, do you really want that to happen to you? I think not.

Nobody wants to pay so much money on possible repairs that will be needed to be done to the trailer, and also on the load that was on the trailer. Not to mention that you will need a new towing hitch for your truck. All this quickly adds up and you will get completely ripped off after you try to cover every damage that occurred while you were hauling these heavy objects with your truck. That’s why we are going to explain everything you need to know when it comes to towing hitches.

In this article, we are going to cover what is the hitch weight rating and then we will cover the different classes of hitch weight rating. After, we will cover the best towing hitches that you can get for each of these towing hitch weight ratings. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the article.

What Is A Hitch Weight Rating?

The hitch weight rating in simple words is how much weight your hitch can tow. The gods didn’t create all vehicles and hitches equal to tow a lot of weight. So, you can expect that your vehicle will not perform like other more powerful vehicles that are out there that are equipped with beefy hitches.

That’s why smart people also known as automotive engineers, created something called a hitch weight rating that tells you what are the limits of the hitch when it comes to the towing ability and how much you can load it before it fails.

These hitch weight ratings are crucial to follow in order to avoid damaging the vehicle or damaging the cargo or the trailer. Whenever the hitch fails, something bad is going done and damage will be done to these components.

That’s why it is crucial to follow the recommended towing capacity if you want to avoid some permanent damage being done to your vehicle. Later on in the article, we are going to cover all of these towing classes that are out there so you familiarize yourself and learn how much load you could add to your specific vehicle.

In other words, you need to learn the hitch weight rating that your vehicle has before you start doing anything. This will guarantee that no irreversible damage will be done when you load the vehicle and tow heavy objects.

But before we cover the hitch weight ratings. It is also useful to discuss which are the components on our vehicles that make the most of the load when we are carrying heavy objects. Since this will going to help you determine how much you can load your vehicle besides the official towing ratings that each of these vehicles has from the factory.

What Are The Components That Suffer If You Don’t Follow The Right Hitch Weight Rating?

As we hinted above, there are some components in our vehicles that tend to get the most stress when we are hauling or towing stuff with our vehicles.

Every vehicle has a hauling or towing rating from the factory that tells us which is the maximum load that we can haul with our vehicle. But sometimes we can go a little bit overboard and load more than we previously anticipated.

But you shouldn’t do that because everything you overload your vehicle, some internal components are going to take a beating and will prematurely wear out. This overloading is stressing these components too much and too much stress is never a good idea since it will ruin them pretty quickly. So, which are these components that get the most stress when you are loading the vehicle? Let’s find out.

1. Engine

The engine will be the first one that will feel the overloading. Since the engine is the one that produces the power. In this case, it will be required from the engine to make even more power than it did before you load the vehicle with cargo.

This means that there will be increased stress on the internal components of the engine. Crankshaft bearings, pistons, and rings, piston rods. All these components are going to suffer because you are not using the right hitch weight rating on your car.

This situation is similar to what will happen if you place the engine on a dynamometer and you overload it constantly. Sooner or later it is going to fail and bad things will happen.

Hitch Weight Rating

The worst thing that could happen to your engine is that some of the pistons will want to escape from the engine. Creating a massive hole in the block in the process. Rods can also tweak and cylinder walls can be left scarred when milder damage is created. Not ideal to use a bad hitch weight rating if your engine is made to haul a lot less than you expected.

A new engine is going to cost you a couple of grand. Not to mention the labor and other expenses that are involved. You can easily pay up to $5,000 for this job. Sometimes the damage will even be greater than the value of the vehicle and this repair is not economically feasible. It is a much better idea to get a new car than repair this one.

2. Transmission & Clutch

The second component that takes the most from driving with a bad hitch weight rating is the transmission and the clutch if you are driving a manual transmission. This is caused by overloading the transmission.

Every transmission has a specific torque rating that needs to be followed by the owner. If you overload the vehicle. The transmission will struggle to convert the power from the engine into torque.

Dropping a big load will stress out the transmission and the components inside will wear off prematurely or will completely fail. The worst failure would probably be when the transmission explodes and there is a ton of transmission fluid on the ground and a huge explosion happens along the way.

But the more common transmission failures are represented when the transmission starts to slip gear or jump gears. Other symptoms include grinding noises when metal is rubbing against metal and these sounds are not good at all.

They are a clear indication that the transmission needs a rebuild or replacement. That’s why pay attention to the hitch weight rating and you will not have any major issues with your transmission. And we are going to cover these ratings later in the article after we finish the possible damages that can occur from running a bad hitch weight rating.

Nevertheless, the new transmission will probably cost you somewhere between $2,500 to $5,000. While doing a rebuild is going to cost you somewhere between $1,500 to $2,500. And that is quite expensive. That’s why pay attention to the hitch weight rating.

Also, if you drive a manual, you can burn your clutch by overloading the vehicle. A new clutch job can also cost you between $1,000 to $1,500. Which is also rather expensive, to be honest.

3. Driveshaft

The driveshaft is also taking a beating. Especially the U-joints on both of the ends of the driveshaft. But what is a driveshaft in the first place?

A drive shaft is that long tube in the middle of the vehicle that is connecting the transmission and the rear differential.

This means that this long tube is transferring the power from the transmission and then delivers it at the rear. Very basic stuff, but it works.

Hitch Weight Rating

The main problem here with running the car on the recommended hitch weight rating is that the driveshaft is exposed to a lot of stress. The driveshaft was designed by the factory to handle a specific amount of torque. So, if you overload it, it could snap into pieces.

Another failure point is the U-joints. These are the connectors, and the driveshaft has two of them on each side. And since they are the connectors. They are the weak points. So, when they are overloaded, they will break and make your car or truck unusable at all. Replacing these components is cheap and you can do it for less than $500.

But you still don’t want to do it and pay money to fix this stuff. That’s why pay attention to the hitch weight rating that we are going to cover in a little bit.

4. Differential

The differential is also one of the components that are crucial when it comes to delivering power. The differential is a giant gear train. It is composed out of three shafts. The main goal of the differential is to transfer the power to the axles.

The idea of the differential is more than 2250 years old and since then it was improved throughout history.

The important thing to note when it comes to the hitch weight rating is that every differential is designed to handle a limited amount of load.

So, if you overload the differential, there is a high chance that it will tear down in million pieces and you will end up paying thousands for a new rear end for your vehicle. And you don’t want that. That’s why you need to follow the hitch weight rating for your vehicle if you want to avoid possible failures of the differential.

5. Axles

The axles are the last components that could fail if you are not following your hitch weight rating. The axles are simple steel rods that transfer the power from the differential to the wheels. But they can be somewhat more complex in front-wheel drive cars and implement a CV axle design. Which is much easier to break.

Since the CV axle is running at an angle and it uses car bearings to perform this work. So, if the CV axle is overloaded, it’s going to break where the bearings meet.

If you are running a truck with a rear differential. You shouldn’t worry much because these axles are located in the rear bell housing which is extremely strong and it has a higher chance for the differential to fail than the axles to fail.

Either way, axles are not that expensive and they can be easily replaced with new ones. A solid axle or a CV shaft can cost up to $150. The important is to follow your hitch weight rating and not overload your vehicle. And in the following chapters, we are going to cover precisely that.

Different Classes Of Hitch Weight Rating

To simplify things, the engineers have created 5 different classes of hitch weight ratings. Knowing these classes is going to help you out find out how much you can load your vehicle.

These classes are designating the hitch opening size as well as the weight capacity of that specific hitch. Each class has a typical receiver size, so you need to know these sizes if you want to mount a trailer hitch onto your vehicle. The bigger the weight capacity the bigger the receiver size for the hitch.

But you shouldn’t worry because in the following chapters we are going to cover all of these 5 classes and after you learn them. You will precisely know what type of hitch you need to use to finish the job. So, let’s begin.

Class I

The class I trailer hitch is a trailer hitch for lightweight use. It is the smallest of all 5 classes and is perfect for smaller loads. Namely bikes, motorcycles, and kayaks.

The size of the opening on Class I hitches is 1-1/4’’ x 1-1/4’’ which is rather small. That’s why applying big loads on Class I hitches is not recommended.

Class I Hitch Weight Rating

The hitch weight rating for this class is between 1,000 to 2,000 lbs and a tongue weight of 200 lbs. This hitch can be mounted on compact cars, sedans, SUVs, and minivans.

Class II

The class II hitch is a little bit heftier than the class I. Which means that it could withstand a bigger load without breaking. These hitches are the way to go if you want to tow boats, trailers, campers, and a few bike racks. But you should note the hitch weight rating.

The good thing with Class II hitches is that you can use a Class I accessory with a Class II hitch.

Class II Hitch Weight Rating

The weight rating for Class II hitches is between 2,000 to 3,500 lbs while the tongue weight is between 200 to 525 lbs. The receiver opening is 1-1/4’’. The same size as class I, but slightly reinforced for the extra load. This hitch is designed for compact cars as well as SUVs and minivans.

Class III

Class III hitches are even beefier than Class II and I. But they are still light duty if we compare it to the higher classes that are out there available. Which we are going to cover a bit later.

Nevertheless, Class III is intended for hauling mid-size campers, some utility trailers, snowmobiles, equipment, etc. What is good is that you could still use the 1-1/4’’ accessories.

Class III Hitch Weight Rating

The hitch weight rating for Class III is between 3,500 to 8,000 lbs and the tongue weight is between 300 to 800 lbs. The receiver opening is 2’’. This type of hitch can be mounted on medium-size or full-size trucks, SUVs, sedans, and minivans.

Class IV

Class IV is a class above the previous class III hitch. This class goes even a step further when it comes to hauling stuff. Because it is somewhat heavy-duty equipment. Not the heaviest but still it delivers an excellent performance. With this hitch, you can haul large campers and large boats. Horse trailers and other large objects.

Class IV Hitch Weight Rating

The hitch weight rating for this class is between 5,000 and 12,000 lbs and that is pretty hefty. The maximum tongue weight is between 500 to 1,200. The receiver opening is 2’’. You can use accessories for a smaller class. But you will need an adapter to do so. This hitch is designed for heavy-duty trucks as well as large SUVs.

Class V

And we came to the largest and beefiest hitch type. This hitch type is the most heavy-duty hitch that can be mounted on a truck or an SUV. These hitches are hauling the heaviest trailers that are out there.


They can also carry accessories from smaller hitch types with the help of an adapter.

Class V Hitch Weight Rating

The hitch weight rating for this class is between 10,000 to 25,000 lbs and a tongue weight between 1000 to 4000 lbs.

The receiver opening is from 2’’ and up to 3’’. But 2-1/2’’ are the most common ones.

Top Vehicle Hitches by Class

We have covered the hitch weight ratings. And in the following chapters, we are going to list some of the best products on Amazon when it comes to purchasing a towing hitch. We will give our recommendation for each class. So, you have no problem doing all the research on your own. Let’s begin.

1. Draw-Tite Trailer Hitch Class I

This hitch is perfect if you own a Chrysler 200. This means that it is a bolt-on unit that will not require the reinforcing of the chassis or any other fabrication. It is a class 1. which means that the hitch weight rating is between 500 to 5000 lbs.

The Drive-Tite implements a 2-inch receiver. With more than 924 reviews at the time of writing, it’s one of the best sellers. It also has a perfect rating of 5 stars.

2. Draw-Tite 36501 Class II Frame Hitch

The Draw Tite brand makes one of the best hitches in all categories. This hitch is designed for vans and passenger cars like the class I that we reviewed previously.

It implements a solid lightweight design. The hitch is powder-coated to prevent rust buildup. It has a 1-1/4 inch receiver and is rated up to 3,500 lbs.

3. CURT 13205 Class 3 Trailer Hitch

This model made by CURT is the perfect option for you if you are looking for a class III hitch for your trailer. This hitch is rated for 3,500 lbs and has a 2’’ receiver opening.

This hitch is heavy-duty and implements a beefy design that will withstand a big load. It is also fully powder coated which will guarantee its longevity and you will not see rust on it any time soon. It has more than 279 ratings and 4.5 stars overall. Which tells a lot about this product.

4. Draw-Tite 76004 Class IV

This is a class IV hitch which means that it is designed for SUVs, trucks, and vans. It Implements a lightweight design that doesn’t increase the curb weight of the vehicle by a lot. This hitch also comes powder coated which guarantees the longevity of this hitch.

It can carry weight up to 10,000 lbs and it has a 2-inch square receiver. It is also one of the best sellers on Amazon in its class.

5. Draw-Tite Titan Trailer Hitch Class V

This trailer hitch is heavy-duty. It implements a 2.5-inch receiver and is compatible with Dodge products. Namely the RAM 2500 or 3500. It is also one of the best products when it comes to ratings with more than 100 reviews and 4.5 stars ratings make this hitch the perfect hitch to go after.

Facts about Towing Capacity:

  • Towing capacity is the maximum weight a vehicle can tow when pulling a trailer, as determined by the manufacturer.
  • Exceeding the max towing capacity can be extremely dangerous and should always be avoided.
  • To determine towing capacity, consult the owner’s manual, driver-side door jamb, or manufacturer website for weight ratings.
  • Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) is the maximum loaded weight of a vehicle, including passengers and cargo.
  • Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) is the maximum weight of a vehicle with a trailer attached, including all cargo and passengers.
  • Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR) is the maximum weight that can be placed on a vehicle’s front or rear axles.
  • Gross Trailer Weight (GTW) is the total weight of a trailer and its cargo.
  • Tongue Weight (TW) is the downward force exerted on the back of a tow vehicle by a trailer or towable load.
  • Curb weight is the total weight of a vehicle apart from any passengers, cargo, or non-factory items.
  • Payload capacity is the maximum amount of weight a truck or other vehicle can haul in terms of cargo and passengers.


In this article, we have covered a lot when it comes to what hitch weight rating is. We learned what is a hitch weight rating. Then we discussed what are the components that could get damaged if you overload your vehicle and use improper hitch weight rating.

There are a ton of things that could go wrong and you might end up paying thousands of dollars on repairs. Then we covered the hitch weight rating classes that are out there and as we learned there are 5 classes. Lastly, we have proposed you a specific hitch for each class.

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