Towing a trailer or RV with your truck or car can be a daunting task when you’re not properly prepared. There are tons of horror stories out there about vehicles overturning or going off the road because their trailer swayed or tipped and took them with it. However, with the proper equipment, such as a weight distribution hitch, you can tow safely and soundly.
While a weight distribution hitch helps with sway control and a smoother overall towing experience, it doesn’t technically increase your vehicle’s towing capacity. It does, however, make vehicles capable of towing up to their full capacity, which isn’t possible without the right towing equipment.
If you’re still confused about how a weight distribution hitch improves your vehicle’s towing abilities, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll go into more detail about how weight distribution hitches affect towing capacity as well as other aspects of towing. We’ll also look at other ways to increase your towing capacity so you don’t get held back by your towing vehicle.
How Much Towing Capacity Does a Weight Distribution Hitch Add?
Technically speaking, a weight distribution hitch doesn’t add towing capacity to your towing vehicle. It should say somewhere in your owner’s manual what your vehicle’s towing capacity is, and that amount won’t increase with a WDH. However, it will often only say what your GVCRW, Gross Vehicle Combined Weight Capacity, is.
To determine your vehicle’s towing capacity, you must determine the weight of your vehicle. Then, subtract your vehicle’s weight, plus any passengers and cargo from the listed GVCRW. The resulting number is your towing capacity, which is the maximum amount of weight you can tow.
Are There Special Exceptions?
While in most cases a weight distribution hitch won’t increase your vehicle’s towing capacity, there are exceptions. For example, it should say in your owner’s manual in the same section that lists GVCRW and other weight specifications, whether or not a weight distribution hitch increases towing capacity. In some cases, it can increase your towing capacity by several hundred or even a thousand pounds.
Most times, however, this isn’t the case. Instead, a weight distribution hitch will allow your vehicle to tow up to its full capacity. For example, if the towing capacity of your vehicle is listed at 5,000 pounds, this usually means when you’re towing with optimal equipment, such as a weight distribution hitch. If you’re towing with a standard ball hitch without weight distribution, your towing capacity decreases.
Essentially, a weight distribution hitch helps your vehicle live up to its full capabilities. It doesn’t increase towing capacity, but it does allow you to tow up to your vehicle’s full potential.
Weight Distribution Hitches and Your Receiver Hitch
While a weight distribution hitch doesn’t increase your vehicle’s towing capacity, it can increase the towing capacity of your receiver hitch. Your receiver hitch is the portion of the hitch that’s permanently attached to the bottom of your towing vehicle. It’s where you insert and fasten your weight distribution or standard ball hitch.
Depending on the type of receiver hitch you have, it should have two listed towing capacities. One of them applies to the hitches towing capacity without a weight distribution hitch, and the other applies to its towing capacity with a weight distribution hitch. In most cases, the towing capacity increases by 1,000 to 2,000 pounds when you have a weight distribution hitch as opposed to a standard hitch.
Does a Weight Distribution Hitch Increase Tongue Weight Capacity?
As with towing capacity, a weight distribution hitch doesn’t increase the tongue weight capacity of your vehicle. It does, however, allow your vehicle to tow up to its full potential. Weight distribution hitches remove extra weight from the bumper of your towing vehicle and transfer it to the front of your vehicle. By doing this, you can safely tow up to your vehicle’s full towing capacity. It also maximizes the towing capabilities of your receiver hitch.
Can You Increase Your Towing Capacity?
While a weight distribution hitch helps your vehicle tow up to its full capacity, it doesn’t increase that capacity. If you’re looking to increase towing capacity the real option would be to purchase a new vehicle with a higher capacity.
If you would like to make your towing experience easier, here are a few other things to try.
Replace the Axles and Brake System
One of the first things you can do to increase performance is to install new axles and brakes. New, stronger axles will make it so that your vehicle can handle the additional towing weight. New, better brakes are necessary so that you can bring your increased towing weight to a safe stop. Your existing brakes may not have this ability.
Improve Your Exhaust System
The exhaust system on your towing vehicle is similar to the exhaust system on a furnace or gas-powered appliance. The more air the system can take in and breathe out, the more power it will have. By installing a bigger exhaust system and air filters with more breathability, your vehicle will be able to handle more strain and stress.
Purchase a Vehicle Programmer
Installing a programmer on your vehicle will increase the amount of torque and horsepower it has, which is essential for better towing.
Upgraded suspension will be necessary in the same way that upgraded axles are necessary. Your vehicle is designed to be able to support the same amount of weight that it can tow. Helper springs or air suspension in the rear can help reduce squat when you are towing.
Install a New Radiator
Your truck’s radiator is the component that cools your engine off while you’re towing something. If you increase the towing capacity, you must also increase your radiator’s cooling abilities. The best way to do this is by simply installing a bigger radiator.
Install a New Engine
If nothing is getting your vehicle to your desired towing capacity, you can always install a new, larger engine. Keep in mind, however, that installing a new engine is expensive and time-consuming. It will also mean that you have to upgrade every other aspect of your vehicle, including the suspension, axles, exhaust system, radiator, and brakes to be compatible with your new engine’s towing capacity.
Does a Weight Distribution Hitch Make a Difference?
While it doesn’t increase your vehicle’s towing capacity, a weight distribution hitch makes a huge difference. Weight distribution hitches redistribute the weight of your trailer or RV evenly along the entire length of your towing vehicle. Doing this makes for a smoother, safer, and more level towing experience.
Weight distribution hitches also reduce the amount of sway that your trailer has. Reduced sway increases safety and gives you peace of mind. A weight distribution hitch will also allow your hitch and towing vehicle to tow up to its maximum capacity. Without it, your towing capacity will be markedly lower than what’s specified in your owner’s manual.
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