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Old 04-25-2012, 11:39 AM   #1
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Question Weight Distribution Hitch

Does anyone here have a weight Distribution Hitch on their pop-up or A-frame? I have a Montana Van to pull my 228D Pop-up. The Van has no Tow Package, so to make up for the lack of the tow package's auto-leveling airbag suspension I decided to put on a small weight distribution hitch.

I haven't gotten the hitch installed and adjusted yet... but I was just wondering...

My driveway is inclined.... and my street has a small crown to it. Is this going to put too much pressure on the ball/spring bars as I pull out of the driveway?

Comments/Thoughts?
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Old 04-25-2012, 12:12 PM   #2
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No expert here but I'm learning. Your van was likely designed to have tongue weight on the hitch. It may or may not be designed to twist the hitch forward like a WD hitch does. Most modern minivans do not have frames, but only reinforced sheet metal to bolt the hitch to. It is very good as intended, but some manufacturers don't like WD hitches. I put air bags on my jeep. Less than $100...but, WD hitch would have probably been better in my application. Just food for thought.
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Old 04-25-2012, 12:32 PM   #3
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Check your owners manual regarding use of a WDH. I may not be allowed on a uniforms vehicle and is normally not recommended.

On my Jeep I use a WDH setup, see my signature for details.

If your Montana is spaced to tow the total weight and handle the 300 lb plus tongue weight you should be ok. I would suggest an auxiliary transmission cooler to prevent overheating of your transmission. Too much heat will kill the trans.
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Old 04-25-2012, 01:01 PM   #4
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I agree with those guys above. You should check your manual.

Also, what size receiver is on the van now? I see a lot of class II (1 1/4") receivers on vans and I don't know of a WDH for class II. It would need to be class III.

Certainly install an aux transmission cooler and a brake controller.
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Old 04-25-2012, 01:04 PM   #5
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having access to a real computer (was on my iPhone earlier) I can see that the 2009 Montana V6 with 3.29 axle ratio has a maximum trailer tow of 3500 lbs (and 8500 lbs GCWR) WITH the V92 Towing Package (or Heavy Duty Cooling). WITHOUT the V92 y ou are limited to 2000 lbs (and 7000 lbs GCWR).

I would suggest looking into the heavy duty towing / cooling packages and seeing what you will need to do to make sure you update the necessary cooling (transmission cooler at a minimum) otherwise you will face premature transmission failure. I'm not sure what else is included in that package other than the cooler (maybe larger cooling capacity for radiator). I would guess the wiring harness, hitch would be part of that package too.

There is no mention in the 2009 Montana V6 owners manual of Weight Distribution Hitches so I would take that to mean you CANNOT use a WDH setup on your van. I rarely suggest checking with the stealership, but that might be a good idea.
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Old 04-25-2012, 03:22 PM   #6
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I have put in a Tranny cooler, Brake Controller, and Class III hitch from Hidden Hitch. The Hitch is a custom fit for my van and the Label on it says it can be used with weight distribution systems. I would think that the label wouldn't be there if you couldn't use it for my van.... but I'll check the manual tonight.

I have checked with 3 dealers.... only one ever got back to me simply saying that the Tow package included (not limited to) Hitch, Wiring, a high output alternator, air bag suspension with associated compressor/computer/ and sensors for load leveling, Larger Rad and Tranny cooler, etc, etc, etc. And it would cost more than the van was worth to install the "Factory Tow Package"

I'm not going into the mountains with it, and not going long distances. I live in the relatively flat Canadian Prairies and only expect to be going to the local provincial parks and back.

I believe that I am within the limitations of the van with the modifications that I have made... but am still learning as well.
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Old 04-25-2012, 05:42 PM   #7
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Hopefully someone with more knowledge with unibody vehicles and WDH will chime in. My knowledge is a little limited there.

However I would not trust the label for the 3rd party branded hitch to mean that WDH is safe for your unibody van. I would personally want a more definitive answer to that question. That's just me however.

Have you measured the amount of sag in rear and lift in front when hitched? If you have less than an inch of rear dag and less than a 1/2 inch of lift in the front then I'd say there is no need for WDH (again, my opinion).
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Old 04-25-2012, 05:51 PM   #8
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There are a lot of minivans running with wdh. The rear suspension is soft so you need it if you have much weight on the hitch. I would be worried about the pop up. Quit a few of them do not allow weight distribution hitches because the frame is not strong enough.
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Old 04-25-2012, 06:09 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Happy Vibe
There are a lot of minivans running with wdh. The rear suspension is soft so you need it if you have much weight on the hitch. I would be worried about the pop up. Quit a few of them do not allow weight distribution hitches because the frame is not strong enough.
I think the AFrames are fine with WDH. They have a pretty heavy frame. I've not seen any issues with my A126, with about 900-1000 mes of towing.
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Old 04-25-2012, 06:11 PM   #10
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Regarding WDH and the AFrames: I only use a 600 lb WDH setup, and use the next to last link and a little head angle. I've not put it on the scales to get a real number on how much weight distribution that creates but it's not much compared to heavier WDH setups
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Old 04-25-2012, 06:27 PM   #11
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I am not sure what the frames are like on the aframes but on the popup's they are not that strong. The best thing to do is check the owners manual. It will normally say if a WDH is not recommended.
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Old 04-25-2012, 06:50 PM   #12
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The AFrame units all have full box frames. The recommendation to avoid WDH with popups is typically applicable to c-channel frames that are much weaker than the box frames.

My A126 did not come with an AFrame specific manual (as I imagine there is no such thing - or wasn't for the 2011 models). The manual that came with it was for a Rockwood Premiere tent camper. I don't recall any info regarding WDH in that manual, not that it would necessarily apply to the AFrames.
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Old 04-25-2012, 07:10 PM   #13
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I was trying to answer the posters question and he has a popup. I have towed a popup with a minivan for many years. My trailer is lighter than the posters. I did not have a problem without the WDH as my TW was only 230 lbs and there was only two of us with very little else in the van. The posters popup looks like it would weigh close to 3000 lbs with 300 lbs of TW. With that much weight a WDH would be a good idea as long as the popup can handle it.
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Old 04-25-2012, 07:18 PM   #14
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As far as the driveway is concerned I don' t think you will have a problem as long as your driveway is not too steep. My driveway goes up about 2 feet over 20 feet and with my current trailer I have an E2 WDH . I do not have a problem hitching or unhitching.
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Old 04-25-2012, 10:35 PM   #15
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My driveway is also probably around 2 feet over 30. So I doubt I will have a problem either...just though 'd get some discussion going. I was just looking at a few posts on e-trailer.com and they have also given some recommendations for WDH on minivans... so I'm thinking I'm OK there.

As far as the frame.... It is a full box frame... not a C channel.

My WDH is a Curt 600lb Trunion model which is the smallest that Curt makes. The Dry tounge weight of the trailer is 309lbs.... but once you add 60lb for battery.... and 40lb for Propane tank, any luggage behind the axel of the van... and the 169 lb of the sway control and WDH hitch itself.... I'm at about 580lbs. (Might be a little high considering that 100% of all of that weight is not only on the tounge.)
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Old 04-25-2012, 11:02 PM   #16
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If I was to take a wild stab at this, I'd guess the TW will be closer to 350 or maybe as high as 400lbs. Definitely not in the 600 range, which is good news for you because there is no minivan made today that could handle that TW.

You are right that the weight from your battery, propane and the hitch will count, but it won't be quite that high.

The trailer fully loaded with all that stuff plus cargo will have to stay under the GVWR of 3,000.

A midrange 13% will give you 390lbs. You'll probably pack lighter, too. So, 350 is where I'll put my money.
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Old 04-26-2012, 12:06 PM   #17
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My 2004 Montana Manual only mentions weight distributing hitches once... and alll it says is:

"If you are using a weight-carrying or a weight-distributing
hitch, the trailer tongue weight (A) should be 10 percent
to 15 percent of the total loaded trailer weight (B).
Do not exceed the maximum allowable tongue weight
for your vehicle."
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Old 04-26-2012, 12:12 PM   #18
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I would say that the mini van has sufficient length that air bags might do the trick. On a short wheelbase vehicle like my Wrangler, the leverage from the hitch to the rear axle is much greater. (it is easier to lift the front since the fulcrum [rear axle] is relatively close to the front axle) Air bags make it much easier to hitch up and go, and also will not be affected going through dips and up steep driveways. As a side note, I put the air bags on my jeep before I researched any of this. Now, I have tested and found that the air bags only allow 1/2 in sag in the rear and about 1/2 inch rise in the front. So on a very short wheelbase car, they help. I do not however have that extra weight on the front axle that might be important in panic stop situations. I'm confidant the trailer brakes will make that entirely tolerable.
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Old 04-26-2012, 12:26 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lemoj1 View Post
My 2004 Montana Manual only mentions weight distributing hitches once... and alll it says is:

"If you are using a weight-carrying or a weight-distributing
hitch, the trailer tongue weight (A) should be 10 percent
to 15 percent of the total loaded trailer weight (B).
Do not exceed the maximum allowable tongue weight
for your vehicle."
Well - at least you know its OK to use a WDH if you wanted to.

What does the manual list for the max tongue weight?
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Old 04-26-2012, 01:05 PM   #20
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I Lied.... The Manual also says this
"• If you will be pulling a trailer that, when loaded, will
weigh more than 2,000 lbs. (900 kg), be sure to
use a properly mounted, weight-carrying hitch and
sway control of the proper size. This equipment
is very important for proper vehicle loading
and good handling when you are driving."
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