Tag along hitches come in classes ranging from Class 1 to Class 5. Class I hitches can be used to tow a trailer with a gross trailer weight (GTW) of 2,000 pounds, and a maximum tongue weight of 200 pounds. Class II hitches will safely tow up to 3,500 pounds and handle 300 pounds of tongue weight. Class III hitches can pull up to 5,000 pounds of trailer weight with 500 pounds of tongue weight. Classes IV and V are considered to be heavy duty trailer hitches. A class IV hitch will handle up to 5 tons of trailer weight and a trailer tongue of 1,000 pounds. Class V hitches accommodate weights over 5 tons.

Tag along hitches come in two styles, a weight carrying hitch and weight distributing hitch. If you intend to tow fairly light loads (under 5,000 pounds total), then you will probably only need a weight carrying hitch. This is a simple hitch that fastens your trailer directly to the tow vehicle and carries the load itself directly behind the vehicle. While this system works fine, you may consider steeping up to a weight distributing hitch. A weight distributing hitch is one that uses sidebars (load levelers), to redistribute the weight from the rear axle of the tow vehicle towards the front. A weight distributing hitch is used to carry heavy loads and will help stabilize the trailer when being towed, and should be considered mandatory when hauling anything over 5,000 pounds total tow weight.

When deciding on a hitch class and style, don't forget to consider the ball size as well. Hitch balls come in three sizes; 1-7/8 inch, 2-inch, and 2-5/16 inch. While a larger ball generally means that it can handle more weight being fastened to it, hauling capacity is actually determined by the hitch class. However, trailer balls are classified by the dimensions on the different parts of the ball itself. First, there's the diameter of the ball itself (the distance around the center of the ball). Also to consider is the shank's (Threaded portion) diameter, the shank's length, and the size of the circular piece of metal between the ball and shank. The most common ball size is 2 inches, but heavy-duty industrial trailer balls can go up to 2-5/16 inch. The diameter of your ball mount's hole in the receiver of the hitch mount must be no more than 1/16-inch greater than the ball shank diameter in order to fit. The necessary shank length is determined by the thickness of your ball mount platform - you don't want to get a ball whose shank is so small you can't lock the nut in place. You'll also need to make sure that you buy a ball to properly fit into your coupler on the trailer.

Once you finally have the proper trailer for your needs purchased, what's the proper way to put your load on it? The way you load the trailer can determine how easy you can tow it. While loading, keep in mind that the tongue weight should be approximately 10 to 15percent of the total loaded trailer-weight. One of the main causes of trailer sway is not having enough trailer tongue-weight as compared to gross trailer weight. To help prevent the trailer from swaying back and forth, a few things can be done. Try moving the car forward on the trailer. Trailer sway can also lead to a loss of vehicle control. When starting out with a car on a trailer, make sure the trailer will not sway by gradually increasing your speed in intervals until highway speed is reached.

If you have too much tongue weight (load too far forward), you will notice problems with the steering--and this is a bad thing. Think of it this way, if you have too much tongue weight, the rear of the tow vehicle is pushed down. If the rear of the tow vehicle is pushed down, what does that do to the front of it--your steering wheels are leaving the ground and you can't steer.

When you position your car on the trailer begin by making sure that the car's weight is close to being evenly distributed over the trailer's axles. If your car is too far forward on the trailer, you'll have too much tongue weight, see above paragraph. Similarly, if the car's weight is positioned too far back on the trailer, you won't have enough tongue weight, again see paragraph above.

Once the vehicle is safely onboard, you can put your car in gear. Make sure to secure the car from both the front and rear, with your tie downs pulling in opposite directions. This keeps the vehicle from rolling forward and backward on the trailer. If both ties are pulling in the same direction, you've got a problem and will need to reevaluate your system. Make sure to connect to good, solid mounting points on both the car and the trailer, and stop to check everything once you've gone 10-15 miles. We try to attach the tie downs to the FRAME of the car. If you attach the tie downs to the suspension, or the axles, the suspension on the car can still "work". Think of it like this, if your car's suspension is working, it is basically bouncing on the trailer. If you tie the car down using point ABOVE the suspension, the force of tying the car down will inhibit the suspension from bouncing.

Speaking of tying the car down, don't plan on using small 1-inch ratchet ties like those you can purchase at a swap meet. The most common straps that people use for a car trailer are rated for at least 2,500 pounds of breaking strength. So, theoretically, if you use two straps for each end of the car--and you should--hat gives you 5,000 pounds of breaking strength. Is that enough? Let's look at it this way, if you tie your car down using a 30 degrees-from-vertical angle, you'll effectively have only 75 percent of the strap's rated value. Now, if most people use two straps at each end of the car, which gives a rating of 5,000 pounds, don't forget that the adjusted value is only 3,750 pounds due to the strap angle. Now let's say that the average weight of a vehicle is 3,000 pounds. This may sound like you still have a lot of extra strap strength, but in a crash, it is easy to pull 2 or 3 G's in an impact. So if we take just 2 times the weight of your 3,000 pound car (2 G's), that is 6,000 pounds. Your 2,500 pound rated straps have just broken and your car is now flying towards the front of the trailer--and you. In other words, making sure your straps will support the load during BAD conditions is a must. An easy formula to remember when choosing straps is this; choose a strap with a single-strap breaking-strength rating of at least 2 or 3 times the weight of your car that you are hauling.

Now that we've gotten the basics out of the way, where do you go to get the stuff you need to outfit your new trailer? We found a company that has been around for as long as we can remember, and we're almost positive that every car enthusiast has purchased at least one part from them in their lifetime. J.C. Whitney (www.jcwhitney.com) has long been a supplier of anything automotive, and when we found out that they have everything we needed to outfit our trailer at reasonable prices, we decided to check it out.