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What are the different hitch types?

Trailer hitches come in all sizes and shapes for a variety of applications. However, hitches are classified as either weight-carrying or weight-distributing.

Weight-carrying hitches (such as a bumper pull) are recommended for use when the trailer weight (including cargo) is 3,500 lbs. or less. Make sure the tow vehicle is rated by the manufacturer to accommodate that load. The tongue weight is carried directly on the rear of the tow vehicle and on the hitch. You can find your vehicle's tow rating online at or download a listing of tow ratings at

Use weight-distributing hitches for heavier loads. These hitches redistribute the tongue weight (see Trailer Terms ) throughout the frame of the tow vehicle. The result is that the trailer's weight is distributed among the trailer axles and the front and rear axles on the tow vehicle. Ask your dealer about weight distribution hitches if you intend to tow using a "bumper" type hitch or hitch receiver.

Fifth wheels and goosenecks are two weight-distributing hitches used most often with pickup trucks. The weight of the trailer is carried directly over the rear axle with the hitch mounted in the truck's bed.

A fifth wheel hitch is used for larger trailers and is a small version of the type of hitch used on semi trucks. A gooseneck coupler attaches to a tow ball that usually is mounted in the bed of a pickup truck. Underneath the bed are support rails that are bolted or welded into place.

A frame-mounted hitch is one where the hitch is attached to the frame of the tow vehicle. This gives more stability to a bumper pull type of hitch.

Before every trip, check the tow ball and coupler to ensure they are the same size and that all bolts are securely tightened. Also, make sure the latching mechanism is locked in place.

How do I choose the proper tow vehicle?

To safely tow a trailer, you need a tow vehicle with adequate horsepower, torque, weight and length. Some of these elements are reflected in the towing capacity that the vehicle manufacturer sets. The tow vehicle towing capacity must exceed the weight of the trailer when loaded. Using an under-rated tow vehicle is dangerous and illegal.

Start by choosing a tow vehicle that has a towing capacity higher than the trailer's gross vehicle weight rating. For instance, if a SUV has a 500-pound towing capacity, it should be able to tow a trailer up to a 500-pound GVWR. You can find your vehicle's tow rating online at or download a listing of tow ratings at

However, the towing capacity of tow vehicles generally is based on the ratings of the vehicle's components, such as wheels, tires, suspension and transmission. The vehicle manufacturer may not have factored in the pulling power of the engine. This is where you should take into account the vehicle's horsepower and torque.

The tow vehicle's engine creates torque and uses it to turn the crankshaft. The gears in the transmission convert this torque into a vehicle's horsepower, or its ability to pull a trailer.

While it's difficult to provide guidelines for what is enough torque and horsepower because it varies with trailer size and load, it is important to maximize both in your tow vehicle.

A vehicle with more torque can move more weight with less stress on the engine. This is important because towing a trailer puts a lot of additional load on the engine. This contributes to the wear and tear on the vehicle. More horsepower simply helps you get around more quickly and accelerate faster.

Generally, look for more engine displacement. A six-liter engine will give you more horsepower and torque than a five-liter engine. Larger engines are capable of dealing with heavier loads.

Many manufacturers will actually design a towing package for dealers. The package can include heavier duty components to accommodate towing heavy loads, such as the radiator, battery and transmission. They will also install the equipment necessary for hooking a rig to the vehicle.

Towing live animals places greater demands on the vehicle because the animals move around, shifting thousands of pounds to different places in the trailer. For live animals, experts recommend hauling 25 percent less than the vehicle's maximum tow rating.

Also consider the terrain where the towing will occur. Hilly terrain or unpaved roads place more stress on the tow vehicle and may require you to haul less than the vehicle's maximum tow rating.

What is the best way to secure motor-powered vehicles?

Your motorcycles are not only your pride and joy, they're also costly. So here are some guidelines for keeping them safe during transit. • Before you tow, make sure your trailer is in good mechanical shape. This includes having working turn signals, adequate tail lights, well-lubricated wheel bearings and tires that are properly inflated and in good condition. Also, make sure you have ample insurance coverage in the event of an accident or theft. • Enlist the help of a friend to make loading and unloading easier and safer. • Use a loading ramp, preferably one about seven feet long, to prevent damage to your oil filter and other components as the motorcycle enters the trailer. This is especially important if your trailer does not have a beavertail (sloping) back end. • Position the load a bit forward of center to keep most of the weight on the hitch. Loading too heavily on the rear may result in excessive trailer sway, which can lead to an accident. • Secure each bike's front wheel in a wheel chock so it cannot turn while the trailer is in motion. • Keep the bike stable by attaching soft straps to the triple tree or other sturdy part of the frame, then by securing the straps to anchor points at a 45 degree angle. Soft straps will help prevent the bike from getting scratched. • Ratchet-type tie-downs are recommended since they enable you to increase tension on the motorcycle suspension to keep bikes upright and stable while the suspension absorbs road shock. • To keep the front wheel securely in the wheel chock, make sure the anchor points are even across from each other and forward of where the straps are hooked to the bike. • Tie down the rear of the bike by attaching straps to the frame, passenger hand grips or passenger foot pegs. Or you can lay the strap across the seat and secure both ends to anchor points at a 45 degree angle. • Protect your bikes from theft, especially if you're stopping for an overnight stay, by using fork locks, brake locks and a lock on the rear door of the enclosed trailer. • Never put a cover on your motorcycle when towing it on an open trailer since grit and the movement of the cover can scratch the chrome or paint.

What product should I use to clean the exterior of my trailer?

We recommend you use the product called Trailer Bright.

How do I care for the finish on my Haulmark trailer?

The best way to care for the finish on your trailer is to keep it clean both inside and out. Road chemicals, tree sap, environmental pollution and animal waste can be very harmful to your trailer. Frequent washing can be one of the best ways to prolong the life of your trailer. Most products suitable for automotive finishes will work well on the exterior of your trailer, although you should use extreme caution when using automotive "cleaner" waxes or polishing compounds as the abrasives contained in these products can damage the baked on finish of your trailer. Standard automotive waxes applied to the painted surfaces of your trailer can provide protection to the finish against staining and discoloration.

How much clearance do I need between the bottom of my gooseneck and the top of my pick up box rails?

Six to eight inches is the best. Clearance of less than that can be used with additional care by the driver, and trailers that are used off the road or that are towed in uneven terrain require the driver to be extra careful to prevent damage.

Is it necessary to haul my trailer level?

It is very important that when your trailer is loaded that it is as level as possible. If the trailer is not level, the suspension system in the axles can be damaged, or the tires on one axle may be overloaded. Measure the distance from the bottom of the trailer frame at the front and rear of the trailer on a level surface and compare the measurement. The measurements should be nearly equal. This should be done with the trailer in a loaded condition. If the measurements are not equal, the gooseneck stem or the hitch on the towing vehicle will need to be adjusted.

I do not have an owner's manual for my trailer. How do I obtain one?

The owner's manuals can be found online. You can also call Haulmark Customer Service at 800-348-7530 to request one by mail.

Can I haul an older gooseneck trailer with one of the new 'taller' pickups?

An older gooseneck trailer can be hauled with one of the new taller pickups, but the clearance between rails of the pickup box and the bottom of the gooseneck needs to be checked out. Insufficient clearance will result in damage to the pickup box and underside of the gooseneck. Some older trailers will need to be raised to work with a new taller pickup. Most dealers can help you with this situation.

How do I obtain warranty coverage on my Haulmark trailer?

Call your Haulmark dealer concerning warranty issues, and they will make arrangements to get the problem resolved. In the rare event that your Haulmark dealer is not able to assist you, call Haulmark Warranty Service at 866-393-6053 and they will help you.

I am considering purchasing a 'used' Haulmark trailer. Will the warranty coverage transfer to the second owner?

Haulmark warranty coverage is extended to the original purchaser only.

How much air pressure should I run in the tires on my Haulmark trailer?

Most trailer tires should be run at their maximum inflation pressure. Consult the maximum pressure rating on the sidewall of the tire, and inflate your tires to this amount when the tires are cold. The pressure will rise as the tire heats up, so it is important to check them before you leave and not bleed off the pressure when they get hot. Most tire failures result from too low of pressure, overloading or excessive speed. These factors or a combination causes the tire to become hot and may result in a catastrophic tire failure.

My bumper pull trailer 'sways' when I go down the road. What could be the problem?

The stability of bumper pull trailers is directly associated with the tongue weight of the trailer. Trailers loaded with too much weight on the rear of the trailer may have problems with sway. Trailers with too much weight loaded on the front of the trailer may have excessive tongue weight that could overload the hitch on the towing vehicle or exceed the capacity of the trailer hitch. It is extremely important to load your trailer properly. Please consult your owner's manual for more information.