There are lots of trailer hitch options out there, but if you're hauling a moving trailer or towing your motorcycle (vs. a parade float or heavy-duty construction material), you'll probably need one of the following:
- Bumper hitch: Best for cargo carriers and light-duty trailers
- Rear receiver hitch: Best for pulling heavy-duty trailers, boats, etc.
- Weight distribution hitch: Controls sway and provides more stability (on any trailer hitch)
If you’re heading to the mountains for the weekend and need a tow hitch that can handle a pair of mountain bikes, you’ll probably need only a class I hitch. If you’re hauling a camper, you’ll need something bigger: a class IV tow hitch.
Don’t worry too much about Class V hitches—those are mostly for car dealerships that need to transport a line of cars or farmers transporting herds of horses.
See which trailer size you need in our What Size Moving Trailer Do You Need? FAQ.
If you’re finally crossing “cross-country road trip in an RV” off your bucket list but don’t want to buy a trailer to keep forever, look into renting. Check out these moving companies that offer trailer rentals.
Here’s the answer you don’t want to hear: it depends. Generally speaking, trailer hitches cost anywhere from $30 to $800.
Hitches that cost closer to $800 are usually for heavy-duty work, like towing farm or construction equipment. A hitch to pull your boat to the lake will be in the ballpark of $150–$200.
You can expect professional hitch installation to start around $100 and go up to $800. Keep in mind that you'll also have to buy the tow hitch and other parts separately, which can easily run you another $150–$200.
Really, it comes down to the combination of both your hitch and car type. If the installation seems fairly compatible with your car, it’ll be pretty simple. In which case, it wouldn’t hurt to try and do it yourself.
If your ride can’t take a standard hitch, you might have to fork out some extra cash for professional installation.
If you are going the DIY route, there is one caveat: if the installation gets too tricky or if you get confused, go to a professional! No harm, no foul—your safety (and your car’s) isn’t worth risking to do it alone.
Use our guide to find the best tow hitch installers.
(Pssst: Never allow a professional installer to weld a tow hitch to your vehicle’s frame. It could damage it!)
We have a whole guide on DIY tow hitch installation! It really boils down to these six steps:
- Calculate your car’s towing capacity.
- Make sure you have the right equipment (from a torque wrench to a power drill).
- Jack up your car (safely) or chock your wheels and activate your parking break.
- Move the hitch into place and attach it to your vehicle following the directions in your hitch’s owner’s manual.
- Tighten the bolts on the hitch.
- Double-check that your hitch is secure before towing anything!
Take advantage of YouTube tutorials—these videos may not look exactly the same as your installation, but they can give you a good general visual. Also, check out other online resources! We get into all the details in our tow hitch installation guide.
Depending on your tow hitch and the weight you’re towing, you may need additional accessories to support the equipment. For instance, once you have a trailer hitch installed on your vehicle, you'll likely need a few other accessories to hook up your moving trailer or tow your boat.
The exact equipment will depend on your hitch type and what you're towing, but here are a few recommendations to get you started: