Ever been driving on the highway with a trailer and felt that whoosh when a semi passes by?
It can be pretty scary as the wind rushes past and your trailer starts to sway behind you. You might grip the steering wheel tight and wonder to yourself if it has to be this way.
The good news? It doesn’t.
With a tool called a weight distribution hitch, you can ensure smooth handling of a bumper pull trailer even with a near-capacity load in your trailer. It’s a straightforward and effective option that not many drivers are aware they can take advantage of.
Here at Blue Ridge Trailers, we’re committed to helping trailer owners stay safe and informed, so today we’re sharing some essentials on how weight distribution hitches work and who needs them.
First things first: what is a weight distribution hitch, anyway?
Weight distribution hitches sit under the tongue of a bumper pull trailer. Their purpose is to transfer the trailer tongue weight from the towing vehicle’s bumper to its axles and to the trailer’s axles.
In other words, weight distribution hitches prevent too much of your trailer’s weight from collecting at the tongue—which can lead to poor trailer handling or even loss of control if you need to break or turn quickly.
With a weight distribution hitch, your trailer weight will be balanced, making maneuvering much smoother and preventing dangerous situations.
This also means you can safely tow weight that’s close to your trailer’s maximum capacity.
Do you need a weight distribution hitch?
First consider your trailer. Weight distribution hitches are only necessary for bumper pull trailers, so if you’ve got a gooseneck, you don’t need one.
Next, consider your towing vehicle compared to the weight of your trailer and the type of load you’ll be pulling. If your towing capacity far exceeds your trailer weight, a distribution hitch would be overkill.
Otherwise, if you’ve got a bumper pull and your load is anywhere near the upper level capacity for your tow vehicle, a weight distribution hitch will help ensure a safe trip. In my experience, I’ve noticed improved handling with a weight distribution hitch even when towing about 3,800 pounds (a small trailer plus one horse) on a vehicle with a capacity of 9,500 pounds.
Should you install a weight distribution hitch yourself?
Apologies to the DIY fans out there, but unless you’re a professional, you should not install a weight distribution hitch yourself.
That’s because there’s a lot to know, and the stakes are high. Your weight distribution hitch needs to be leveled correctly with the brackets in the right spot, among other factors that require technical knowledge.
Without proper installation, the trailer won’t be balanced, defeating the purpose of the weight distribution hitch. Worst case scenario? The trailer isn’t attached properly and comes off while you’re driving.
An industry professional such as your trailer dealer can help you choose and install the right weight distribution hitch for your trailer and towing vehicle.