What Are The Issues Plaguing Andersen Weight Distribution Systems?
The idea behind weight distribution hitches is to strengthen the hitch connection by using spring bars to help shift the trailer weight toward the front axles of the tow vehicle.
Andersen weight distribution hitches use a chain system rather than the spring arms most competing WD systems use. According to Camping World, the chains are designed to be motion-dampening, coupled with an anti-sway ball mount.
Several concerns have been registered about these weight distribution hitches, and we have listed brief explanations below. While we specifically reference Andersen's weight distribution systems, many competitors have similar weight distribution hitch problems.
Connections Loosening On Their Own
Over time, the hitch pin, frame brackets, nuts, and other connections can work their way loose from the normal vibrations caused by towing. When you tow a trailer, the connection point between the ball and the coupler can work loose, or the brackets holding the chains to the tongue become dislodged or loose. This kind of condition can create a loss of sway control.
There are some reasons for a coupler to work loose from a hitch ball. The most common cause is that the hitch ball is greased too heavily or frequently. (Most Andersen hitch balls are greaseless and do not need to be greased). If the ball has been oiled too frequently or lubricated when it doesn’t need to be, the coupler could slip as the trailer turns and become separated.
The brackets or connectors that hold the stabilizer chains to the trailer tongue are often simple nuts that bolt adobe and below the trailer tongue. Since the bolts are critical in keeping the chain tension at the right level, their location on the tongue is critical. These brackets often can work loose. The best preventive plan is to regularly inspect the connections to ensure no play in the mounting brackets (they should not slide once tightened in place) and that the chains are connected correctly to the tow vehicle hitch.
- Problem: Loose Connections
- Cause: Too much grease on the trailer ball or loose nut on the stabilizer bracket
- Fix: Inspect all components, and retighten any loose connections.
Older Andersen weight distribution hitches did creak or squeak when in use, but most WD systems are not supposed to make noises of any kind. A weight distribution hitch will strain on the ball, coupler, and trailer tongue, so any noise means that something is not connected correctly or there is too much of something going on. Investigate any noise that you might hear.
The coupler has trouble moving on the hitch ball. If debris has formed in the cone, this can cause interference, keep the ball from turning correctly, and a squeak is a sign of this problem. The fix is to remove the WD hitch and thoroughly clean the cone and hitch ball. Ensure that the ball is not rusted and moves freely.
If the noise sounds like chains rattling, this could indicate that the safety chains do not have tensions. A bracket may have slipped forward or may need to be fastened correctly.
If the noise is a clunking sound, this could indicate that the hitch is not distributing weight correctly (either because the trailer weight is not distributed correctly, or because of hitch failure). Inspect the hitch for any signs of cracking or fatigue. If everything seems right, move some of the weight away from the front of the trailer to make the weight more balanced.
- Problem: Excessive Noise
- Cause: Rusty ball or debris in the cone; chains with too little tension or hitch failing
- Fix: Inspection of ball and cone, and hitch.
Deterioration and Fatigue
If a weight distribution hitch is left exposed to the elements, it can eventually suffer from deterioration and fatigue. Even though manufacturers coat their hitches with a black powder coat that is supposed to be rust-resistant, all metals deteriorate over time. If you notice that the hitch is twisting or developing signs of metal fatigue, then the entire WD system should be replaced.
- Problem: Deterioration and Metal Rusting or Fatigue
- Cause: Age of the hitch
- Fix: Replacement of the WD system.
According to the Trailer, sway is the number one cause of trailer accidents. Even the best weight distribution systems cannot completely prevent trailer sway. If the trailer is unbalanced or the WD system is not connected correctly, trailer sway can be exacerbated. Many times, the chain slack is not correct. Adjust the chain tension cone to increase the rigidity of the connection.
- Problem: Trailer Sway
- Cause: Incorrect usage of the weight distribution system or incorrect weight too far forward on the trailer.
- Fix: Remove and reinstall the weight distribution hitch and ball mount.
Bent WD Hitch
When using a weight distribution system, it is important that the trailer tongue and the hitch ball are at the same height. The hitch will be subject to failure if they are unmatched, or the coupler is connected but is higher than the trailer ball. The fix is to remove the coupler and measure the distance from the hitch ball to the ground. Then measure the distance from the coupler to the ground. The hitch ball should be about the same level as the ball. If there is more than an inch or two of difference, reposition the hitch ball to get it as close as possible.
If the hitch is too high, the trailer weight will not be adequately distributed, the rear of the tow vehicle will carry too much weight, and the WD system becomes ineffective. (The result is often a twisting hitch or failure in the hitch pins). This condition can increase trailer sway and make braking, and steering more difficult.
If the trailer coupler is too high, the connection is not as secure as it needs to be, and again keeps the WD system from effectively doing its job.
- Problem: Bent Hitch
- Cause: Incorrect height between the coupler and hitch ball mount
- Fix: Disconnect the trailer, and take measurements to get the trailer tongue and the hitch ball as close to level as possible.