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Old 09-21-2016, 08:08 PM   #1
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BMW WD Hitch for Escape 21

Hello forum! I will take delivery of an Escape 21 in May 2017. My tow vehicle is a 2011 BMW X5 diesel. Towing capacity is rated at 6000 lbs, tongue weight at 600lbs.

BMW does not allow use of a weight distribution hitch on this vehicle. I am told that the front axle is not designed for the extra load and that the vehicles electronic stability control would not perform properly if equipped with such a hitch.

Is there anyone out there towing with the same or similar vehicle who could share their experience? Thanks!!
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Old 09-21-2016, 08:15 PM   #2
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Welcome!

I know nothing about your tow vehicle, but do know you certainly are getting a very nice trailer, congrats.
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Old 09-21-2016, 08:35 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bikecruz View Post
BMW does not allow use of a weight distribution hitch on this vehicle. I am told that the front axle is not designed for the extra load and that the vehicles electronic stability control would not perform properly if equipped with such a hitch.
Sounds weird that they would say the front axle is not designed for the extra load, since a WDH only restores load to the front axle that would be there if not for the trailer.
Note that Toyota says they 'do not recommend' a WDH for my RAV4. It took me years to get an explanation, which was that they don't have a relationship with a manufacturer of WDH so they don't have one that they recommend.
The wording used is important, and doesn't necessarily mean what you might think.
Can't say what the electronic stability control thinks.
But, with a 600 lb. tongue capacity, I would think you probably don't need WDH.
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Old 09-22-2016, 12:19 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bikecruz View Post
BMW does not allow use of a weight distribution hitch on this vehicle. I am told that the front axle is not designed for the extra load and that the vehicles electronic stability control would not perform properly if equipped with such a hitch.
Not surprising, for a German manufacturer. Weight-distribution systems are not widely used in Europe.

The owner's manual essentially ignores the possibility of towing a trailer; perhaps there is another manual specifically for towing, but I don't see it with the owner's manuals.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gbaglo View Post
Sounds weird that they would say the front axle is not designed for the extra load, since a WDH only restores load to the front axle that would be there if not for the trailer.
The front axle load is restored to no more than the non-towing condition... unless the WD system is over-applied (more force than advised by the manufacturers of WD systems), which is not uncommon. At one well-known RV dealer, where they bill themselves as "towing professionals", they deliberately do this.

Since a WD system changes the axle loads to a distribution not directly corresponding to the mass distribution, and in a way which cannot be known in advance (since the operator can set them to whatever degree they like), it would be difficult for a stability control system to manage.
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Old 09-22-2016, 01:07 AM   #5
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Having had an 03 (no towing), it sounds like lawyer speak for "CYA". On the other hand, as Glenn mentioned, if you load vehicle and trailer sensibly, I am not sure I see the need for a wdh? Maybe sway control.

Do you have the air suspension? Have you poked around xoutpost?
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Old 09-22-2016, 12:26 PM   #6
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Trailers Unlimited in Bend, Or told me recently that they don't like WDH's as they put extra load on the front end of vehicles and prematurely wear things like rack & pinion steering and kingpins on vans & trucks. Wanted to sell me an airbag set up with manual air inlet w/Schrader valve.
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Old 09-22-2016, 01:17 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Rossue View Post
Trailers Unlimited in Bend, Or told me recently that they don't like WDH's as they put extra load on the front end of vehicles and prematurely wear things like rack & pinion steering and kingpins on vans & trucks. Wanted to sell me an airbag set up with manual air inlet w/Schrader valve.
My 2 c would be note the words "they wanted to sell me"



I would argue that in certain situations..... such as with some mid sized SUVs.... having a WDH is not putting extra load on the front end, it is putting a proper load on the front end, so you maintain proper weight distribution for braking and steering.

just my 2c. flame suit on.
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Old 09-22-2016, 01:37 PM   #8
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Instead of an airbag, you could just weld a piece I-bar to the coil spring. That would stiffen it up.
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Old 09-22-2016, 03:20 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Losangeles View Post
I would argue that in certain situations..... such as with some mid sized SUVs.... having a WDH is not putting extra load on the front end, it is putting a proper load on the front end, so you maintain proper weight distribution for braking and steering.
Or I would argue that "proper" load on an axle is what gravity applies to it. It's really cool how the tire traction magically appears just where it needs to be to control the mass of the vehicle combination.

Adding load to the front axle takes it from the rear axle, where it is also needed for traction. There's no easy fix to make everything work better without consequences, and BMW apparently believes that it is better - for the vehicle which they designed and built - to not mess with the load distribution.
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Old 09-22-2016, 03:24 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by gbaglo View Post
Instead of an airbag, you could just weld a piece I-bar to the coil spring. That would stiffen it up.
But the modified coil spring would not be adjustable to match the load, and bypassing turns of the coil would not add pre-load so the ride height would not be corrected - it would just be stiffer.

There are many ways to change spring characteristics, by using different springs, adding gadgets to the springs, or adding springs (using air, elastomers, or steel) in parallel. Every method is a compromise. A WD system gives up on the inadequate rear springs and tries to "fix" the situation by making other suspensions carry the load... and that's a compromise, too.
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