How The Weight Distribution Hitch Work?

How The Weight Distribution Hitch Work?

Understanding the principles behind the weight distribution hitch will give you a better idea of how it works and how important it is.

This post is not a technical paper. It is written to help ordinary individuals understand how to use the weight distribution hitch properly and avoid untoward accidents.

How To Calculate Tongue Weight (TW) And Gross Trailer Weight (GTW)

To be able to choose the right components to tow your trailer safely, you need to determine its tongue weight (TW). As you know, it is the weight that is loaded in the trailer that brings it down on the hitch ball of the tow vehicle.

You can determine the tongue weight of your trailer in various ways – tongue weight scale, commercial scale, bathroom scale and weigh safe ball mount.

The simplest way to determine the tongue weight is by commercial scale.
Bring your trailer and your towing vehicle in the truck stop, material supply center or quarry. It is not free, but the fee is only minimal.

Weigh The Tow Vehicle With Tongue Weight


Before weighing the vehicle and the trailer make sure that it is entirely loaded and fueled as if you are leaving for a trip.

Drive your towing car on the scale with all the four wheels and then record the weight of the tow trailer with the trailer connected.

Weight The Tow Vehicle Without The Tongue Weight


While the tow truck is still on the weighing scale, loosen the trailer and jack up the trailer tongue to free it from any weight. Take note of the truck weight on the scale.

It will serve as the GVW or the gross vehicle weight. Subtract the weight of the tow truck without the trailer from the mass of the tow vehicle with the trailer. It will serve as your tongue weight.

When using a weight distribution system, you need to put the weight of any gear that you will carry behind the back axle of the towing vehicle. In choosing the right weight distribution system, add the mass of the gear to the tongue weight.

In determining the mass of the stuff on the rear axle, then weigh the vehicle without and with the gear. Then deduct the mass with no gear to the weight with the stuff. The result you will get is the mass of your gear.


To make it easier to understand, let A – denotes the weight of the tow vehicle with tongue weightB – is the weight of the tow vehicle without tongue weight, and C denotes the weight of your gear.

So, the weight of the vehicle with gear behind the back axle minus the weight of the vehicle without the gear behind the back axle is equal to the weight of your gear.

Tongue Weight (TW) for Weight Distribution System = A – B + C

How Does The Hitch Work? 

If a trailer is connected to a vehicle, there is an increase in the weight of the rear of the vehicle. The added mass can change the handling of the vehicle due to the imbalance of weight from the front to the back.

The weight distribution hitches are made to address the problems with hauling the trailer and preventing accidents. It restores even balance across the axles of the trailer and vehicle. Their objective is to let the vehicle be driven at the optimum allowed speed without comprising your safety.

The weight distribution hitches work by altering the point at which the load of the trailer is transferred to the vehicle. Basically, the entire tow ball weight of the trailer is carried and transferred at the tow ball. The weight distribution hitches correct this by distributing the weight across the axles of the trailer and vehicle just like lifting a wheelbarrow.

Check the image below it shows how a tow vehicle and a trailer would look like if you end up buying the wrong weight distribution hitch or if you travel with your trailer without a hitch.

The four major components work together to provide complete towing system compatibility.

The weight distribution hitch is composed of the following elements:

  • Ball mount
  • Hitch receiver
  • Spring bar assembly
  • Sway control 

Ball Mount

Hitch receiver

Spring bar assembly

Sway control


If you have too much TW with GTW, it may cause the trailer hitch and the rear axle of your towing vehicle to dive. It means that the front portion of the trailer will sag toward the ground, and bring the front part of the towing vehicle off the ground. If you need to brake quickly and your truck declines too far, you will lose braking traction and steering control of the wheels on the front axle. It is not good as you might get into a perilous situation.

The uneven distribution of weight is very dangerous particularly if you need to make quick stop or turn. It can cause an accident, and you would not want this to happen.

The same situation may occur if you have less relative tongue weight. In these instances, the possibility of the trailer swaying is high, and it might get out of control. Because of these two bad options, you can see why it is essential to find the right balance between the gross trailer weight and tongue weight.

Although the weight distribution system cannot add the total amount of weight a tow vehicle can carry beyond its maximum capacity, how the weight is distributed off the tongue and into the axles is improved – thus safely bringing you closer to that maximum mark.

How The Weight Distribution Hitch Work


Weight distribution hitches can help avoid those dangerous conditions, and the towing vehicle will not have a hard time making a brake, steer, and turn, mainly if you are towing a large cargo, which is hard to maneuver in a safe and controlled way.

If you are hauling a smaller load, you can do it with a weight-carrying hitch. Generally, if your trailer weighs more than 50% of the towing vehicle’s weight, you require to use one of these hitches. Also, once you achieve certain gross trailer weights, the weight distribution system is obliged by law.


For your safety hauling and transporting of your trailer as you travel it is important that you choose the right weight distribution hitch.

Understanding how it works and why you need one makes it easier for you to decide which is the best hitch for your need.

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