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Old 05-15-2019, 09:41 AM   #1
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weight distributing hitch vs load carrying hitch

Just a few questions about the WDH and the LCH.
Is a WDH universally required in all travel trailer and tow vehicle situations?
I understand the purpose of a WDH is to transfer some of the hitch weight to the steering axle of the tow vehicle.
Is there a situation where the travel trailer and it's hitch weight is so light that a WDH isn't needed? Is there a situation where the tow vehicle specifications are so capable (for example, diesel, 1 ton, dually) that a WDH isn't required?
If so, who or what decides when a WDH is or isn't required?
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Old 05-15-2019, 09:45 AM   #2
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Many time in the "Owners Manual" of your tow vehicle, it will state at what weight a WDH is required. Popup ? No. 3000lb TT and up...I'd go with Yes.
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Old 05-15-2019, 10:11 AM   #3
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As someone that pulled a 2800 lb camper with three different vehicles i'd say it depends on the vehicle.

For my Jeep (Grand Cherokee) and my small pick up (an S-10) it was an absolute must. Night and day difference. When I pulled the same camper with my Denali Yukon XL, it was optional but gave me the confidence to be able to haul without worry.

I still use a WD hitch with my one-ton dually pulling a 7400lb camper..
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Old 05-15-2019, 10:28 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by TheWolfPaq82 View Post
Many time in the "Owners Manual" of your tow vehicle, it will state at what weight a WDH is required. Popup ? No. 3000lb TT and up...I'd go with Yes.
I just checked my Frontier owners manual and it says, "use of a WDH is recommended when towing over 5000lbs".
Other than complying with manufacturer recommendations in the owners manual, are there towing situations where it's safe to not use a WDH? I often see horse trailers and car trailers being towed without a WDH. Am I correct to assume as TV specifications increase, the need for a WDH decreases?
Why are WDH often seen on travel trailers but not on cargo trailers..weights being equal of course?
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Old 05-15-2019, 10:50 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by upflying View Post
I just checked my Frontier owners manual and it says, "use of a WDH is recommended when towing over 5000lbs".

Other than complying with manufacturer recommendations in the owners manual, are there towing situations where it's safe to not use a WDH? I often see horse trailers and car trailers being towed without a WDH. Am I correct to assume as TV specifications increase, the need for a WDH decreases?

Why are WDH often seen on travel trailers but not on cargo trailers..weights being equal of course?
With a Frontier? I'd say it's an absolute must.

Those trailers typically have different weight and frontal area dynamics (not to mention large flat areas).

"Can" and "Should" are two very different things.
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Old 05-15-2019, 10:50 AM   #6
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There are a few things to consider so it depends on the vehicle. I have pulled my camper with an F250 without a WDH. The tongue weight was below what the 250 required. That said I did not go far and would prefer the WDH for the sway control.

My F150 hitch sticker and manual both say Tongue weight over 500 requires a WDH. I also pull a larger but lighter work trailer and do not use a WDH with it and it would be similar to maybe an rpod.

My old SUV did not want a WDH (unibody issues maybe) but also could not tow anything heavy.

Travel trailers are typically much heavier than cargo trailers (higher off the ground too) and the loads can be managed better because it is a large empty space and light when unloaded. The wind getting under the trailer pushes it much more than a lower trailer will. Of the trailers I have pulled TTs are heavier by far unloaded. Once loaded this can change significantly and then you see cargo trailers getting WDH added. The heaviest cargo trailer I pulled was a gooseneck and solid steel and heavy. It was a horse trailer so plenty of room and well balanced because the heaviest load moves around.
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Old 05-15-2019, 10:55 AM   #7
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IMHO, it is contractors, who are always in a hurry, who forego both the expense and bother of using a WDH. See it all the time around here. Haven't noticed one way or the other with big horse trailers - although the trucks tend to be all heavy duty class pickups or larger.
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Old 05-15-2019, 11:13 AM   #8
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Only you can decide.

We picked our camper up 4 hrs away from our house. I listened to everybody and went and bought a WDH beforehand. When we picked the camper up, I couldn't get the hitch shank adjusted right and just ended up going with a normal hitch to tow it home that day and mess with the WDH when I got home. I drove 4 hrs on the freeway in 20 MPH winds and the truck didn't move an inch. The truck towed it like a champ. Even when semi's went past me there was nothing. Maybe our trailer is just balanced well, or the truck is just matched well but it towed great. A couple of weeks later, got the WDH all set up and went for our first camping trip and it really didn't make any difference with the WDH at all. Maybe a little less bouncy while in town going through intersections and what not but on the highway, almost zero difference.

WDH hitches were designed a long time ago for cars and station wagons who didn't have the suspension to help them tow better. So todays SUV's and small trucks probably fall into that category. Most trucks I think could handle a medium size trailer without issue. My trailer is 5000 lbs fully loaded and 21 feet long. Any bigger and I would say it is a requirement to have a WDH.

Hook up your trailer without it and see how it tows. If it sways and is all over the place, you know you would benefit from a WDH. It might tow just fine without it.
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Old 05-15-2019, 12:10 PM   #9
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my dually is always hitched to a trailer, either my small 24ft camper or my open deck car hauler.

Part of the reason a lot of car haulers don't use weight distribution is the ability to shift the load on the trailer. open deck car trailers also tend not to have much wind resistance. I have load bars for my car trailer but rarely use them. Usually just when im towing a diesel pickup and cant get the weight far enough back.

When I had a 36ft enclosed 2 car trailer I used WDH but no sway control but it was a HEAVY triaxle trailer.

My camper is light but a wind sail, I use my WDH because It has sway built into it and I like the sway control even with the dually but don't need the weight portion.

Long winded way of saying you need to do what's safe for your trailer and truck. Every setup is different.
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Old 05-15-2019, 12:50 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by upflying View Post
I just checked my Frontier owners manual and it says, "use of a WDH is recommended when towing over 5000lbs".
Other than complying with manufacturer recommendations in the owners manual, are there towing situations where it's safe to not use a WDH? I often see horse trailers and car trailers being towed without a WDH. Am I correct to assume as TV specifications increase, the need for a WDH decreases?
Why are WDH often seen on travel trailers but not on cargo trailers..weights being equal of course?
When I had a half ton pickup I often used a WDH on my box and car trailers. But never for short in my area runs. I still have the same box trailer but rarely haul it long distance fully loaded and I now have a fifth wheel car hauler.

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Old 05-15-2019, 12:55 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by 007matman View Post
With a Frontier? I'd say it's an absolute must.

Those trailers typically have different weight and frontal area dynamics (not to mention large flat areas).

"Can" and "Should" are two very different things.
Oh, I am using an Equalizer WDH with my Frontier.
I forgot the added benefit of using a WDH is for sway control.
It sounds like a light trailer pulled by a heavy duty pickup (sometimes known as overkill) might not need a WDH.
Of course, each situation is different.
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Old 05-15-2019, 01:16 PM   #12
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Well, I have never seen or used a WDH on a horse trailer, but most that are larger than two horse trailers are "goose necks". I have never used a WDH on a boat trailer (21' Boston Whaler, 28' pontoon etc.). I did and would without question use a WDH on a 21', 7,500 TT and a 28' 6,500 TT. I don't use a WDH on my current TT which is 18' and weighs in at about 3,500. I would follow the tow vehicles recommendation...or use a WDH when the tongue weight is 500 or more as a rule of thumb.
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Old 05-15-2019, 01:32 PM   #13
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I don't know how to make multiple links so I have copied a previous post from myself, then DieselDrax response and then my response about need for WDH. Hope this helps.

[QUOTE=jwfrede;2082912]It depends on the tow vehicle cargo capacity. I had a WDH installed since this was my first TT, but the dealer said I probably didn't need one and he wouldn't bother. I have 1800 cargo capacity and 4500lb dry trailer, probably 5500lb without filling the tanks. I recently had gastritis and didn't feel like dealing with it on my last trip to Florida this past winter. Couldn't tell the difference. My camper has one queen bed and the dining table makes into a 52"x 84" bed.

Originally Posted by DieselDrax View Post
At 5,500LB and 10+% weight on the tongue you are exceeding the weight-carrying hitch capacity of your truck by not using the WDH. This is stated right on the sticker of your hitch.


If you couldn't tell the difference between using the WDH and not I have to wonder if your WDH is properly set up, too.


You need a WDH with that trailer and truck combo. Make sure it's adjusted according to the F-150 owner's manual.


You are right, I was likely over the hitch rating by 50-100 lb, with the maximum tongue load listed at 500lb for an F-150. With a weight distribution hitch(WDH) the maximum tongue load is listed at 1220 lb for the F-150. Therefore, I did not over load the vehicle frame or the receiver itself with a 5500lb trailer, assuming 15% tongue weight(825lb), as the 825lb is well under the 1220lb limit.

So why is the standard trailer hitch rated at only 500 lb? Itís to prevent the user from overloading the rear axle. The weight transfer of the WTH is caused by rotational forces centered at the hitch ball. The tensioned chain produces the rotational forces. For the tow vehicle, the chain pulls up on the weight distribution bar. This results in a reduced load on the vehicle rear axle and an increased load on the front axle. For the trailer, the chain pulls down on the tongue which increases the load on the trailer's axle. There isn't much change to tongue weight. I have read a WDH reduces tongue weight 10-15%, maybe 100lb or so for this sized trailer, depending on how tight the chains are stressed. The WDH weighs maybe 60lb or so depending on brand, so maybe 50lb or less is actually reduced from tongue weight of the base trailer.

So did I overload the rear axle? I estimate that with an 825 lb tongue weight that I was still about 300-400 lb under the 1825lb cargo capacity of the vehicle after counting up the stuff in the vehicle. So likely I did not overload the rear axle. However, I wonít know for sure until I get the rig properly weighed which I will now plan to do.

So why didnít I notice much difference without tightening the WDH chains? Likely the WDH supplied by the dealer doesnít do a lot of weight transfer. It is possible to oversize a WDH and I figure they installed a relatively weak WDH since my trailer is not much over the limits. Either that or they didnít know what they are doing. I should hit the scales with and without the WDH.

So my basic point was you need a truck with a bigger unused cargo capacity to pull even a moderate sized trailer without a WDH. Actually if he got a F250 he would have plenty of choices.
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Old 05-15-2019, 01:47 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by upflying View Post
Just a few questions about the WDH and the LCH.
Is a WDH universally required in all travel trailer and tow vehicle situations?
I understand the purpose of a WDH is to transfer some of the hitch weight to the steering axle of the tow vehicle.
Is there a situation where the travel trailer and it's hitch weight is so light that a WDH isn't needed? Is there a situation where the tow vehicle specifications are so capable (for example, diesel, 1 ton, dually) that a WDH isn't required?
If so, who or what decides when a WDH is or isn't required?
You'll get answers all over the map but the answer is in the owners manuals. The manual for your tow vehicle and the manual for the trailer. The trailer manual will probably tell you to consult the tow vehicle manual.

Putting weight on the ball removes weight from the steering axle. The amount of weight removed is a result of how much weight is being applied (W), the distance from the center of the ball to the rear axle (X) and the distance the steer axle is from the rear axle (L). If you plug various weights/lengths into the calculator you will have an understanding of the affect: https://www.engineersedge.com/calcul...e_levers_1.htm
-The shorter the wheelbase on the tow vehicle the greater affect on removing weight from the front axle.

Back to the owners manual (and I will use my truck in sig)...A wdh is not required up to the maximum 2000lbs tongue weight for the long wheelbase. The short bed truck version requires a wdh above 1500lbs tongue weight. Other trucks are different.

I don't use a wdh and have seen tongue weights from 950 to 1500lbs on the tongue. The entire setup feels great at any highway speed and wind condition across the plains I have encountered but I prefer the ride when the tongue weight is nearer the higher end.
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Old 05-15-2019, 04:30 PM   #15
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I bought a trailer to go with my 1979 5500lb, 25ft sailboat. Had surge brakes on the trailer, therefore no WDH. I 1st tried towing with a 1980 Ford LTD Station Wagon (350 V8) because I was told the boat weighed 4500lbs. Squatted way too much, even with air bags on the rear axle. Realized I could easily relocate the trailer axles on the trailer frame. I first adjusted tongue weight too light, and induced sway. After recovering, I found a happy medium at 350lbs tongue weight (measured). I later towed with a '90 Suburban 3/4T, 4WD, 4.10 rear axle. What a difference, but I digress.

The shape of the front end of the trailer and the tongue weight relative to vehicle suspension make a huge difference in whether a trailer will sway or not. RVs, with their barn door fronts, are much more prone to sway than boats or even a U-Haul trailer. The rear end squat of a TV without WDH also makes sway more likely, as the steering traction and feel is compromised on the TV.

Once I tried the E2 WDH on my minivan/A-frame combo, I was completely hooked on towing with a WDH for any heavy (over 300lbs) tongue weight on any soft rear suspension tow vehicle. The E2 600/6000 restored my minivan handling while towing to stock, making it comfortable enough for DW to drive towing the A-frame, even in 35MPH cross-winds on I-76 on the plains of Colorado.

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Old 05-16-2019, 05:23 PM   #16
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The best way to estimate the need for a Weight Distributing Hitch (WDH) is to measure the front wheel space between the front tire(s) and top of the fender opening before hook-up. Then hook up the trailer tongue and observe the space again. If the fender rise increases significantly, the WDH will correct it by adding part of the new hitch weight back to the front axle by simply adjusting it that way.

The reason axle miss-loading needs correcting is because the steering traction is significantly reduced when the vehicle body lifts in front. Unfortunately , to make it worse, the steering is reduced when you may need it the most. You may need it to correct the now-heavier combination vehicle path in an emergency maneuver to avoid an accident. You won't always notice it until you need it.


Note this is why trucks that haul huge, heavy mobile homes have very short rear overhang behind the rear axle. If your tow vehicle has much rear overhang (most do) the problem becomes worse since an ordinary trailer gains more leverage with this "excess" overhang length, leverage enough for the cargo to easily whip and steer the tow vehicle on windy days.


This is also why no WDH has the Control Level that matches well built-in expensive hitches like Hensley, ProPride or the original PullRite. These "geometric linkage" hitches literally increase the leverage of the tow vehicle to provide a greater steering torque to the trailer under extreme conditions. In high winds, they are considered by many to be superior to 5th-wheel or gooseneck type hitches which also apply trailer sway forces very near the rear axle of the tow vehicle in a simpler, but top-heavy manner.


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Old 05-17-2019, 04:11 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Wes Tausend View Post
The best way to estimate the need for a Weight Distributing Hitch (WDH) is to measure the front wheel space between the front tire(s) and top of the fender opening before hook-up. Then hook up the trailer tongue and observe the space again. If the fender rise increases significantly, the WDH will correct it by adding part of the new hitch weight back to the front axle by simply adjusting it that way.

...
Wes
Why estimate?
The amount of tongue weight that requires a tow vehicle to use a wdh is spelled out in black and white in the manual...
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Old 05-17-2019, 09:24 AM   #18
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Why estimate?
The amount of tongue weight that requires a tow vehicle to use a wdh is spelled out in black and white in the manual...
My Frontier manual says a WDH is required for towing over 5000 lbs. That weight seems excessively high when my tow rating is only 6300. I am overloaded on the relatively low Frontier GVWR of 5730 lbs.
As mentioned, I am using a Equalizer WDH even though I am well below the 5000lb manufacturer recommendation.
I also noticed my Frontier owners manual says pulling trailers weighing more than 3000lbs must have tandem axles.
Ooops.
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Old 05-17-2019, 03:02 PM   #19
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My Frontier manual says a WDH is required for towing over 5000 lbs. That weight seems excessively high when my tow rating is only 6300. I am overloaded on the relatively low Frontier GVWR of 5730 lbs.
As mentioned, I am using a Equalizer WDH even though I am well below the 5000lb manufacturer recommendation.
I also noticed my Frontier owners manual says pulling trailers weighing more than 3000lbs must have tandem axles.
Ooops.
Not following the tandem axle requirement is more than an oops...Me personally, I wouldn't do it because if something happened it would bother my conscience.
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Old 05-17-2019, 05:41 PM   #20
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Not following the tandem axle requirement is more than an oops...Me personally, I wouldn't do it because if something happened it would bother my conscience.
Which is one reason why I am shopping for another TV.
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