What Is the Difference Between a Class 3 and Class 4 Hitch?

Naomi O'Colman

Updated on:

What Is the Difference Between a Class 3 and Class 4 Hitch

Wonder what is the difference between a Class 3 and Class 4 hitch? The answer lies in their capacities. 

The main difference between a Class 3 and Class 4 hitch is their capacities. Class 4 hitches are rated at 2,500lbs (1122kg) while Class 3 hitches are rated at 1,500lbs (680kg). However, this is not the limit — the hitch itself can support more weight if you choose to buy a larger size. It’s important to note that the capacity of Class 3 hitches varies because even they don’t go all the way up to 2,500lbs.

Weight capacity is based on the gross weight of the hitch and accessories alone when rated for pulling a vehicle. In some cases, it’s the weight of the trailer itself. “Max gross” usually refers to a hitch and its accessories (any necessary hardware that must be bought with a hitch) rated for pulling your car through an entire garage or driveway.

Keep in mind that not all hitches are rated for up to 15,000 pounds. Even a hitch that can support this weight will fail if the hitch ball is not rated for at least 3,500 to 4,000 pounds of force. This is where the main difference between Class 3 and Class 4 hitches lies.

  Troubleshooting Bad Starter on Car Symptoms [Updated]

Class 4 hitches are essentially larger versions of Class 3 hitches with an extra bolt hole that allows them to hold heavier loads by creating more leverage against the trailer ball. Class 4 hitch hitches are the type of hitches that are used by most tow vehicles.

Class 3 hitches are smaller versions of Class 4 hitches, often having an alternate jaw that can be used to pick up smaller, lighter items. Class 3 hitches are designed to be used for recreational purposes only. As a result, there is no support behind the ball. This leads to less strength and durability to the hitch itself and makes them more dangerous when using on a tow vehicle.

Class 4 hitches are rated for pulling trailers with gross loads of up to 15,000 pounds. Class 3 hitches have a gross trailer weight rating of 6,000 pounds and are mainly used for backing trailers into a garage or driveway.

Certain towing applications require the use of both types of hitches because the equipment that needs to be pulled exceeds either class alone. The most common application for this is in the construction industry where several pieces of equipment need to be pulled at one time.