Have you wondered what causes travel trailers to sag in the middle? If they hit a dip or bump they'll "pogo" down the highway road. Or they sway side-to-side when passed by a semi or hit by a gust of wind.
It's a white-knuckle frightening experience for the towing driver. And it's scary for drivers following them.
In most cases, a weight distribution hitch would help solve both problems. And it will make for a more enjoyable, and safer, ride.
If you aren't familiar with a weight distribution hitch or why you need one, keep reading.
What Is A Weight Distribution Hitch?
A weight distribution hitch makes a truck and trailer ride level. And it helps control trailer sway.
How Does A Weight Distribution Hitch Work?
Weight distribution hitches reallocate trailer weight. They move it from the tow vehicle's rear axle to its front axle. At the same time, it shifts some of the trailer weight off of the hitch to the trailer axle.
Hooking a trailer to a truck can cause the trailer front to "dive" while the front of the truck lifts. It creates a "v" look between the truck and trailer. This is because the trailer is forcing the ball hitch toward the ground. Moving the load back over the axles may solve the problem. If it doesn't fix the trailer dive, then a weight distribution hitch is necessary.
Is A Weight Distribution Hitch Required?
In most states, there are two things to check. First, does the trailer weigh more than 50% of the tow vehicle? Second, does the trailer weigh more than 5,000 pounds?
TIP: The tow vehicle's owner manual should include tow weight limits. And it may give you information on using a weight distribution hitch.
We have two trailers. One is a single-axle utility trailer that weighs about 3,800 pounds loaded. The other is a 28' travel trailer that weighs about 8,000 pounds. Our truck weighs 8,000 pounds.
We don't use a weight-distribution hitch on the utility trailer. Because our truck is twice its weight, it handles any minor swaying. We do use an adjustable hitch so any trailer we haul will be level.
A Weight Distribution Hitch Makes A Big Difference
Towing our travel trailer requires a weight distribution hitch. And it makes a huge difference. When we tried towing it without the hitch. The trailer moved around enough that we felt uncomfortable.
We live in Nevada. High winds and powerful wind gusts are common. Without the hitch, even small wind gusts made the truck and trailer sway.
With the weight distribution hitch installed, we've driven in windy weather with gusting. Even though the trailer did sway, it was minimal. During normal driving conditions, we don't even feel the trailer moving.
What we have is Fastway's E2 Hitch. We bought it because it combines sway control with weight distribution. And it's easy to install and use. You can buy it on Amazon for about half what we paid for it at a dealer. We've towed our trailer hundreds of times without a problem.
DISCLAIMER: We are not legal experts. Before towing your trailer, check with local authorities about your state's towing laws.
Why Is A Weight Distribution Hitch Necessary
Our daughter sent us a photo of a truck and trailer in a parking lot. The hitch sat within a couple of inches from the ground. The truck's front wheel contact with the pavement was minimal. It was dangerous.
A Hitch That Distributes the Weight Improves Braking and Steering
Most braking occurs on the front wheels. So having them in contact with the road is vital. And like braking, the steering requires the wheels have good road contact.
How To Know If You Need A Weight Distribution Hitch
- The back of your truck squats when connected to the trailer
- Your truck's headlights point up instead of at the road
- Steering seems loose when towing and braking feels mushy
- The trailer weighs over 5,000 pounds*
- The trailer weight is more than 50% of the towing vehicle
- When driving the trailer tends to sway for any reason
*In researching this article, some states say 3,000 pounds. We are not experts. Check with your state or the state you plan on traveling through for towing rules.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does the hitch increase tow capacity?
No. The amount of weight your tow vehicle can handle is set by the manufacturer. And the hitch capacity is also rated by the manufacturer.
How many parts are in the hitch?
There are several different styles. Some parts are common to all styles. There is the shank that attaches to the truck. Spring bars connect to the shank and trailer mounts, and 2 sets of mounting brackets (1 for each spring bar).
Who makes the best hitch?
For every trailer owner, /you talk to about which is best, you'll get a different answer. We bought the Fastway E2 because it was easy to install. And it's easy to connect and disconnect. And it has a 10-year warranty. It's been a great hitch and we'll buy another one when we replace our trailer. That's not to say it's the best. It's the one we bought.
Is a sway control and weight distribution hitch the same thing?
No. A sway control manages trailer sway. A weight distribution hitch manages weight distribution between the truck and trailer.
A weight distribution hitch makes pulling a large or heavy trailer safer. It's a small price to pay for safety, and it's well worth the money. And depending upon the trailer you're pulling, it's required in most states.