Weight distribution hitches have long been the ideal solution for smooth, trouble-free towing. They mean the difference between an easy towing experience and a not-so-enjoyable one, especially in bad weather, rough road conditions, or when weight is a concern.
Why do you need a weight distribution hitch?
In fact, weight is the number one factor to consider when it comes to towing any travel trailer. For instance, when you consider the gross weight of your trailer and all of your gear in it, weight increases fast. Remember, too, overweight RVs are a bad idea.
While standard rear hitches are ideal for light or proper loads, RVers need to use a weight distribution hitch when the tongue weight of the trailer exceeds the weight specifications of the tow vehicle’s receiver hitch.
Short of heading to a weigh station, there are tell-tale signs when you need to add a weight distribution hitch. For example, standard rear-mounted hitches only transfer the trailer’s weight to the tow vehicle’s rear axle.
This causes the tow vehicle to sag and takes the weight off the front axle. This, in turn, causes many dangerous ride characteristics including:
- Lack of stopping power, steering control, and traction
- An increased chance of trailer sway
- Poor headlight illumination on the road
- An increased chance of body roll
In simple terms, a weight distribution hitch corrects all of this. Rather than the rear axle of the tow vehicle taking on all of the weight of the trailer, a weight distribution hitch transfers the weight evenly across the frame of the trailer and the frame of the tow vehicle.
This allows RVers to tow their trailer level. It also provides a smooth, stable ride, easier steering, and extends the life of your tires.
“The mechanics of any weight distribution hitch includes a hitch head, trunions, bars and latches,” says Rick Kauer, Field Sales Representative of Blue OX, the manufacturer of the popular SwayPro weight distribution hitch.
“Essentially, the hitch ball is set according to the coupler height and according to the trailer. The bars provide the weight equalization, meaning that when the pressure is applied to the bars in an uplift motion, it lifts the tongue of the trailer and the rear of the tow vehicle up to level. This provides a smooth comfortable towing experience.”
Weight distribution hitches and trailer sway
Most of all, weight distribution hitches help minimize dreaded trailer sway. And, according to Kauer, there are two types of weight distribution hitches available that incorporate anti-sway devices. These include sway control hitches and sway prevention hitches.
While a sway control hitch brings the trailer back under control after it starts swaying, a sway prevention hitch doesn’t allow the trailer to sway at all. Regardless, either model still offers a high degree of road safety and you’ll avoid a potential trailer sway wreck.
“The great thing about sway prevention weight distribution hitches is they don’t rely on a friction device to control the trailer,” says Kauer. “This means RVers can use them in all types of wet weather. When the hitch relies on friction points to control trailer sway, and the surface of these points get wet, the effectiveness of the hitch drops dramatically.”
Although RVers don’t need a physics degree to install a weight distribution hitch, its best to consult a towing expert. This not only ensures a proper setup but allows for stress-free towing experiences during your adventures on the road.