One of the most critical components of successful towing is proper weight distribution. A weight distribution hitch is an accessory that goes into a trailer hitch to create balance and stability when towing a trailer. It shifts the weight of the hitch from the front of the trailer toward the rear of the vehicle. There are different hitch sizes, depending on your vehicle and its towing capacity:

  • Class 1 (Small car) – Towing abilities up to 2,000 lbs
  • Class 2 (Standard-sized car or small SUV) – Towing abilities up to 3,500 lbs
  • Class 3 (Vans, trucks, SUVs) – Starting at 3,500 lbs and up
  • Class 5 (Large vans & trucks) – Starting at 12,000 lbs up to 20,000 lbs

The purpose of a weight distribution hitch is to make sure your vehicle and trailer are towing level and distribute the weight evenly. Traditionally, if your trailer is heavier than 4,000 lbs, you may need a weight distribution hitch. However, small vehicles towing less than that may require a weight distribution to help the car tow better.

If you’re looking for recommendations on the right trailer hitch, bike rack hitch, or hitch installation in Calgary, give us a call at Calgary Hitch Shop, and we’d be happy to help you out!

What a Weight Distribution Hitch Does Not Do

The question is – does a weight distribution hitch increase towing capacity? Well, our technical answer is no, a weight distribution hitch will not actually “increase” the towing capacity of your vehicle. However, it evenly distributes the weight and the trailer will be less likely to sway, promoting a much safer and smoother ride.

Ensuring that you stay within your manufacturer’s towing capacity is incredibly important for your safety and other drivers on the road. Towing with a weight distribution hitch in Calgary can increase the towing efficiency of your vehicle, and here’s why.

What a Weight Distribution Hitch Does

  • Balances the GTW and TW – If there is too much tongue weight (TW), the trailer can sink down toward the road and this can lead to a driving hazard. What a weight distribution hitch does is shift the weight of the trailer toward the back of the vehicle. Now, there is more weight on the vehicle and less weight on the hitch, giving you more strength and security while driving.
  • Offers safer steering and braking abilities – As the name suggests, a weight distribution hitch evens out the weight that your vehicle is towing. So, instead of putting stress on the back of the vehicle to control the direction and speed of the trailer, the whole body of the vehicle will be doing the work. Imagine pulling a wheelbarrow hunched over and close to the ground – your body is going to quickly fatigue because your arms and back are doing most of the work.
    If you pull the wheelbarrow up above your waist, however, the weight becomes more evenly distributed and your whole body can work to push the load, allowing you to withstand the weight of the load, push it further, and have more control over your steering.
  • Prevents long-term vehicle wear and tear – When the weight of the vehicle and the weight of the trailer is balanced, the tires and body of the vehicle are protected. Uneven weight naturally causes uneven damage to the tires and the body, which can lead to premature wear and tear of other vehicle components.
    Every towing situation is different. If you are feeling unsure about the weight that you are carrying, you should take the time to stop in and weigh your vehicle at your local weigh station.

FAQs About Weight Distribution

As a hitch shop in Calgary, we receive a lot of questions about weight distribution and how to optimize the system. Below, we answer some of the most common questions we get.

When is a weight distribution hitch needed?

Normally, you’ll require a weight distribution hitch when you can’t get your load level or correctly balanced. “Properly balanced” entails that most of the weight should be over the trailer’s axles.

What is GVWR?

GVWR is your vehicle’s gross vehicle weight rating. This is the maximum operating weight of the vehicle; remember that the GVWR must include not only the weight of the body and engine of the vehicle but also the fuel in the vehicle, cargo and passengers in the vehicle.

What is GCWR?

GCWR is your vehicle and trailer’s gross combined weight rating. This is essentially your vehicle’s GVWR combined with the maximum towing weight. Like the gross vehicle weight rating, it is important to consider passengers and cargo in addition to the body weight of the tow vehicle when calculating the GCWR.

Can you tow more with a weight distribution hitch? 

No, you cannot tow more with a weight distribution hitch. Rather, it ensures that your vehicle and your trailer are towel level and the weight is distributed evenly. You should always follow the maximum towing capacity of your vehicle as detailed in the owner’s manual.

Does a weight distribution hitch increase payload?

Payload capacity is the maximum amount of weight your vehicle can safely carry and cannot be increased with a weight distribution hitch. You should always follow the maximum towing and payload capacity as detailed by the vehicle manufacturer. Towing more than the capacity is hazardous and compromises the safety of you and others on the road.

Can you increase a vehicle’s towing capacity?

The only way to increase a vehicle’s towing capacity is to re-engineer the vehicle itself, which is costly. No hitch or related accessory can increase the towing capacity, but rather keep your towing system level.

Does a weight distribution hitch reduce tow ball weight?

Tow ball weight is the weight applied from your trailer to the tow ball on your vehicle. The wheels of the trailer take the bulk of the trailer weight while a portion of it is transferred onto your vehicle via the tow ball. The tow ball weight impacts trailer stability – too light and your trailer will sway, too heavy and the vehicle may exceed its GVM.

The right balance is needed here and a weight distribution hitch may help because it levers up the rear of the tow vehicle while levering down the front of the vehicle, reducing some of the towel ball weight.