Travel trailers are really popular among individuals who love traveling or those who seek adventure. If you are also someone along those lines, then chances are that you are looking to get a travel trailer or maybe even upgrade to get a larger one. These trailers can really be handy when it comes to accommodating large spaces.
One thing that can hinder your long road trip or a weekend trek is the safe haul of your trailer until you reach your destination and come back. And that is where weight distribution hitches come in. If you want a safe trip with the option of higher and more controlled levels of towing, weight distribution (WD) hitches will assist you with that.
Now comes the question, What is a Weight Distribution Hitch? Let’s dive into it!
What Is A Weight Distribution (WD) Hitch?
A Weight Distribution (WD) Hitch is just like what it sounds. It is basically a type of hitch that helps in even weight distribution. If we say it in technical terms, it is a hitch that is designed to distribute the trailer’s tongue weight** across the wheels of the towing trailer.
(**Whenever you hook up your vehicle with the trailer, a certain amount of pressure is exerted on the rear axle. This is what is called the tongue weight.)
A WD hitch evenly distributes that tongue weight over the whole vehicle, reducing the burden on the trailer as well as the vehicle. It also makes the towing process more secure and gives you control by leveling the vehicle and the trailer, making the job of towing easier.
You will be able to understand it better with the following display.
The image may have been able to provide you with a better visualization of how a WD hitch can make a difference. You can now see that the trailer and the vehicle without the hitch have a slight tilt which is later balanced out by the WD hitch.
Now that you understand what a weight distribution hitch is, let’s move on to how it processes the weight and levels it out.
How Does A Weight Distribution Hitch Work?
Let’s move on to the point of how a weight distribution hitch functions. We already shared that it evens out the overall weight across the four wheels. This function is possible because of the use of spring bars.
A WD hitch, similar to a standard ball mount, has these spring bars which act like a bridge between the vehicle and the trailer. One end of the hitch is attached to the vehicle’s receiver, while the other is put on the trailer frame. These spring bars leverage down on the trailer frame when tension is exerted on them, which lifts the back side of the vehicle. This tension provides the necessary opposing force against the downward pressure of the tongue weight of the trailer. This is how the trailer and the vehicle can remain at the same level.
Parts Of A Weight Distribution Hitch
Let’s have a look at the parts that a weight distribution hitch consists of, which lets it function properly.
- Adjustable Brackets: Mounting spring bars on the frame of the trailer would become very unsafe in the absence of these brackets. They are what makes the mounting more secure.
- Spring Bars: We have already mentioned spring bars; they essentially help in leveling the trailer and vehicle by even weight distribution.
- Head: This component is the one responsible for the connection between the spring bars and the Shank.
- Shank: In order to accommodate the height of the towing vehicle, the Shank provides a mount that can be adjusted accordingly in the upward or downward direction.
Why Would You Need A Weight Distribution Hitch?
Now that we understand the functioning of the WD hitch, one question arises, “What are the benefits of this hitch?” If you are looking for reasons to buy a hitch, then it is obvious to know of its benefits. It prevents the hazards that can occur from the vehicle’s rear axle with the tongue weight’s downward force.
These hazards can also occur on the front axle. They include
- Reduction in control of the vehicle and trailer
- Reduced braking capacity
- Higher stress can wear down the critical components of the vehicle.
Getting a WD hitch can prevent all this from happening and can provide you with a sense of relief that you would not have otherwise. On top of all these benefits, you also get the option of sway control**. In fact, most of the WD hitches are compatible with units that offer sway control.
(**Sway control is the property of an angled hitch which is responsible for controlling the sway of the trailer. It does so by varying the friction or camshaft rotation.)
Also Read: What Is A Pintle Hitch And How To Use It?
Types Of Weight Distribution Hitch
Majorly, there are two types of WD trailer hitches, and they both differ in their spring bar type. These are:
This type of WD hitch got its name after the round shape of the spring bars. These bars extend from the hitch head’s bottom and angle back to the trailer frame attachment. They have lesser ground clearance due to their hitch head sticking out.
The other type of WD hitch is the Trunnion Bar which is square in shape. Unlike the round bar, their attachment is with the hitch head’s face, which sticks out and runs parallel to the frame of the trailer. They are also generally more capable when it comes to their weight-lifting capacity. The ground clearance is also much lower in these types of bars.
When it comes to performance, there isn’t that big of a difference between round bars and trunnion bars. So, it all boils down to the shape of the bar you prefer to have, as either of the two will give comfort and better control.
How To Setup Weight Distribution Hitch?
It can be daunting to set up a WD hitch. Why shouldn’t it be? There are a lot of complicated-looking procedures which can intimidate anyone. While it is a difficult task, we will provide step-by-step instructions on how one can do it by himself.
But, before we start with the guide, there are certain tools that you would require for the installation. These tools include
- Tape measure
- Torque wrench
Now let’s start with the installation guide.
1st Step: Measuring the height of the trailer and vehicle
We start off with the measurements using the measuring tape. There are three key measurements. Note these measurements wherever you can to keep track of them.
First off is the distance of the top of the trailer coupler from the ground. Next is to measure the distance of the rear bumper to the ground, and last would be the front bumper’s distance to the ground.
2nd Step: Shank Installation
Installation of a shank is done at the rear end of the vehicle into the opening of the receiver tube. Mostly, shanks are installed in a specific position which can be upright or upside down. It all depends on what your towing needs are. Usually, high-riding vehicles have the requirement of a drop (upside down) position. On the contrary, low vehicles need more height to align with the trailer’s height, which requires a rise (upright) position. Finalize the shank installation with a hitch pin.
3rd Step: Head Installation
The head is the unit that is responsible for holding the trailer ball. Dry fit** the component onto the Shank. Follow it up with a hex bolt and conical-tooth washer. Once it’s done, the next is to measure the distance between the trailer ball’s base and the ground. Return to the measurement in the first step and cross-check the coupler height. It should be around 1 to 3 inches higher than the coupler.
(**The term dry fitting refers to the fitting and installing any component while excluding the components related to plumbing, electrical, or building works)
4th Step: Installation of the Adjustment Road
The adjustment rod is another important component that is helpful in adjusting to the proper angle of a hitch. In order to change the head angle, it makes use of the spacer washers. The more washers there are, the lesser the leverage will be, and vice-versa.
Now, install the rod with the appropriate number of washers for the leverage you require into the inner channel of the head unit. Then rotate the head and ball mount downwards to get the channel’s access. Once you get the rod in place, rotate it back up and make it secure with the head unit’s (bottom) hex bolt. Repeat the process with the other parts as well.
Finish the process by securing the shank bolt into another conical-tooth washer and nut. Snug** and put the hardware on hold for the final torquing ** for now.
(**Snug – close fitting
**Torquing – this term is used in reference to “torque.” It basically means “to optimize the tightening”)
5th Step: Installing the Spring Bars
As a preventive measure, using grease on the attachment points of every spring bar would be a good idea. It helps in reducing friction and extending a hitch’s life. Once the greasing is done, attach the head unit and the spring bar. The installation can differ depending on the type of weight distribution hitch you will use. We have already talked about the location of installation of the two types of WD hitches.
6th Step: Connect the trailer and the vehicle
The next step is to connect the trailer and the vehicle. You can start off by lifting the tongue with the help of Jack. Also, ensure that the coupler stays clear of the trailer ball. Get the vehicle back into the position where the coupler can be lowered safely onto the ball.
One thing you should keep in mind is that there should not be a full retraction of the tongue jack when you engage the latch. The jack should act as a support for the weighted trailer. Then you have to place the snap-up brackets on the frame of the trailer. You can use the spring bar chains for the guiding purpose.
Now attach the spring bar chain to the bracket and ensure that both sides have the same level of vertical spacing. There should be a lift bar to assist you with the motion of the lever included in the weight distribution hitch.
7th Step: Measure the height of your vehicle again
Once the installation of all the components is complete, check again the measurements of the height of the front and rear bumper of the vehicle. A difference of less than ½ inches should be there in comparison to the similar parts that were not coupled. If the difference is more, you need to adjust the weight distribution hitch.
After completing the adjustment, the process of torquing the hardware begins. Disconnect the trailer from the vehicle again and use the wrench to get the specifications you need.
And this completes the WD hitch setup, and it should be ready to use if you follow the steps properly. Also, there is no need to keep repeating the process every single time when you want to attach the hitch. After the setup, the hitch is already adjusted to the right angle, which will save the time to set it up again. So you can leave it disassembled and attach only when you need it.
We already shared how one can install a WD hitch on their own. However, not everyone has the time or energy to go through that arduous process. Also, one of the drawbacks of self-installation is that if you do not understand the hardware, then the installation would lack finish which can lead to dangerous situations.
In order to prevent these situations, a professional hitch installation service would bring you that much relief. There is no need to wander anywhere else as Bills Mobile Hitch And Tow Bar Installation can provide you with the best WD hitches, on top of providing professional installation service. Get same-day assistance, affordable prices, hassle-free procedures, and quality service. To learn more about our hitch installation service, you can take a look at our website.