If you’ve ever been towing a trailer and suddently it started tosway… oh boy, you know the feeling.
White knuckles, adrenaline rush, please dear Lord help us.
It may have been from the wind, including from a passing semi truck, or it might have been because of the roadway itself. In any case, it’s easy to feel as though you might lose control of the vehicle in that kind of circumstance.
In this article, I’ll review the best weight distribution hitch, which is the simple mechanical way to overcome this problem.
These systems improve the safety of the connection between a vehicle and a trailer by helping to redistribute the weight of the trailer more evenly across the axles of the vehicle.
- Top 5 Best Weight Distribution Hitches – Reviews
- The Mission of a Weight Distribution Hitch
- Buyer’s Guide
- Weight Distribution Hitch Installation
Top 5 Best Weight Distribution Hitches – Reviews
Equal-i-zer 4-point Sway Control Hitch, 90-00-1000, 10,000 Lbs Trailer Weight Rating, 1,000 Lbs Tongue Weight Rating, Weight Distribution Kit Includes Standard Hitch Shank, Ball NOT Included
ANDERSEN HITCHES | Weight Distribution Hitch | No Bounce No Sway | Tow Accessories | Universal Hitch Towing System Kit | Easy Trailer Control | 4″ Drop/Rise, 2-5/16″ Ball, 14k lb GTWR, 1400 lb tongue weight | Grease free system | 3350
1. Equal-i-zer 90001000
The Equal-i-zer is probably the best weight distribution hitch there’s on the market, period.
I mean, you’re still going to stress the day prior you head to a week vacation where you’re going to do a few thousand miles towing an RV, but the minute you hit the road with this hitch you’ll be like “hell yeah, right choice”.
Featuring two solid steel bars mounted directly on the metal brackets, it makes it very sturdy.
One of the common issues with this kind of hitches is making sharp turns. Some chain models force us to remove the sway bar, we don’t need to with this model.
It’s rather noisy when we do take sharp turns, which makes sense considering the bars, but it withstands them very well.
It comes with a 2″ shank and sadly NO ball which is a bit of a bummer, but not like every ball fits every trailer so, understandable anyway.
The sway control on this is unbeatable. It’s just so smooth and you feel totally in control the whole time.
Installing the Equal-i-zer takes a bit of effort though. You’re going to need a torque wrench and sockets. There isn’t a lot of clearance between the bar sockets and it makes it quite hard. The brand recommends contacting an authorized dealer to get this done for you
The rest is fairly easy, you can pretty much do with watching the Youtube video underneath.
The hitch is very quiet when driving straight, that’s no problem, but you can expect it to make all sorts of incredible noises coming from the L bracket when you take turns. It does prove that the thing works, but the first time you’ll s**t a brick or two.
To find it a downside, I’d like the ball to be adjusted in height with hitch pins instead of bolts (way slower)
As mentioned in the table above, the maximum tongue weight is 1,000lb and the maximum gross trailer weight is 10,000lb.
- Highest quality is available on the market.
- Stabilizing trunnion bars are solid spring steel
- 4 points of steel-on-steel friction to reduce sway
- Rigid sway control vertical brackets
- Does not include hitch ball
- One of the heaviest hitches we compared
2. Eaz-Lift 48058 Elite
Likely my favorite hitch from Camco, this weight distribution hitch comes with the same specifications as the equalizer, 1,000lbs tongue weight, and 10,000 gross trailer weight maximum.
The hitch ball height is adjustable on the shank, it comes with multiple holes, giving a grand total of around 6″ of vertical adjustment.
I’d advise you to take the sway bar off when doing tight turns. It’ll start groaning like a stabbed boar.
With the bars made of 100% (very) heavy-duty steel, this unit really is solid.
Installation is a piece of cake. Check the video below to see how darn easy it is.
- #1 Best-selling weight distributing hitch on Amazon
- Comes with a 5-year manufacturer’s warranty
- Round bars with vertical chains and sway control pre-installed shark included
- Some parts may be Chinese
3. Pro Series 49903
This weight distribution system comes with a friction sway control, that helps control sway when passing by vehicles or getting side wind.
It comes with round forge steel spring bars that are engineered for superior flexibility. It has adjustable spring bar tension.
With the help of a rivet and washers, you can adjust the tilt of the head for the needs of your particular trailer.
Shank is made of solid steel and is adjustable in height with bolts again, like the equal-i-zer.
It’s designed for a maximum trailer gross weight of 10,000lb and 1,000 of tongue weight.
- 6th best-selling weight distribution hitch on Amazon
- Includes hitch ball and sway control ball
- 10-year limited warranty
- Powder coated steel
- Heavy, but a little less so than other hitches
4. Andersen Mfg 3350
With an even higher capacity than the previous hitches of 14,000 gross trailer weight (and a classic tongue weight of 10% from that) this Andersen hitch is probably one of the simplest units I’ve ever seen.
It’s also the quietest I’ve ever tried too. There’s literally not a single sound when you drive using this hitch.
A unique feature of this hitch is the anti-bounce urethane springs that absorb and dampen trailer bounce, adding an extra-ridiculous amount of smoothness whilst towing.
While most hitches that come with solid steel spring bars weight around 100lbs, this hitch is barely 60lbs, which is a major major difference when it comes to handling and installing the thing by yourself.
The installation itself is also probably the simplest I’ve come across for a weight distribution hitch. It was a matter of 30 minutes before I finished.
It’s also one of the most expensive hitches on the market, which isn’t a surprise considering that this is one of the best pieces of engineering in this category.
- Highest weight capacity hitch we compared
- Lightest product weight hitch we compared
- Smallest dimensions of hitches we compared
- Simple chain link design
- A single friction point can rotate 360 degrees, with no loosening is required.
- Can double as a standard ball mount without weight distribution
- Limited lifetime warranty
- Reduces both swaying and bouncing
- One of the most expensive hitches we compared.
- Most negative reviews on Amazon of hitches we compared
- The lowest percentage of 5-star reviews on Amazon of hitches we compared
5. Reese 49902 Pro Series
This is another weight distribution system with friction sway control, extremely similar to the third hitch I’ve reviewed.
Head pivoting is also adjusted through a rived with washers, and the height adjustment is done with a thick heavy duty bolt.
Parts are very heavy on their own, as they are made of solid steel.
The spring bars are also made of solid steel with extra flexibility and are very easy to install.
The spring bars attach to the spring brackets via a heavy-duty steel chain.
Simply lower the brackets, get the chain hooked, and with the help of a pry bar, pull them up again. Quite straightforward.
In the following video, you can have a look at the unit being installed and get a feeling of how easy it is.
- Includes friction sway control unit.
- One of the heaviest hitches we compared.
- Lowest tongue weight capacity of hitches we compared
- Fewest reviews of any kind for any hitch we compared
The Mission of a Weight Distribution Hitch
Given the system’s name, we can tell that this is one automotive accessory that really has a fairly straightforward role to play.
A weight distribution hitch is a system that prevents load-towing vehicles from being thrown off-balance or otherwise compromised while driving. It does that by both repositioning and reinforcing the connection between the vehicle and the load.
By moving the connection point either higher or lower, the weight distribution hitch can keep the whole system level, with the weight of the trailer balanced well within its base of support.
It ensures that all of the vehicle’s wheels and those of the trailer itself receive nearly balanced pressure from the weight. This helps maintain traction and maneuverability.
What happens when the weight of a trailer is not well distributed? The trailer hitch can dive downward, which also lifts the towing vehicle’s front wheels up, and reduces their contact with the roadway.
This can be disastrous when it comes to emergency braking and steering, as well as reducing visibility.
The hitch could also be lifted upward, having the opposite effects on the front wheels of the towing vehicle. In this case, it would also make the trailer more prone to swaying from side to side, which could also be catastrophic if it sways too far.
Related: Best Fifth Wheel Hitch
Understanding Weight Measurements
In order to prevent these imbalances, it’s necessary to understand two types of weight measurements that apply to trailers and towing vehicles.
The first is the Gross Trailer Weight (GTW), or the combined total weight of the trailer and all of its contents. That includes all cargo, fuel, provisions, and every single thing being supported by the wheels of the trailer.
Different weight distribution hitches will have different capacities to tow larger or smaller trailers according to this measurement.
The other measurement is Tongue Weight (TW), which is the measurement that most affects whether a trailer and towing vehicle system will dive or sway.
Tongue weight is a variable measurement that usually comprises about 10 to 15 percent of the trailer’s gross trailer weight, and it refers to the proportion of gross trailer weight that most directly affects the trailer hitch by being closer to the hitch than the axle of the trailer.
Tongue weight also refers to weight loaded in the trunk or bed of the towing vehicle behind the rear axle, closest to the trailer hitch.
It’s important to be aware of both tongue weight and gross trailer weight whenever towing any kind of load because they can dramatically affect the balance, maneuverability, and overall safety of the vehicle involved.
That brings us to how weight distribution hitches help. They aren’t necessary for all trailers; in fact, for smaller loads, a simple weight-carrying hitch will do the job just fine.
A good rule of thumb, however, is that as the gross trailer weight approaches and surpasses 50% of the weight of the towing vehicle itself, it becomes increasingly necessary to use a weight distributing hitch.
At and above certain gross trailer weights, a weight distributing hitch is required by law.
3 Main Factors to Consider
- The first is the weight capacity of the hitch.
This refers to both tongue weight and gross trailer weight. Every hitch has a rated capacity for each of these numbers, and the best idea is to match these weights as closely as possible to the hitch’s capacity without exceeding them.
Using a hitch that is rated for weights far above those being carried can result in unpredictable weight distributions; a dangerous situation. Surpassing the rating, too, can be dangerous as the hitch won’t be able to effectively do its job and redistribute the weight.
- The second factor to consider is the choice of spring bars the system employs.
Weight distribution hitches generally use either rounded bars or trunnion bars. Trunnion bars tend to give a higher weight rating, whereas round bars tend to provide more clearance for the trailer hitch and an easier setup.
The best way to decide which of those two styles is best for your situation is to consult with someone who may already have experience using them with a trailer similar to the one you want to use.
- The third factor is sway control.
Sometimes this is an option, and sometimes it’s included as part of the basic weight distribution system. Each product will vary.
Generally, the weight distribution system itself will reduce sway naturally, and it may not be necessary to use additional sway control, but it’s available just in case there is still swaying going on.
Weight Distribution Hitch Installation
Hitches often come with installation instructions. Still, you might find it challenging to follow some of the steps. Here is a simplified guide on how to set up a WD hitch.
Determine the height of your vehicle and trailer
Look for a spot with a level surface and park your vehicle and trailer there. Pavements and parking areas are good options. Use a tongue jack and a level to verify if your trailer is leveled to the ground.
Measure the height of the trailer and vehicle and write it down. Confirm the distance of the surface to the top of the trailer coupler, as well as the gap between the floor and the base of your trailer’s front and rear bumpers. Record the measurements you got.
Assemble the shank and ball
Slide the shank into the trailer hitch’s receiver tube. After that, place the head assembly onto the shank and elevate it such that the top of the ball is one to three inches above the coupler height you recorded. Ensure the trailer ball is already attached to the head assembly during this step.
This is to provide some room once the vehicle sags as a result of the trailer’s pull weight. To hold the unit in place, use a mounting bolt at the bottom, but do not secure it in place with a nut yet.
Secure the attachment
Get two washers and place them on the adjustment rod. Insert it into the lower hole on the head with the head tilting downward.
Rotate the head assembly up into the shank’s mounting position. Usually, the angle is either slightly leaned back or vertical. To get the right angle, adding or removing washers might be necessary.
Place the second bolt into the hitch head’s top hole and tighten the bolts with nuts and washers.
Certain WD hitches let you skip this step because they have a specific mechanism that makes the setup easier.
Couple the trailer
Lift the coupler until it has sufficient space to allow the ball to slide beneath without any issues. The coupler’s contact with the ball should be enough for the former to latch.
Let the jack support some of the vehicle’s weight. Use the trailer jack to lift the coupler about three inches to have more room during the installation of the chains beneath the trailer.
Operate the snap-up brackets
Using the chains as a reference, position the snap-up brackets on the frame of the trailer. Secure the brackets to the frame with the help of the bolts that come with the package.
After that, fasten the chains to the brackets. Ensure the number of chain links between the snap-up brackets and spring bars is consistent on both sides. Utilize the lift handle to keep them in place.
Adjust the trailer jack until the trailer’s full weight is supported by the hitch. Check the lengths between the floor and the bumpers again. The distances must be around half of the original.
Once everything checks out, uncouple the trailer and adjust based on the specifications recommended by the manufacturer.
How Does a Towing Weight Distribution System Work?
If you have ever driven utility trailers, you probably have encountered several frightening moments. Moments like your trailer are beginning to sway, leaving you worried you might lose vehicle control. Using weight distribution systems is a precaution you can take to guarantee disaster does not occur, more so when pulling large loads.
To better understand the working of weight distribution systems, it is essential to familiarize yourself with the terms GTW and tongue weight.
GTW, gross trailer weight, describes the complete trailer weight, including fuel, cargo, and everything else in the trailer.
Tongue weight, on the other hand, is the part of the load (usually about 10 to 15% of the gross weight of the trailer) that is sufficiently far forward in a trailer to create downward pressure on the hitch. Additionally, tongue weight (TW) includes weights behind the towing vehicle’s rear axle. Therefore, if you plan to load the trunk, you need to consider this additional weight.
An excessive tongue weight compared to the trailer’s gross weight could lead to the trailer hitch and the tow vehicle’s rear axle diving. This means the trailer’s front heads towards the ground clearance, meaning the towing vehicle’s front is more off the ground.
And if the tow vehicle dives excessively, like when you make a sudden brake, you lose front axle wheels’ steering control and braking traction – a very risky situation. The vice versa is true with too little tongue weight.
In such situations, the trailer is at a higher risk of swaying and could swing out of control. As a result of these factors, it is clear why realizing the careful balance between gross weight and tongue weight of the trailer is critical.
A weight distribution hitch can also be helpful in avoiding such dangerous situations and enhance the ability of your vehicle to brake, steer, and turn. These devices are vital when ferrying large loads that make it hard to maneuver the trailer in a controlled and safer towing manner. They counter these challenges as described in how they accomplish their purpose.
Is weight distribution hitches a necessity?
A weight distribution hitch is utilized for bumper pull trailers, which link to tow vehicles using ball hitch mechanics for a smoother ride. If your trailer is differently styled, like the gooseneck type of weight distribution hitch, then you do not need a weight distribution hitch.
When is a weight distribution hitch necessary?
Professionals recommend using a weight distribution hitch when carrying a heavy load/maximum trailer weights. The device serves to extend the lifespan of the tow vehicle. Through it, trailer owners are guaranteed not to exceed the tongue weight of the hitch receiver. It also makes your drive much safer and enables you to realize greater control.
Is it possible to back up with a weight distribution hitch?
Usually, it is okay to back up with weight distribution hitches. However, this varies from model to model; thus, you should ensure you confirm with the manufacturer’s guide before backing up. In addition, you should disengage the sway prevention technique before you try reversing the rig and towing the vehicle.
How can I make adjustments to the weight distribution trailer hitch?
With the continued usage of a weight distribution hitch, it becomes necessary to incorporate washers to your hitch head over time since the bolt threads wear out.
Can excessive tongue weight lead to heavy trailers swaying?
The ideal practice is for the weight of the contents of the trailer and tow vehicle to be balanced before you connect the two. Too little or excessive tongue weight can lead to the lighter or heavier trailer swaying. You could also use hitches with sway control for excellent sway control.
Choosing among these five hitches was a difficult challenge. Each of them seems like it would be better than all of the others in certain specific circumstances, but all of them would do well in most normal circumstances.
Each of them had some drawbacks (some more than others), but all of them are no doubts the best weight distribution hitches you can buy.
As far as price, there’s pretty much two ranges. High end, being the equal-i-zer and the Andersen mfg, and the other three units at a more affordable range, yet still high quality.
All things being equal, I recommend the Eaz-Lift 48058 as the best value for money unit, and the Equal-i-zer as the best weight distribution hitch overall.