What’s the front of a trailer called?

In today’s blog post, we will answer the following question: What’s the front of a trailer called? We will also explain the importance of each front trailer element and explain how to choose the best products for your trailer.

What’s the front of a trailer called?

The front of a trailer is called a trailer coupler. The coupler is tightly secured to the trailer tongue and pivots on the tow vehicle hitch ball, a key element for towing any trailer or caravan.  

The hitch is the element at the front of a trailer that connects the bicycle carrier, caravan or trailer to your car. It is composed of:

  • A hitch mount or fitting fixed to the bumper;
  • A towing ball or ball joint also called a towing hook;
  • A harness is used to electrically connect the trailer to the car. 

What are the criteria to consider before choosing a trailer coupler?

The following points should be taken into account to help you choose your trailer coupler:

  1.  Compatibility with the vehicle model – Your car may not be compatible with all hitch models on the market. This is why you must indicate the information relating to your vehicle before accessing the list of available models. This is the make, model, year of circulation, type of engine and chassis. Some vehicles are simply not suitable for towing because the specifics of their chassis do not allow it.
  1. The maximum towable mass – This criterion is fundamental when it comes to choosing a trailer hook. The Maximum towable weight is the maximum load your car can tow. To calculate it, you must subtract the gross vehicle weight (GVW) from the total rolling weight (GWP). If the total rolling weight is not indicated on your registration card, this means that your vehicle is not intended for the coupling of a trailer.
  1. The maximum vertical load: This criterion corresponds to the maximum weight supported by the vertical hitch. It concerns only the bike rack. The manufacturers mention the threshold value directly on the plate identification of the coupler.
  2. Tow bar: Fitting a tow bar to your car is not done in the same way depending on the model of the vehicle and hitch type. It may also turn out to be simply impossible. This is the case, for example, if the exhaust does not provide enough space for the location of the frame hitch.
  1. The frequency of use: If you plan to use your trailer often, a fixed hitch is ideal. For occasional use, a removable model with a retractable towing ball is recommended.
  1. The type of trailer: The choice of your trailer hitch will also depend on this criterion. The model to choose will be not the same depending on whether you plan to tow a bicycle carrier, a caravan or a transport platform.

What are the different types of trailer hitches?

There are four main types of trailer hitches:

  1. The dismountable towing hitch in the shape of a gooseneck – Both aesthetic and versatile, this type of hitch allows the swan-shaped hook to be removed, but the mount or fitting remains visible under the bumper. It is most commonly used on passenger cars.
  1. Standard removable towing hitch – When the ball joint is removed, the fitting also remains visible under the bumper. The ball joint configuration is characterized by great strength, useful for towing heavy loads. Thus, it is preferred on utility vehicles, 4x4s or pick-ups.
  1. Hitch with removable vertical or horizontal ball joint – This hitch type has a hook that attaches horizontally or vertically. Disassembly is done without tools. The mount is visible when the horizontal hook is removed.
  1. Retractable hitch – the hitch ball slides completely under the bumper when not in use. It looks good with the retractable ball hitch. As the name suggests, the tow ball slides fully under the bumper.

How to choose the towing harness for your trailer?

The beam is used to supply the trailer lights such as turn signals, sidelights, or

again the reversing lights. It can be 7 or 13 pins. This second option provides a

12 permanent power supply, useful when hitching a caravan to your car.

Two types of beams exist universal beams and specific beams. For an optimal operation, choose a specific beam. Indeed, it preserves the use of original connectors and its installation is therefore easier.

How to choose the trailer hitch ball?

Do you own a sedan, minivan or utility? Whatever! Because, whatever the model, buying the right trailer hitch will have to take several criteria into account. In fact, in the same way, that the acquisition of a shirt depends on the identification of the correct size, colour and fabric, the purchase of the inexpensive trailer hitch that you need will also be based on key elements. Here, compatibility, the material of construction, strength, towable mass and ergonomics come first.

It is often believed that any trailer hitch would fit their vehicle. However, the data claimed by the sites specialized in the matter refute it. Therefore, to choose the right hitch for your automobile, information such as make, model, type of engine and chassis, as well as the year of entry into service are key elements to consider. 

Because you have to find the product that perfectly matches the configuration of your car. And the variety of models (retractable, removable, removable with or without a tool) does not make your job much easier. That’s why deciphering the different types of trailer hitches is the best way to determine which model is right for you. However, let’s deal with the building material issue first.

Consider the material and the weight to be towed by your trailer coupler

After compatibility, the strength of the material is of paramount importance in the purchase of a cross member. In fact, it determines the static mass as well as the towable weight of the product, which is crucial in purchasing a towing hook. High-end products, however, are constructed from forged steel. This has sufficient strength to tow a trailer, caravan or any object of significant weight. 

However, if you do not rely on the strength of the low-cost trailer hitch in your choice, you can consult the technical data entered by the manufacturers (Bosal, Brink, Westfalia, etc.). Because the legislation obliges them to indicate them on their products. 

Thus, information such as static weight and towable mass can be read there. Please check them before making your choice, since the towing mass must agree with the maximum weight that can be transported by your trailer. 

The bottom line

Understanding the trailer parts is essential to staying safe when towing a vehicle, no matter where you are going or what you are towing. As for the front of a trailer, the most important is to understand how a trailer coupler works and the importance of choosing the right type of hitch for your trailer.

If you have any questions or comments on the content, please let us know!

FAQ on What’s the front of a trailer called?

What is a trailer sliding hitch?

A sliding hitch is a type of hitch mainly used for 5th wheel trailers. It acts like a normal trailer hitch, except it can slide on the rails. You need a 5th wheel sliding hitch if the distance from your truck bed to your trailer’s haws is less than half the width of your trailer. By manually sliding the pin position you will ensure safer and tighter manoeuvring at low speeds. 

Do I need wiring for a hitch?

Yes, you need wiring for a hitch if you plan on towing a trailer or a camper. The wiring is responsible for connecting the brake lights, the running lights and the turn signals of your trailer. Wiring is thus mandatory. 

Where to connect the towing harness?

Depending on the age of your car, you can connect the tow bar in two different ways. For older cars, the current is transplanted directly to the taillights. For more recent cars, the connection is made at the location recommended by the manufacturer.

Can you adjust the weight of the trailer hitch?

It is possible to adjust the height of a trailer hitch in just a few simple steps. The hitch system between a towing vehicle and a trailer needs to be configured correctly so that the two can work together safely. The towing vehicle must be capable of supporting the weight of the trailer. 


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