May 31, 2016
It's camping season! If you are thinking about upgrading your trailer or changing your tow vehicle in the future, or recently made a change, it's important to make sure you are using the right size hitch to keep you and your family safe. One of the most common questions our customer service team addresses is, "What size Equal-i-zer® hitch should I buy?" Take a minute and learn what our engineers recommend for determining hitch size, so you can stay safe on the road.
There are a few variables to consider when selecting a properly sized hitch. The most obvious ones are how much your trailer weighs and what the tongue weight is. The simple, less accurate way to figure this out is to see what the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is for your trailer by reading the tag on the trailer and select your hitch rating based on it. (See Example 1)
The better way to determine what size hitch to buy, is to load your vehicle and trailer the heaviest you think you could have it when towing. Then measure the trailer weight, trailer tongue weight and the cargo weight that is toward the back of your tow vehicle (passengers or gear in back rows of SUV, or gear in pickup bed). For a stable trailer when towing, your tongue weight should be 10-15% of your trailer weight. Rearrange the load in the trailer if necessary to get the tongue weight within that range. Now, calculate an approximate hitch load by adding the trailer tongue weight and about 1/3 of the cargo weight that is in the back of your tow vehicle. This calculated hitch load is closer to what the minimum tongue weight rating needs to be for the hitch. Now to select an appropriate hitch, make sure the hitch's gross trailer weight rating and tongue weight rating are both above the trailer's actual max total weight and max hitch load, respectively. (Example 2)
Trailer GVWR = 9,000lbs
Tongue weight (GVWR*10%)=900lbs
The hitch one would select based solely on this information is the 10k hitch.
Actual trailer weight = 8,250lbs
Actual tongue weight (10-15%) = 825lbs
1/3 of tow vehicle rear cargo weight = 250lbs
Calculated hitch load/tongue weight = 825+250=> 1,075lbs
The best hitch in this scenario would be a 12k model as it is the closest hitch rated above the calculated hitch load/tongue weight. Even though we used the same trailer in example 1 as we did in example 2, we see that the setup in example 2 requires a higher rated hitch because we included all the variables.
Use the calculator on our website to help you with this equation.
Tying this into sway control, the higher the hitch rating the stiffer the setup is going to be. This stiffness helps reduce sway. If we compare our examples again, in the 1st example the hitch selected would likely be adequate for nearly all of your trailer towing trips. But there may be times where high winds or passing big rigs make you want even more sway control. In the 2nd example the stiffer setup of the 12k hitch would provide even more sway control, which in turn would help keep the people riding in the tow vehicle safe.
Check out our infographic below for an easy guide for selecting the right sized hitch.