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Old 06-01-2016, 03:46 PM   #1
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do i really need an equalizer hitch?

Hi everyone,

I'm new to this forum and also new to trailers.
I have a pathfinder which has max tongue load 500lb.
and I'm getting a 17B with a storage box. My question is,
do i really need an equalizer hitch or the other 2 even more fancy options (Equalizer Hitch with Sway Control Bar / E2 Integrated Sway Control and Weight Distribution Hitch) ?
Anyone has experience with those things, any ideas will help?

Thanx!
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Old 06-01-2016, 03:52 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peaka View Post
Hi everyone,

I'm new to this forum and also new to trailers.
I have a pathfinder which has max tongue load 500lb.
and I'm getting a 17B with a storage box. My question is,
do i really need an equalizer hitch or the other 2 even more fancy options (Equalizer Hitch with Sway Control Bar / E2 Integrated Sway Control and Weight Distribution Hitch) ?
Anyone has experience with those things, any ideas will help?

Thanx!
welcome to this awesome forum, and to travel trailers!

Generally... when it comes to WDH.... you'll get many different opinions on this forum.

My opinion is... the best thing about a WDH, generally, is that it distributes the weight forward...... and thus your tug (tow vehicle) is generally more flat, and so your front tires have a better amount of weight (and thus braking ability) on them.

My opinion is that often a WDH is a good idea. I myself plan for the worst..... hope for the best.

Towing our 17' Casita, loaded, with our Acura MDX (5,000 lb towing with the optional tow package) is MUCH MUCH more smooth, with far less porpoising over bumps and dips, plus the front wheels are loaded better.

We also have a sway bar. Again... zero sway when going 55 and a semi truck blows past at 75 mpg.

Without the sway bar it is less stable.

I hope this helps.... just my 2c, and get ready for lots of different opinions.

Los Angeles
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Old 06-01-2016, 03:55 PM   #3
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Do you really need a weight distribution hitch? It's a personal choice thing, you can get one, deal with the extra hassle and weight, but get a better safer ride, or you can skip it and see how the rig does without. From what I see of the Pathfinder, it does not HAVE to have one.

I always used one when I had a bumper pull, even when I went to a full size truck.

I tend to get bigger vehicles then absolutely necessary to err on the side of safety and piece of mind. Your choice may definitely vary from mine.
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Old 06-01-2016, 04:14 PM   #4
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Thanx guys for quick response. So, it seems WDH is a good thing to have.
Does anyone know the differences between Equalizer Hitch and E2 Integrated Sway Control and Weight Distribution Hitch? The E2 is far more expensive, is it worth the extra $300?
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Old 06-01-2016, 04:18 PM   #5
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p.s. i know you can Google... but here is an article I found - looks informative.

FWIIW

How Towing Weight Distribution Systems Work | HowStuffWorks
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Old 06-01-2016, 04:19 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by padlin View Post
It's a personal choice thing, you can get one, deal with the extra hassle and weight, but get a better safer ride...
I think it's interesting that a "safer" vehicle dynamics are assumed. A common comment is that the WDH makes the combination feel "more of one piece"; that can mean that it is more stable, but it can simply mean that it handles like a bus - unresponsive steering so that if you need to dodge something on the road, you'll just plow through it... smoothly and stably of course.

A WDH may be very suitable for your rig. If you understand what it does, and what you are trying to change (relative to not using a WDH), then you can make an informed choice.

Just curious: what year of Pathfinder do you have? There have been four very different vehicles sold under the Pathfinder name. About half of the ones on the road are the 2004-2012 generation and almost all of the rest are the current generation; those two generations are about as different as two SUVs can be.
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Old 06-01-2016, 04:41 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
I think it's interesting that a "safer" vehicle dynamics are assumed. A common comment is that the WDH makes the combination feel "more of one piece"; that can mean that it is more stable, but it can simply mean that it handles like a bus - unresponsive steering so that if you need to dodge something on the road, you'll just plow through it... smoothly and stably of course.

A WDH may be very suitable for your rig. If you understand what it does, and what you are trying to change (relative to not using a WDH), then you can make an informed choice.

Just curious: what year of Pathfinder do you have? There have been four very different vehicles sold under the Pathfinder name. About half of the ones on the road are the 2004-2012 generation and almost all of the rest are the current generation; those two generations are about as different as two SUVs can be.
My old pathy is 2002, is there anything wrong to have a WDH on this generation? I heard some SUVs are not recommended to have WDH.
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Old 06-01-2016, 04:43 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Losangeles View Post
p.s. i know you can Google... but here is an article I found - looks informative.

FWIIW

How Towing Weight Distribution Systems Work | HowStuffWorks
Thank you LOSANGELES, I'm having some education now
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Old 06-01-2016, 04:50 PM   #9
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Peaka:
We also have a 17B--purchased last summer. So while I can't speak from years of experience towing the Escape, we have done several trips with it. We tow with a 2008 Toyota 4Runner (also 5,000 lb. max. tow wt. & 500 lb. tongue wt.). We don't use a WDH and have not felt the need for one--so far. I'd try towing your 17B without a WDH, you can always add one if you feel your Pathfinder is not towing the Escape the way you want.
Good luck!
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Old 06-01-2016, 04:52 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Losangeles View Post
p.s. i know you can Google... but here is an article I found - looks informative.

FWIIW

How Towing Weight Distribution Systems Work | HowStuffWorks
I suppose this helps, but like many things posted on websites to attract advertising revenue, some of the content is marginal.
  • They start off by describing WD as a fix for sway; that is a potential side effect, but not the fundamental purpose or effect of WD.
  • I understand why they say this:
    Quote:
    Tongue weight (or TW) also includes any weight that's behind the rear axle of the towing vehicle.
    ... but it is simply not true.
  • This one is completely ridiculous:
    Quote:
    the front of the trailer will head toward the ground, bringing the front of the towing vehicle off of the ground.
    To pry the front a typical Escape owner's tug off the ground with hitch weight, you would need to load up an Escape 21' to far beyond its rated maximum weight, then balance the entire three tons of trailer (not just the tongue) on the hitch.
That's the first page of the article... I didn't bother going through the rest today, although I'm sure I've seen this article before.
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Old 06-01-2016, 04:59 PM   #11
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We have a 19 pulled with an Xterra. It came used with a WDH, I believe the "Equalizer Hitch" option. We've always used it, but have towed for a few miles without. For us the WDH is a good deal and makes towing more stable with less sway. If I bought a new trailer I'd get this option. I haven't tried the two more expensive options, but can't believe it would be that much better than our bare bones WDH.

Do you need one, well probably not. I think it's well worth it for our 19, but for a 17 it could be different.

What is the Escape option for an "Equalizer Hitch with Sway Control Bar - $475"? Is that the standard WDH with a friction sway bar added? Also what's the "E2 Integrated Sway Control and Weight Distribution Hitch - $625"? I Googled and found a hitch that has fixed WDH bars, is this the one? Our bare bones WDH has a chain and toggle to attach the bars to the trailer. Is it difficult to connect this E2 unit, I don't see a toggle or anything similar? Didn't in a quick search find any installation directions either.

Let us know what you decided and how it works. Thanks.
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Old 06-01-2016, 05:18 PM   #12
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This is a commonly asked question, so perhaps these previous discussions will help:
Choosing Hitch Option
Fastway e2 wdh?
Equalizer hitch changes

After a while, they'll all blend together, because exactly the same material gets re-hashed every time.
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Old 06-01-2016, 05:25 PM   #13
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What is the Escape option for an "Equalizer Hitch with Sway Control Bar - $475"? Is that the standard WDH with a friction sway bar added?
Yes.
The towing equipment manufacturer (Cequent, using the Pro Series brand name) sells the WDH and an add-on device as a package, although you don't need to buy them together.

Quote:
Originally Posted by currinh View Post
Also what's the "E2 Integrated Sway Control and Weight Distribution Hitch - $625"? I Googled and found a hitch that has fixed WDH bars, is this the one? Our bare bones WDH has a chain and toggle to attach the bars to the trailer. Is it difficult to connect this E2 unit, I don't see a toggle or anything similar? Didn't in a quick search find any installation directions either.
I assume that by "fixed" you mean that the ends of the bars sit directly in the brackets on the trailer frame, without intervening chains. Yes, that's the E2 design, also used by some models of various other brands, and that Fastway page is for a model of the E2 hitch offered by Escape (maybe not the same E2 variant, because like most WDHs it comes in variants with different spring bar stiffness).

Because there's no chain there's no "snap up" bracket (or "toggle") with a lever to operate it; instead, the E2 comes with a different style of lever to make pulling the bar up into the bracket easier. Enthusiastic users of all WD systems insist that this effort is not an issue anyway, because by jacking the tongue up high enough (pulling the tug up by the hitch) the springs are relaxed and little force is needed.

Follow the Product Support link on that Fastway page for installation and operation instructions.
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Old 06-01-2016, 05:45 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
This is a commonly asked question, so perhaps these previous discussions will help:
Choosing Hitch Option
Fastway e2 wdh?
Equalizer hitch changes

After a while, they'll all blend together, because exactly the same material gets re-hashed every time.
Really helpful info. thanks Brian!

I think I'm gonna take the basic equalizer hitch to start my trailer life.
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Old 06-01-2016, 07:28 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by peaka View Post
My old pathy is 2002, is there anything wrong to have a WDH on this generation? I heard some SUVs are not recommended to have WDH.
That's the second generation. This is significantly shorter than the later Pathfinders. Other people with SUVs of this wheelbase length (such as the RAV4) have remarked that they like having the WDH to reduce the load transfer from the tug's front axle to the rear and reaction of the tug to the trailer pitching, which is higher than it would be with more wheelbase. On the other hand, unless you check the axle loads (by measurement or by calculation) you don't know whether shifting load from rear to front is needed or even desirable.

This is fundamentally a rear wheel drive vehicle, with either part-time 4WD or (if you have this option) an automatic system which always drives the rear and also drives the front as required. This means that using a WD won't help drive traction much in any situation, and will hurt drive traction in 2WD mode, although that shouldn't be a significant concern.

This is a unibody (unitized body and frame) design. Some people insist that means that it can't use WD (which is simply not true); others argue that it is structurally unsuitable. I have absolutely no structural issue with the use of WD if the manufacturer of the vehicle says it is okay.

Recommendations not to use WD are often related to the vehicle manufacturer's concern that it will not be used properly. I have a copy of the 2001 Pathfinder owner's manual, which is presumably the same as the 2002 manual, since it is the same vehicle. This manual provides towing information but doesn't even mention WD use; this suggests to me that Nissan has no specific concern with the use of WD.
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Old 06-01-2016, 10:30 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
That's the second generation. This is significantly shorter than the later Pathfinders. Other people with SUVs of this wheelbase length (such as the RAV4) have remarked that they like having the WDH to reduce the load transfer from the tug's front axle to the rear and reaction of the tug to the trailer pitching, which is higher than it would be with more wheelbase. On the other hand, unless you check the axle loads (by measurement or by calculation) you don't know whether shifting load from rear to front is needed or even desirable.

This is fundamentally a rear wheel drive vehicle, with either part-time 4WD or (if you have this option) an automatic system which always drives the rear and also drives the front as required. This means that using a WD won't help drive traction much in any situation, and will hurt drive traction in 2WD mode, although that shouldn't be a significant concern.

This is a unibody (unitized body and frame) design. Some people insist that means that it can't use WD (which is simply not true); others argue that it is structurally unsuitable. I have absolutely no structural issue with the use of WD if the manufacturer of the vehicle says it is okay.

Recommendations not to use WD are often related to the vehicle manufacturer's concern that it will not be used properly. I have a copy of the 2001 Pathfinder owner's manual, which is presumably the same as the 2002 manual, since it is the same vehicle. This manual provides towing information but doesn't even mention WD use; this suggests to me that Nissan has no specific concern with the use of WD.

Wow, you really know a lot about pathfinder!

I just checked the manual, it says "A sway control device is recommended for all towing above 2,000 lb (907 kg). "

Is that means that I choose equalizer hitch option is just waste money? I should simply add sway control bar for a more safe tow?

Thanks again Brian
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Old 06-01-2016, 11:04 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by peaka View Post
Wow, you really know a lot about pathfinder!
A friend of mine had the first- and second-generation Pathfinders, and I have been considering getting an SUV for a specific purpose, and the third-generation might be a good fit. I happened to have a PDF copy of the 2001 manual on file, but it's usually pretty quick to download a manual to get the information needed to answer questions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by peaka View Post
I just checked the manual, it says "A sway control device is recommended for all towing above 2,000 lb (907 kg). "

Is that means that I choose equalizer hitch option is just waste money? I should simply add sway control bar for a more safe tow?
I noticed that, and wondered if anyone else would.

Toyota had the same thing in my Sienna manual. When I called them for clarification (a decade ago) they said they no longer made that recommendation. I think it's a standard item that some manufacturers put in all their manuals, so that if you have sway problems they can say "we told you to do something about that". I don't use any sway control device, but I'm not suggesting that anyone else disregard anything in their manual. I note that it is a recommendation, not a requirement.

The E2 would presumably meet this recommendation. I don't think that the Pro Series WD would qualify unless it was used with the add-on sway control, but I'm also not sure that a sway-damping device is needed.

The fundamental purpose of a WD hitch is not sway control, although these systems do affect sway (including making stability worse if misused). The choices of WD or not and sway control or not are nearly separate, although some designs serve both purposes so if you want both functions certain designs are more attractive. If you want WD and don't see a need for a sway control device, then something like the Pro Series WD is a logical and economical choice.
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Old 06-02-2016, 12:26 AM   #18
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Yes.
The towing equipment manufacturer (Cequent, using the Pro Series brand name) sells the WDH and an add-on device as a package, although you don't need to buy them together.
We have a 15' Shasta single axle trailer. I put a sway control friction arm on it. It helped with that trailer. The standard WDH seems to do similar with our 19, add a little friction.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
Because there's no chain there's no "snap up" bracket (or "toggle") with a lever to operate it; instead, the E2 comes with a different style of lever to make pulling the bar up into the bracket easier. Enthusiastic users of all WD systems insist that this effort is not an issue anyway, because by jacking the tongue up high enough (pulling the tug up by the hitch) the springs are relaxed and little force is needed.

Follow the Product Support link on that Fastway page for installation and operation instructions.
I found the manual and explanation, thanks. They use a "Snap-up Lever" tool to lever the bars into position. They also suggest jacking up the tongue and rear of TV to relax the load. I discovered this and it makes putting on a WDH much easier. Sometimes though, usually then the trailer and TV aren't level with each other, a little persuasion is called for.

Thanks for the info.
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Old 06-02-2016, 04:12 AM   #19
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This means that using a WD won't help drive traction much in any situation, and will hurt drive traction in 2WD mode
Sorry Brian, I'm a little bit confused. "……(WDH) will hurt drive traction in 2WD mode" and "……sway control device is recommended not required." So, if I am right, you actually suggest that in my case(2002 pathfinder 4x4 & escape 17B) none of the 3 hitch options provided by ETI is needed?
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Old 06-02-2016, 02:38 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by peaka View Post
Sorry Brian, I'm a little bit confused. "……(WDH) will hurt drive traction in 2WD mode" and "……sway control device is recommended not required." So, if I am right, you actually suggest that in my case(2002 pathfinder 4x4 & escape 17B) none of the 3 hitch options provided by ETI is needed?
It means that none of these equipment choices is required, and the WD part is not even recommended by Nissan (but they also don't recommend against it). It also means that drive traction is not a reason to get a WDH, but I really don't think that's an issue, because you have 4WD available, and because it's a small effect anyway.

A weight-distribution (WD) system may still be desirable, and is more likely useful here than with larger tow vehicles because of the moderately short wheelbase of the 2002 Pathfinder,
  • to shift load off of the Pathfinder's rear suspension, if it seems overwhelmed by the tongue weight plus load shifted from the front suspension - this is the fundamental purpose of WD
  • to affect motion between the trailer and Pathfinder if the Pathfinder seems like it is getting jerked around by the trailer - this is a side-effect of WD systems

Some sort of sway control device may still be desirable if the Pathfinder doesn't adequately control the direction of the trailer.

I don't use either of these types of equipment, but my tow vehicle is different in almost every way it can be.
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