How Does A Weight Distribution System Work?
Most weight distribution hitches use two spring arms that extend from beneath the tow ball toward both prongs of a trailer tongue. They use chains or brackets to clamp to the trailer tongue’s frame, offering three connection points between the tow vehicle and the camper (The connection of the coupler to the hitch ball is the primary connection, while both spring arms offer secondary connections).
As mentioned above, the additional brackets help to shoulder the tongue weight of the trailer, leveling that load toward the front rather than the rear axle of the tow vehicle. Since many SUVs, sedans, and trucks are FWD models, the hitch eases the downward force on the rear and helps all the tires to maintain adequate traction on the road.
How Do The Andersen vs. Equal-i-zer Hitches Compare?
Several features of these WD hitches are listed below.
A Review of the Andersen Weight Distribution Hitch
The Andersen Weight Distribution hitch is different from most other weight distribution systems because they use chains instead of stabilizing spring arms. The chains extend from the hitch ball to the trailer frame and are latched by mounting brackets. The chains offer an advantage over many other systems because they do not have to be removed when trying to back up the trailer. (A common complaint about many weight distribution systems is that before executing a sharp reverse turn, the spring bars and sway controls must be removed. Failing to remove them can cause significant damage to the hitch or friction control bars, and ruin your hitch completely).
A second complaint that RV owners often have with traditional spring arm systems is the noise that they make. (If you have ever heard the squeak that weight distribution hitches make every time the camper goes over a dip in the road, you know how aggravating it can be, particularly at night or early in the morning when you are trying to sneak in or sneak out of a campground). With the Andersen weight distribution hitch, there is no creak from the chains, so you can do all the sneaking around you need to do).
Another feature of the Andersen hitch system is that it is over 20 lbs lighter than most other spring bar systems, which is critical if you have a trailer with a heavy tongue weight. (Due to the lighter load, the Andersen hitch also gets marks for being easier to install).
The Andersen hitch ball is significantly lighter and smaller than the Equalizer hitch ball. Why is this important? Well, it is easier to slide into the receiver tube and takes less room to store when the RV is not in use. In addition, the Andersen has sway control built into the ball mount so that the hitch self-adjusts to any trailer sway.
When comparing the installation process between the Andersen hitches and the Equalizer, the Andersen took less time to set up.
The installation process is pretty straightforward. Beginning by inserting the hitch tow ball and locking it in place. Once the trailer’s coupler is lowered onto the ball mount, take the chains (and their mounting plate) and secure it to the bottom of the hitch ball. Then, using a ratchet and socket (provided), tighten the nut on the chain tensioner to the desired tension.
The real test of any weight distribution system is not how much it weighs or installs but how it performs when actually pulling a trailer. So, what’s the verdict?
First, we ought to mention that the Andersen system has built-in sway control. The system has a friction cone inside the ball mount, allowing the hitch to self-adjust.
While other WD hitches have additional friction bars that must be installed on top of the hitch, Andersen’s chain system and bottom plate do a fantastic job of keeping the trailer centered right behind the tow vehicle. The chains offer enough flexibility to execute turns or not offer resistance for a reverse operation. (For a complete review of the Andersen system by an RV owner who has over 17 years of experience on the road, see YouTube Travels With Delaney.
- Easy installation
- 30 lbs Lights
- Cheaper than Equalizer
- No need to remove to execute reverse
- Less vibration
- Trailer sway built-in
- May require adjustment of chains
A Review Of The Equal-i-zer Weight Distribution System Work?
The Equal-i-zer weight system has been “America’s Favorite Hitch and a Gold Award Winner by RV magazine, so at least it has that going for it. While the praise might be pure hype, we’ll try to review it for you.
The Equal-i-zer Weight Distribution System uses stabilizing arms that extend from the tow ball mount to the trailer tongue. The bars are connected to the tongue with brackets that use lynchpins that bolt above and below the trailer frame and hold the spring arms in place. The spring arms are pinched by the trailer hitch mount (the downward force of the tongue in contrast to the upward force on the spring arms). This configuration provides friction points to hold the trailer in line behind the tow vehicle. The hitch distributes the weight over all the axles of the tow vehicle, which helps strengthen the towing power exerted on the trailer.
The hitch head is significantly heavier than the Andersen and needs to be put together when you receive it from the manufacturer. You will need to use a torque wrench to put it together. (Andersen’s tow ball has fewer parts and is easier to assemble).
Once the hitch head has been put together, you will need to measure to get the correct ball height. (You need to do this with Andersen as well). The spring arms lay on an L-shaped bar attached to the mounting brackets on the trailer tongue. The bars are inserted into the mounts on the tow ball, laid on the L bracket, and locked into place. Then there are some adjustments on the hitch head that you will need to make to ensure everything is correct. For more information on the installation process, see YouTube instructional video here.
Let’s address the noise concern many RV owners have with their weight distribution hitches. According to the Equal-i-zer website, noise from a weight distribution hitch is normal and an indication that it is operating as it should. I guess that means that the metal-on-metal scraping that you would expect from a spring-arm WD system is going to happen. (Andersen doesn’t have this metal-to-metal issue).
Many RV owners are confounded because they have to remove their weight distribution hitches before executing a reverse maneuver, but with the Equalizer, you don’t have to. The hitch allows you to back your trailer up or perform a tight turn.
The Equal-i-zer hitch is more expensive than the Andersen hitch, and it is heavier. (Remember that if you are pulling a camper with a lot of tongue weight, this can make a difference).
- American made
- Limited lifetime warranty
- Can reverse
- #1 WD hitch by RV magazine
- More expensive
- Noisy at times
- Heavier hitch
About THE AUTHOR
My name is Matt and I've been around cars all my life! I have owned and worked on many different classic vehicles, so I started this site to share my experiences. If you're new to classic cars, then this website is for you.Read More About Matt Lane