The Difference Between Using Weight Distribution and Air Bags to Level Your Load - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 07-08-2017, 09:03 AM   #1
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The Difference Between Using Weight Distribution and Air Bags to Level Your Load

This topic has been frequently discussed and this link was posted on another thread. (Thanks to whoever first posted it) I thought it was of enough interest that it would be easier for folks to find in its own thread.

While it is produced by a company that makes WDH, their methodology seems very solid, well conceived and carried out professionally.

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Old 07-08-2017, 09:42 AM   #2
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Is this the one you wanted?
Yep - that's it Jim, not sure what went wrong with that copy and paste - fixed it. Thanks
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Old 07-09-2017, 02:29 AM   #3
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I think it was me who posted it.. after I watched this.. i bought the andersen wdh instead of looking for any air bags.
It made sense to me...
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Old 07-09-2017, 08:34 AM   #4
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Awesome video. Very clear. Exactly why I cringe when I read about people adding air bags in place of a distribution hitch. If your vehicle is rated for a weight distribution, please use one. Most of your braking is done by your front wheels so you don't want to take weight off of them.
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Old 07-09-2017, 09:24 AM   #5
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I see it as a bogus sales video. Interesting demo of weight shifting, but they never used the results to show if the weights were excessive for the vehicle tested. Doubtful that they were for the pickup.

If that were my vehicle and I thought the weight was a problem I would first reposition the load on the trailer. If there was still some cosmetic sag I would use airbags or springs to level. I didn't see the need for a wdh in this video.
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Old 07-09-2017, 09:59 AM   #6
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I see it as a bogus sales video. Interesting demo of weight shifting...
The difference between the ways WDH and air bags do weight shifting (distribution) is the whole point of the video.

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Originally Posted by Viajante View Post
... but they never used the results to show if the weights were excessive for the vehicle tested. Doubtful that they were for the pickup.
Not really the point of the testing. The pickup just served as a test bed. It could as easily have been an SUV or other tow.
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Old 07-09-2017, 10:18 AM   #7
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The difference between the ways WDH and air bags do weight shifting (distribution) is the whole point of the video.



Not really the point of the testing. The pickup just served as a test bed. It could as easily have been an SUV or other tow.
Very True, Eric! They could have put the extra weights in the bed of the pick-up and eliminated the trailer and hitch entirely. But then they couldn't have performed the test.....
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Old 07-12-2017, 02:41 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by skiman View Post
Awesome video. Very clear. Exactly why I cringe when I read about people adding air bags in place of a distribution hitch. If your vehicle is rated for a weight distribution, please use one. Most of your braking is done by your front wheels so you don't want to take weight off of them.
Unless you have something like rear drums and front discs where heat buildup might be an issue on long downhills, having your rear wheels do more of the braking than usual isn't a huge problem. The front brakes do most of the work because they have to (weight in front, moves more weight forwards under hard braking) rather than because it's better. The bigger issue is steering: not enough weight on the front means you don't get much traction when you turn the wheel and may just plow forwards instead.
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Old 07-12-2017, 07:47 AM   #9
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Confirmed our decision to use Anderson WDH.
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Old 07-12-2017, 08:48 AM   #10
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Unless you have something like rear drums and front discs where heat buildup might be an issue on long downhills, having your rear wheels do more of the braking than usual isn't a huge problem. The front brakes do most of the work because they have to (weight in front, moves more weight forwards under hard braking) rather than because it's better. The bigger issue is steering: not enough weight on the front means you don't get much traction when you turn the wheel and may just plow forwards instead.
You are right on. I worked in the automotive industry manufacturing of braking systems. For a whole host of reasons you are much better off with sharing trailer tongue weight between front and rear wheels.
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Old 07-12-2017, 02:26 PM   #11
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....but they never used the results to show if the weights were excessive for the vehicle tested.
Are you implying that you think a WDH is used in order to "increase" the tow capacity of a given vehicle? That is, if the desired tow load exceeds your tow vehicle capacity, then you can use a WDH to overcome that?

No, if your tow vehicle is rated for 4500 lbs, you cannot use WDH or air springs to tow a 5000 lb trailer. A WDH and air springs are things that allow a tow vehicle to more safely, better handle a tow load *within* their rated capacity.

What was not shown, which I am curious about is to use both WDH and air springs? Use the WDH to more evenly spread the load, moving some weight back onto the front axle and some back onto the trailer axles. But then, also use air springs/air bags to help the vehicle rear axle better handle the increased load. Smoother ride, less likely to bottom out or bounce.
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Old 07-12-2017, 03:47 PM   #12
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What was not shown, which I am curious about is to use both WDH and air springs? Use the WDH to more evenly spread the load, moving some weight back onto the front axle and some back onto the trailer axles. But then, also use air springs/air bags to help the vehicle rear axle better handle the increased load. Smoother ride, less likely to bottom out or bounce.
That works fine, but WD setup can get tricky, because as you change air spring inflation pressure you change rear suspension height, which changes the angle of the spring bars (or compression of the urethane spring, in the case of the Andersen No-Sway), which changes the weight transfer. It's an interacting set of systems, but once you have everything as desired both the WD and the air springs do their jobs as they should.
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Old 07-12-2017, 05:29 PM   #13
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I'm not at all implying that a wdh increases tow capacity.

This forum has had numerous questions about whether a wdh is necessary for the trailer and tow vehicle they are using. There seems to be a tendency to jump to the wdh without full analysis, something this promo video contributes to.

They weighed the axle weights. Good. Then they concluded that the load posed a danger to braking and steering. Unsupported by their tests. A valid test would have compared the axle loads and tongue weights to the manufacturer's specs. If something was out of spec they could have discussed options. And I think that redistributing the load, making changes to the suspension system, such as using airbags, would solve the problem. But, the point of the video was to promote the wdh.

When I towed with a Honda Pilot I didn't like the way the rear squatted and the headlights aimed up. But the load was well within vehicle specs. I added airbags and was happy with the level tow. No wdh needed.
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Old 07-12-2017, 05:46 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Viajante View Post
When I towed with a Honda Pilot I didn't like the way the rear squatted and the headlights aimed up. But the load was well within vehicle specs. I added airbags and was happy with the level tow. No wdh needed.
All the airbags do is make it harder to compress the springs. You could get rid of the springs and substitute an I-beam to level your vehicle.
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Old 07-12-2017, 06:36 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
That works fine, but WD setup can get tricky.... It's an interacting set of systems, but once you have everything as desired both the WD and the air springs do their jobs as they should.
Agreed.
Plus, the air springs can come in handy when not towing, but are traveling heavily loaded, such as full people, plus luggage. Or when DW sends me out for another load of mid-century modern furniture.
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Old 07-12-2017, 10:26 PM   #16
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Not trying to dipute the overall benefit of WD, but I noticed that they used the same ball mount for both tests. Isn't a ball mount for a WD setup longer than typically used when there's no WD? If so, then their results are probably overstated.
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Old 07-12-2017, 10:32 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Viajante View Post
I'm not at all implying that a wdh increases tow capacity.

This forum has had numerous questions about whether a wdh is necessary for the trailer and tow vehicle they are using. There seems to be a tendency to jump to the wdh without full analysis, something this promo video contributes to.

They weighed the axle weights. Good. Then they concluded that the load posed a danger to braking and steering. Unsupported by their tests. A valid test would have compared the axle loads and tongue weights to the manufacturer's specs. If something was out of spec they could have discussed options. And I think that redistributing the load, making changes to the suspension system, such as using airbags, would solve the problem. But, the point of the video was to promote the wdh.

When I towed with a Honda Pilot I didn't like the way the rear squatted and the headlights aimed up. But the load was well within vehicle specs. I added airbags and was happy with the level tow. No wdh needed.
I am going to play the devils advocate

When you say "no WDH needed" ... I want to clarify

To any novice readers

WDH do just that - they distribute weight forward. .

In some situations that is a very good thing

To keep enough (proper) weight on the front wheels, for braking and steering.

A properly setup WHD can do that more then airbags in the rear.

Just saying this to clarify. 😜

And

Hard to define "need"

I would say that some of this partially comes down to personal preference.

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Old 07-12-2017, 10:33 PM   #18
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This is so timely as I had my 2012 4Runner serviced today. Am ordering airbags for rear suspension & hope it will correct the up & down motion as well as the headlight tilt I get w towing my 17b. Which has 2 20 # propanes & front storage box. Don't use wdh. Imvite opinions.
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Old 07-12-2017, 10:37 PM   #19
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Having used a WDH for the past eight years, I cannot understand why anyone would be an advocate for weight distribution if it wasn't a marked improvement.
The hitch itself is a considerable weight and the bars add to that. As I recall, my hitch and bars weigh 68 pounds. Believe me, I would rather not drag them out to the vehicle if I didn't think it was worth it.
And, then there is the aggravation of jacking up and down to install the bars.
Really. I'd rather not.
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Old 07-13-2017, 12:00 AM   #20
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All the airbags do is make it harder to compress the springs. You could get rid of the springs and substitute an I-beam to level your vehicle.
The stiffness of springs is important to suspension behaviour. Infinitely stiff (solid beams instead of springs) would be horrible; springs suited the load (which may include air bags) are better than springs which are softer than suitable for the load. Air bags are not just a way to change the suspension height.
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