bing tracking image

Confidently Choose Your Weight Distribution Hitch - Here's 5 Tips

Choosing the right weight distribution hitch is crucial for maintaining a level ride, preventing excessive tire wear, and avoiding excess suspension strain. But with so many options—size, sway control, spring bar variations—there's a lot to consider before you buy!To make the whole process easier, we put together a list of the top 5 questions you should ask yourself when shopping for a weight distribution hitch. Check out the list below!
Tips for Choosing Weight Distribution—Ask Yourself These 5 Questions:
  • What Size Weight Distribution Hitch Do I Need?
  • What is Sway Control, and What Type Do I Need?
  • Do I Want to Get Out of My Car to Back Up?
  • How Do I Install My Weight Distribution Hitch?
  • Round vs. Trunnion vs. Square Bars: Which Should I Use?
Watch Now: Choosing the Best Weight Distribution System

1. What Size Weight Distribution Hitch Do I Need?

For the best ride, you'll need a weight distribution hitch designed for your trailer's tongue weight. If you choose a WDH that is too light for your application, the hitch won't be effective. If you go too heavy, however, you'll suffer a rigid ride and a bouncy trailer.Weight distribution system capacity ranges from 100 lbs to over 2,000 lbs. To choose the right weight distribution hitch size, you'll need to determine your trailer tongue weight and the weight of any cargo behind the rear axle. That number will be the tongue weight your weight distribution hitch will need to support.For a step-by-step walkthrough on choosing the right size weight distribution hitch, check out our article here.
Weight Distribution Hitch

2. What is Sway Control, and What Type Do I Need?

Sway control, as the name suggests, controls trailer sway, so you don't have a heart attack every time a big rig flies past you in the next lane. Sway control systems use various friction points to prevent/reduce sway and keep your trailer in line.Trailer sway can be caused by crosswinds, poor trailer loading (if the load is too far back), or inadequate spring bar tension in the weight distribution system. The use of a weight distribution hitch by itself may help limit trailer sway by evenly distributing the weight of the load, but it will do little to improve sway caused by crosswinds.That's where sway control comes in. Some weight distribution hitches have built-in sway control. Others come without the sway control, although in most cases, sway control friction bars can be added to these systems.Sway-control of some sort is typically recommended. The best type of sway control for you depends on what you are planning to tow and how often you plan to tow it. Check out our article on sway control for help choosing the best system for your rig.
Truck and Weight Distribution Hitch

3. Do I Want to Get Out of My Car to Back Up?

A common question we receive is whether or not it's possible to back up with a weight distribution hitch. The answer is yes—it is possible to back up with weight distribution installed, but depending on your system, it might not be the most convenient thing to do.Weight distribution systems with friction sway control mechanisms must be disconnected before you reverse. Backing up your vehicle when these systems are engaged will result in damage to your system. However, it only takes a few seconds to disengage the system and allow reversal. The inconvenience comes with having to get out of your car, disengage the system, get in your car to reverse, then get back out of your car to re-engage the system again.If you're looking for a more convenient solution, 2-point and 4-point systems do allow you to back up without disconnecting first. Friction bar systems tend to be more value-priced, but if convenience is at the top of your wish list, it's worth looking into a 2-point or 4-point system.
Truck and Weight Distribution Hitch

4. How Do I Install My Weight Distribution Hitch?

If you're planning on installing the hitch yourself, ease of installation is probably a concern. For a detailed explanation of how to install a weight distribution hitch, click here. For now, we'll just tell you what to look for when determining how easy (or not) a weight distribution hitch is to install.

Head Adjustment Methods

Part of installing a weight distribution hitch is achieving the correct amount of tension in your system. This is partially done by adjusting the tilt of the head assembly. There are a few ways to do this, depending on the system you choose. Some methods are easier than others.Traditional systems use a washer-style adjustment method. These are typically the most tedious systems to install, since the washers are located inside the head assembly. If you need to adjust the head tilt during installation, you have to disassemble the head, make your adjustment, and reassemble it (then repeat until you achieve the right amount of tension.)Some manufacturers have taken steps to go beyond this method. Many newer systems feature serrated or dual washers located externally on the head assembly, where they can be used to easily fine-tune the system.
Equal-i-zer Head Assembly
Weight Distribution Hitch Head Assemblies - Easiest vs Hardest to Adjust

Sway Control Methods

Sway control systems also affect the ease of installation. Traditional chain-and-bracket systems with friction bars are about average in difficulty. However, chainless 2-point and 4-point systems provide better sway control, and they're easier to install, since you just have to lift the bars into place on top of the L-brackets (no chain adjustments required). Dual-cam systems like the Reese Strait-Line provide the best sway control available, but the dual cams present an additional challenge during installation.
Weight Distribution Chain and Bracket System
L-Bracket Weight Distribution and Sway Control System
Dual-Cam Weight Distribution Hitch
Weight Distribution Hitch Sway Control - Easiest vs Hardest to Install
Note that some systems (like the Reese Strait-Line mentioned above) are easier-than-average when it comes to head adjustment methods but harder-than-average when it comes to sway control. Or, alternatively, systems like the Equal-i-zer possess the tedious traditional washer system but have a fairly simple 4-point sway control system.Ultimately, you may have to sacrifice ease of installation in one area for ease in another, or for a system that meets all your other requirements. You can read more about the different types of head assemblies and sway control types here for help deciding which system you'll feel comfortable installing.

5. Round vs. Trunnion vs. Square Bars: Which Should I Use?

Spring bars are available in three main styles: round, trunnion, and square. The heads of weight distribution systems also come in different styles to suit these bar types.Although spring bar style isn't typically at the top of the list of criteria when choosing a weight distribution hitch, if it comes down to a choice between two similar systems, spring bar style may help swing your decision one way or another.
Round Weight Distribution Spring Bars
Round bars slide into the head from the bottom, so they are lower to the ground and don't provide as much clearance.

Round Bars

Round-style bars slide up into the head, twist in, and are held in place with clips. With round bars, it is easier to adjust the angle of the ball mount for the correct towing position, compared to other types of bars. Round bars are typically priced more economically than other bars.On the other hand, they don't offer as much ground clearance as other types, and they are suited more for lighter towing applications.
Weight Distribution Trunnion Spring Bars
Trunnion bars slide into the head from the side or back, so they typically provide greater ground clearance than round bars.

Trunnion Bars

Trunnion bars slide into the head from the side or back. They are typically easier to connect than round bars and are better suited for heavy-duty applications. They also offer greater ground clearance than round bars due to the way they attach to the head assembly.Trunnion bars typically cost more than round bars.
Weight Distribution - Square and Specialty Spring Bars
Square bars slide into the head similar to the way that trunnion bars do. They also provide a similar amount of ground clearance.

Square and Specialty Spring Bars

Some manufacturers use specialized spring bars for their systems. Equal-i-zer, for example, has square spring bars that are most similar to the trunnion style in terms of how they mount and function. The Husky Center Line system uses specially shaped spring bars to produce tension in the head and friction at the frame brackets to prevent trailer sway.These specialty bars, like trunnion spring bars, allow for maximum ground clearance.
Still have questions? Give our experts a call at 800-298-8924, or contact us online. We're happy to assist any way we can!
Save or Share This Idea
Related ArticlesRelated ProductsWritten by: Amber S.Updated: 5/4/19

Terri S.

4/2/2023

I have an e2 hitch and I'm looking for info on what is a "normal" wear pattern for the various parts, and what might indicate a problem (for example, too much tongue weight).

Steve M.

9/17/2022

Have a 2019 Ram (5.7 Hemi) with factory trailer tow pkg. Just purchased a 2014 StarCraft Widebody 25’ travel trailer. Came with E2 Hitch. Have only pulled it twice. Before second pull I adjusted the L-brackets up one notch to increase equalization. Still a bit light on the steer. Should I go up one more hole on the L-brackets to provide more WD? Adjusting the ball seems a bit complicated with all the washers!

David B.

9/19/2022

It can being annoying to add and remove washers but I think it is a good route to go. If you need more weight distribution you can add a washer if it's to much you can remove some. If you just want to use the L-brackets and you can get away with it that's fine. Raising them will increase and lowering them will decrease the distribution of weight. Sometimes you will need to do both to get the right adjustments though. MAKE sure you torque everything back down to the specs in the instructions.

Zack M.

9/11/2022

Looking at a new WDH and looking for recommendations. The camper dry weight is 4900 and 570 tongue weight. After battery, propane, tools etc I believe my tongue weight will be 800-850 pounds. I’m looking at the Reese Pro round bar, or fast way E2 round bar 8000 gtw. So my question is if my tongue weight is around 800 and the bars are 400-800 is that good because it’s in the range or is a 600 optimal and since I’m right on the line I would be better off with a e2 with a GTW of 600-1000?

David B.

9/12/2022

Howdy Zack, if you are on at the upper end of the limit I always suggest going one step up. If you are right at 800lbs then a unit with 800lbs in the middle range is better suited for you than a unit with a max of 800lbs.

Gary D.

9/5/2022

I am in the process of purchasing a 2023 Grand Design Transcend Xplor 240ML travel trailer. 29ft 10 in length, Dry weight of 6282 lbs/GW of 7495 lbs. In addition, I am also trading in my 2020 F 150 XLT for a 2023 F 250HD. This past weekend, we towed a 2022 CrossRoads RV Cruiser Aire CR33BHB with my F 150 XLT 4x4 and drove 450 miles, scariest drive I've ever encountered. We were out of control most of the trip with sway and bounce. Sag on the rear of the F 150 was incredible. The F 150 has sway and roll stability control, but literally every time a semi passed us, the trailer would lean and begin to sway causing the F 150 to porpoise with the trailer. The tongue weight caused the front end of the F 150 to lift, creating a feeling of hydroplaning the entire 450 miles, and me white knuckling the whole trip. I'm basing my upcoming purchases on solving some of the issue of truck towing capacity and the fact the trailer was way heavier than the towing vehicle. Is there a simpler fix for the F 150 to be able to tow a long travel trailer instead of buying a larger truck?

David B.

9/6/2022

Upgrading to the F 250 HD is the best route, pair that with a decent weight distribution hitch with sway control and you will be right at rain. The F 150 may have sway and roll control but that only goes so far. You need weight to move weight and the F 150 just doesn't have the weight to pull the larger trailers. You can put the biggest motor and best gear ratio to pull a trailer but if the platform doesn't weigh anything your not going to get much done.

Dave

7/27/2022

I have E2 equalizer hitch 10000 w/ 1000# trunnions Trailer 7850 GW with 800# tongue weight. I have the weight distribution set as per manual. I have towed it with less than tongue weight and with 800 # weight. I experience teeter tottering (bouncy) between truck and trailer when going over railroad tracks, dips in road or overpasses. Any thoughts on what I could try to lesson or what other info do you need. Thanks

David B.

8/1/2022

I think your WD hitch is fine, you're probably going to need to adjust the load in the actually trailer. You could get some air bags or some other form of suspension enhancement.


Departments

Towing

Sports and Recreation

Trailer Parts

Vehicle

What our customers are saying:

"very easy to shop"

Mike
Richmond, CA

Popular Vehicles





^
About Us
photos and videos
1,056,204
Original Photos & Videos

Produced to make sure you know what you are getting and you get exactly what you need.

installations
35,570
Installations Completed

To make sure products work and fit the way they are supposed to.

etrailer call center
2,476,511
Phone Calls & Emails Answered

1,125,924 phone calls and 1,350,587 emails to help find the right solution.

etrailer training
400+
Average Hours of Product Training

We get to know our products firsthand so experts can better help you.

etrailer service
77
Years of Quality Customer Service

Assisting our neighbors and customers, face to face at the counter.

etrailer experts
193,357
Pages of Expert Information

Created to make sure you have all the answers to your questions, from real experts.