Weight distribution hitches are designed to distribute trailer tongue weight more evenly to the front axles of your towing vehicle, reducing rear-end sag and improving towing stability. They are typically recommended for use above a certain tongue weight but can make towing safer even at lower weights.
While each model of weight distribution hitch is different, they all work the same way.
Like regular hitches that attach the trailer to the vehicle, weight distribution systems redistribute the tongue weight of heavy or unevenly loaded trailers. By doing so, they improve the ability of the towing vehicle to turn, brake, and steer.
Sway control is also commonly included in these systems, minimizing trailer sway during windy conditions or when passing other vehicles. The key to understanding these hitch systems is recognizing their components and functions.
A weight distribution system comprises a shank that plugs into the receiver hitch, a head assembly, spring bars, and sway control devices. Round bar and trunnion bar systems are the two most popular options.
They differ in the shape and way the spring bars are attached to the head assembly, but both function similarly. Both provide a higher ride height than standard rear-mounted hitches and help to reduce stress on the trailer coupler and vehicle suspension. They are also easy to install and adjust.
The Weight Distribution
Whether taking on state-to-state weeklong road trips or weekends at famous national parks, it is essential to haul your trailer safely. And that’s where a weight distribution hitch comes in. A WD hitch helps you level your rig by distributing the tongue weight evenly between the trailer and tow vehicle axles using spring bars.
There are two types of WD hitches — round bar and trunnion bar — each with its unique design to match your trailer and tow vehicle needs. Remember that even with a WD hitch installed, you should never tow more than the lowest-rated component in your towing system.
It’s also important to note that while a WD hitch will reduce sway, it won’t eliminate it. Towing is a safe and responsible activity that requires proper setup, careful driving, and attention in adverse conditions. The best way to protect your trailer and tow vehicle is to use a weight-distribution hitch with an anti-sway device.
The Sway Control
When towing a trailer or other heavy load, your truck’s front end may squat due to the weight of the tongue. It can cause unsafe driving conditions and potentially damage your vehicle and trailer over time. A weight distribution evenly distributes weight for safer towing.
Some weight distribution hitches include sway control features, which help minimize trailer sway caused by wind or other factors. These systems use built-in friction or additional accessories, such as sway bars, to reduce the effect of swaying trailers on the road.
The main component of any weight distribution system is the head assembly, which plugs into your receiver and provides a platform for the spring bars. Then, the spring bars are mounted to the head assembly and attached to the trailer with a series of brackets that can be locked to prevent them from coming off during use.
A quality weight distribution hitch differs between an easy, safe towing experience and a not-so-easy one. They are generally required by law for trailer classes that exceed a certain gross trailer weight and provide extra safety when towing larger, heavier loads.
The center line is an excellent example as it provides stability and sway control in a single unit, eliminating the need for an additional sway control device.
First, remove the trailer hitch from the receiver to install a weight distribution system. Next, park the vehicle and trailer on level ground in a straight line. Add grease to the attachment points of the spring bars (round bar hitches inserted from below and angle back, while trunnion bars attach directly to the head unit) and reconnect the head to the trailer coupler.
Adjust the head angle using an adjustment rod with washers (consult your owner’s manual for specifics). Use more washers to angle the head downward and less for a higher leverage.