Informational Guide

How Does A Weight Distribution Hitch Work?

In this guide, we answer how does a weight-distribution hitch work and what they do for smoother towing.

If you want trouble-free, smooth towing, you might prefer using a weight distribution hitch.

But, how does a weight distribution hitch work and what is it good for? Our guide looks closer at how a weight distribution hitch works.  

If you have been asking, “Do I need a weight distribution hitch,” this guide should bring you more clarity and give you the information you need to make a wise decision.  

Check out our review of the best weight distribution hitches here.

What is a weight distribution hitch? Let’s take a closer look at some of the parts that make up this special hitch.  

Trailer Hitch 

The tow hitch is the device that connects to the vehicle's chassis to hold the tow vehicle. It can be equipped with a tow ball, hook, or pin, depending on the type of vehicle that is being pulled. It's important that all trailer hitch weight ratings are followed for complete safety.  

Weight Distribution Adjustable Shank 

This piece slides into the trailer hitch opening to offer an attachment point for the head. Shanks are available in various lengths, with different drops and rises for complete adjustability.  

Equalizer Head (Ball Mount)   

This head unit attaches to the spring bars and holds the ball in place. Depending on the manufacturer, this part might look a little different or have varying parts with it. However, the ball aspect looks the same across the board.  

Spring Bar Assemblies  

This assembly attaches to the equalizer head. You can get two different types of spring bars, either trunnion or round. With the trunnion style, the bars slide into the head from the back or side, while the round style slides into the head and gets held securely by clips.  

Snap Up Brackets & Chains  

These are used to connect the spring bars to the brackets mounted on the trailer. Most commonly, you will use a snap-up uplift bracket to grab the chain and raise it into position. The type of brackets and chains used will depend on the configuration.  

weight distribution hitch

Why Do You Need A Weight Distribution Hitch? (Benefits Explained) 

When do you need a weight distribution hitch? This hitch provides more stability and helps make towing easier. Let’s look at some of the top benefits. 

  • Eliminates Risk Of Swaying   
    Weight distribution hitches are mostly used to prevent swaying. Because the weight is distributed, the sway control is elevated. In normal conditions, passing traffic and wind can lead to swaying, so this extra balance helps you remain in control.  
  • Increases Tow Capacity  
    Because the balance of the trailer is better distributed, you may be able to tow more with the proper configuration. While this won't increase the vehicle's tow rating, you might find that the hitch you choose can handle more.  
  • Better Control Over Your Vehicle  
    Because the wind and passing traffic won’t cause the trailer to sway as much, you should notice better control over the tow vehicle. The turns and movements should become more controlled, leaving you with less time compensating for unwanted shifting.  
  • More Stable Ride  
    When the trailer is riding smoothly behind your vehicle, you can expect a stable ride. No longer will a bouncy trailer cause you to feel like you are losing control behind the wheel. You might even forget that you are towing a trailer.  
  • Less Wear On Your Vehicle And Trailer  
    Because the weight is more evenly distributed, there will be less wear on both the trailer and your vehicle. This means you might not have to replace the brakes and suspension parts as often.  
  • Safer Braking And Steering  
    More control over the vehicle also means a safer ride. Since you will have more steering responsiveness, you will be able to keep occupants safer. Additionally, when you push the brake pedal, the stopping distance will be reduced.  

How Does A Weight Distribution Hitch Work? 

How does a trailer weight distribution hitch work? It distributes the weight better to the tow vehicle. This is done because the hitch can alter the point at which the load is transferred off to the vehicle.

Instead of the weight centering on the point where the vehicle connects the trailer, the weight distribution hitch distributes it across the axles of the trailer and vehicle evenly.  

How does a weight distributing trailer hitch work and do you need one to tow? In general, trailer classes are important when deciding if you need a weight distribution hitch. Trailer class 1 or 2 will not require a weight distribution system. However, if you have a Class 3, 4 or 5 trailer, you should use weight distribution. 

You can also use one if the gross trailer weight is greater than 50% of the vehicle's weight, you are noticing more sway, or the rear end of your vehicle has been sagging while towing.  

black weight distribution hitch

People Also Ask (FAQs)

Is a weight distribution hitch required by law? 

Most truck makers require it when using a bumper trailer hitch ball. With mid-size and half-ton pickups, it will be required at 5,000 pounds, but the heavy-duty trucks state it should be used anywhere after 6,000 to 8,500 pounds, depending on the model.  

Does a weight distribution hitch increase towing capacity? 

Technically, no. However, with the weight better distributed, you might notice you can tow more with ease. However, there is no hitch that is going to increase the vehicle’s maximum towing capacity. 

Can weight distribution be used with surge brakes? 

Not every weight distribution hitch is meant to be used with surge brakes. You want to check the product specifications to be sure you get one that is compatible with your setup.  

Can you back up a trailer with a weight distribution hitch? 

You can back up the same way you would with a regular hitch. However, you might want to disengage the sway control in some situations. Read the product manual to get more information.  


What does a weight distribution hitch do? It spreads the weight out evenly among the axles of the vehicle and trailer. How does a weight distribution hitch work? A unique construction is used to reduce sway and distribute weight better. If you try this hitch out, it’s likely you’ll never go back to using the conventional towing methods again.