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Hitches Showdown: Class 3 vs. Class 4 Hitches

Hitches Showdown: Class 3 vs. Class 4 Hitches

Whether you're consistently hauling heavy items for work or towing equipment in and out of storage, it's important that your vehicle have the right type of hitch. If you're towing accessories heavier than 3,000 pounds, your decision most likely will be between a class 3 or class 4 hitch. Find out the main differences between a class 3 and class 4 hitch to determine which one is best for your needs.

Class 3 Hitch*

Class 4 Hitch*

Gross Trailer Weight

Maximum of 8,000 poundsMaximum of 10,000 pounds

Tongue Weight

Maximum of 800 poundsMaximum of 1,000 pounds

Types of Heavy Equipment

Medium trailers, large boatsMid-sized campers and heavier trailers


Vans, SUVs and light or heavy-duty pickup trucksLight or heavy-duty pickup trucks

*Refer to the Hitches Buying Guide for more specific hitch types, prices and other information

Class 3 Hitches

Advantages of a Class 3 Hitch

  • Easy to Find - A class 3 hitch is considered a standard towing hitch because it specializes in handling lightweight equipment and bulky items that don't exceed 8,000 pounds. That means there is typically a broader selection available of this type of hitch compared to other models, including a class 4 hitch.
  • Mounts to More Vehicles - A class 3 hitch can connect to vans, SUV and both heavy-duty or light pickup trucks. Higher class hitches are only suited for bigger vehicles
class 3 hitches

Limitations of a Class 3 Hitch

  • Can't Handle Very Large Items - While it can carry a mid-size boat or trailer, a class 3 hitch isn't equipped to help haul a camper, fishing boat or trailer that weigh more than 8,000 pounds.
  • Doesn't Evenly Distribute Weight - A class 3 hitch isn't used for weight distribution, which is safer with heavy equipment. A weight distribution hitch takes pressure off the center of the hitch and spreads it to the vehicle and trailer axles.

Class 4 Hitches

Advantages of a lass 4 Hitch

  • Handles More Heavy Equipment - This type of hitch is able to handle much larger equipment than a class 3 model. A class 4 hitch will help carry a large fishing boat, trailer or camper that weighs as much as 10,000 pounds.
  • Distributes Weight - Some class 4 hitches have a weight distribution composition, which is equipped to handle heavy equipment better than lower class hitches.
class 4 hitches

Limitations of a Class 4 Hitch

  • Connects Only to Select Vehicles - Since a class 4 hitch is used to haul items up to 10,000 pounds, it can only be mounted to a vehicle that can handle similar weight. This type of hitch is typically attached to only heavy-duty or light pickup trucks.
  • Expensive - In comparison to a class 3 hitch, a class 4 version is less affordable, and there is also a smaller selection available.