Towing an object behind your vehicle can be intimidating whether it is your first time or your fifth. You need to have a vehicle that is strong, powerful and capable of towing a trailer or car behind it. To be able to successfully tow a trailer or other object one must be familiar with the basics - towing terms.
The main component of towing is the hitch assembly which is made up of two distinct pieces: the hitch ball mount and the receiver. The ball mount slides onto the receiver and is secured by a pin. An adjustable ball mount can allow a hitch ball to be raised and lowered to position the tow object correctly.
Now let us move onto the definitions of all basic towing terms:
Hitch Ball -This is probably the most recognizable part of the towing assembly. It is a steel ball-shaped attachment which the trailer coupler is attached. It is usually attached to the bumper of the towing vehicle.
Bolt on Hitch -A component that attaches directly to the tow vehicle allowing for the connection between the object to be towed (trailer) and towing vehicle.
Ball Mount -A removable ball platform that slides into the receiver of a hitch. It fastens together with a pin and clip. There are different types that can be used to raise or lower the height of the ball.
Drawbar or Ball Mount Adapter -A metal bar that is inserts the hitch ball into the hitch receiver.
Hitch Receiver -Part of the trailer hitch that permits inserts such as ball mounts or drawbars.
Ball Height -A measurement made to determine how higher or lower the ball mount needs to move to enable the trailer or tow vehicle to be level and ride properly when being towed. One measures from the ground to the center of the hitch ball when parked on a clean, flat surface.
Coupler -The part of trailer tongue that surrounds and secures to the hitch ball.
Trailer Tongue -Part of the trailer that extends forward from the trailer box, it includes the coupler.
Safety Chains -Chains that are affixed to the trailer tongue to keep object being towed connected to the tow vehicle. It helps to keep the object being towed attached should the hitch ball or coupler separate.
Types of Hitches:There are four classes of hitches. Each class has its own capacity of gross trailer weight and tongue weight. The higher the class number the more weight the hitch can bear.
Weight Carrying Hitch -A hitch that supports the trailer tongue weight. They are commonly used when towing a small or medium sized trailer.
Weight Distributing Hitch -This type of hitch consists of a receiver that attaches to the tow vehicle and a removable hitch that fits into the receiver and hooks up with the trailer frame.
Electrics:There is an electric component to towing a trailer or other object.
Plug -The connector used to connect the trailer wiring to the truck or other tow vehicle.
Converter -Converts a 3 wire tow vehicle electrical system to a 2 wire system.This allows for the integration of the stop and turn signal circuits which is commonplace in trailer wiring.
Whether towing a small vehicle a short distance or a trailer across country it can be an intimidating experience. Each time you connect an object to your truck or SUV you will learn something new. For true towing beginners the best way to start the learning is to have towing terms defined for him or her. After that finding the right parts for your towing needs should be easier to figure out.