Difference Between A Hitch and A Receiver

What is the Difference Between A Hitch and A Receiver?  – Let’s Split Hairs!

Hitch is quite a common name in the Towing and Hauling industry. One of the reasons behind its familiarity is its usefulness. If you’re long enough in the industry, you’ll notice people getting confused between a Receiver and a Receiver Hitch.

When I first started surfing the internet about different aspects of this industry, I also found myself deeply confused. So, I was like, are both of them the same? Or am I just crazy?

For instance, let’s think they are not so indifferent. Then what is the difference between a hitch and a receiver? And it triggered my extensive research. To my surprise, I was fascinated.

I will discuss all the fascinating facts I’ve found in this article. At the end of this article, you will most likely eliminate all the confusion regarding the matter, and I’m optimistic about that. To do that, first, let’s talk briefly about HITCHES.

I think the answer lies in KNOWING THE TYPES ;). Let’s get started.

Everything You Need to Know about a Hitch

A hitch is nothing but a conjunction between your vehicle and a trailer. It is a human-made miracle to bring your towing game to the next level. I know it sounds like a big and complicated machine, but in reality, it’s simpler than a pen.

In most cases, the device only consists of a ball and a socket joint to endure road tension. However, the build, design, and functionality change in different types of hitches. The tool can be divided into many types based on weight distribution or other factors. Let’s talk about the most famous hitch types below.

Fifth-Wheel Hitch

A fifth-wheel hitch is one of those hitches you’ll probably see towing huge vehicles such as larger trailers or RVs. You might be wondering why the name is like this. Actually, it’s named after the fifth wheel coupling that connects the trailer to the hitch.

In general, most people install this kind of hitches in the bed of a pickup truck. Hence, it offers proper stability and weight distribution compared to other types. Also, the tool has a lock pin that connects to the trailer’s coupler located at the back side of the towing vehicle.

Because of this, the weight is distributed evenly at the back, and the driver gets to control everything more effortlessly. This is why it can handle heavier loads more safely than most types.

The optimum flexibility at the back also ensures top-notch maneuverability and expands the turning radius into a comfortable number.

Still, like most other good products, it has some not-good-enough sides. One of those sides is that you can’t buy one for your regular four-wheeler. You’ll require a pickup truck with a special in-bed hitch system.

Hence, these are typically more expensive compared to others. They’re also less convenient for everyday use because they take up too much space, limiting the device’s hauling capacity.

Gooseneck Hitch

Gooseneck Hitches are also one of the most commonly used tools. Many articles on the internet compare this type directly with the Fifth-Wheel hitches.

Both are known for their extensive muscle power and extreme versatility. Also, gooseneck hitches are installed in the bed of a pickup truck.

Since the device almost looks like a neck of a goose, it’s named a “gooseneck” hitch. It’s capable of handling heavier loads, up to 30,000 lbs.

Because of its place, it will also give you better stability and maneuverability. It also shares the same negative sides as 5th wheelers, so I won’t repeat those here again. 

Pintle Hitch

This is another heavy-duty hitch that people mainly use in towing construction equipment and military vehicles. “Pintle Hitch” comes from its pintle hook, mounted to the towing vehicles, and a lunette ring on the trailer.

Since the hook is rugged enough to provide a heavy-duty service, this category offers you the utmost durability and strength compared to others. Hence, it could be an ideal choice if you’re thinking of heavy towing.

One of the biggest disadvantages of having one of these is setting up. You must be skillful enough to connect a pintle hitch to a trailer. It also makes the device rare to replace one of the accessories if something gets damaged.

Weight Distribution Hitch

As the name suggests, a weight distribution hitch is a type that is designed to distribute the weight of the trailer properly across the towing vehicle’s frame. It works using the spring handles or long bars attached to the trailer coupler and the hitch head.

The bars apply and release tension from the device so that your trailer remains stable on the road. Usage of these springs also reduces wear and tear on the tires, suspension, and brakes.

These hitches are particularly useful when towing heavy loads since they help prevent the trailer from swaying away. Because of its complex installation process and high price tag, people tend to avoid buying one of these.

Sway Control Hitch

I believe the name is enough for anyone to understand what it is and what it does. Yes, it gives your trailer immunity from swaying away. If you can buy the right one, you may also get top-notch services on uneven surfaces.

Like a weight distribution hitch, this one also uses the same technique to keep the trailer on the same line as your towing vehicle. The main difference between the two is their build and design. A Sway Control hitch has a hitch ball and a coupler to attach to the trailer.

If you’re looking for the safest hitch to secure you and your trailer, you should consider this type your first consideration.

Receiver Hitch

Okay, it’s time to talk about the most famous hitch type in the market. Right now, almost everyone buys a receiver hitch for their private usage. From hooking up a bike rack to a mid-size fishing boat, a receiver or a trailer hitch is the best option for anyone.

These hitches are divided into five ways: Class I, II, III, IV, and Class V. Class-I’s are the weakest, and Class V’s are the toughest regarding maximum towing capacity. Mainly, people use Class IIIs and Class IVs the most.

The anatomy of a receiver hitch is straightforward. It’s divided into two parts: Wings and Tube. Wings are widely known as long bars with bolt points sticking at the bottom of the towing vehicle.

The tube is a square-shaped hole for a trailer coupler or bike shank to go inside. It’s also known as the RECEIVER.

Yes, it’s the same receiver that you’re in this article for. The receiver tube or receiver is nothing but a part of a trailer hitch that receives a bike rack or a coupler’s shank for safe transportation.

Generally, most trailer hitches have a 2-inch or a 1.25-inch receiver tube. If the coupler’s shank is 2 x 2, it’ll only fit a 2-inch pipe and vice-versa. You’ll have to buy an adapter in unmatched cases. 

Difference Between A Hitch and A Receiver

Hitch VS Receiver: Explaining The Difference

If you’ve gone through the whole article, I believe, at this point, you’ve figured out the differences between a hitch and a receiver. Hitches are basically a connector that connects a towing vehicle and a trailer.

They come in different shapes, sizes, and types. Each one of them has a different use case depending on your need.

On the other hand, a Receiver is a PART of a hitch that takes a shank inside to tightly grip the trailer. People use it to mount various accessories such as ball mounts, cargo racks, bike carriers, and other hitch-mounted accessories.

In short, we can conclude that a hitch can be a receiver, but a receiver can’t be a hitch.

The Final Words

Differentiating between a hitch and a receiver can be tricky. In my earlier days, I used to mix up these two. I used to think a receiver and a trailer hitch were the same. But in reality, it’s not the same. There’re some BIG differences.

In this article, I’ve tried to distinguish between a hitch and a receiver as much as possible. I’ve covered a brief section about all the types to do that. I hope it was helpful enough for you to remove all sorts of confusion regarding the topic.

Eddie Burton - Senior Author
Senior Author: Eddie Burton

Eddie Burton is a passionate car enthusiast and a seasoned mechanic with over 15 years of experience in the automotive industry. He has worked with a variety of vehicles, from classic muscle cars to modern luxury cars, and has extensive knowledge of all types of auto parts and accessories.

Eddie’s love for cars began at a young age when he would spend hours tinkering with his first car, a 1967 Mustang. Since then, he has pursued his passion for cars by working in various garages and workshops, honing his skills and expertise in everything related to automobiles.

As a contributor to our website, Eddie shares his in-depth knowledge and experience with our readers, providing valuable tips and advice on auto parts, repairs, and maintenance. He’s committed to helping car owners get the most out of their vehicles by providing honest and practical reviews of auto parts, accessories, and tools.

With Eddie’s vast experience and expertise, you can trust his recommendations and insights on everything related to cars. Whether you’re a seasoned car owner or a newbie in the world of automobiles, Eddie’s articles and reviews will help you make informed decisions and keep your vehicle running smoothly for years to come.

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