There is a U-Haul hitch on my Toyota Sienna and I was going to rent a travel trailer for the first time. There are two specifications, one for a weight distributing hitch, and one for a weight carrying ball mount. What are these two different kinds of hitches?

Weight Distributing: 5,000 max trailer weight, 500 max tongue weight
Weight Carrying Ball Mount: 3,500 max trailer weight, 350 max tongue weight

Trailer hitch specifications

  • When you go to U-Haul, ask them which trailer you are allowed to use.
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Jul 25, 2017 at 8:37
  • The hitch is U-Haul installed, but I'm renting a trailer from an individual.
    – Dale
    Commented Jul 26, 2017 at 14:03

2 Answers 2


With a weigh carrying ball mount, the hitch carries all the weight of the towed load.

Weight distribution uses additional mounted hardware (spring bars) to transfer load to the frame of the tow vehicle itself. In this case the hitch does not bear all the weight like the weight carrying ball mount.

According to eTrailer.com:

As long as the total loaded weight of your trailer is under 5,000 pounds and the tongue weight, vertical load the coupler exerts on the ball, is under 500 pounds than a weight distribution system is not necessary. However, if either of these figures is exceeded, a weight distribution system will be needed.

Of course, follow the specific towing capacities of your vehicle. In other words, if your total loaded weight, including the trailer, 3,500 max trailer weight, 350 max tongue weight, you should use a weight distributing hitch.

  • Concerning the towing capacities of my particular Sienna, it turns out it's limited to 3,500 pounds anyway.
    – Dale
    Commented Jul 26, 2017 at 14:06

If your Sienna's tow hitch looks like everybody else's and just has the square hole with a tongue that slides in and out: use the 350lb. limit(s). If your minivan has some extra hardware that comes out the side of the hitch and looks more complicated, learn more about how to use a weight distributing hitch. These are the differences between life and death while towing. Cheers!

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