Do I Need a Weight-Distributing Hitch?

If you’re looking to tow a trailer or anything of considerable weight behind your truck, there really is no way around the weight-distributing hitch. In particular, high-quality hitches ensure you tow correctly and reduce the risk of accidents or damages while performing the activity.

That said, there are a few things to know about the weight-distributing hitch to help you gain the full potential of its use. Let’s find out what they are.

Four Things To Know About the Weight-Distributing Hitch

We’ve established that the weight-distributing hitch is necessary for heavy-load-towing trucks, but what else should you know about it?

It’s a Must for Heavy-Load Towing

The weight-distributing hitch is an essential piece of equipment for every manufacturer of a mid-size to half-ton, heavy-duty truck with a hitch ball. It should have a capacity of 5,000 pounds in a mid-size vehicle and anywhere around a 6,000- to 8,000-pound load range in a heavy-duty truck. As indicated in the manual, the hitch requirement safeguards the vehicle manufacturer from liability.

Basically, 5,000 pounds of towage can look like a loading car and double-axle trailer and would require the use of a hitch. It is the common load territory for most pull-behind camper vans and RVs, which is why you often see these vehicles using hitches. However, they aren’t classified under heavy-duty towing and shouldn’t be used for hauling loads above 5,000 pounds.

The Installation Process Takes Time

No, installing a hitch is not as easy as 1-2-3. Every hitch installation offers a different experience and requires considerable time to ensure a proper setup. For instance, a hitch that can tow more than 10,000 pounds with 1,000 pounds of tongue weight is a little more complicated to install than its counterparts due to its several fine adjustments.

Adjustments can come in the form of the hitch angle range and ball height. It will require specific tools and perhaps some extra hands to perform correctly.

Take note these hitches are of the heavier-load variety and can weigh as much as 80 pounds. Apart from strength, expertise on full-range sockets and torque wrenches is also required to get the job done.

Then, you need to prepare a part of the trailer. You need to make sure it has pre-drilled holes, or you have a drill on hand for drilling holes in it. You would need them to mount the hangers onto the frame.

Don’t worry, though, because this is actually one of the easier parts of the installation process. That is if you own the trailer and have not borrowed it from someone else.

Requires the Right Hitch Ball and Shank

The right ball is crucial to the weight-distributing hitch’s performance. The same towage rate for hitch and truck does not automatically translate to a safe and seamless towing process. You have to make sure the ball can handle the load, too.

Ratings can range from 2,000 to 30,000, with every figure requiring balls with certain specifications. Torque wrenches also factor in getting these balls to the right adjustments.

A hitch ball with a 10,000-pound load classification requires that you torque the nut to 250 pounds force foot. A wrench that cannot achieve this level of force will be useless for this specific ball.

Also, the trailer hitch ball’s size has to match the coupler. You can get trailer hitch balls in the following sizes: 1.875 inches, two inches, and 2.3125 inches.

Lastly, the shank diameter has to complement the trailer hitch ball size. Shank diameters can range from 0.75 inches to 1.25 inches and have up to five class denotations. To put things in perspective, a 10,000-load hitch would require a 1.25-inch diameter shank to operate.

Uncommon and Expensive

Weight-distributing hitches are usually planned purchases due to their price and local elusiveness. They cost upward of $200, with the most expensive running nearly $1,000. Though, you want to pay less attention to the price of the item and more to its load requirement, as this is what determines its safety and utility.

Styles also vary where hitches are concerned: clamp-ons, sway-bar attachments, and screw-ins being among your options. There are also some sorted based on how they allow and don’t allow backing up.

Auto dealers and parts stores don’t usually don’t stock hitches on hand. In fact, you can probably count on one hand the establishments that do; Nissan is one of them. As for the others, you will likely be asked to pre-order.

Your Load Determines Your Need

Generally, if you own a truck you plan to haul at least 5,000 pounds of load with, a weight-distributing hitch is non-negotiable. When chosen and installed in accordance with your truck’s specifications and matched with the right pieces of supportive equipment, it can make the towing process safe and seamless.