Weight distribution hitch: yes or no?

davido

Super Active Member
Jul 17, 2014
1,374
You get a lot of different answers because there's a lot of misunderstanding and armchair guessing going on.

Weight distribution hitches distribute the tongue weight across all axles more evenly. While they result in higher pressure on the ball, they use a leverage effect to offload the rear suspension somewhat. And that forces weight to be applied to the front axle and the trailer's axle. Because they increase ball pressure and vehicle and trailer frame load, not all vehicles or trailers will work with a WDH, but for those that do, they work great at solving the problem for which they were designed.

Airbags bolster the rear suspension. They don't increase axle capacity, they don't offload weight from the axle, they just strengthen the suspension's resistance to compression. That's it. So if the only problem you are experiencing is sag in the rear suspension -- no lift issues in the front, and no risk of overloading the rear axle -- air bags can be a good addition to your tow vehicle.

Two completely different devices, that do two completely different things.

How to decide between them:

Are you at risk of overloading the rear axle? Is your front end lifting more than 2/3rds of an inch when the trailer is sitting on the hitch at the same time as the rear suspension squatting? Really, does the front lift, regardless of squat in back? Are you close to, or over your hitch's tongue capacity when you deduct rear cargo weight from the capacity, and account for the actual weight of the trailer's tongue? If so, you should use a weight distribution hitch if your tow vehicle and trailer are compatible.

Do you sag in back but don't lift in front more than, say, a half inch? Are you NOT close to the tongue capacity of the tow vehicle when accounting for cargo and actual weights? In other words, are you ONLY trying to offset soft, saggy rear suspension? Get air bags.

Unless you've measured rear suspension sag, front suspension lift, and actual cargo and trailer weights relative to the advertised tongue capacity, nobody can answer the question. You'll have to get out a bathroom scale, a piece of paper, pencil, measuring tape, and go to work on it.

There exists a correct answer for solving the issue you face. But you will get conflicting answers from armchair experts if they don't have all the details, and particularly if their expertise lacks an actual understanding of what WDHs and airbags each strive to solve.
 

curt86iroc

Member
Sep 28, 2020
50
it obviously doesnt have to be an either/or decision. if you want, you can run both a WDH and airbags. plenty of people do this. However, with that light of a trailer, i doubt you actually need either.

in my case, i added air bags to the rear of our Xterra, but these trucks are known for having soft rear springs. our tongue weight hovers around 250 lbs +/-15
 

cam_1100

Member
May 10, 2018
80
Rochester, MN
Since this thread was revived, I thought I'd add in some info from my recent addition of a WDH to demonstrate Lug_Nut and davido's points about how a WDH redistributes tongue weight. Soon after buying our camper in 2018, I found a deal on a used Fastway e2 WDH so I went ahead and got it. I finally got around to installing and setting it up this past weekend then took it to a CAT scale with these results:

TV: 2018 Chevy Traverse with tow pkg (5,000lb/500lb towing capacity)
Trailer: 2003 Coleman/Fleetwood Mesa (3450 Max GVWR)

<th>th><th>TV Onlyth><th>TV + Trailer (no WDH)th><th>TV + Trailer (with WDH)th>
Front Axle (measured)2720 lb2580 lb2820 lb
Rear Axle (measured)2240 lb2740 lb2340 lb
Total TV4960 lb5320 lb5160 lb
Tongue weight (calculated)---360 lb340 lb
Trailer Axle (measured)---2700 lb2840 lb
Total TV + Trailer---8020 lb8000 lb
*These weights are light since they do not include 3 additional passengers + gear in TV, or food and cooler in camper. I'm planning to re-weigh once we are fully loaded for our next trip in a couple weeks.

Not sure why 20lbs disappeared when engaging the WDH...it was pretty hot that day so maybe I sweat it off with all of the hooking and unhooking. :wink:

Measured lift at the front of the vehicle without the WDH was ~3/4". Adding the WDH removed the lift completely. I don't feel that in my case a WDH was strictly necessary. I've never had any problems towing with a standard hitch, but we stay pretty local with no high-speed interstate travel. However, I felt that with our TV and camper we might be right on the edge of needing/wanting one especially if we begin to venture farther away while towing at higher speeds.

Overall, I was really impressed with how evenly it spread the load across all 3 axles.
 
Last edited:

Adam H

Active Member
Aug 22, 2015
555
California
Haven't used a WDH since I sold my TT with 800lbs of tongue weight. Both my tow vehicles are stout compared to some here and my Avalon with a 500lb a tongue tows fine without the hassle of a WDH.
 




Top