Are Weight Distribution hitches and sway control sometimes a bad idea? - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 11-30-2016, 12:41 PM   #1
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Are Weight Distribution hitches and sway control sometimes a bad idea?

Are there any rules of thumb to help decide if a weight distribution or sway control hitch is a good idea for a particular tow vehicle and trailer combination?


To give some context, I'm buying a 17b which will be towed by a Volvo XC90 with a 5000lb total towing capacity and a 500lb hitch rating. I can see why reducing sway and why distributing weight to the front wheels would be good. The drawback is that even the lightest sway control device offered by Escape is 84lb, according to Amazon.


As a hypothetical, say my tongue weight was 420lb without a weight distribution hitch. By getting a weight distribution hitch, the total tongue weight would be 504lb. Is this combination safer than not having the weight distribution hitch, despite exceeding the technically allowed vehicle spec for tongue weight?


I've seen a 17b that had a factory tongue weight listed as 352lb. If you throw in a storage box which allows 100lb, you could easily get to 420lb or above before the weight distribution hitch.
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Old 11-30-2016, 12:44 PM   #2
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You transfer some of the tongue weight to the front of the car and the rear of the trailer. I know it seems counter intuitive to add weight to disperse weight, but it works.
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Old 11-30-2016, 02:04 PM   #3
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I don't think it is a question of it ever being a bad idea. The better question is whether it is necessary for your trailer/vehicle combination and therefore worth the money and hassle of extra equipment. I'm not saying that sometimes it isn't needed, but I get the impression that since Escape offers it as an option that many buyers (especially those with little or no towing experience) feel that they should get it. If it makes them feel better that is worth something too.

All I can offer is that we tow a 19 with both a 2005 and 2007 4Runner with a weight carrying hitch without issue. The 4Runner is rated the same as yours with 5000/500 capacity. The trailer weighs in at ~3,600 lb (tanks empty but otherwise ready to camp) with a 360 lb tongue weight and tows very well. We did add a single friction sway bar for good measure.

This is a great article on weight distribution:
Common Weight Distribution and Sway Control Questions | etrailer.com
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Old 11-30-2016, 02:15 PM   #4
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My 17B tongue weight is 320 - 340 lbs ( no storage box ). The ride in my RAV4 is way more comfortable with weight distribution hitch. Dragging the WDH to the RAV4 is not comfortable, but worth the effort.
Makes tow and trailer feel like a unit.
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Old 11-30-2016, 03:10 PM   #5
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The anti-sway bar we added to our Reese WDH for our stick trailer had a warning about not using it in the rain and I can confirm it would bind if you tried it wet. I wasn't aware there were better anti-sway mechanisms out there when I got it. Despite the reported issues on later model Andersen WDH hitches, I love ours. Even if I should have to replace the collar insert in time, it does both WD and anti-sway and is so much lighter than the heavy Reese WDH we had. It is also quieter. My Reese used to transmit every groan and bang forward to our truck, making quite a racket.

I wonder if Andersen has resolved their issues that caused them to bind. At one time they were installing these hitches on 80% of the trailers they built (as per Dennis). Also according to Dennis, our hitch was manufactured before they made the change in materials/design that caused the problem. Any other satisfied Andersen users out there or am I the only one? Any news on whether they have fixed the issue with current Andersen hitches?
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Old 11-30-2016, 05:30 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Bobbito View Post
Any other satisfied Andersen users out there or am I the only one? Any news on whether they have fixed the issue with current Andersen hitches?
Bob K
Picked ours up in the fall of 2014 and haven't had any issues. Good that it doesn't care about being wet as we camp year round in the NW
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Old 11-30-2016, 06:49 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paulk View Post
Are there any rules of thumb to help decide if a weight distribution or sway control hitch is a good idea for a particular tow vehicle and trailer combination?


To give some context, I'm buying a 17b which will be towed by a Volvo XC90 with a 5000lb total towing capacity and a 500lb hitch rating. I can see why reducing sway and why distributing weight to the front wheels would be good. The drawback is that even the lightest sway control device offered by Escape is 84lb, according to Amazon.


As a hypothetical, say my tongue weight was 420lb without a weight distribution hitch. By getting a weight distribution hitch, the total tongue weight would be 504lb. Is this combination safer than not having the weight distribution hitch, despite exceeding the technically allowed vehicle spec for tongue weight?


I've seen a 17b that had a factory tongue weight listed as 352lb. If you throw in a storage box which allows 100lb, you could easily get to 420lb or above before the weight distribution hitch.
I towed my 17B with a 2013 Honda Pilot and now with a 2016 VW Touareg TDI and both tow without any issues without using a weight distribution hitch or sway control. The Touareg owners manual prohibits a weight distribution hitch, the tongue weight allowed is 616 lb and max tow cap is 7700.
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Old 11-30-2016, 06:54 PM   #8
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If your headlights are blinding oncoming drivers or lighting up the sky, you need a weight distribution hitch or at least rear airbags.
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Old 11-30-2016, 06:58 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by David H View Post
The Touareg owners manual prohibits a weight distribution hitch
Does it? Can you quote exactly what it says about WDH? I've seen similar claims about WDH being "prohibited" for other vehicles, but when you read the text, it actually say "not recommended", which isn't the same thing.
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Old 11-30-2016, 07:32 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David H View Post
The Touareg owners manual prohibits a weight distribution hitch...
Quote:
Originally Posted by gbaglo View Post
Does it? Can you quote exactly what it says about WDH?
Yes, yes, and we have been through this before:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
...
After a couple of clicks the actual 12-page section of the 2015 VW Touareg manual can be downloaded. This looks like legitimate VW content.
It contains a clear statement of a hitch weight limit of 616 pounds (only 8% of the 7716 pound trailer limit) and this warning:
Quote:
Never install a “weight distributing” or “load equalizing” trailer hitch on your vehicle. The vehicle was not designed for these kinds of trailer hitches. The trailer hitch attachment can fail, causing the trailer to tear loose from the vehicle.
There's lots more detail about the Touareg in that earlier thread (which was supposed to be about the Honda Ridgeline), if you follow the quote link.
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