Feb 14, 2022
More than 11% of the households in the United States own an RV or recreational trailer. That’s around 40 million people. Those numbers, while impressive, are pre-COVID numbers. Since the start of the pandemic, RV sales have gone through the roof, with a 33.7% rise in sales this year from 2020’s record year. The number of new individuals and families towing for the first time is at an all-time high.
One common question for first-time RVers is, what is a weight distribution hitch? Followed up by, why do I need it?
What is a Weight Distribution Hitch?
Let’s start at towing ground zero.
Most people are familiar with a ball-mount hitch. They are frequently used for boating, construction, farming, and other work-related tasks. It has a single connection point where the trailer frame is attached and locked onto the ball, like this.
As convenient and easy as this hitch is, it does not provide the most balanced and safe drive. Often you will see trucks with the front angled up and the rear sagging from the tongue weight of the trailer it is pulling. This can lead to accidents and cause mechanical or equipment failure over time.
This is where the weight distribution hitch comes into play.
There are two main types of weight distribution hitches. Chain style and rigid bracket.
Each weight distribution hitch has a hitch head that attaches to an adjustable shank. The hitch ball can be installed to fit whatever size coupler you have. Where weight distribution hitches are different is the trailer frame brackets.
Chain-style hitches feature a chain-linked through the end of the spring arm and connects to the hook bolted onto the trailer frame.
A rigid bracket design showcases solid metal arms pinned into the hitch head and placed onto L-shaped brackets.
Why You Need A Weight Distribution Hitch
The concept for both weight distribution hitches is the same, but the execution and performance are different. Both hitches achieve weight distribution, restoring balance and equilibrium to the tow vehicle and trailer. However, only the rigid bracket hitch provides the added benefit of sway control with the weight distribution aspect.
Here is the longer version.
When you couple or connect a trailer to a tow vehicle, the trailer weight presses down on the connection point. The front of the tow vehicle raises while the rear sags. This connection alone is insufficient because it can cause a loss of steering, braking, and vehicle control.
The purpose of a weight distribution hitch is to create a bridge between the trailer and the tow vehicle. It forces them to act as one unit instead of two, producing an improved connection and safer drive. As the spring arms are installed onto the L-brackets or hooks, the trailer is leveled and restores the weight lost from the front axle. This process restores braking, steering, and handling characteristics to safer levels. The difference between a chain-style hitch and a rigid bracket hitch is sway control.
Sway control, provided by a rigid bracket hitch, is protection from forces that cause your trailer to sway back and forth while driving. Examples include wind, bow waves from semi-trucks, road imperfections, quick braking, and windy roads.
An RV is more than just a toy or a way to escape. It is a way of life. Make sure that this new way of life for you is the best and safest it can be.