Posted by Paul E Henning, of Warsaw, Indiana
Load leveling isn't really a direct replacement for WDH. Towing level definitely is important, and will reduce the need for WDH, but not eliminate it.
Essentially, load leveling systems just "jack up" the back suspension so that when it compresses under load, the net result is a level tow vehicle. The weight
is still sitting on the rear wheels.
On the other hand, a WDH transfers the load to all four wheels on the tow vehicle, so the entire vehicle's suspension compresses evenly, maintaining the front-rear weigh distribution balance that is so critical to vehicle handling.
Example - on many vehicles (for reference, we'll say it weighs 2000#), a 60F/40R distribution is ideal, or 1200# on the front and 800# on the rear. Now, I'll add a trailer with 150# tongue weight
With a WDH, I can use the tension chains to adjust how much weight
I transfer forward. Properly adjusted, I will put 60% up front and 40% to the back. Now, my tow vehicle is carrying 2150#, with 1290# on the front and 860# on the rear. I still have my 60F/40R balance.
With a load leveler, the 150# all goes to the rear, so I have 1200# on the front, and 950# on the rear. My ratio is now 56F/44R. That is still acceptable, but you can see the trend.
Now, here is a real world example: Yesterday, I saw an early '90s Olds Cutlass (front wheel drive) towing a relatively large travel trailer -- I'd guess 24 feet, tandem axle
, and probably 4000#. At 10-15% tongue weight, that would be around 500# tongue weight. If that car weighs 2500#, the result (using our 60F/40R ideal) is more like 40F/60R - a complete reversal, and a VERY dangerous situation.
Mind you, this was way to much trailer for this vehicle, WDH or not, but let me tell you, the nose of this car was way in the air, and the front tires
were struggling for traction to get it rolling at a stop light
, and if they had to negotiate a curve suddenly, they'd have been in real trouble, because the steering wheels didn't have enough weight on them to turn the car. But it demonstrates the principle.
So, just make sure that whatever you are towing is within the tongue weight and gross weight limits of both your tow vehicle and your hitch. If you are close to or over the limit for either, find out what the limits are if using WDH, and then decide if you need WDH or a larger vehicle. But, do one or the other.
By the way, the figures quoted herein are examples only, and are estimates. Real world situations can affect the weight balance and handling, both positively and negatively, but mostly negatively. Also, as a hitch is behind the bumper and not actually over the rear wheels, the effects I've mentioned here are actually worse in the real world (possibly by as much as 10% per foot that the hitchball is behind the axle
, or so I was told by a hitch installer).
Osmo the Great (Osmo is great - Paul is just so-so)
Last edited by: Paul E Henning on 06-27-03 13:08:36