Towing with and without a weight-distributing hitch - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 07-24-2017, 05:52 PM   #1
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Towing with and without a weight-distributing hitch

Yesterday I conducted an experiment: I towed my trailer from Kalaloch campground to Mora campground in Olympic National Park, a distance of 47 miles, without using the weight distribution bars on my weight-distributing hitch, so that it functioned like a standard hitch. I paid careful attention to the handling as I drove. The weight-distributing hitch definitely makes a difference. Without the bars I had quite a bit of bobbing and weaving, and the truck/trailer combination was more difficult to control on curves.

So if you have a Tacoma and are pulling a 21, it would be worth your money to get a weight-distributing hitch. Even though the truck can pull the trailer without one, it pulls much better with one.
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Old 07-24-2017, 05:54 PM   #2
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Question Mike,
If you had a Tundra, do you think your results would have been the same?
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Old 07-24-2017, 06:01 PM   #3
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Question Mike,
If you had a Tundra, do you think your results would have been the same?
I don't know, but I don't think so. Since the Tundra is a full-size truck, the difference in handling with/without the WD hitch should be less. The Tacoma without the WD hitch gets a bit of the "tail wagging the dog" effect from the trailer, which should be diminished in the heavier Tundra. I'm just guessing, though.

I saw a nice, new Tundra pulling a fifth-wheel a few weeks ago and wanted to ask the owner how it handled towing, but I never got the chance.
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Old 07-24-2017, 06:15 PM   #4
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Well, at least if you tow without WD, don't use an overly long ball mount. A common plain ball mount is significantly shorter than a WD shank and head, reducing the adverse effects of tongue weight on the tow vehicle.

Also, choose a ball mount for the correct coupler height. If the trailer is level with WD, disconnecting the WD spring bars will drop the ball and coupler, typically by a couple of inches (that's the reason that many people use WD... droop of the rear of the tow vehicle). That means the trailer is running with the front a couple of inches too low, shifting load to the leading axle and reducing stability.
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Old 07-24-2017, 06:40 PM   #5
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Question Mike,
If you had a Tundra, do you think your results would have been the same?
I just completed a 3,500 mile tow of a 2017 21 (aprox 4,200 lbs) without a WDH using a Tundra (5.7).

I used to pull a Casita 17SD with a Tacoma and a WDH. That setup worked great and I highly recommend one with a Tacoma. I was planning on installing the same WDH on the 21, but was missing a tool to change it from the 3" Casita frame to the 4" Escape frame.

Looking back on, I don't think you need one with a Tundra. I'm going to install it and test it on our next long haul, but other than smoothing out a few dips and maybe better sway control, I might start leaving it at home. The 21 didn't sway much, even in 30 mph crosswinds. Having owned multiple Tacoma's, I'm really impressed with the Tundra and it's towing ability. My former Tacoma (3.5) would have struggled up passes and in passing situations. We recorded transmission temps for the Tundra in the 195-225 range during our trip home. You would have to really slow down to keep the Tacoma temps in check.
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Old 07-24-2017, 07:56 PM   #6
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Mike,
What was your performance with the Tundra, avg speed and avg mpg?
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Old 07-24-2017, 08:18 PM   #7
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Mike,
What was your performance with the Tundra, avg speed and avg mpg?
No, I have a Tacoma. I pull at 60 mph in general and get around 13-14 mpg when towing. US 101 is a twisty road between campgrounds in Olympic National Park, so I drove a bit slower, maybe 50-55 mph.
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Old 07-24-2017, 09:45 PM   #8
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wdh

I tow a 19 with a Toyota FJ Cruiser (tow rating 5000). I've tried it with and without the wdh hooked up it is like night and day.
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Old 07-24-2017, 11:08 PM   #9
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Even with a 5300 # Yukon a WDH with our 21 has benefits for a smoother tow. We don't need it; headlights are fine, and on short-distance tows I don't bother hitching it up, yet it is a bit of a fatigue fighter just as air conditioning is when you don't have to hear all the wind noise for hours.
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Old 07-25-2017, 04:47 AM   #10
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How about trying towing without WD on a semi infested highway. Just drive a bit slow in the right lane and let the trucks pass you, if it's going to sway, that should do it.
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