LAST UPDATED: May 27, 2019
Best Weight Distribution Hitches: Maintain More Control Over Your Trailer
Hitches to keep your trailering experience as smooth and balanced as possible
The Review Team
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PUBLISHED ON May 27, 2019
When you have a heavy load to haul, you often have to think about more than just the capabilities of your vehicle. In fact, the engine power is just the start of safe hauling. Depending on the distance, speeds, and road conditions of your travel, you will likely have to consider the stability of the trailer itself. Since swaying is always a possibility, it's helpful to have a weight distributing hitch to keep heavy hauls stable in wind and on rough terrain. Before you go on your next trailering journey, check out our guide on the best weight distribution hitches available today.
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Why Buy a Weight Distribution Hitch
- Increase the stability of the trailer. A normal trailer hitch is good for general pulling, but instabilities can arise in certain driving conditions. Because the trailer attaches to a single point on the tow vehicle, the trailer can tip and balance around this point. In certain conditions like high winds, this can create an imbalance, causing swaying while driving at high speeds. A weight distribution system creates more points of contact to stabilize the trailer in these conditions.
- Brake and turn smoothly. One area of trailering where swaying can happen frequently is during turns and braking. The extra forces, especially coming from the side, can cause the balance of the trailer to destabilize. The weight distribution hitch counteracts these forces by keeping the weight of the trailer equally distributed and reinforced while turning or deaccelerating.
- Handle tough driving conditions. It's difficult to choose what conditions you drive in with a trailer. For longer trips, especially, weather and road conditions tend to vary greatly. With a weight distribution hitch, it's easier to handle unexpected driving conditions with the extra peace of mind the extra trailer stability can offer.
Types of Weight Distribution Hitches
Trunnion bar weight distribution hitches use square spring bars attached to the center of the ball mount. The springs help provide stability by taking on greater loads, including external forces caused by windy conditions and on rough roads. Typically, this design is more expensive than other types of hitches.
A more basic design of weight distribution hitches uses basic round bars that attach to the bottom of the ball. The design, connected with clips to the ball mount, provides better clearance when it comes to attaching the trailer to the vehicle.
Top Brands of Weight Distribution Hitches
Starting with the patenting of his unique weight distribution hitch in 1952, M.H. Mathisen's EAZ Lift has been a company focused on safe and comfortable trailering for decades. The company offers a number of solutions that include weight distribution, sway control, and gooseneck designs. Since being acquired by Camco Manufacturing in 2007, the company has continued to make high-quality hitches like the 48069 Elite Kit.
Since 1924, Husky has been a popular line of hand tools many professionals and weekend warriors have turned to when searching for high-quality and affordable tools. Now sold through The Home Depot (and online outlets), the brand makes a variety of tools, bags, hitches, jacks, and more. Check out the Husky 32217 Center Line for an affordable weight distribution hitch option.
Andersen Manufacturing, Inc. is a company that specializes in making towing products. Headquartered in Idaho Falls, Idaho, the company has made a line of towing products that include traditional and weight distribution hitches, 5th wheel/gooseneck hitches, and more. One of the company's most popular weight distribution options is 3350.
Weight Distribution Hitch Pricing
- $200 and under: Budget weight distribution hitches are fairly simple in design and offer a good degree of stability, but not the most. These hitches tend to use round bar designs, and some may even lack other required parts like a shank and ball to complete the trailering setup.
- $200-$400: Hitch options within this price range tend to be heavy-duty in design, with low-end models using round bars and more pricier options opting for trunnion bars instead. Both options tend to provide extra parts to complete the trailer setup like a shank, ball, or sway bars.
- $400 and above: High-end weight distribution hitches are often bulky or use advanced, streamlined designs that cut down on weight and size. In either case, the build quality of the hitch tends to be high. Advanced stability features like sway bars are also fairly common in this range.
Spring bars create extra leverage and stability against a trailer by connecting multiple points together. This helps distribute the load on the rear of the vehicle across all of the axles between the trailer and vehicle itself. Spring bars tend to have a round or square shape.
The shank is the part that slides into the hitch receiver and provides mounting points for head assembly. Unlike regular shanks, ones designed for weight distribution hitches tend to be larger and bulkier in design.
Individual frame brackets are necessary to connect the spring bars to the trailer itself. These hold the spring bars so everything remains tight and secured between the vehicle and the trailer. Frame brackets come in many designs, but most standard systems use a bracket and chain system. Some also use sway bars that offer more control over the stability of the trailer.
Hitch Head Assembly
This part is where everything comes together between the spring bars, trailer, and the towing vehicle. Using a standard ball, the assembly connects the trailer to the vehicle. On the sides, there are typically attachment points for the spring bars and possibly sway control bars as well. The assembly itself attaches to the shank.
- Weight Rating: All weight distribution hitches have a specific weight capacity that dictates safe hauling loads and operation. The hitches gross trailer weight ought to be higher than its tongue capacity for the best results.
- Hitch Capacity: The hitch receiver attached to the towing vehicle will ultimately determine how much weight it can pull. Hitch receivers come in different classes ranging from one to five, each one increasing the maximum gross trailer weight and tongue weight capacity. Smaller cars tend to have a class one, two, or three hitches that can pull up to 6,500 pounds. Small trucks often come with a class four hitch rated up to 10,000 pounds. Commercial vehicles and heavy-duty trucks often max out at class five (more than 10,000 pounds).
Best Weight Distribution Hitches Reviews & Recommendations 2020
EAZ LIFT's Elite series of weight distribution kits come with a number of different hitch options rated for different weight capacities. All of them, however, offer the same basic sway control, weight distribution design, and a 2-5/16-inch hitch ball. Best of all, the price difference between the different weight options is minimal, so you can pick the hitch you need without having to increase your budget.
The overall construction of the hitch is noticeably heavy duty without being too bulky or awkward to install. The insert tube is solid steel that has a good, rigid feel when everything is mounted into place. The included sway bar is also durable and works well to keep most average trailers stable while driving at high speeds. Installing the sway bar is easy and straightforward on most vehicle/trailer setups.
The main challenge with installing/using this weight distribution hitch comes with certain trailer and vehicle combinations. The hitch can raise the rear of some vehicles (like certain light-duty trucks). There is also some trial and error when it comes to finding the right chain tension for the hangers. You may also have to drill the trailer frame to mount the ball for the sway bar.
This weight distribution hitch is one of the few value options that offer a high weight capacity of heavy-duty pulling operations. When using a sway weight distribution hitch, the hitch is meant to keep heavier trailers stable while driving at high speeds. For the most part, the hitch manages to get the job done.
The hitch assembles and mounts fairly quickly with just a minimal rear end drop in height. Typically, installation time can be as little as 30 minutes. There is a small amount of time required to get everything dialed in, but after this point, the hitch does a good job of maintaining a secure connection between the vehicle and trailer.
Unfortunately, the hitch lacks some of the basic components required to get everything set up. The lack of a ball and shank means you'll be spending extra unless you already have the necessary add-ons. As a result, this value pick makes a better upgrade than a starter purchase. If this is your first time buying a weight distribution hitch, a complete kit may be better.
If you have some extra cash to spend, the Andersen 3350 packs more perks and features into its small design than other typical weight distribution options. The hitch is designed to be small, quiet, and easy to install without sacrificing weight capacity.
The hitch comes with a motion-dampening system that works in tandem with the general anti-sway design to smooth out the ride with a heavy trailer. Installation is fairly straightforward as long as you follow the instructions or installation video available online. Due to the smaller size of the hitch, it's also easier to store out of the way in a cramped space when not in use.
The major downside to this weight distribution hitch is the price tag itself. In some cases, it's near twice as much as budget options that are more bulky/heavy-duty in design. Extra tools are also required such as a 150 foot-pound torque wrench.
- Weight distribution hitches allow you to tow close to the maximum capacity of your trailer hitch. This is an absolute necessity if you want to pull the most amount of weight possible with your vehicle.
- If your trailer weight is around 50 percent more than your vehicle's weight (GVWR), a weight distribution hitch will help balance out the uneven forces the trailer can put on the rear of the towing vehicle.
- Make sure you buy a hitch that is 50 percent higher in gross trailer weight than the tongue weight for better trailer control and weight distribution.
- Some weight distribution hitches come with built-in sway control. If yours doesn't, look into add-on sway control systems for extra stability.
Q. Why do I need a weight distribution hitch?
A. Under normal hauling circumstances, the weight of the trailer transfers to the towing vehicle's rear axle. This can weigh the vehicle down, causing it to point upward and destabilize the setup. A weight distribution hitch combats this by distributing the weight of the trailer using the spring bars by applying leverage to the sides of the trailer.
Q. Does a weight distribution hitch increase the towing capacity of my vehicle?
A. No. That capacity is dictated by the vehicle itself. Instead, a weight distribution hitch allows you to tow loads closer to the maximum capacity safely.
Q. Can I use a surge brake with a weight distribution hitch?
A. Most chain styles of weight distribution hitches aren't compatible with surge brakes. Sway bar control systems also tend to be incompatible with these brakes.
For the best overall weight distribution hitch that comes as a kit, check out the EAZ LIFT 48069 1200 lbs Elite Hitch Kit.
Save some money by skipping some of the necessary parts (if you have them already) with the EAZ LIFT 48059 Distributing Hitch instead.