Your Towing Guide

Here's our trailer towing guide for beginners. With all the terms involved when it comes to towing a vehicle, it's easy to get confused. Learn more about and equalizer trailer hitch, & draw tite hitch (draw tight hitches).

If you are getting into towing for the first time, knowing and understanding these terms will give you a better and more stress free towing experience.

Also, you should never buy a trailer without knowing your trucks capabilities. Most manufacturers offer a towing guide, or at the dealership. They give them away for free, and owning one is essential if you are ever going to use your vehicle for towing.

Let's take a look at the different ways you can tow a trailer. You can tow with a regular trailer hitch or a fifth wheel.

A fifth wheel is a circular hitch that is installed in the bed of your truck. It's called a "fifth wheel", because it's round. Contrary to popular belief, a fifth wheel will not increase your towing capacity. IN fact, it decreases towing capacity by the amount of the weight of the fifth wheel itself.

The advantage of the fifth wheel is that it provides better stability than a regular trailer hitch, and it also makes turning much easier. A disadvantage is that you have a huge fifth wheel in the back of your truck. Once installed it is not easily uninstalled. Refer to your trailer towing guide for how much weight you can tow with a fifth wheel.

There is another type of fifth wheel that doesn't take as much space, and it is commonly used with horse trailer. It's called a ball hitch. It's the same concept as the fifth wheel, but instead of having a wheel in the back of your truck, you have a small ball that can even be hidden if you get the "hidaball" feature. If you are buying the cart before the horse (camper before the truck), keep in mind that fifth wheels and ball hitches require you to have a long bed truck.

Most large trucks come equipped with a trailer hitch receiver. The trailer hitch is usually sold separately. The hitch receiver is the female part of you hitch and the hitch itself comes with a ball that the tongue of the trailer will fit over.

The balls and tongues come in different sizes, and you want to make sure you match up the proper sized ball with the tongue of the trailer. Having too large or small a ball can at worst cause the trailer to jump the ball, and at the least damage the tongue.

Another popular misconception when it comes to towing is that a standard transmission can tow more than an automatic transmission. Nothing could be further from the truth. Trucks equipped with an automatic transmission are also equipped with a torque converter. The torque converter increases the torque dramatically over trucks with standard transmissions, especially in trucks equipped with a gasoline engine.

Another thing you will want to pay attention to is the rear axle ratio. If you are shopping for a truck, you can find the axle ratio listed on the window sticker. What the axle ratio is is how many times the drive axle turns per one revolution of the wheel.

So if a truck has a 3.73 axle ratio, it means that for one wheel revolution the drive axle will turn 3 and .73 turns. The more the axle turns, the better your pulling power will be. The drive axle will affect the amount of weight you will be able to pull, and the differences will be listed in your trailer towing guide.

It's very important that you don't overload your truck, and you also never want to purchase too much truck. If you ever have a question about towing, ask your truck or trailer salesman. If they don't have an answer, ask their manager. Most insurance companies won't pay out if you have an accident with an overloaded truck, so it's imperative you understand everything about towing and the terms listed in your trailer towing guide before you begin.