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Three Point Hitch Categories

If you are confused on what category of three point hitch you need for your universal skid steer to 3 point hitch adapter, we are here to help. In this article we will take a brief look at three point hitches, how they are categorized and how you can tell which category will fit your attachments.

What is a Three Point Hitch?

A three point hitch is the most common way of attaching tractor attachments to the rear of a tractor. Common tractor attachments that use three point hitches are plows, harrows and mowers.

As the name implies, a 3 point hitch uses three points of contact to couple with the tractor. These three points form a triangle, which allows you to keep the attachment in a fixed position in relation to the tractor.

example of a 3 point hydraulic hitch

Hydraulic Adjustments

On modern tractors, the height of a 3 point hitch can be adjusted hydraulically. This is to allow you to set certain attachments at correct angles and depths, as well as lift them entirely off the ground for transportation.

The height of the two lower hitch arms can normally be raised hydraulically, but will be lowered with gravity rather than hydraulic power. The reason three point hitches can not be lowered hydraulically is to reduce the chance that the tractor operator hydraulically pushes the three point attachment into the ground which would raise the rear end of the tractor and lower ground traction.

Ordinarily a valve is installed on the tractor to control the rate at which the 3 point hitch is lowered to the ground.

What Are Three Point Hitch Categories?

3 point hitches come in five different categories, numbered from zero to four. Although the design of each 3 point hitch category is the same, the hitch pin sizes and lower hitch spacing vary by category.

Each 3 point hitch category is designed for a specific range of tractor horsepower with category zero being the lowest horsepower and category 4 being the highest.

3point category chart

Category 0 - 3 Point Hitch


Category 0 three point hitches are designed for the smallest of sub compact tractors with total drawbar power of less than 20 HP.

Hitch Pin diameter/lower hitch spacing

The lower links as well as the top link pin diameter measure 5/8 inch. The lower hitch spacing is set at 20 inches.

Category 1 - 3 Point Hitch


A category 1 hitch is the next size up and is used on compact tractors with 20 to 45 drawbar horsepower. Category 1 implements are a very common size.

Hitch Pin Diameter/Lower hitch spacing

A category 1 hitch has different size hitch pin diameters for the upper and lower link. The upper link will measure 3/4 inch, while the lower hitch pins are larger at 7/8 inch. The lower hitch spacing is also increased to 28 inches.

Category 2 - 3 Point Hitch


3 point hitches that fall into category 2 are designed for tractors with a 40 to 100 drawbar horsepower. This is built heavier than category 1 and is intended for heavier equipment.

Hitch pin diameter/lower hitch spacing

The upper link hitch pin diameter on category 2 hitches measurers 1 inch, while the lower link hitch pins are slightly larger at 1 1/8 inch. Distance between lower hitches is 34 inches.

Category 3 - 3 Point Hitch


3 Point hitches that fall into category 3 are designed for tractors with a 80 to 225 drawbar horsepower.

hitch pin diameter/lower hitch spacing

The upper link hitch pin diameter is 1 1/4 inch while the lower link hitch pin diameters are 1 7/16 inch. The lower link hitch spacing is set at 40 inches.

Category 4 - 3 Point Hitch


A category 4 three point hitch is designed for tractors with a 180 to 400 HP.

Hitch Pin Diameter/lower hitch spacing

The upper link hitch pin diameter is 1 3/4 inch while the lower link pin diameters are 2 inches. The lower link spacing is set at 48 inches.

Using Three Point Hitches With Your Skid Steer

3 point adapter by blue diamond

Being able to use a tractor implement with your skid steer can get you out of a jam when your tractor is down, or if you even just need to move equipment around while your tractor is out working.

Our solutions for this is a skid steer 3 point adapter. This is a simple attachment that has a skid steer quick connect on one side, and a 3 point hitch on the other side. Once you have this attachment hooked up to your skid steer, you can easily couple with tractor implements and use or move them as necessary.

Most skid steer 3 point adapters will come in category 1 or category 2 sizes as these categories cover the most common skid steer horsepower ranges.


Now that we have had a look at what determines the category of a 3 point hitch, you should be able to easily size up your implements and determine what size of 3 point hitch you will be needing. You can check out our collection of skid steer three point hitch adapters here!

These guidelines will work with both skid steer adapters and tractors alike. If you need more information on 3 point hitches, reach out to use today! 

Written by Cohen Meyer
Cohen Meyer is a product researcher and content contributor for Skid Steers Direct. Cohen has spent over 12,000 hours operating skid steers, telehandlers, excavators and tractors. He is a former business owner, certified welder and a self proclaimed tech geek.

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