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Old 05-31-2012, 04:51 PM   #1
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Weight Distribution Hitch

I'm confused. Please help smarten me up.

I have a 2010 Off Road with the tow package. I have the had the 4 leaf spring TSB done and purchased a brake contoller. I have towed a variety of trailers but probably none over 3,500 pounds. Now I have been thinking about a small travel trailer that is near 5,000 lbs fully loaded. These trailers say they require a weight distribution hitch.

I have googled everything and still have some questions.

1) Is the stock hitch on the Tacoma of the weight distribution variety?

2) Is the definition of weight distribution more distributing weight on the trailer or the truck? If it's the truck then how can the weight be distributed to the front unless the trailer tongue is attached closer to the rear axle? I don't get how any fancy reciever will move weight on the truck more to the front. The connection point is the same distance from the axle.

3) Is a weight distribution SYSTEM often used interchangable with weight distribution HITCH? It looks like a "system" is a receiver with sway bars and additional springs that mount further toward the axle of the trailer or additional support like more leaf springs or air bags.

4) When I add air-lift bags between the leaf springs and the frame (and it's going to happen anyway), will that essentially be considered distributing the weight on the truck forward and count as a weight distribution system? This would be because the air bag would apply weight of the axle further up front on the frame.

I still plan on using an anti-sway type of reciever for the heavier trailer. I do not want to go to a bigger Tundra or other truck. I would buy a lighter trailer before I did that.

Thanks.
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Old 05-31-2012, 05:12 PM   #2
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Frankly that's a lot of weight more then I would want to tow with a Tacoma. The WD hitch is a complete package from the reciever to the trailer not part of the truck package. WD hitches can also come with anti sway systems as one unit all in one. You'll want the WD hitch even with the air bags your going to have around 600# of tongue weight, you'll need it to level the truck out.
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Old 05-31-2012, 09:51 PM   #3
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Towing 5000lbs is fine in a Tacoma. As to your questions:

The hitch on the truck is just a socket, it's what plugs in that does the weight distribution. The hitch on the truck doesn't matter as long as it's rated for the load, ie, class III, class IV, etc. The stock hitch is fine.

As for how it works it distributes the hitch load on the truck (tongue weight) from just the rear axle to share it between the front and rear axles and/or between the truck and trailer. A ball and socket is pretty simple but when you add the arms and chains you can use them to effectively lift the hitch which transfers the tongue load off the rear axle.

A system and a hitch are the same thing unless the 'system' also incorporates a sway control. There's the actual hitch with the ball on it, then a pair of L shaped arms with chains, then the brackets on the trailer A-frame where the chains mount. That's the complete hitch or 'system'.

Airbags can only help support the rear axle load, they won't distribute it. They will definitely help level the vehicle and keep it at a proper ride height and loaded spring rate though. However, you can crank the bags right up and level the truck which will 'look' good but you could still have the rear axle way overloaded. Only the WDH will share that tongue load between the front and rear axles and/or between the truck and trailer axles.

It might be an idea to go down to the local trailer dealership and ask them about the hitches, maybe they can hook one up for you and you can see what happens when you tension the chains up. It should become pretty clear then.
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Old 06-01-2012, 05:28 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by knayrb View Post
I'm confused. Please help smarten me up.

I have a 2010 Off Road with the tow package. I have the had the 4 leaf spring TSB done and purchased a brake contoller. I have towed a variety of trailers but probably none over 3,500 pounds. Now I have been thinking about a small travel trailer that is near 5,000 lbs fully loaded. These trailers say they require a weight distribution hitch.

I have googled everything and still have some questions.

1) Is the stock hitch on the Tacoma of the weight distribution variety?

The receiver is what's mounted to the truck, the hitch is what gets inserted into the receiver. A weight distribution hitch can be used interchangably on any vehicle with the same size receiver.

2) Is the definition of weight distribution more distributing weight on the trailer or the truck? If it's the truck then how can the weight be distributed to the front unless the trailer tongue is attached closer to the rear axle? I don't get how any fancy reciever will move weight on the truck more to the front. The connection point is the same distance from the axle.

A weight distribution hitch works by torquing steel bars the work to lift up on the back of the truck and press down on the front of the truck, distributing the trailer's tongue weight more evenly between the truck's front and rear wheels rather than just sagging the rear.

3) Is a weight distribution SYSTEM often used interchangable with weight distribution HITCH? It looks like a "system" is a receiver with sway bars and additional springs that mount further toward the axle of the trailer or additional support like more leaf springs or air bags.

Do you have a link to a weight distribution system? I'm not familiar with system. Trailer sway control and weight distribution are separate and can be used separately or together. Additional swap bars on the truck (rear sway bar) air bags or helper springs are not related to the fuction of a weight distribution hitch. Something to beef up the rear suspension may be helpful towing a heavy trailer but they should not be confused with out a weight distribution hitch operates.

4) When I add air-lift bags between the leaf springs and the frame (and it's going to happen anyway), will that essentially be considered distributing the weight on the truck forward and count as a weight distribution system? This would be because the air bag would apply weight of the axle further up front on the frame.

All the air bags do is make it so your rear end isn't squatting as far. Air bags do not do anything for weight distribution, the hitch does the weight distributing. You should google or youtube 'how a weight distribution hitch works', I'm sure there are some great visuals that would help you understand how they work.

I still plan on using an anti-sway type of reciever for the heavier trailer. I do not want to go to a bigger Tundra or other truck. I would buy a lighter trailer before I did that.

Thanks.
See above in red.

Edit: Here's a crash course in W/D hitches:

When you tighten the chains, they try bend the steel bars. The way the steel bars are inserted into the truck's hitch basically tries to torque the frame and, in doing so, helps lift up on the rear end and press down on the front end. It makes for more positive steering, less rear end sag and will help the tow vehicle and trailer stay level.
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Old 06-01-2012, 06:52 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fvtalon View Post
Towing 5000lbs is fine in a Tacoma.
That's not necessarily true. With not much else in the truck and a tongue weight under 12% probably yes, but once you add any camping gear, and if the tongue approaches 15%, then no.
I bought a half ton truck because my 4,500 lbs trailer (loaded) combined with the gear and people we have in the truck put the Tacoma way over it's limits (GVWR and axle ratings). It was not "relaxed" towing.
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Old 06-01-2012, 07:45 AM   #6
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Thanks.

I probably have my terminology wrong. I was calling the ball mount "the hitch". The sum of all the parts is the hitch. The receiver is what is currently bolted onto the truck frame and the ball mount slides into the receiver. Sorry for the confusion.

Now that you talk about "torquing" I see that what you are essentially doing is applying pressure to try to "point" the front of the hitch down and the back up which raises that back and lowers the front of the truck. I think I get it.

In the picture Pugga provided I see that the ball mount has the bars with chains but the receiver is not different from what I currently have.

So is there a different type of receiver (the part currently bolted on the truck frame) that helps distribute weight or is it all a function of the ball mount piece only?
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Old 06-01-2012, 07:52 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by knayrb View Post
Thanks.

I probably have my terminology wrong. I was calling the ball mount "the hitch". The sum of all the parts is the hitch. The receiver is what is currently bolted onto the truck frame and the ball mount slides into the receiver. Sorry for the confusion.

Now that you talk about "torquing" I see that what you are essentially doing is applying pressure to try to "point" the front of the hitch down and the back up which raises that back and lowers the front of the truck. I think I get it.

In the picture Pugga provided I see that the ball mount has the bars with chains but the receiver is not different from what I currently have.

So is there a different type of receiver (the part currently bolted on the truck frame) that helps distribute weight or is it all a function of the ball mount piece only?
I wasn't trying to be condecending by the way, just trying to clear up the terminology because it seemed that was the stem of at least some of the confusion. Sounds like you have the concept down and that's exactly what those chains and torsion bars do. The receiver, the part bolted to the truck, does not have to be changed or modified in any way to work in conjunction with a weight distributing hitch.
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Old 06-01-2012, 12:38 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pugga View Post
I wasn't trying to be condecending by the way, just trying to clear up the terminology because it seemed that was the stem of at least some of the confusion. Sounds like you have the concept down and that's exactly what those chains and torsion bars do. The receiver, the part bolted to the truck, does not have to be changed or modified in any way to work in conjunction with a weight distributing hitch.
No offense taken at all. I asked a question and truly wanted to get answers. I manage 38 socially inept geeky computer developers and I don't even recognize that stuff anymore.

Thanks for everyone's help.

On the air-bag installation - I'm doing that because I go up a few times a year on a not-so-good dirt road with my utility trailer and gather a few cords of firewood. The first year I was bottoming out on some bumps. I checked the trailer weight and what was in the bed and it was below the maximum specs for truck and trailer. I demanded and got the spring TSB done which has helped big time. The truck really doesn't look heavily loaded with it weighted down but every once in awhile I feel the rubber bumpers lightly hit the frame. I just want a little extra support when loaded down on dirt roads and that's why I'm installing Air-Lift bags this summer. I have them on order already.
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Old 12-04-2013, 12:56 PM   #9
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WDH information

I've been doing a bit of research on weight distributing hitches as well. I recently come across a hitch site that has very indepth information on these types of hitches here. It works well with figuring when to use one, and what it can do for you.

Hope this helps.
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