How do I pick the right Weight Distribution System for my Vehicle?

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Blue Ox Sway Pro Weight Distribution Hitch

There are a myriad of weight distribution systems available – each with their own custom bells and whistles. Before determining which one would best fit your specific needs, you first need to determine what size system is applicable to the current capacity of your vehicle. Before we go any further, you need to understand two key terms:

HITCH

GTW describes the total weight of the trailer. The GTW includes not only the weight of the trailer, but also anything in the trailer (i.e. cargo, fuel, etc.). The gross trailer weight can be determined by placing the fully loaded trailer (i.e. the trailer as you plan to haul it) onto a vehicle scale.

Trailer Tongue Weight(TW)
Vertical Weight placed directly on the trailer hitch of the Tow Vehicle. Usually 10-15% of the trailer weight.

TW describes the weight that is far enough forward in the trailer that is presses down on the hitch itself (as opposed to pressing down on the trailer axle) as well as the weight behind the rear axle of your vehicle (i.e. weight from items loaded in the trunk or bed of your truck – this can be calculated by weighing your vehicle without the cargo loaded and then again with the cargo loaded. This difference in weight can then be added to the TW.) The TW is typically between ten to fifteen percent of the GTW and is typically measured by using a tongue weight scale.

Once the GTW and TW are determined, we can start searching for the perfect weight distribution system.

It’s imperative that you select a system that is as close to your TW as possible. If the weight distribution system selected is rated too high, it can result in a bouncing trailer due a failure of the system in effectively distributing the weight. If not rated high enough, the system will be completely ineffective because it will be overwhelmed by the weight.

If you’ve ever read Goldilocks and the Three Bears you’ll know that it has to be “just right.”

Here’s how:

Say, for example, that you have a trailer that has a tongue weight of 900 pounds and your vehicle has 100 pounds of freight in the back. Thus, your net TW, for weight distribution purpose is 1,000 pounds. As explained earlier, if you then purchase a system rated at a TW of 1,600 pounds, you may have issues because it is rated much higher than what you need and will not be able to effectively distribute the weight.

Further, if you pick a weight distribution system rated at 300 pounds (i.e. way too light), then you not benefit from the system whatsoever. When choosing a weight distribution system, it is imperative that you choose a system with a TW rating as close as possible to your needs to guarantee it will get the job done.

Now that we’ve established how to determine the rating system you need, there are also numerous weight distribution systems that vary based on a wide variety of features – such as the type of sway control used, the spring bars, the head assembly, or the lift brackets.

The standard weight distribution system without sway control

The standard weight distribution system without sway control

A standard weight distribution system without sway control is often used when the user does not anticipate any issues with sway control. Standard weight distribution systems do not come with any sort of built-in sway control. If this becomes a problem, certain sway controls – such as independent friction sway control – can be added later.

Typically Includes

  • Weight distribution shank
  • Weight distribution head
  • Spring bars
  • Lift brackets & chains
  • Installation hardware

The standard weight distribution system With sway control

Other standard weight distribution systems come with an independent friction sway control – typically in the form of an independent bar-style sway control system. If you have - or anticipate - problems with trailer sway, this type of system is often the best bargain.

Typically Includes

  • Sway control Kit
  • Weight distribution shank
  • Weight distribution head
  • Spring bars
  • Lift brackets & chains
  • Installation hardware

Blue Ox Sway Pro Weight Distribution Hitch

Blue Ox Sway Pro Weight Distribution Hitch

The Blue Ox sway pro uses the geometry and tension of a 4 point system to hold the trailer in line. Intelligent pitch angle of the head’s design works with the spring steel bars and latch attachments to prevent sway. A latch tool allows for easy wind-up, and also secures the chains.

Typically Includes

  • Sway control built into the weight distribution head
  • Weight distribution shank
  • Weight distribution head
  • Spring bars
  • Lift brackets & chains
  • Installation hardware

Anderson Hitches - No Sway Weight Distribution

Andersen Hitches also has a new Anti-sway, Anti-Bounce weight distribution hitch which is designed to adjust the amount of sway control exerted based on the amount of pressure placed on the tongue while also reducing the amount of bounce by adding a urethane spring to absorb movement. This hitch allows for an incredibly smooth and quiet ride.

Includes

  • Weight distribution shank
  • Weight distribution head
  • Trailer hitch ball
  • Frame brackets & chains - available in various widths for many trailers
  • Installation hardware

What is Sway Control ?

While weight distribution often limits trailer sway by balancing the overall towing load, proper sway control further promotes stability by reducing side-to-side movements often caused by windy conditions and passing vehicles – something that a weight distribution system will not be able to help with. It is for this reason that sway control is often recommended in addition to most weight distribution systems. There are three generally accepted systems for sway control:

An Independent friction sway control bolts into your trailer frame and into the head assembly – effectively maintaining proper tension to keep the trailer in line with your towing vehicle. If the trailer begins to sway, friction pads inside the unit collide and reduce the possibility of any further side to side sway.

Dependent friction sway controls force the trailer to stay in line with the towing vehicle by the applying downward force associated with the spring bars onto brackets on either sides of the trailer frame. This creates enough resistance to force your trailer to stay in line with your vehicle.

Finally, active sway control utilizes sliding devices to suspend the spring bars in place by bolting to both the trailer frame and the lift bracket. By limiting the movement of the spring bars, sway is reduced without limiting the other movement that is required to successfully tow your trailer.

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