What is the Difference Between a Hitch and a Receiver?

What is the Hitch and What is the Receiver?

The hitch is a primary connector between the trailer and a tow vehicle. This is a structural component that can bolt onto the cars and vehicles that provides a point for coupling to hook up a trailer easily. When you discuss trailer hitch, you may want to know about a ball mount as well. Check What size hitch pin sizes (diameter and length)

class 4 hitch

A ball mount is an external part or accessory for the trailer hitch. 

The receiver or receiver hitch is a kind of trailer hitch that can bolt onto the downside of the vehicle as well as the rear side of the vehicle to provide a tube so that the vehicle can attach a ball mount or other hitch accessory.

The receiver usually possesses a vehicle-specific design, falls among one of the five different hitch classes, and has a standard tube size for the receiver.

A receiver hitch is one of the most popular types of trailer hitches. It is very common as well that you can easily interchange both terms. 

What are the Three Types of Hitches?

how to tell what class hitch i have

There are three types of basic hitches in the rigging world out there and they are as follows:

  1. The straight leg vertical hitch
  2. The basket hitch
  3. The choker hitch

These are the types that are mostly used in the rigging world despite different types of sling. 

There are also other Hitch Types

  1. Bolt-on trailer hitch (permanent undercar trailer hitch)
  2. Custom trailer hitch
  3. Fifth wheel hitch
  4. Fixed tongue hitch
  5. Gooseneck
  6. Pintle hitch
  7. Receiver style hitch
  8. Round tube hitch
  9. Weight carrying hitch

What is a Trailer Hitch? 

A trailer hitch is also known as a tow hitch which is mainly used for towing a trailer vehicle. Usually, the trailer hitch refers specifically to the receiver hitch. But a gooseneck hitch, fifth wheel hitch, and other types of hitches may also be called trailer hitches. All tow hitches or trailer hitches are specially designed for some particular use as well as rated highly for their specific weight capacities. 

Parts of a trailer hitch diagram

These are the parts of the trailer hitch diagram as follows: 

  1. Trailer
  2. Trailer hitch
  3. Trailer ball
  4. Trailer coupler
  5. Trailer wiring harness
  6. Ball mount
  7. Hitch pin
  8. Safety chains
  9. Tow vehicle

What is a Hitch on a car?

What is a hitch car

A hitch on a car is the sole connector between the trailer and the tow vehicle. It has a lot of structural components which bolts onto the car and vehicle to provide a point for coupling so that it can hook up a trailer. The ball mount also plays a great role in hitching a car. 

Trailer hitch compatibility chart : Hitch Measurements

        Trailer Hitch Class          Towing Capacity        Compatible Vehicle
               Class I            Up to 2000 lbs.Small and sedan cars
               Class II            Up to 3500 lbs.Minivans and cross-overs
               Class III            Up to 8000 lbs.SUVs and Mid-size trucks
               Class IV            Up to 10000 lbs.SUVs and Full-size trucks
               Class V            Up to 10000 lbs. +Commercial and full-size trucks.

Towing system step bumper 

Step bumper in the towing system comes as standard equipment in most of the larger vehicles such as trucks and SUVs. A step bumper in a towing system is a regular bumper with a solid center section that can also function as a step in the towing system. However, there is a hole that can serve as a mounting point for a ball of two. 

Parts of a trailer hitch coupler 

These are the parts of a trailer hitch coupler as follows: 

  1. Latch
  2. Lever or handle
  3. Safety clip
  4. Ball receptacle

What is Receiver?

The receiver has consisted of a section that can mount to any frame of the vehicle or car which has an opening of rearward-facing. This can accept removable hitch bike racks, ball mounts, cargo carriers, or other hitch-mounted accessories. 

Receiver hitch

The receiver hitch is one of the most integral and critical parts of any trailer hitch because it is the sole structural connection between your car/vehicle and the towing vehicle. The price of the receiver hitch is between $100 and $250. The cost of the receiver hitch differs from brand to brand and the classification of the hitch. 

Receiver hitch accessories 

These are the receiver hitch accessories which are mostly used as follows:

  1. Pickup truck-bed hitch extender
  2. Black Hitch Step (2-inch)
  3. LED work light pods
  4. Key vault
  5. Mount bike hitch rack
  6. Tow hitch cover
  7. Luggage basket

Receiver hitch ball mount

Receiver hitch ball mount usually mounts in a vast variety of types like multi-ball, adjustable ball, tow loop, tow hook, clevis, and pintle hitch mounts. Some of the popular receiver hitch ball mounts are as follows: 

  1. 1-7/8 inch
  2. 2 inch
  3. 2-5/16 inch

What is the standard size receiver hitch?

2-inch by 2-inch trailer receiver hitch is the most common and popular type of hitches in the rigging world. Most of them are either from Class IV or Class III. These hitches are mostly found on SUVs, pickup trucks, and some full-size sedans as well. Most of the trucks and SUVs which are equipped in the factory with a trailer hitch possess a 2-inch receiver. 

Hitch and receiver sizes

There are four standard hitch and receiver sizes available in the market which are: 

  1. 1-1/4 inch
  2. 2 inch
  3. 2-1/2 inch
  4. 3 inch

The size of the hitch mostly refers to the inner dimensions of the hitch receiver. Therefore, using a standard hitch size approach will allow you to go for more versatile towing options. 

More references-


What is a receiver hitch on a truck? 

The receiver hitch is one of the most common trailer hitches in the rigging world. Many heavy-duty and full-sized trucks have already come equipped with a receiver hitch in the back. It possesses a square receiver-mounted tube on the frame of the truck. When you insert the ball mount of the trailer or another hitch mount into the receiver tube, then it will start working properly. 

Do all cars have a hitch receiver? 

Most of the receiver hitches are fairly compatible with a WDH (Weight Distribution Hitch). This is a device that is typically required for towing the traveling trailers especially. However, not all vehicles can be equipped with a Class III, IV, or V hitch. All these higher-rated hitches are generally only available for SUVs, pickup trucks, and 4x4s. 

Is a hitch illegal?

No, a hitch is not illegal and neither is having them in the receiver of your trailer truck when a trailer is not pulling at that time. Even it is not illegal to get more than one ball hitch on your bumper. But at the same time, you just need to get aware of multiple ball hitches which will be on the bumper of your vehicle that could certainly obstruct the rear-side license plate. 


Any type of hitch can attach directly to the tow end of the tow vehicle to provide a connection between the trailer and the tow vehicle.

A fixed or permanent tongue hitch will include the mount ball platform, whereas a receiver-style hitch will have a receptacle mostly 1-1/4 inch or 2 inches so that it can insert special bike racks or ball mounts.

Moreover, these are the basic differences between a hitch and a receiver. 

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