June '12

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TRUCKS HITCHES ADVANCES IN HITCH TECHNOLOGY FOLLOW FAST-CHANGING VEHICLE DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY. your customer wants a towing hitch that's strong, easy-to-use and safe. If you don't currently sell hitches, you should know that they've come a long way from the tow hitch Uncle Fred used to tug the pop-up camper behind his family's sta- tion wagon. In fact, even if you do sell hitches, you should be aware there have been many advances in hitch technology even in just the past few years. "In the past five years truck towing capacities have increased quite a bit," says Jim McKissick of Curt Mfg., Eau Claire, Wis. This is especially true of three-quarter- ton and one-ton pickups — most common in work trucks. Many hitch manufacturers have responded to this growing demand by developing higher-capacity hitch lines. This higher capacity also has opened the 28 RESTYLING | JUNE 2012 Tow to Tow W hether they're hauling a trailer full of equipment for work or a boat/camper for pleasure way to more rugged 2.5" hitch receiver openings adding another choice beyond the old standby 2" and 1.25" openings. On the fl ip side of this trend, consumer vehicles today have become lighter and more fuel effi cient, says Mark Gage of Plymouth, Mich.-based Cequent Group. This has had a downward infl uence on the towing capacity of the average consumer car or van. Unfortunately, this means a lot more customers are attempting to "pull, haul or carry more than the vehicle is designed to handle," says Gage. Hitch makers are now challenged with the critical task of designing vehicle-spe- cifi c hitches with greater tongue weight that fl ex under load. This, and the ever- changing nature of vehicle body designs, has led to a trend toward more vehicle- specifi c, custom fi t hitches versus the old universal "multi-fi t" hitch, Gage says. Fit is critical to a hitch design, says 5th-wheel towing units placed in a truck's bed are well designed for hauling large loads and recreational vehicles. Photo from Curt Mfg. By Phil Sasso McKissick. "A hitch for a previous model year [may fi t] but not to our standard," he says. "Let's say the receiver is more visible beneath the bumper than we would like; Curt generally offers an additional part number so that we can provide a greater custom fi t rather than just carry that pre- vious year's hitch over." And, adds John Tiger of Bosal USA, Lavonia, Ga., "Hitches are always changing. In the past decade there has been an increased focus on design and mate- rials' effi ciency relative ... to the intended use and related carrying capacity of the hitch. ... Manufacturers already are experi- menting with different materials to save weight yet not lose signifi cant strength or durability properties." Hitch makers also are adding features that make hitches more user-friendly, says Mandy Johnson of Pender, Neb.-based Blue Ox. New hitch systems are lighter, RESTYLINGMAG.COM

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