Weight distribution hitch? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 04-05-2016, 11:26 PM   #1
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Weight distribution hitch?

I currently have a Dodge Journey RT 2013 with the v6. I pull a Boler 1700. My question is...Should one look at a weight distribution hitch? I was told not to as it is a unibody..but on the dodge forums there appears that a lot use that hitch. Any information would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 04-06-2016, 12:01 AM   #2
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Most passenger vehicles these days do not have a frame, as such. A weight distribution hitch moves weight from the rear axle of the vehicle to the front axle of the vehicle and to the trailer axle.
Result is a more comfortable and secure ride as the tow and trailer feel like a single unit.
My RAV4 is eight years old. Last service I asked the dealer to inspect the hitch receiver. Dealer reported that everything was A1.
First pic is without WDH. Second is with WDH.

Note that your current hitch receiver must be rated for a WDH or replaced with one that is.
Attached Thumbnails
NO WDH1.jpg   With WDH1.jpg  

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Old 04-06-2016, 08:05 AM   #3
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As long as you respect the specified weight in your book that accompanies the tow vehicle, I see no problem to install a weight distibution hitch.
This equipment is used for leveling your vehicle to keep a good grip on its four wheels in order to maintain stability.
If you install this equipment in order to exceed the weight allowed by the manufacturer, different problems may appear...
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Old 04-06-2016, 09:01 AM   #4
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You have the book owner for Journey 2013?

http://www.fcaworkvehiclesus.com/dod...ney-OM-2nd.pdf
Pages 458-482

They changed the standards.
I have a Journey 2012 and in my book it has a capacity of 3500 pounds and 2013 and younger were identified at 2500 pounds.
Talk with your dealer to clarify ...
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Old 04-06-2016, 11:03 AM   #5
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Dennis, All the info above is good however the first question must be the weight of the trailer you are towing plus the combined weight of passengers and cargo.
If that is over 2,500 pounds you are exceeding the manufacturers rating fro your vehicle with a 3.6ltr V6 automatic trans with tow package.
If you are within specs then the weight distribution system would be a good idea, however if you have exceeded the weight specs nothing will correct the mistakes you have already made.

IMHO weight distribution, brake controller and sway control should be minimum equipment when towing a travel trailer in a safe manner.
If you had purchased your travel trailer from a dealer all this equipment would have been discussed and installed before you hit the road.

Safety first for Happy Camping with a travel trailer.
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Old 04-06-2016, 11:18 AM   #6
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Dennis, I took the time to investigate (via trailer weights in the real world) the real world weight of a Boler 1700.... It exceeds the tow rating of your vehicle.

Did you research this primary fact before you bought the unit?

All the above advise will not change the fact that you are over weight (not you personally but your trailer). At 2,900lbs + without the weight of passengers and cargo in the tow vehicle you are over by more than 10%....not a good thing...
not safe.

Weight distribution equipment will add to the overall weight even more!!!
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Old 04-06-2016, 03:51 PM   #7
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I personal opinion of WDH systems is don't. It depends on the vehicle and trailer though.
My Scamp 16 came with a weight distribution hitch from the previous owner. It also came with the entire A frame of the tongue broken in half where it met the rest of the frame.

The PO pulled this trailer with a large and heavy Astro van. When he hit a bump in the Astro it sent HUGE forces through the weak Scamp frame (1986 model) and broke it in half. I sold that hitch before ever trying it with my vehicle. I simply do not want those shock forces being sent to the frame like that. Same story for a unibody vehicle that lacks a frame. It puts huge stresses on the connection points when hitting bumps and driving over/through dips. Rail Road crossings are examples of some of the worst case situations, with driveway and pull in dips close second.

I have a very small vehicle for the size of my trailer AND it has a solid ladder frame but I still wouldn't even think of using a WDH. I use an Air Lift 1000 that I built a compressor system for. I can level (raise and lower) the back end of my vehicle with the press of a button on my keychain. It tows flawlessly even at 70 MPH. (I do NOT sustain that speed, it was only a test for sway with a quick jerk of the steering, and my hand READY on the electric brake controls should it actually sway.)

If it doesn't tow well without WD or anti-sway, my opinion is that you shouldn't tow with it either. Don't use them as a band-aid. I own a friction anti sway but truly do not need it. It's just for the what if moment where I *HAVE* to get somewhere on a schedule and it's extremely windy or something. Hopefully that will never happen, and it never goes on my hitch.

As pointed out by Uplander, they are also HEAVY. If the vehicle is unibody, and if it's right at the limit already I really REALLY wouldn't. If you do, make absolutely sure to get the lowest weight rating one that you can. Its much better to have a weight distribution system that's rated for less weight than your trailers tongue than more. The stiffer it is, the more it beats the crap out of the vehicle and trailer.
They try and make it like the vehicles have one frame. If the tow vehicle moves up (say going up a hill) it will attempt to bend the trailer DOWN. The weight ratings of them are set to allow a certain amount of flex in the spring bars. Better to bend them then the car and trailer.
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Old 04-06-2016, 07:46 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KenjiFox View Post
I personal opinion of WDH systems is don't. It depends on the vehicle and trailer though. If it doesn't tow well without WD or anti-sway, my opinion is that you shouldn't tow with it either. Don't use them as a band-aid. I own a friction anti sway but truly do not need it. It's just for the what if moment where I *HAVE* to get somewhere on a schedule and it's extremely windy or something. Hopefully that will never happen, and it never goes on my hitch.

As pointed out by Uplander, they are also HEAVY. If the vehicle is unibody, and if it's right at the limit already I really REALLY wouldn't. If you do, make absolutely sure to get the lowest weight rating one that you can. Its much better to have a weight distribution system that's rated for less weight than your trailers tongue than more. T The weight ratings of them are set to allow a certain amount of flex in the spring bars. Better to bend them then the car and trailer.
Kenji, I am really interested in what you've said here, including the an Air Lift 1000 system that you mentioned - I wonder if that would be helpful on my truck too? I have a 2007 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab Shortbed NISMO with the 4x4 and tow package (max tow capacity of 6,100 lbs), so the tow already has a beefy suspension system with Bilstein shocks.

I have always used an Equalizer WDH/anti-sway (it's advertised as providing both), because it was highly recommended on the forums when I purchased my Bigfoot B19. However, I really dislike using a WDH because it is so heavy and if I want to disengage the truck from the TT to go exploring, then it's a whole process and there's that heavy shank to remove from the truck hitch, etc.

I wouldn't mind using just an anti-sway bar if necessary because those systems look a lot lighter weight and don't seem to require the heavy, cumbersome shank attached to the truck hitch.

I already switched out the travel trailer's original drop axle to a straight axle and will be getting shocks installed in a few months, along with new brakes, bearings and tires. Safety of course is a number one priority for me, but I wonder if getting an AirLift system like the one you have could replace the WDH? My tow vehicle weighs about 4,000 lbs. with 2 passengers and the Bigfoot B19 weighs about that much or max 4,500 lbs. fully loaded. I don't remember what the tongue weight is - I was looking for that everywhere but can't find it.

Thanks for your input and suggestions.
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Old 04-06-2016, 07:55 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KenjiFox View Post
I have a very small vehicle for the size of my trailer AND it has a solid ladder frame but I still wouldn't even think of using a WDH. I use an Air Lift 1000 that I built a compressor system for. I can level (raise and lower) the back end of my vehicle with the press of a button on my keychain. It tows flawlessly even at 70 MPH. (I do NOT sustain that speed, it was only a test for sway with a quick jerk of the steering, and my hand READY on the electric brake controls should it actually sway.)

They try and make it like the vehicles have one frame. If the tow vehicle moves up (say going up a hill) it will attempt to bend the trailer DOWN. The weight ratings of them are set to allow a certain amount of flex in the spring bars. Better to bend them then the car and trailer.
I understand that by high air pressure to help the back not too down because of the weight of the trailer, released the well leveled truck with trailer, except that in this way you are always with lack of weight on the front of your truck, so a lack of traction and control, right?

And in terms of flexibility between the trailer and the tow vehicle, use the appropriate model stabilizer bars for the weight of the trailer.
It is certain that if I use a template for a trailer of 10,000 pounds for a trailer 3,000 pounds, at times the trailer will suffer immense stress.
The reverse has the same effect, but on the towing vehicle this time, right?

It is my understanding on weight stabilization between trailer and tow vehicle.
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Old 04-06-2016, 07:58 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis Hannaburg View Post
I currently have a Dodge Journey RT 2013 with the v6. I pull a Boler 1700. My question is...Should one look at a weight distribution hitch? I was told not to as it is a unibody..but on the dodge forums there appears that a lot use that hitch. Any information would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks
Dennis


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To me the most interesting part of the quote above is "...on the dodge forums there appears that a lot use that hitch." We tow with a Honda Ridgeline with a unibody frame and our owner's manual specifically states that the use of a weight distributing hitch is "not recommended". Well, off I went to the Ridgeline owners' forum and guess what? A lot of people were using a WD hitch! But a lot of folks weren't, including someone who claimed to be an engineer who had formerly worked for Honda and STRONGLY recommended not using a WD hitch. Back and forth the debate went. Did "not recommended" mean the same thing as "don't do it, you'll damage your vehicle"? Or did it mean "You don't need it, but you can use it if you want to." Some people said "I use a WD hitch all the time and I've never had a problem." Others said "The Ridgeline is designed to be a capable tow vehicle just as it is. Don't muck things up."

So...what to do? We decided to go with the advice in our owner's manual. We've never had a problem towing our 17' Bigfoot without a WD hitch. We do use an anti-sway bar, but more for peace of mind really.

Your vehicle is different of course, as is your trailer, but I would say that just because some people use a WD hitch with that particular vehicle is neither here nor there. Personally, I would go with what my owner's manual says, but as Donna D. says, YMMV.

And as others have said, if you're towing over your weight limit, a WD hitch is not the answer. A new tow vehicle is. Been there, done that!
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Old 04-07-2016, 06:28 AM   #11
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This morning I found this video on my Facebook, sends by a member of Facebook Bolerama Quebec.
These are different situations that occur when a driver does not realize the volume and weight it has in the back of his vehicle.
The last extract shows very overweight...
It is with this topic.

I apologize for those who do not have Facebook, I have not found other source.
https://www.facebook.com/Convoi.Exceptionnel.France/
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Old 04-07-2016, 06:49 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Val & Kayla View Post
Kenji, I am really interested in what you've said here, including the an Air Lift 1000 system that you mentioned - I wonder if that would be helpful on my truck too? I have a 2007 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab Shortbed NISMO with the 4x4 and tow package (max tow capacity of 6,100 lbs), so the tow already has a beefy suspension system with Bilstein shocks.


I wonder if getting an AirLift system like the one you have could replace the WDH? My tow vehicle weighs about 4,000 lbs. with 2 passengers and the Bigfoot B19 weighs about that much or max 4,500 lbs. fully loaded. I don't remember what the tongue weight is - I was looking for that everywhere but can't find it.

Thanks for your input and suggestions.
Your truck should be well equipped to safely tow that trailer even without any form or anti sway or weight distribution. The Air Lift system can in-fact replace the weight distribution system in this case. The main goal of the system is to level the truck and trailer. It isn't meant to increase the total capacity of the vehicle. You are well within the range of that truck, and you have a nice solid frame to deal with. If I were you I would hitch up with a standard hitch and see where it sits. If the truck doesn't squat much, just get the correct drop or rise hitch and away you go. If you would like the truck to ride perfectly level get the air suspension and THEN the new appropriate drop or lift draw bar. If the trailer is loaded correctly an anti sway device really is not needed. Tow it around without either first and see how it goes.

I can't find a system on Air Lift's website for the 2007 frontier. The last model shown is 2000. This may require a call to the company to verify why that is, and if any modifications would be needed to make it fit.

You could of course use any company you want for the air system.
I just love Air Lift because they have a LIFETIME replacement warranty on their bags. At one point I lost air pressure in mine over the winter (was not checking it as I should have been) and the bag deflated and got pinched.
I told Air Lift what had happened, and they sent me TWO brand new bags for free. They even paid the shipping. This was two years after they were purchased on Amazon. With customer service and products like theirs I have no reason to go anywhere else, or not to recommend them highly.

Here's the link to the 2000 year.
https://www.airliftcompany.com/vehic...wheel-drive/#l
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Old 04-07-2016, 07:58 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Gilles View Post
I understand that by high air pressure to help the back not too down because of the weight of the trailer, released the well leveled truck with trailer, except that in this way you are always with lack of weight on the front of your truck, so a lack of traction and control, right?

And in terms of flexibility between the trailer and the tow vehicle, use the appropriate model stabilizer bars for the weight of the trailer.
It is certain that if I use a template for a trailer of 10,000 pounds for a trailer 3,000 pounds, at times the trailer will suffer immense stress.
The reverse has the same effect, but on the towing vehicle this time, right?

It is my understanding on weight stabilization between trailer and tow vehicle.
The air pressure lifts the rear of the vehicle by the original weight supporting point. The rear axle of the vehicle. It doesn't put any extra weight on the trailer axle, and merely shifts the weight BACK to the front tires. It doesn't apply any extra. Depending on the distance between your rear axle and your hitch ball you can figure out how much weight is removed from the front wheels. The shorter the distance the better when it comes to sway and front wheel weight reduction. Yes, a WDH will push the front of the car down but it is almost NEVER needed. Just keeping the vehicle level while towing will keep it safely in control. I suggested softer spring bars when towing our lightweight trailers because they tend to have lighter gauge steel frames, and because quite honestly they are so light that it really shouldn't be needed even for small vehicles. (Take mine for example.)

When you have a smaller vehicle and tongue weight is a concern, keep in mind that the weight limits are set mostly with dynamic loads in mind. That is to say, when you hit a bump that sudden upward movement tries to accelerate the mass of the trailer very quickly in a small time frame. This puts multiple thousands of pounds of force through the connection in rapid bursts. If you have a vehicle with a 150 lb tongue weight max, you probably wouldn't blink an eye if a couple of 220lb people got in the back of your car.
Unless it's a unibody where the connection points to the hitch themselves may be very weak, it's not the direct weight that causes the issue. It's the huge dynamic loads the develop over bumps and dips.

Here's where the WDH makes this so much worse. It's like it is ALWAYS under such stress. If you observe how they work you will find that they increase the effective tongue weight on the vehicle by multiples when in motion. Without such a system you can think of your trailer like a large teeter totter. It has a bias to weigh say 200 lbs more on one side (vehicle side) and thus puts a smooth and constant force of 200 lbs down. When you go over a speed bump for example, the front of the vehicle will raise, and the hitch point will simply swivel with no extra force being exerted on the trailer. The trailer tongue will drop down a little bit depending on the distance between the rear axle of the car and the ball. When the front of the car comes back down the same happens in reverse. No major shock load. When the REAR axle goes up over the bump the front of the trailer is lifted much more rapidly. this is where you get your first dynamic load. It is the weight of 200lbs being lifted, PLUS the mass of the entire trailer being shifted on its axle like a teeter totter. this however isn't all that hard on it since there is a lot of leverage to the wheels of the trailer from the hitch point. On the way back down you get another dynamic load as the vehicles suspension tries to decelerate the weight of the vehicle, 200lb tongue load, AND now downward traveling mass of the trailer. If your suspension is too soft and it bottoms out here, this becomes magnified by sometimes 10x or more. The shocks and springs will dissipate the energy over a longer period of time if they are well matched to the load. If they are not it will not slow down much until it suddenly bottoms out, causing it to have to dissipate ALL of that energy in a very short moment when you hit the jounce bumpers.
Air suspension fixes this by tuning the spring ratio to that of the increased weight. Once the trailer hits the bump it is lifted then dropped, all while exerting almost no more tongue weight or forces on the hitch. Some linear forces forward and backward are exerted when the trailer is pulled up the ramp of the speed bump and then rolls down it attempting to go faster than the car.


Now the same situation with weight distribution;

At rest you have the same hitch weight (plus the WDH which may be another 50 lb) Much of the constant force is converted into linear force in the form of compression. To the vehicle it thinks you are decelerating and that the trailer is pressing directly into the back of the draw bar, as well as down. To the trailer the force is as though it is being decelerated as pressure is traveling in line down the frame. This is okay so far if the system is balanced very well. Now lets drive over that speed bump.
When the front wheels of the tow vehicle rise and the rear end lowers. Instead of pivoting on the ball as normal, now look at the entire trailer frame as if it were a solid steel beam sticking out of your hitch. By the time you get to the position of the trailer axle it would likely already be only a few inches from the ground now that your vehicle is pointed upwards. This is where the spring bars flex to make it POSSIBLE for the vehicle and trailer to survive this. However in doing so, it's like you just threw 700 lbs of cargo (sometimes MUCH more) into the trailer. The trailers suspension compresses. It's actually worse yet than that though, because all of that force is being transferred through the frame rather than just sitting on it. Take a fork and hold it by the very end. Press it down against a scale while holding it nearly level like a trailer frame. you will find it bends quite easily. Now support that same end instead and then press down on the scale THROUGH the fork with your finger on top. It is now IMPOSSIBLE to bend as you are merely compressing the metal. That's the difference between the types of load. Oh, and we only got to the front wheels of the tow vehicle so far! Without the WDH at this point there is almost NO extra load from the front wheels going over a bump.

Now when the REAR hits the bump it is _EXACTLY_ the same as without the WDH. As in, it does no good at all. The chains only limit downward travel. Only this time, you have another 50+ lbs or steel and chain sitting on the hitch point to not only lift, but accelerate dynamically upward over the bump.

Here's where that goes from bad to worse. When the rear wheels roll down the bump the hit the flat ground suddenly and all of that weight is now traveling downward rapidly as last time. Only now the chains suddenly pull tight locking the trailer and vehicle together. This causes the trailer to squat under the load, as well as the front AND rear suspension of the vehicle. Remember the fork? This time it's worse. Much worse.

Most people will notice when driving almost any vehicle that you feel the downward impact after driving over a speed bump more than the initial upward movement. This is because on the way up the only thing that HAS to move is the wheels and axle of the vehicle. This is all unsuspended weight. This means it is not supported by the shocks and springs. It's also very little total weight, and so the dynamic load of accelerating that small mass quickly is low. For the shock this is called compression. Said shocks and springs absorb most of the impact with no issue, and the suspended weight, that is, the car and occupants are slowly lifted by the now smoothed force that comes through the shocks. Think of the force the shocks compress against as being the mass of the vehicle, unable to be suddenly moved. When the vehicle is coming back down the other side, this is BACKWARDS. Now you have the light weight wheels and axles coming back down decelerated by the shocks (called rebound). When the weight and mass of the vehicle change direction and begin to fall it is now MUCH harder for the springs and shocks to stop that force. On top of that, the new mass it is compressing against is the entire EARTH. It will NOT give at all, unlike the vehicles mass which moved away from the bump. This compresses the suspension way more than before. If the rear of the vehicle is compressed very far, that'a a lot like when the front is lifted. something the WDH physically resists. This means the entire weight of your car is now being applied to the TRAILER through the frame! At this point that's just unfair to the poor trailer. Without the WDH it would not have hardly even noticed three out of four of those impacts comparatively. The ones it would have felt have _ONLY_ been amplified by having a weight distribution system.
So far the WDH has caused massive stress on both tug and tow when the front wheels hit, and when the rear wheels drop back down. Now it's time for the trailer wheels.

When the trailer rolls up the hill, normally it would exert only a small amount of linear pulling force on the hitch as it is pulled UP the hill, then a small amount of linear pushing force as it rolled back down. And just like the second example with the fork, the frame will feel almost nothing as the trailers suspension does its job. As it rolls up the hill the trailer lifts, tilting the front end down. This is resisted by the WDH hitch which now attempts to LIFT the rear end of your car off the ground. All of that force going through the trailer tongue. The fork is now being flexed. The rear of the vehicle has been raised a bit, and the trailer is now higher. When it rolls down the other side its downward velocity and mass are accelerated and amplified once more by the VEHICLES rear end also dropping back down. Much like the prior example of why that is bad, it happens again. The car drops lower than perfectly level, with the trailer being crushed further down than it otherwise would have been. All through the frame again.

I could whip up a 3D model or animation as an example if you want.

Sorry for the long post, but it's filled with useful information to help understand what exactly a weight distribution hitch does.
Keep in mind it distributes the vehicles entire weight to the little trailer too.
This is why getting the softest spring bars possible is a critical thing, and why I will never use such a system with any fiberglass trailer.
WDHs are stress CAUSERS. Using heavy spring bars causes stress for both vehicle and trailer. Using light bars doesn't reverse this, it's just closer to not using WD at all. Meaning is causes less tress on both vehicle and trailer.

Lighter is better. They should just offer some support when set up correctly. they will ALWAYS exert more force across the hitch trailer and vehicle though. Particularly if you start to drive up a hill. Any time the vehicle points up, or the trailers rear end points up. They try not to allow that. A stiff enough one would literally lift the rear wheels off the ground on your vehicle if you tried to drive across a ditch for example. Problem is, the trailer or hitch mounting points WILL break before that. Using softer spring bars at least makes it possible to go up hills and driveways, but it will always stress the vehicle and trailer much more than without.
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Old 04-07-2016, 11:18 AM   #14
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The purpose of a weight distribution hitch is not just to level the trailer/tow combination...it distributes the weight over all the axels/tires resulting in firm road contact and a "oneness" of trailer and tow vehicle. The sway control is important in stabilizing your combination in heavy winds and turbulence caused by oncoming traffic like tractor trailers. It is all about safety and not increasing the rated tow capacity of your truck.
The combined system is about control and safety.
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