Tow hitch receiver sizes are an important part of towing. Knowing what size receiver you have on your tow vehicle isn’t something that you can just google and know for sure that the answer you find is 100% correct. Although you may discover your correct shank size online or elsewhere, the best way to know for sure is to physically measure your receiver with a tape measure. Many vehicles are sold separately without the aftermarket receivers installed after they leave the factory.
In this article, we will cover each trailer hitch class including what size receiver they cover and how much they can tow. It’s important to understand that in this article, we are discussing the receiver that is mounted directly to the vehicle. If your vehicle does not have one, it’s something that you have to pay a professional to mount onto your vehicle. Overall, the point I am trying to get across is that a hitch receiver is not something that can be easily mounted/removed.
Tow Hitch Receiver Sizes and Classes
CLASS 1 & CLASS 2: Class 1 and Class 2 receivers are both very similar in that they both are a 1-¼” receiver tube. Both are designed for smaller passenger vehicles, like sedans and smaller vans that are towing very lightweight trailers and loads. The difference between the two is that Class 1 receivers can tow a maximum of 2,000 lbs. whereas the Class 2 receiver can tow up to 3,500 lbs.
CLASS 3 & CLASS 4: Class 3 and Class 4 receivers are the most common receivers out there. They are most common for all SUVs and crossovers, quarter-ton half-size pickups (ex: Tacoma, Colorado, Ranger, Canyon, Frontier, etc.), half-ton full-size pickups (ex: F-150, Chevy & Ram 1500, Titan, Tundra, etc.) and all ¾-ton and full-on trucks manufactured before 2008.
They have a 2” receiver tube and most Class 3 and 4 receivers can be used with weight distribution hitches. Class 3 receivers can carry up to 8,000 lbs. whereas Class 4 receivers can carry up to 10,000 lbs. GTW.
CLASS 5: Class 5 receivers are the highest weight ratings and can range between 2.5” and 3” receiver sizes. They are usually found on heavy duty full-size trucks and commercial trucks. The 2.5” receiver is rated up to 18,500 lbs. and the 3” is rated at 21,000 lbs.
The 2.5” receiver tube is the most common Class 5 receiver size and can be found on most ¾-ton pickups manufactured after 2008 (ex: F-250, Chevy & Ram 2500) and most full-ton pickups manufactured after 2008 (ex: F-350, Chevy & Ram 3500+).
The 3” receiver tube is the least common hitch size and is used for extremely heavy duty trucks. It can only be found on select F-350s manufactured after 2017.
Regardless of what receiver you think you have on your vehicle, please measure! Owner’s manuals can be misleading and even dealerships can give you the wrong information so always measure your receiver to confirm you have the correct measurement/size.
Always remember that no matter what size receiver you have on your vehicle, your towing capacity is always limited to the lowest-rated component in your application. Whether that be your tow vehicle, the hitch, the ball mount, your trailer or any other component of your towing application.
Here is a guide to show you what our ball mounts are rated at in relation to receiver sizes.