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Ball Mount Basics: Weight Capacity, Class, and Size

Learn more about the following ball mount topics:Some of the most important considerations when choosing a ball mount include its class, weight capacity, and size. Unlike vehicle-specific hitches that must be compatible with your tow vehicle, there are no ball mounts designed for specific vehicles. Instead, ball mounts can be installed on almost any vehicle—as long as they are compatible with that vehicle's hitch, and as long as the vehicle's tow capacity is not exceeded. Note that a towing setup is always limited by its lowest-rated component, whether that be your vehicle, your hitch, or another component. Ideally, you should use a ball mount of the same size and equal or greater weight capacity than your trailer hitch so as not to be limited by your ball mount capacity. Fortunately, these weight and size ratings are organized into five classes that make choosing the right ball mount a fairly simple process.

What Are Ball Mount Classes?

You have probably heard terms like Class I and Class V used to categorize ball mounts and trailer hitches—but what do these classes mean?The five classes are used to group ball mounts and hitches of similar sizes and weight ratings. For instance, a Class I hitch and ball mount will have a lighter load capacity and fit a smaller hitch than a Class V model. The best ball mount for you is going to be the ball mount that can support the load you want to tow and will fit into your trailer hitch.
Trailer Hitch Ball Mount Weight Class Chart
Pictured: ball mount classes and weight capacities

Which Ball Mount Class Do I Need?

Ball Mount Weight Ratings

Like hitches, ball mounts are categorized by two important weight capacities: gross towing weight (GTW) and tongue weight (TW). The gross towing weight is the heaviest loaded trailer that the ball mount can tow. The tongue weight is the maximum weight that a trailer can exert downward on the ball mount.Your ball mount capacity must meet or exceed the loaded weight of the heaviest trailer that you want to tow—the last thing you want is a ball mount that can't hold up under your tow load. The tongue weight capacity of the ball mount must also meet or exceed the tongue weight of the trailer. If you're not sure of your trailer tongue weight, you can easily measure it. Weigh Safe makes ball mounts with built-in scales, or you could also use a tongue weight scale, a commercial scale, or even a bathroom scale. For tips on how to determine your tongue weight using these methods, check out our how-to article on measuring trailer tongue weight.Once you know how much weight your ball mount needs to support, you can figure out which ball mount class is going to work best for you. If you already have a hitch of the proper weight rating, the best way to select your ball mount is to choose one of the same class as your hitch.
Tongue Weight Illustration

Fits 1¼ in. Receiver

Class I/Class II Trailer Hitch Ball Mount
  • Class I*
  • Class II*

Fits 2 in. Receiver

Class III/Class IV Trailer Hitch Ball Mount
  • Class III
  • Class IV

Fits 2 ½ in. Receiver

Class IV Trailer Hitch Ball Mount
  • Class III
  • Class IV
  • Class V

Fits 3 in. Receiver

Class V Trailer Hitch Ball Mount
  • Class V
Because hitch receivers are usually made in one of these four common sizes, finding a ball mount to fit your hitch is easy. Read on below to read more about the specific ball mount classes and capacities.
Trailer Hitch Ball Mount Class I Specs
  • Typical loads: kayaks, canoes, mobility scooters, and small trailers
  • Typical tow vehicles: compact cars, midsize cars, full-size cars, SUVs, and minivans
  • Manufacturers often recommend a specific ball mount be used with their Class I and Class II hitches
Hitch Pin Hole-Class I Tab
Trailer Hitch Ball Mount Class II Specs
  • Typical loads: kayaks, canoes, mobility scooters, small pop-up campers, small boats, and small trailers
  • Typical tow vehicles: compact cars, midsize cars, full-size cars, SUVs, and minivans
  • Manufacturers often recommend a specific ball mount be used with their Class I and Class II hitches
  • Class I accessories, including ball mounts, can be used with Class II hitches
Trailer Hitch Ball Mount Class III Specs
  • Typical loads: midsize campers, utility trailers, lawn maintenance equipment, kayaks, canoes, motorcycles, and snowmobiles
  • Typical tow vehicles: full-size cars, large SUVs, minivans, and trucks
  • An adapter allows you to mount hitch accessories made for a 1¼" receiver in a 2" hitch
  • The available range of capacities for Class III hitches varies quite a bit—from 3,500-8,000 lbs GTW and 350-800 lbs TW. Be sure to choose a ball mount with sufficient capacity to match your hitch and the load that you want to tow.
Trailer Hitch Ball Mount Class IV Specs
  • Typical loads: large campers, large boats, and toy haulers
  • Typical tow vehicles: heavy-duty trucks and SUVs
  • An adapter allows you to mount hitch accessories made for a 1¼" receiver in a 2" hitch
Trailer Hitch Ball Mount Class V Specs
  • Typical loads: large toy haulers, equipment haulers, multi-car trailers
  • Typical tow vehicles: heavy-duty and commercial trucks
  • A reducer sleeve allows you to mount hitch accessories made for 2" receivers in a 2½" hitch
Updated on: 3/1/21



Can you use a 2in hitch in a 3in receiver?

Etrailer Expert

Jenny N.


@Matt I am glad that you asked! You can use a hitch reducer such as part # e33YR to use a 2 or 2.5 inch hitch accessories in your 3 inch receiver, It slides directly into the hitch or onto the shank of the accessory. I also recommend using a hitch lock like part # e98881 to keep it all secure.

Bernie S.


Who/what defines the weight classes listed here? Those I see here are different from those found in SAE J684-2005 (IE class IV is 5,000-10,000 lbs in J684)

Etrailer Expert

Jon G.


There isn't really a standard when it comes to ball mount class ratings. Our article team basically lined this up with trailer hitch weight ratings so it's more of a range thing that has slight variants.



2" Internal Thread Trailer Hitch Ball With 3/4" Shank, V5 3500 lb Brophy internal thread doesn't have a shank. requires a ball.

Etrailer Expert

Jon G.


Thank you for the clarification. Are you talking about something with a design like part # EI1C-C? This is a 1-7/8" hitch ball and I don't currently have a 2" ball with this style available.



nothing to do with my comment. i was looking for a 2" threaded ball ( requires a bolt) and your picture shows a ball with threads the requires a nut. i need to use a 4" bolt for may application. picture does not fit ad.



looking for a 2" ball that takes a bolt or threaded rod (off road aplication)

Etrailer Expert

Jon G.


I'm not sure if I know what type of hitch you're talking about but we do have an off-road application which you can find in the attached links. This is the Lock N Roll system which uses an articulating attachment point.



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