StowAway2 Cargo Carrier Receiver And Hitch Guide

There are a number of hitch-related issues to keep in mind when determining if a StowAway2 Cargo Carrier or Rack will work with your vehicle. This document is a comprehensive guide.

1) Tongue Weight Capacity
2) Hitch Classes
3) Hitch Sizes
4) StowAway2 Hitch Compatibility
5) Hitch Converters
6) Hitch Extenders
7) Installing a Hitch on Your Vehicle
8) For Additional Information

1) Vehicle Tongue Weight Capacity

The first issue to consider in determining whether a StowAway2 Cargo Carrier will work with your vehicle is Tongue Weight Capacity.  Tongue Weight Capacity refers to the maximum vertical weight that a vehicles frame can support in a normal driving environment.

Knowing your vehicles Tongue Weight Capacity is important because StowAway2 Cargo Carriers generally sit as close to your vehicles rear bumper as possible and therefore apply a significant amount of vertical weight to your vehicles frame.

Shorter, lighter vehicles tend to have lower Tongue Weight Capacities while larger, heavier vehicles tend to have higher Tongue Weight Capacities.  To determine your vehicles Tongue Weight Capacity, consult your owners manual or contact your manufacturer or dealer.  A quick way to roughly estimate your vehicles Tongue Weight Capacity is to divide your vehicles Towing Weight Capacity by 10.

2) Hitch Classes

Why do you need to know your Vehicles Tongue Weight Capacity?  Because it is an important factor in determining the receiver hitch class that automobile manufacturers' will recommend for use with their vehicles.

Trailer hitches are commonly divided into five classes.  Hitches range from Class I (Light Duty Hitches) to Class V (Extra-Heavy Duty Hitches).  The most common factory-installed hitch sizes on SUVs, Vans, and RVs are Class III (Heavy Duty) and Class IV (Heavy Duty).  Many smaller SUVs come equipped with Class II (Medium Duty) hitches.

The following chart relates Tongue Weight Capacity to the corresponding Hitch Class.

Hitch Class Tongue Weight Capacity
Class I 200 lbs.
Class II 250 - 350 lbs.
Class III 350 - 500 lbs.
Class IV 500+ lbs.

Check your owners manual or contact your dealer to confirm the class rating of your factory installed hitch. If youre considering installing an after-market trailer hitch, please see Section 7 below for more information.

3) Hitch Sizes

Hitches are sometimes identified by size rather than class.  Hitch size refers to the inside diameter of a vehicles square hitch receiver opening. Class III and Class IV hitches have a diameter of 2 inches, thus they are often referred to as 2 inch receivers.  Class I and Class II hitches generally have a diameter of 1 inch, thus they are often referred to as 1 inch receivers.

Warning: Some manufacturers fabricate Class I and II hitches with a 2 hitch opening to accommodate a greater range of hitch accessories.  Do not assume that a 2 opening equates to a Class III or Class IV receiver hitch.

Larger receiver openings will generally have greater Tongue Weight Capacities and smaller receiver openings will generally have smaller Tongue Weight Capacities.  Check your vehicle's owners manual, contact your dealer, or simply measure your receiver to determine the size of your hitch.

4) StowAway2 Hitch Compatibility

Every StowAway2 Cargo Carrier and Rack slide directly into the hitch receiver that is mounted to your vehicle.  StowAway2 Carriers are designed for use with Class II (1.25"), Class III (2") and Class IV (2") hitches.

The StowAway2 LT models are designed for use with Class II (1.25") hitches. These models are intended for use on minivans and lighter-duty SUVs and have a carrying capacity of 125 pounds.

All other StowAway2 Carriers and Racks are designed for use with Class III (2") and Class IV (2") hitches.  These carriers are intended for use on most SUVs, RVs, Trucks,  and Vans and have a carrying capacity of 200 pounds.

5) Hitch Converters

Hitch Converters are hitch accessory items designed to change the size of hitch receiver openings. The most common hitch converter for use with SUVs, Vans, Trucks,  and RVs is the 1.25 to 2 hitch expander.  This expander enlarges your hitch receiver opening from the smaller 1.25 opening to the larger 2 opening.

Note: Using a Hitch Expander does not change the class rating of the hitch or its tongue weight capacity.  Only the size of the receiver opening is changed.  For this reason, we do not recommend using a hitch expander with any of our StowAway2 Carriers. Attempting to use such a converter with one of our carriers could place undue stress on your vehicles frame and/or hitch.

Another common hitch converter is the 2 to 1.25 hitch reducer. This converter shrinks the larger 2 opening to the smaller 1.25 opening,  allowing you to safely use one of our 1.25" hitch models on a vehicle with a 2 hitch receiver opening.  We think most of you will choose to use the regular model cargo box in the original 2" receiver.

6) Hitch Extenders

Hitch Extenders increase the distance between the back end of your vehicle and the hitch receiver opening.  They are used to accommodate rear mounted spare tires and ladders or to decrease the safe turning radius of a trailer. In general, we do not recommend using a hitch extender longer than 7 in length.

7) Installing a Hitch on Your Vehicle

If you intend to purchase an after market trailer hitch, be sure to take into account your vehicles Tongue Weight Capacity.  You want to avoid purchasing a hitch that is designed for a heavier duty vehicle.  A common misconception is, by placing a Class III or Class IV hitch on a small SUV or car, you will be able to increase the vehicle's tongue weight capacity to that of the heavy duty receiver.  This assumption is incorrect and could very easily place undue stress on your vehicles frame and/or hitch. Bottom Line: Your vehicles tongue weight capacity will not increase when you install a hitch, even if the hitch is designed to support a weight greater than your vehicles tongue weight capacity.

As a general rule, if your vehicles tongue weight capacity is between 200 and 300 pounds, only consider purchasing and installing a Class II hitch.  If your vehicles tongue weight capacity is between 300 and 500 pounds, you can consider a class III or Class IV hitch.  If your vehicles Tongue Weight Capacity is over 500 pounds, a Class IV hitch would be best.


Do you have a question about hitches, hitch-mounted carriers, or one of the issues covered in this document?  Please contact us for more assistance.

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