Towing a travel trailer can be stressful work, and you’ll appreciate anything that can make the job easier. From the moment you see the trailer swaying, you’ll be wishing you had a weight distribution hitch to help ensure you stay safe while towing and get to your RV park without any issues.
But how do you set up a weight distribution hitch for your rig, and what key steps do you need to make sure you do? The video above goes through the various steps in the process and below we detail everything out so you can make the job of hitching up a weight distribution hitch as easy as possible
What is a Weight Distribution Hitch and Why is it Important?
A weight distribution hitch is a hitch that connects your tow vehicle to your trailer and more evenly distributes the load across all axles. It disperses the weight across the entire tow vehicle and towable RV setup, making your trailer more easily towable, reducing trailer sway, and other issues that may arise from an imbalance load.
When you hook up your travel trailer or motorhome without a weight distribution hitch, there can be too much weight on the hitch itself which will lead to instability. The same can be said for too much weight on the trailer itself. With too much weight too far back, you’re much more likely to experience trailer sway or fishtailing.
The weight distribution hitch still uses a standard ball hitch, so it’s used with travel trailers and other small towable RVs. It’s an altogether different setup from a fifth-wheel and helps bring stability to the standard towable options.
How Do You Hook Up a Weight Distribution Hitch?
When you purchased your RV, you most likely had the dealership install it on your vehicle. If you didn’t, go back to your local Camping World and have it installed. The initial setup of the hitch is best performed by a specialist.
With the hitch installed, it’s time to discuss the process of actually hitching up your RV with a weight distribution hitch. Let’s dive in.
Read the Instructions
I can’t stress this enough. Read the instructions. Even if you’re reasonably mechanically inclined, the instructions for your hitch will be helpful. Don’t skip this step. You’ll need to read the instructions to know how to adjust your hitch so that it will work with both your RV and your tow vehicle.
Steps in the Process
- Park your RV in a level position with the wheels chocked.
- Distribute the weight evenly inside your RV.
- Set your parking brake on your tow vehicle.
- Measure the height of your RV from the ground to the bottom of the body of the RV. Do this at the front and rear of the RV.
- Measure the height of your tow vehicle from the ground up through the axle to the top of the wheel well (see the video for clarification). Do all four wheels.
- Inspect your hitch bar and ball mount assembly.
- Insert the shank into the rear receiver tube on your tow vehicle.
- Insert the hitch pin and secure it with the clip.
- Grease the hitch ball.
- Raise the tongue of the trailer higher than the hitch ball.
- Release the parking brake and back the tow vehicle up so that the hitch ball is directly under the coupler. Set the parking brake again.
- Lower the trailer coupler onto the hitch ball. Latch the coupler and insert the latch pin.
- Raise the trailer tongue and rear of the tow vehicle to remove weight from the hitch.
- Inspect the spring bars, lift chain links, and snap-up brackets.
- Grease the spring bar attachment points.
- Insert the spring bar into the hitch head assembly. Put the bottom knob in and rotate it into place so the top knob moves into place. Then swing the spring bars into a position parallel with the frame.
- Position the snap-up bracket yolk parallel to the ground. Slip the yolk chainlink over the hook and make sure the lift chain is not twisted. (There should be a minimum of five chain links between the hook and the spring bar.) Secure the yolk with a locking container pin.
- Do the last three steps again on the other side.
- Lower the trailer tongue so the weight rests on the hitch.
- Hook up your safety chains by crisscrossing them under the coupler.
- Connect the breakaway electrical cable to your tow vehicle and check the trailer’s lights.
- Do a final check of all hitch pins, brackets, chains, etc.
- Double-check the jacks and stabilizers are up, and then remove the wheel chocks.
You did it! To ensure you completed the process properly, you should remeasure the trailer and tow vehicle at the exact same points you did in steps 4 and 5. These measurements will be different than when you first started. You’ll need to determine the difference between those numbers and then refer to the weight distribution hitches manual to ensure you’re within the recommended specifications.
If you’re not within the recommended specifications, then you should either head to your local Camping World or Good Sam members can reach out to the Elite Service Tech Advisor line for help.
My spring bar on the driver’s side comes out of the hitch insertion cup when the chain is hooked up to the RV tongue. We learned the hard way, that when we travel the bar drops down onto the road and drags on the pavement. We stopped that from happening by tying a rope around the spring bar and the RV tongue. What needs to be done to stop this from happening?
Hey Gary, sounds like an issue with the hitch adjustment or possibly the hitch itself. If you have time, it could be worth it to take it into a service center to have it checked out.