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CURT truck hitchCURT truck hitch

The CURT Truck Hitch Buyer's Guide

Every truck needs a receiver hitch in order to tow, although choosing the right hitch can be tricky. There are a variety of types available, each with their own unique features that are made for specific applications, which begs the question: which hitch is right for your rig?  

Truck hitches come in a variety of different styles that offer different features and the correct hitch must be used in order to ensure you're towing safely. These vary depending on what type of trailer you will be towing and the amount of weight you will be pulling.  

This comprehensive truck hitch buyer’s guide will help you to sort out which hitch is best for your truck and will cover all the different types of receiver hitches that CURT offers.  

The Different Types of Trailer Hitches

There are several key differences between the three main types of truck hitches and these differences determine what type of towing you will be doing. The most common type of trailer hitch is the standard rear mount hitch, which is the most commonly used hitch for towing. 

5th wheel hitches and gooseneck hitches are more commonly used with large travel trailers and commercial or livestock trailers.  

Let's dig more into these differences. 

Rear Mount Receiver HitchRear Mount Receiver Hitch

Rear Mount Receiver Hitch

Use: Can be used with most trucks and SUVs 

Capacity: Can tow up to 20,000 lbs. 

5th Wheel Hitch5th Wheel Hitch

5th Wheel Hitch

Use: Used with trucks when towing 5th wheel trailers  

Capacity: Can tow up to 30,000 lbs. 

Gooseneck Hitch

Use: Used with trucks when towing gooseneck trailers 

Capacity: Can tow up to 38,000 lbs. 

Rear Mount Truck HitchesRear Mount Truck Hitches

Rear Mount Receiver Hitches

A rear mount truck hitch is the most commonly used hitch when towing a trailer. CURT rear receiver hitches are offered in varying classes, from class 1 to class 5, and work on most trucks and SUVS.  

The standard receiver hitch mounts to the frame under the rear of the vehicle and is perfect for everyday towing of trailers with standard, ball-style couplers. Traditional receiver hitches are the most commonly used type and are available for most types of vehicles, both large and small.  

For this reason, there are 5 differing classes of rear receiver hitches, with the class 1 being rated for lighter towing with smaller cars, and the class 5 being rated for heavier towing with full-sized trucks or SUVs. 

CURT class 5 hitches are capable of towing up to 20,000 lbs. gross trailer weight and can handle up to 2,000 lbs. of tongue weight. They're made for heavy-duty towing of large, heavy trailers and come standard with either a 2" or a 2-1/2" receiver.  

Class 5 truck hitches are typically used with 3/4 ton and 1-ton trucks, such as the Chevrolet 3500, Dodge 3500 or Ford F350. They are often used to tow larger trailers such as landscaping trailers, livestock haulers, toy haulers, cargo trailers and even construction equipment or vehicles. 

Overall, a class 5 truck hitch is made for heavy-duty or commercial towing of larger trailers with greater payloads and only work with 2" or 2-1/2" receiver hitches.  

CURT class 1 through 4 rear mount hitch receivers are also very common for towing with smaller vehicles, half-ton trucks and SUVs and work with receivers that range from as small as 1-1/4" up to 2".


Vehicle Specific HitchesVehicle Specific Hitches

Vehicle Specific vs. Multi-Fit

All traditional receiver hitches are made in two distinct styles: vehicle-specific and multi-fit

The vehicle-specific style trailer hitch is designed to fit your specific vehicle make, model and year. The benefit of the vehicle-specific style is that it quickly mounts to the frame of your vehicle and will install quickly and easily without needing modification. The vehicle-specific style also has greater strength, as it features a solid, one-piece design. This means that the hitch can also handle greater towing capacities and tongue weights. This is a result of greater strength and a fabricated design that is specific to a particular vehicle. For a tailored fit and greater strength, choose a vehicle-specific trailer hitch.  

A universal, weld-on receiver hitch is a more affordable option that provides flexibility during installation and can be fitted to many different makes and models. Universal receiver hitches are ideal when a vehicle-specific hitch is not available, or your application is other than OEM. The universal receiver hitch is also a more affordable option; however, they do require drilling and fabrication during installation as the hitch will come in separate pieces that must be welded together.  

Universal receivers often do not offer the same towing capabilities that their vehicle-specific counterparts provide. Overall, universal truck hitches are more affordable and flexible, working with multiple vehicles, but do not offer a tailored fit or the highest towing capabilities. 


Front Mount HitchesFront Mount Hitches


Front mount truck trailer hitches are ideal for adding extra utility to your truck and allow you to change your front-end set up on-the-go. With a front mount hitch you can carry extra cargo on long trips, mount a winch when off-road, or even use a snowplow, step or tow-strap — you have options.  

A perfect example would be using your front mount hitch to mount a cargo carrier on a family road trip and then using a front mount winch or a snowplow during the winter months.   

Another benefit of a front mount hitch is that it allows you to use your front and rear hitch at the same time — you can mount a cargo carrier without occupying the rear receiver, allowing you to use a trailer and front-mounted cargo carrier, winch or other accessory simultaneously.  

Having a front mount receiver can prove beneficial, especially if you desire the ability to change the front-end utility of your truck on-the-go. This can be a game changer on long trips or when off-road.  


5th wheel hitches5th wheel hitches

5th Wheel Trailer Hitches

A 5th wheel truck hitch is a different type of trailer hitch that is designed to mount in the bed of a pickup truck and is made specifically to tow 5th wheel trailers that can weigh up to 30,000 lbs. 

This specific style of trailer hitch is used to tow 5th wheel campers and features a kingpin style latch that is mostly used only with 5th wheel campers.  

5th wheel hitches work by evenly distributing the weight of larger, heavier payloads across the axles of the truck which helps to control large, bulky and heavy trailers. 5th wheel hitches also help to maneuver larger trailers, as the trailer mounts in the bed of the truck providing improved agility and control.  

5th wheel trailer hitches mount in the bed of a pickup truck on base rails, which must be installed prior to mounting the 5th wheel hitch. The base rails connect to the truck frame through the under-bed frame brackets, which connect to the truck frame and distribute the weight from heavy campers evenly. 

CURT also makes gooseneck hitch adapters that utilize existing 5th wheel base rails, which means you can tow a gooseneck trailer using a pickup truck that is outfitted with 5th wheel base rails. To shop 5th wheel hitch adapters, see our line-up. 


gooseneck hitchesgooseneck hitches

Gooseneck Trailer Hitches

Gooseneck hitches work similarly to 5th wheel hitches do, however, they are not used with campers, but are instead used for heavy-duty towing applications on farms and construction sites for towing livestock trailers, heavy equipment and utility trailers. 

CURT Gooseneck hitches can tow up to 38,000 lbs. and like 5th wheel hitches, they also mount to the bed of a truck and increase the towing capabilities of the truck by distributing the weight of the trailer more evenly across the axles. 

Gooseneck trailer hitches can only be used with a trailer designed for use with a gooseneck hitch. The gooseneck system is a tried and tested way of towing large, heavy trailers and commercial equipment safely and securely.  

The gooseneck hitch is simple and consists of a puck system which allows the gooseneck ball to be securely placed into the bed of the truck and locked into place. Once the ball is installed and secured, a gooseneck trailer can be mounted. 

CURT makes 5th wheel hitch adapters that utilize existing gooseneck ball holes, which means you can tow a 5th wheel trailer using a pickup truck that is outfitted to tow with a gooseneck hitch. To shop CURT gooseneck hitch adapters, see our line-up.


truck hitch accessoriestruck hitch accessories

Truck Hitch Accessories

Once you've purchased your hitch setup, you may need some accessories before towing. If you've selected a standard rear mount hitch, you will need a ball mount. CURT has an extensive lineup of hitch accessories that includes everything from the standard ball mounts to the Rebellion XD adjustable cushion mount, which allows you to raise and lower your hitch ball and also cushions the load of the trailer when braking or accelerating. 

adjustable ball mountsadjustable ball mounts

Adjustable Ball Mounts

The adjustable ball mount, also known as an adjustable drop hitch, is the perfect choice for everyday towing, especially when towing multiple trailers that are different sizes and heights. The drop hitch ball mount allows you to raise and lower the ball to quickly and easily level your trailer, which is important to ensure the trailer tongue is level with the ground. An adjustable ball mount can also be very convenient, as it can replace several fixed ball mounts because of its ability to adjust when towing different trailers and weight loads. The adjustable ball mount is also ideal for large or lifted vehicles and can improve safety while providing a greater towing capacity.

Weight Distribution HitchesWeight Distribution Hitches

Weight Distribution Hitches

A weight distribution hitch is perfect when towing a trailer that is heavy and causes the vehicle hitch to sag — this can lead to poor handling and braking when towing. A great solution for leveling the connection point between the trailer and the truck is to use a weight distribution hitch. The weight distribution works by adding two or four extra connection points from the tow vehicle to the trailer. Typically, when towing there is only one point of contact — the coupler and the ball mount itself. Adding two or four extra connection points is very effective for distributing weight more evenly across all axles between the truck and trailer. A weight distribution hitch also works well to improve handing and is often purchased to avoid trailer sway when towing larger trailers at higher speeds.  

Pintle HItchPintle HItch

A pintle hitch is a unique type of trailer hitch that utilizes a hook and ring configuration as the connection point between the truck and trailer. This setup works well with heavy-duty towing in commercial and agricultural applications — especially when more articulation is needed when towing off-road. Generally, the pintle hook hitch is usually reserved for agricultural or industrial purposes. 

tow hookstow hooks

Tow Hooks

Every truck may one day find itself stranded. In the case of emergency, whether on-road or off-road, it helps to carry a tow hook accessory with you for when emergencies happen and you need to tow another vehicle or be recovered yourself. A tow hook is inserted into your truck hitch and is especially important to use when towing or recovering another vehicle, as attaching a tow strap to anything other than a designated tow hook can be deadly. Plan ahead and carry a tow hook with you if you plan to tow or recover, especially during inclement weather or if traveling off-road. 

Choosing the Right Trailer Hitch Doesn't Have to be Stressful

If you know what kind of towing you will be doing, choosing the right truck hitch is not too difficult at all. From towing with a standard rear-mount hitch to 5th wheel towing and gooseneck towing, there are several options for varying purposes.  

CURT has all the truck trailer hitches and truck hitch accessories you need to tow more and stress less. From adjustable ball mount hitches, also known as a drop hitch,  to the Crosswing™ 5th wheel hitch, we have the accessories and technology you need to get down the road safely and securely.