LAST UPDATED: September 06, 2018

The Best Trailer Hitch (Review & Buying Guide) in 2020

Best Choice curt 45036 CURT 45036 Loaded Ball Mount
Premium Pick b&w trailer hitches B&W Trailer Hitches Tow & Stow Hitch Ball Mount
Best Value reese starter kit Reese Towpower 21536 2 Inch Starter Kit

A trailer hitch can be an extremely useful addition to your vehicle. As the name implies, it can be used to haul trailers behind your vehicle and it can also accommodate other accessories such as some bike racks. The best trailer hitch can be a simple and relatively cheap way to increase the carrying and load capacity of your vehicle.

Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as picking up the meatiest trailer hitch you can find. They are divided into different classes and then subdivided into different designs. This guide attempts to make choosing the right hitch a little easier. We’ve assembled a list of the best truck and car hitches on the market along with a useful buying guide to give you all the information you need.

 The Best Trailer Hitch

If you are thinking of investing in a CURT trailer hitch then this could be a very useful purchase. CURT is a good manufacturer of hitch bars, and it’s not too shabby when it comes to ball mounts too.

First, this product simply looks great with an understated design that is not as flashy as some others on the market. Behind that appearance there is, as you may have guessed, a ball mount with very solid construction. We have a matte black powder finish for protection from corrosion and rust. We also have a robot welded (yes, robot welded!) hollow shank. That means it fits like a dream, especially into CURT trailer hitch receivers.

It should be noted this is a simpler design, so there is no vertical mechanism for movement. Instead, it is the position of the mount in the receiver that changes this, meaning you only get a two-inch drop. Still, it’s a very sturdy, very well-constructed product with a good price point.

Key Features
  • 2 Inch Drop
  • CURT Quality Manufacturing
  • Robot Welded for a Perfect Fit
  • 7,500 GTW
Specification
  • Brand CURT
  • Model 45036
  • Weight 4.6 Pounds

Here’s another trailer hitch brought by CURT, an extremely well-regarded manufacturer with a reputation for producing some of the best trailer hitch products. This particular model is one of the most popular Class 3 hitches on the market, and once you dig into the product features it is easy to see why.

This beast is a rugged hitch. It is constructed of tubular steel, which is coated with a high gloss, black powder finish. The trailer hitch, once in place, is really going to be hit with the worst the weather and road can throw at it, and it will end many journeys soaked in rain spray or covered in snow. The high-quality powder finish will really help to prevent rust and corrosion, prolonging the life span of the product.

CURT uses laser cuts for impeccable accuracy in joins, seams and bolt hole placement. This is coupled with CURT’s ongoing design process that tailors the hitch to specific vehicles for a seamless and easy installation process. The hitch is compatible with high-mounted accessories like bike racks, it can take standard ball hitches (in 2 inch mount size), and it is also compatible with weight distribution hitch products. To summarize, it is well designed, well built and has wide compatibility with multiple products. No wonder it’s so popular.

Key Features
  • Vehicle Specific Design
  • Precision Welded Construction
  • Durable, High-Gloss Black Powder Finish
Specification
  • Brand CURT
  • Model 13105
  • Weight 48.4 Pounds

Before we look at the features of this product let’s just take a moment to appreciate how gorgeous this ball hitch is – it is the T-1000 of hitches. That lovely, shiny exterior is not all about appearances though, it is a plated steel finish that helps to protect against rust and corrosion.

In operation, this is a dual ball style of ball hitch. That means that one ball is a 2 inch hitch, and the other is a 2-5/16 inch. That pretty much covers two of the three most popular sizes of ball hitch, so you’re basically buying a product with very wide computability. It also features 12 inches of drop – 6 inches up and 6 inches down. This is a wide arc of movement, which again helps to provide a very wide field of compatibility.

The 2 inch ball is rated for weights of up 8,000 pounds, while the slightly larger 2-5/16 inch ball is rated for up to 10,000 pounds. That is a very useful weight allowance, and it should be good for just about any kind of domestic towing tasks with a full size car, SUV or truck equipped with a Class 3 or 4 trailer hitch. It is designed for use with a 2 inch hitch bar but you can pick up a sleeve accessory for using with a 2-1/2 sized hitch attachment.

It’s not a cheap product, but it is a very high quality item that more than lives up to its premium price point.

Key Features
  • 6-Inch Drop & Rise
  • Plated Steel Construction
  • 2 Sizes of Hitch Ball
Specification
  • Brand Anderson Hitches
  • Model FBA_3410
  • Weight 17.7 Pounds

In case you didn’t get it from the product title, this trailer hitch is designed exclusively for use on Jeep Wrangler vehicles (2007 to 2018 models). If you don’t drive a Jeep Wrangler then it may be an idea to skip to the next product. If you do drive a Jeep then stick around, because we have got a great product for you here.

First of all, because this hitch is designed for the Wrangler, installation is an absolute dream. See those bolt holes? They line up with factory installed bolt holes on the rear frame. See those bolts that come with the product? Use them to attach the hitch through the pre-drilled factory holes and that’s it – you’ve installed a trailer hitch.

In addition to being easy to install, it’s also a very good quality hitch. It is one-piece welded for extra strength, while the product features a black powder finish to protect against rust and corrosion. As a complete kit, it also comes with a wiring harness to attach the rear light installation to the trailer (these wires plug into the rear driver side light display, it’s nice and easy). The receiver hitch is 2 inch as well, which means it has a very wide compatibility with a huge range of accessories.

Key Features
  • Complete Kit with Wiring Harness
  • 2 Inch Receiver
  • Black Powder Finish
Specification
  • Brand Rugged Ridge
  • Model 115800.51
  • Weight 13.5 Pounds

CURT is back with another entry on this list, which, since it is such a popular hitch manufacturer shouldn’t come as a huge shock. Now, there is one big Pro point to CURT, which is also a big negative for us here at Car Bibles. Let us explain.

So the good thing abut CURT is not just that they construct high-end products. It’s not just they use laser cut welds across their entire range for ultimate precision. It’s not the fact that each model is designed for specific vehicle types, making installation quicker and easier. It’s also not that high gloss black powder finish, which both looks great and also provides excellent protection against corrosion and rust. The big pro is that every model of CURT Trailer hitch has these same features. So if the product we looked at earlier is not compatible with your vehicle, see if this one is instead – and if it is, you know you’ll get the same great features in this model as you would in another one.

So what’s the negative for us? It’s kind of hard to write a second review for a nearly identical product and still manage to make the right word count. But look at that, we pulled it off.

Key Features
  • Precision Welds
  • Round Tube Body
  • High Gloss Black Powder Finish
Specification
  • Brand Curt
  • Model 13068
  • Weight 8 ounces

Buying a B&W hitch is known for its quality products. This manufacturer, just as we discussed with CURT and its units, has a very strong reputation for producing outstanding trailer hitch and hitch ball products.

This product very much keeps up that ethos and just looks great. A zinc phosphate base offsets the shiny steel-plated finish with black powder finish on the product body. Once again, this results in a product that looks great but is also built to last with excellent anti-corrosive properties.

The real standout in this design has to be that tri-ball installation. If you are in the habit of hauling a range of trailers and other attachments, all with different sized hitch receivers then this could be of real interest to you. You get all three of the standard ball hitch sizes mounted on a simple device where you just turn, click and lock the right ball into position. It’s a simple but highly effective design.

You only get 10 inches of drop movement – 5 inches up and 5 inches down. That’s a bit less that you would expect with a premium product such as this but in practical terms it shouldn’t cause too many problems.

Key Features
  • Tri-Ball Design
  • 5-Inch Drop Up & Down
  • Black Powder Finish
  • Premium Price Tag
Specification
  • Brand B&W Trailer Hitches
  • Model TS10048B
  • Weight 29.8 Pounds

As we already discussed, all CURT car and truck hitches are built to a very high standard, boasting a wide range of useful features, including excellent anti-corrosion and rust protection. If you want to learn more about the specific features then check out one of the CURT products above.

Why do they keep making the list if they are nearly identical? Because they are vehicle specific designs. That means that if you checked out the ones above and none were compatible with your make and model, then do the same with this model. If it fits then we would strongly suggest picking it up because, as we said before, CURT has a well earned rep for making top quality trailer hitches and this one is no different.

Key Features
  • Vehicle Specific Design
  • Precision Welds
  • Black Powder Finish
Specification
  • Brand CURT
  • Model 13146
  • Weight 55.5 Pounds

This entry from ReeseTowpower is a very simple but also inexpensive trailer hitch ball mount. Instead of a vertical drop, it is built with a 9-inch arm with various drilled holes. These are used, along with the included safety pin, to adjust the length and therefore the drop. It’s a very simple product with few bells and whistles. On the other hand, that does mean the price is exceptionally low. As far as ball hitches go, that is superb value.

What else are you getting? Well, as the product name indicates, this is a starter kit. It’s not designed for huge or heavy loads, and the ball mount at the end can’t be changed out. Well, it can be but you need an incredible amount of force to undo that bolt that holds it in place. At least that means it is nice and sturdy.

There is a black powder finish too, however it is very thin. Plan to add extra protection with spray paint if you don’t want to take it out of the hitch receiver all the time. All in all this is a very simple but also very effective product with a very low price tag.

Key Features
  • Low Price
  • Lightweight & Compact
  • Simple Design
Specification
  • Brand Reese Towpower
  • Model 21536
  • Weight 5.95 Pounds

If you are going to call your company Maxxhaul, with two Xs no less, then you better be set up to haul the maximum amount of stuff, right? Well, with a 5,000 pound GTW this ball mount can handle a lot of weight alright – but there are mounts out there can handle more.

On the other hand, this is very much a budget level ball mount. If you look at it more from that point of view, it is actually a very sturdy, very well-designed product. It has a movement of around 10 inches though it varies slightly depending on the size of ball you use.  It is secured into position with two very hefty safety pins, again giving evidence of a simple but very sturdy design.

One thing to note, and we’ve never seen this before, it doesn’t come with a ball! It has a hole that can accommodate one of any size, but a ball itself is not included. Still, the price is so low even if you do have to buy a separate ball you’re still getting a strongly built product that is still exceptionally good value.

Key Features
  • Aprox. 10 Inches Drop Movement
  • 5000 Pounds GTW
  • Strong & Sturdy Construction
  • No Ball!
Specification
  • Brand MaxxHaul
  • Model 70067
  • Weight 14.2 Pounds

We’ve spent a large chunk of this list describing the various features and design points that help to make CURT the maker of some of the best trailer hitch products on the market. Yet here a challenger emerges at the last moment. How exciting! 

Truth is, this is a very well-designed trailer hitch that actually borrows quite a few features from CURT. For example, the design is very important and here a computer-aided design has been employed to ensure the product’s bolt holes are as accurate as possible. This is a vehicle specific design, so if it fits your make and model you can be sure of an easy and effective installation.

We have double layers of protection too, including a black powder finish. This helps it to look great but also protects against – you guessed it – corrosion and rust. 4,500 GTW is not as high as you will find on CURT hitches, but it should still be sufficient for carrying a lot of different loads. All in all then a well designed and well built trailer hitch that can’t quite overtake the premium manufacturers – but comes very close.

Key Features
  • Double Coated for Anti-Corrosion
  • 2 Inch Receiver Hole
  • 4,500 GTW
Specification
  • Brand DRAW TITE
  • Model 76028
  • Weight 33.4 Pounds

Best Trailer Hitch Buying Guide & FAQ

That completes out list of the best trailer hitch products on the market today. With such variety in styles, manufactures, weights and even attachment points, how are you supposed to know which is the best for you?

Well in the next section we’re going to take a look at some of the features and design points that you should look out for when deciding which trailer hitch is right for you. After that we’ll take a look at how to use your new toy, and we’ll finish up by trying to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about these extremely useful accessories.

trailer hitch

What to Look for in a Trailer Hitch

  • Class – There are five classes of trailer hitch. Class 1 is designed for use with compact cars and can handle up to 2,000 pounds Gross Towing Weight. Class 5 attaches to full size cars, Pick Ups and SUVs and can handle up 18,000 pounds of GTW. Choose the right class for your vehicle size and also the load weights you need to haul.
  • Protective Finish ­– Just think of where the tow hitch lives once installed, and it explains why they need protection from corrosion and rust. Being installed right underneath the vehicle they get soaked on any journey over wet or snowy roads. Look for a powder finish to keep rust at bay.
  • Weight – By this we mean how much weight they can carry. The tow receiver will have its weight covered by the class it is. The tow ball hitch though will simply state the weight it can handle, so make sure the ball mount max weight is higher than the Gross Towing Weight of the trailer hitch.
  • Ball Type – By type we mean size. There are three standard ball sizes (more on that below). For now, just know that the ball mount size must match the size of the trailer receiver arm. If you have one thing to tow, simply measure for the right size. If you tow multiple things, consider a ball mount that comes with two or even three ball sizes built in.

Types of Trailer Hitch

There are broadly speaking, 3 types of trailer hitch available.

  • Trailer Hitch Receiver the most popular style of trailer hitch is a simple receiver. It bolts onto the vehicle frame providing a good mixture between ease of installation and the capability to handle a useful amount of trailer weight.
  • Gooseneck Trailer Hitch this is a far more heavy-duty style of trailer hitch. It can handle a lot more weight than most styles of trailer hitch receiver. On the downside, it has to be installed in the bed of a pick up truck. That means that it is harder to install than a simple trailer hitch, and it also means that it can of course only be installed in pick up truck.
  • Bumper Trailer Hitch These very simple devices attach directly to the rear bumper. They have a very low weight and are not particularly secure, so we haven’t bothered including any of them in our list – frankly they are just not worth the money.

Hooking Up Your Trailer

Hooking up your trailer is not as hard as it may seem, and there are a wide number of guides out there to help you. It will also depend on the brands of hitch receivers and hitch balls, as well as the load you are carrying and the design of the trailer.

Always ensure that the trailer weight is within the max limits, and that the ball mount and receiver are also operating above their minimum and below their maximum limits.

Back the vehicle up to the trailer and secure the safety latch. Using a car jack, lower the trailer mount onto the ball mount attached to your vehicle. Secure the receiver with the safety latch. Attach the safety chains and wire light and away you go!

hitch

Best Trailer Hitch FAQ:

If you have any questions about trailer hitches, then you’ll likely find the answer below. We hope anyway!

Q: What is a Class 3 Trailer Hitch?

A: As we discussed above, there are various classes of trailer hitch. Whilst there is a bit of difference between them in terms of the size of the receiver tube, the main difference is in terms of the weight they can carry and haul.

A Class 3 trailer hitch is designed to haul up to 6,000 pounds GTW (Gross Trailer Weight). It can also handle a Trailer Tongue Weight of up to 600 Pounds (this is the weight that the trailer attachment bears down onto the trailer hitch itself).

Class 3 is a good middle ground trailer hitch category. It can handle medium sized trailers, mobile homes things of that size. A Class 2 cam only handle up to 3500 GTW, ruling it out of handling loads of that size. Class 4 and 5 on the other hand can haul huge loads that are probably too much for the suspension, frame and engine of a regular sized vehicle.

Q: Do I need a drop hitch?

A: Yes, you do indeed. A drop hitch is just a reference to the adjustability of the hitching point in terms of its height. Trailers and other loads that you want to hitch are going to have slightly different heights at the point where they are connecting to the hitch. The more adjustability there is in the connection point the better the connection itself. That in turn will make the tow safer for you as a driver as it will not negatively affect vehicle handling or performance.

Q: How much of a drop hitch do I need?

A: Get ready because we’re about to drop some math on you – don’t worry it’s pretty easy math though, even we can do it without taking our shoes off. To determine the drop hitch you need for a given trailer, there are two measurements you need to know, and they are both taken from the ground. The first is the measurement from the ground to the trailer coupler. The second is from the ground to the top of the trailer hitch.

Lets say that from the ground to coupler is 9 inches. The distance from the ground to the hitch is 15 inches. You subtract the smaller number from the larger (6 inches) and that is how much drop you need on the hitch.

Q: What is the standard size trailer hitch ball?

A: There are no less than three sizes of trailer hitch ball that are considered the standard. They are 1-7/8 inch, 2 inch and 2-05/16 inch. If you already own the thing you want to tow, then just measure its hitch ball and buy appropriately. If you made us choose a one size fits all hitch ball, you’ll generally find the 2 incher has the most widespread application and use.

Q: What is standard trailer hitch height?

A: This is a tough one to answer, as no two trailers are truly alike, and their hitch height can differ depending on things like total load, load distribution and even the pressure in the tires. If you’re going to make us give you answer (damn you and your questioning ways!) then the smart money would say that anywhere between 15 to 17 inches is probably going to be about the standard trailer hitch height.

Q: Can a Class 2 ball be used with a Class 3 hitch?

A: No.

Oh you want more? Ok Cowboy, you got it. You are going to struggle to use a Class 2 ball with a Class 3 hitch for two reasons. Reason the first is that a Class 2 ball will be designed for use with a Class 2 hitch. This class of hitch mount uses a 1-1/4 inch receiver tube. A Class 3 hitch has a 2 inch receiver tube. For that reason, a Class 2 ball is too small for a Class 3 Hitch receiver.

Also remember that there are different weight limits between the classes, as we mentioned above. So the Class 2 ball is designed for use with the Class 2 hitch that has a weight limit of 3500 pounds. The Class 3 has a weight limit of 6000 pounds. A Class 2 ball therefore, even if you could attach it to a Class 3 hitch probably would not have the strength to hold whatever you wanted to tow.

Q: What is a tow receiver?

A: The tow receiver is the opening on the tow hitch bar that accepts the attachment you will be using to attach whatever you plan to tow. You can stick a ball hitch in there, for example, to that the trailer can be connected to the hitch bar – and, by connection, to your vehicle.

trailer hitch best

Our Top Pick for Best Trailer Hitch

We are not populists here at Car Bibles. Just because a product is popular we don’t automatically assume it’s the best. In fact, it’s often the shamefully overlooked product, which has the best design and features – it’s just that no one has noticed it yet. Well, no one apart from us, but not everyone can be as awesome and cool as we are.

Sometimes though the most popular item is also the best because it has achieved that popularity by simply doing its job better than any other rival. That is true in this case when we turned to pick the best trailer hitch from out list. To our mind, the best product is the CURT 45036 Loaded Ball Mount. For us, it was well designed, it was very well built, it is both strong and sturdy and should do everything it says it will. That, for us, is more than enough to make it the best trailer hitch on our list today. The fact it is also a pretty bargain price is also just a nice cherry on top.

Whichever model you go for, we all wish you happy hauling everybody!

Sources:

  1. How Tongue Weight Works, How Stuff Works
  2. How to Hook Up a Trailer, wikiHow