how does weight distribution work

How Does Weight Distribution Hitch Work?

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You own a trailer, do you know the importance of a weight-distribution hitch for your car. It can help keep your tow truck level and on the ground. A weight distribution hitch stabilizes the load, so it doesn’t move around much and helps balance some of the weight from side to side of your car. 

But before deciding to purchase a weight-distribution hitch, you need to have fundamental knowledge about the function of this part. That’s the reason why we want to give you the topic “How does weight distribution work?

What Is A Weight Distribution Hitch?

Have you ever experienced uncontrolled sway while you’ve been towing your trailer? In this case, a weight-distribution hitch will help you. A hitch that is designed specifically to help distribute the load on the vehicle. 

It is often used when too many things are loaded in one or not fixed appropriately. A weight distribution hitch ensures heavier loads in a van, trailer, or truck don’t cause traction problems and cause the vehicle to tip over.

A weight-distributing trailer hitch is an optional system that can be added to most rear-mounted trailer hitches. 

A WDH is made up of parts: 

  • Trailer hitch: receiver from the vehicle.
  • Equalizer head: This part is also known as the “ball mount”. It is the head unit into which the spring bars enter, hold the ball, and attach to the weight distribution.
  • Spring bars: Attaching to the ball mount. That helps to tie the trailer in line with the towing car.
  • Brack and Chain: Connecting the spring bars to the trailer mount bracket.
trailer weight distribution hitch
Photo: etrailer

When do you need a weight-distribution hitch?

When towing a heavy load: like the three-ton caravan. When you look at this setup. There’s a problem, the caravan has exerted excess weight on the rear axle, making it unbalanced. The rear of the vehicle is lower and the front is sitting higher. 

This can cause real problems when braking and handling. In this situation, the weight distributing hitch system is designed to rebalance the vehicle.

A trailer weight distribution hitch is recommended if:

  • Your trailer weight is 50% more than your truck weight.
  • The back of your truck sags when the trailer is hooked up.
  • Your trailer sways from side to side while on the road due to poor weight distribution on your trailer.
  • You want to tow at the highest capacity of trucks and trailers

Is a weight distribution hitch important?

Do you really read the weight distribution system? That’s the question many people ask when they decide to buy a new trailer. Although, not all vehicles are equipped with the appropriate aids for this type of device and there are significant benefits to using it. 

Whether you’re driving a heavy-duty truck, or midsize, a hitch should be an important part of your towing setup. Most of the mid-and half-ton trucks out there will require a weight distribution brace when towing something that weighs 5,000 pounds or more. 

Heavy-duty trucks can vary slightly, from 6,000 pounds to 8,500 pounds. Your particular driver’s manual will help you determine weight requirements.

When you hook the trailer up the weight on the truck. It’s gone cause the back of your truck and the tongue of the trailer to bend down and that is gonna make the weight too little weight on the front tires of your truck and too much weight on the front of the trailer. 

It will cause your truck to lose the reaction and sway. If you don’t have a weight distribution and you hook up your camper to your truck and it’s really heavy. 

Although all that weight should be riding around on your ball so when you hook your weight up so the truck and the camper you hook that up. Everything’s gonna be bowing in the middle because all your weights have gone right there on that ball.

How Does Weight Distribution Hitch Work?

The goal of a weight distribution system is to ensure that the travel trailer and the vehicle are attached as level as possible by distributing the tongue weight of the trailer across the frame of the vehicle and not just at the rear end start by lining up the tow vehicle and travel trailer. Generally, a WDH is designed to transfer load from the rear axle of the tow car to the front axle and to the trailer axles. Weight distributing hitch system will help you:

  • Significantly reduces rear axle load.
  • More level tow car ride height.
  • Adds weight and grip to trailer axles and front axle of the tow car.
  • Improves towing handling and performance.

While there are many systems on the market. All work the same way, they distribute the weight from one point to mini leveling the combined suspension system of a towing vehicle and trailer. 

Most weight distribution hitches use spring arms to pull downward on the drawbars of the trailer. This creates lift at the coupler leveraging the weight of the hitch load off of the towing vehicle’s rear axle.

Now that we know how a weight-distribution hitch fundamentally works, you’re probably wondering which hitch will work best for your specific towing configuration. It’s important that we use the right size hitch for our trailer. The lifting force torquing the trailer’s drawbars upward is equal to the maximum applied force from the spring arms and the hitch load.

Related: Best Fifth Wheel Hitches Fir Short Bed Trucks

How To Select Weight Distribution System

For a good journey, you’ll need a weight distribution system designed to match the weight of your trailer’s tongue. If you choose a WDH that’s too light for your car, this process won’t work. However, a heavy-duty weight hitch solution in a light vehicle situation might seem like extra protection but it could mean a stiff ride, with the trailer bouncing.

In the next part of the article, we will share with you step by step how to choose the right weight distribution for your trailer. There are several factors that help determine what model of weight distribution hitch you need:

Step 1: Verify the hitch and the tow vehicle are rated to tow your trailer.

A weight distribution hitch has to match the type of trailer or camper you will be towing. Make sure to match the capacity of the weight distribution hitch to the gross trailer weight (GTW)& tongue weight (TW) of the trailer. 

Determine the ball weight of the Caravan:

Your caravan needs to be fully loaded. Use a ball weight scale to measure the weight and record this weight. You can refer to the recommended weight distribution system to find your match. It has some ranges of the ball weight: 0-80kg, 80-135kg, 135-275kg, 275-365kg, and 365- 545kg.

Step 2: Locate the coupling position on your A-frame.

Note down your coupling position included: top, mid and bottom-mounted coupling.

Step 3: Know your A-frame depth.

What is the depth of your A-frame? Common depths include: 

  • Shallow 4-inch
  • Mid-sized 5-inch
  • Large 6-inch

Which kit does your ball weight suit?

If you have a shallow A-frame (4-inch) and top-mounted coupling. You need a classic weight distribution kit.

If you have a mid-sized A-frame (5-inch) and a top or middle mounted coupling. You will need a standard weight distribution.

How To Install The Weight Distribution Hitch: Step-by-Step Guide

Although most weight distribution hitches are sold with campers and travel trailers they’re not always set up to work properly. If you own a WDH you need a setup or you think about getting one and you wonder how they attach from your vehicle to your trailer. You’ve come to the right place. But before starting, we have 3 notes you need to notice:

  • Check with your manufacturer: Some trailer brake surge couplers are not meant to work with some hitches that feature add-on bar-style friction sway control. If you have brake surgery couplers on your trailer. In this case, you can ask for the information from the manufacturer.
  • Check your owner’s manual: Before installing, if your towing vehicle is equipped with an air shock, springs, or an automatic load leveling system, make sure you read the manual with specific instructions. 
  • All vehicles should be loaded for travel before beginning setup: You would have your trailer full-loaded like when you were heading out on the trip. Make sure your vehicle and your trailer are properly and evenly loaded. You will know that the weight you are actually loaded will be distributed evenly. A properly loaded trailer will maintain the tongue weight of 10-15% of the gross trailer weight (GTW).

Let’s look at all the components involved in setting up a weight-distribution hitch. First off you have a special hitch bar or shank that attaches to the receiving tube. Towing vehicle, there’s a hitch ball that matches your trailer coupler sighs a ball mount. Two spring bars extend from the ball mount of the sides of the trailer and chains that link the bars to the left bracket that attaches to the trailer frame. If there’s a key component here it is the bars. It’s important for the spring bar to flex to avoid stress on the tow vehicle hitch.

Step 1: Measure the trailer and vehicle.

To set up this weight distribution hitch. First, you need to line up the tow vehicle and the trailer. You can use the trailer rack to raise or lower the trailer tongue. We begin by leveling out the caravan by measurement on a level surface. Use a tape measure to measure the distance from the ground to the top of the coupler. This gave us our correct coupling height.

Step 2: Set up the hitch ball.

You can’t use just any hitch ball, make sure it’s the right size and weight capacity. Then we need to apply the same height to the tow ball or toe pin for the back of the vehicle. Attach the hitch ball to the ball mount assembly with lock washers and nuts. Please read the installation instructions for proper hitch ball torque specifications. The adjustable hitch ball is also known as the shank. You can purchase it to match your height coupler trailer requirements. 

Insert hitch ball and secure with a pin and clip. After that, you can place the ball mount onto the hitch bar to proper the coupler height.

Step 3: Insert the spring bar into the ball mount and swing into position.

Using the instruction chart as a guide, adjust the spring bar height and ball mount head tilt. Go ahead and insert the spring arms. The round arm slides into the head from the bottom and is held in place by clamps. The shaft slides into the head from the side or rear.

The installation process from here will depend on the type of system you have.

Once this is achieved, we can then fit the two back together. Apply the weight distribution bars and tension up that lift. When you use the hitch to lift the rear of the vehicle, this means the weight is more even and it makes the rear higher and the front lower. 

If you have any doubts about how to install it, we recommend you should meet a professional technician to set up your tow vehicle.

how does weight distribution work
Photo: RVing Trends

Final Words

Why should you be concerned about the weight distribution hitch? Without a weight distribution system, when you hook up something, all weight will concentrate at the rear back of your tow vehicle making your rear suspension from not working properly and causing a rougher ride.

It also pulls the front end up Which can cause you to lose your steering and braking control and your tires wear out faster. High-performance sway control literally forces the trailer to stay in a straight line behind your vehicle, making every mile your travel feel better whether it’s an open highway or twisting and turning country road.

With more and more caravans on the road, the weight distribution system is increasingly becoming a popular product, leading to a host of common questions about how to set them up and how to use them. Knowing the weight-distribution hitch working operation will help you understand more and have the right decision when using this part.

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