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Hey All, I have a 30ft travel trailer coming in soon, with roughly a 1000 pound hitch weight. My 2021 3500 has the auto level suspension.

Over at the camper forums all these guys are infatuated with weight distribution hitches, some costing at much as 3 thousand.

I normally haul dump trailers, max weight 15k. I'm not worried about towing necessarily, but the sway that could come with towing a big box down the highway.

With the Auto Level Suspension why would I need weight distribution setup at all ?? Its a mixed bag over at the camper forums, problem is not many people with the same tow rig as myself. That's when I realized why don't I check over here !! plenty of yous with my rig I'm sure, and hopefully some with travel trailers.

What do you guys do ??

Thanks !!
 

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2017 ram 2500 tradesman 4x4 g56 ext cab
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Hi friend ! I have a 2018 StarCraft autumn ridge (StarCraft calls it a 28. bumper to hitch it measures about 30’5 so I imagine I’m a little short in length compared to you but close) with all my gear and some water in it I am weighing in at about 9,650 lbs. cat scales at the flying j are great

I have a 2500 and I’m using the factory tow package bumper mount style hitch. I did have to get a cast iron setup to go in the receiver with a 2 5/16 ball it is a pintle / ball combo style. at first I had a steel tube style going into the receiver and it bent the tube that the ball bolts to from weight. Since I’ve been running the cast no problem

never used a weight distribution hitch. I’ve got about 30,000 miles on the clock towing with this camper. I’ve been through the mountains in tennesse and West Virginia and also through Kentucky and everywhere in between. I have zero concerns I like the fact I have more control pivoting I can basically totally jack knife my setup if I need to turn around or back in somewhere really tight.

If I am doing 70 mph on an interstate and pass or get passed by a transport I will feel it right when their air envelope touches the very back of my trailer. For that second I will feel a slight pull it’s not back and forth and it’s not a wobble and it doesn’t throw me around. Once I figured out what it was I became more aware of it. I probably towed 5-10 k miles before I ever even felt it noticeably. The wind can be worse on a windy day. On long halls I will be like oh that transport decided to pick up the pace. I’ve towed in 4wd across the bottom of the Great Lakes in winter storms and it’s never thrown me around. In fact I made it through places where there were half a dozen pickups in the ditch. I think it’s like anything, you can “feel” your rig and your trailer and your setup a bit more. Plus I hate how those weight distribution hitches clang and snap and bang around when your turning.

I had a good chat with the hitching guy at my rv dealer as I bought the travel trailer new and he said man you need a weight distribution hitch only if your rear end drops unacceptably when you hook the trailer. It’s also very important to have your setup parked on level ground and scope it all out. You want your hitch of your trailer running level or sightly high. You do not want your trailer angled down at all at the hitch as this throws things way off.

your 3500 should ride even better having leafs instead of coils out back. So far as the auto levelling I have no idea how that would react as I do not have that.

Why not take er for a spin? You can always add a weight distribution hitch later. No point in buying it to start if you don’t need it. Not sure how weight distribution hitch will get along with the auto levelling as those chains really lock things down, good question there!
 

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I’ve had 50 campers over the last couple years. They all tow like crap. Its completely different than towing a dump trailer or anything else. Your going to want a hitch. Without the hitch the camper bounces a lot, and the sway is frustrating. It really doesn’t have anything to do with load capacity of the truck, but the balance and wind resistance of the trailer. I’ve towed travel trailers that didn’t squat the truck at all, but the porpoising was very annoying, that’s when I would stop and crank up the load bars. To add tension and stop the bouncing.
After my first really big trip, I sold mine and got a 5th wheel. Never will I tow a bumper pull again
I’ve pulled that 5th wheel about 7,000 miles now and it has been better than pulling the bumper pull 700 miles. And my bumper pull weighed 9,000 loaded, the 5ver is 15,000.

get something like this, not one with chains




Wheel Tire Land vehicle Vehicle Sky

Wheel Tire Car Land vehicle Sky
 

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Dumpers hold most of their weight over the wheels of the trailer and as mentioned above, tow very differently.

Weight distribution hitches are most useful on trailer that have a lot of tongue weight. The bars act as springs that distribute the weight across the length of the truck and trailer helping you keep the weight bias on the front wheels for steering and braking control and transferring the trailer's tongue weight to its wheels. Airbags help level the truck but do nothing to transfer the weight so it's all sitting on the tongue. You just get really unfriendly, rock hard suspension that ride like crap.

There is a really good video on YouTube that illustrates this. I can't like it right now cuz I'm at work and YouTube is blocked. I'll post it when I get home.

I had a Pro Series setup from Reese. Looks like they're only a couple hundred bucks on the interwebs.

My 38' toy hauler had about 27' in front of the axles and a bunch of weight on the tongue. While I never weighted it I'm sure it was over 1000 lbs. With the weight distribution hitch system, anti-sway bar and some Timbrens for controlling bounce it pulled just fine with my '06 QCSB. I never put the Timbrens on my '15 so it was a little more bouncy but still pulled great.
 
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The whole idea behind an equalizer hitch is not so much to keep the back of the tow vehicle from squatting, but to transfer some of the load forward to the front wheels. Look at it this way; placing a load out on the end of the arm (the rear bumper) makes the rear axle act as the fulcrum, with weight being lifted from the front axle. Any of this action negatively affects the stability of the tow vehicle. Obviously, the more weight out back, the lighter the front end. No amount of helper springs on the back axle can fix that.
Now, picture the equalizer hitch as a long bar attached to the top of the tow vehicle, and extending back over the trailer. If you were to stand on the trailer and push up on that long bar, you'd lift the back of the truck at the same time as pushing the front axle down. That's how the equalizer hitch helps distribute the weight across the tow vehicle.
I have since gone to a fiver, and never looked back. The difference in towing manners is night and day.
 

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I have a 36.5' travel trailer and had a 38' prior to this one. When fully loaded, both weighed closer to 11k. I could always tell a difference when I had my WDH on compared to just hooking up and bringing it from storage to the house. In my opinion, the WDH helps with trailer sway even if the sway control isn't hooked up. I never used my sway control because I never really pulled it more than a couple hours at a time.... but having the WDH seemed to help me, especially when driving in a stronger cross wind. I also use my air bags in combination with the WDH filled to about 20psi.

I wish I had gone to a 5th wheel when we upgraded last fall.
 

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I did tow and selling now, a 26 foot TT, about at least 7,500 loaded. I have a 2 door 4wd 2500. Load/hitch drop with a Harley and stuff in the bed was only an inch and a half. So I didn't need load leveling. I ended up putting In one brake style sway control, then a second. It, they took out all sway, as can be adjusted as needed.
I couldn't see that big heavy expensive set up just for sway.. With the air ride, no load leveling should be needed.
( the drop down hitch with the balls welded on and the 2 sway brakes are for sale, don't know how much shipping is, but ill give a good deal on them ) Easy to mount on trailer, the hitch part is already done. Person buying mine is leaving it stationary, so cant see leaving those on the trailer.
Any one interested, I can send pics...The break sway,s are lightish, the hitch is solid cast, so heavy.
PS, the camper forums are NUTSSSS. I had to tell them to shove it and cancel me. Same people and very much favorites. If ya really want to drive them nuts, bring up diesel deletes................ Or overloading your truck...
 

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I’ve had 50 campers over the last couple years. They all tow like crap. Its completely different than towing a dump trailer or anything else. Your going to want a hitch. Without the hitch the camper bounces a lot, and the sway is frustrating.
The whole idea behind an equalizer hitch is not so much to keep the back of the tow vehicle from squatting, but to transfer some of the load forward to the front wheels.
Nailed it right here. I never get any sway, but the length of a bumper pull tries to wrestle with the truck, even if it's light and no matter what I do with the tongue weight or how I adjust the hitch. I have an equalizer hitch and it does well, no need for the $$$ propride/hensley hitches people talk about on the RV forums. Smooth roads, yes you can get away without a WDH but I go on a lot of heaved roads and there's no way I would tow without one. I've towed goosenecks, dump trailers and just towed an F150 on an 18' trailer 5000kms and it towed at least 4x easier than our camper.
 
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Why is that Matt? If that was covered somewhere, sorry missed it I guess.
I’ve had both, and sold campers to people who have had both, and this type seems to perform for sway better than hitch with the chains and the friction strut
 

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Nailed it right here. I never get any sway, but the length of a bumper pull tries to wrestle with the truck, even if it's light and no matter what I do with the tongue weight or how I adjust the hitch. I have an equalizer hitch and it does well, no need for the $$$ propride/hensley hitches people talk about on the RV forums. Smooth roads, yes you can get away without a WDH but I go on a lot of heaved roads and there's no way I would tow without one. I've towed goosenecks, dump trailers and just towed an F150 on an 18' trailer 5000kms and it towed at least 4x easier than our camper.
Exactly, I thought I could get away without a WDH since I had an HD truck. But even lighter trailers bounced more than I liked. I found that you really didn’t need one pulling < 24’ trailers at around 5,000 lbs.
Again, it’s not the tongue weight so much as the trailer balance.
 

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Here are some highlights

Now this sucker had some sway!

Cloud Wheel Tire Sky Plant


The guy who bought this Avenger had a 3500 and hajust sold his 5th wheel, he towed this 4 hours home without a WDH and called me to say it was the worst experience of his life.
Tire Wheel Car Sky Vehicle


I stopped after 20 miles with this ugly tog hauler to put the load bars
Wheel Tire Car Land vehicle Vehicle



if your life is really boring, try towing a park model…
Sky Plant community Motor vehicle Wheel Tree
 
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Tire Wheel Car Vehicle Automotive tire



And yet I can drop this on the hitch, 'bout 35psi in the bags to compensate for the truck being level to begin with, squishy 2500 coils and a heavy tongue weight, and set the cruise control at 80mph down I-90 until it's time to pull over for fuel with ZERO sway or weight distribution issues. Even handles the nasty Eastern WA headwinds and cross winds acceptably.

@Durkis, bottom line, your truck does not inherently "need" weight distribution or sway control and your trailer may very likely not need it either. It definitely doesn't need weight distribution. You'd have to have enough tongue weight to seriously overload the hitch before it would make any meaningful difference in handling due to weight reduction on the steer axle.

That said, yes, the RV forums are much like @mattswaggs opinion, that anything that is considered a camper automatically needs both a wdh and sway control.

My suggestion would be to get the trailer, tow it, and form your own opinion. Because everyone elses' opinions will be anywhere between "the sky will fall if you don't spend 3 grand on a P3 hitch" and my opinion which is you only need what you need and unless a TT has an abnormally light tongue weight or abnormally large weight concentration behind the rear axles near the very rear of the trailer, it will tow relatively fine without all the towing crutches.

And if you live in Washington, I have a barely used complete WDH/sway control setup that came with the camper above for sale. I'll make you a deal! I stubbed my toe on it in the shop recently, so it has to go!
 

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I have a 2020 Ram 3500 HO with auto rear leveling and pull a 30", 9800 lb vacation trailer. I use an Equal-I-Zer sway control WDH. Not because my hitch weight sags the truck but for all the advertised reasons to own a WDH. Most important to me is the safety factor. When you get into an emergency situation the WDH will save you. Over the years, every rig that I have seen jackknifed off the roadway or on its side, had no WDH.
 

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I have a 2020 Ram 3500 HO with auto rear leveling and pull a 30", 9800 lb vacation trailer. I use an Equal-I-Zer sway control WDH. . When you get into an emergency situation the WDH will save you. Over the years, every rig that I have seen jackknifed off the roadway or on its side, had no WDH.
And another unpaid spokesperson for the wdh industry...
And the perception that "When you get into an emergency situation the WDH will save you." is what sells.
Notice, aside from @mattswaggs, who apparently has had 50 ill-towing trailers in a row in the last year...lol, most folks "need" is simply based on perception and not fact. And Mr. Jensen's claim is no different.
While I haven't towed 50 different travel trailers, ever, I've towed several TTs and hundreds of other bumper pull trailers, pretty much anything you could hook to the back of a light duty truck. The number of trailers that had/have inherent "sway" (not to be confused with a little controllable wiggling in less than ideal conditions) have been very few. And the common denominators to those are the following:
Trailers that grossly overload the truck, whereby the entire tail is wagging the dog and the dog aint big enough to control his tail. Wiggles turn into sway in this situation.
Trailers with very light tongue weight for their overall weight. "Balanced" setups like large trailer mount generators or pumps, or towable construction equipment like a Broce broom.
Trailers with an abnormal amount of weight significantly aft of the axles. This is the likely case for most TTs that have issues. Partly because mfgs move TT axles a bit more forward compared to some other trailer styles to combat tongue weight for those towing with, basically half tons and all older trucks that didn't have ultra high receiver hitch tongue ratings. And partly because some designs have heavier components further aft in the trailer than ideal for towing.
The above was one of the reasons we went with a toyhauler. Aside from the extra "open" space inside compared to most traditional TTs, chassis is overbuilt for our use (I'll never come close to reaching the CCC unless I stuff my CJ5 in it) and axles further aft.

To be fair, some vehicles need a wdh for what they're towing and some trailers need sway control, but this need is not a universal requirement as many perceive it is.
 
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Hey Grit Dog, have you ever towed a 5th wheel or gooseneck trailer?

In my experience, once someone tows a 5th wheel RV trailer, they will never want to tow a bumper pull RV trailer again.
Despite the disadvantages of a 5th wheel trailer.

I still see tons of used, near new, larger/longer bumper pull trailers for sale but not so many 5th wheels.
This pretty well tells the story.
 

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Hey Grit Dog, have you ever towed a 5th wheel or gooseneck trailer?

In my experience, once someone tows a 5th wheel RV trailer, they will never want to tow a bumper pull RV trailer again.
Despite the disadvantages of a 5th wheel trailer.

I still see tons of used, near new, larger/longer bumper pull trailers for sale but not so many 5th wheels.
This pretty well tells the story.
Yes I have. Plenty of them. I was limiting this discussion to bumper pulls based on the subject.
Only pulled 1 5ver RV, but many different gooseneck trailers. And yes, they track and handle better going down the highway, no doubt. But for RVs, every different type has it's advantages and drawbacks. Many related to intended use and some related to how they tow.
 
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In my experience, once someone tows a 5th wheel RV trailer, they will never want to tow a bumper pull RV trailer again.
I'm one of those people. I towed Dad's fifth half way across the country.
There's quite a difference. Although when I bought my own it was because of the headroom. :)
 

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@Grit dog

I bought wrecked or somehow damaged campers at auctions in 2019 and 20.

I sold them and had conversations with probably 80 people, between lookers and buyers, my opinion is formed on my own experiences and those discussions

If you knew me you would know that I do not buy into any hype about anything and I am extremely cheap, so I don’t buy expensive unnecessary crap.

it is certainly possible that you got a trailer that tows well, they are out there. Every trailer I had towed differently. And as someone posted above, a lot has to do with the roads you tow on. Be happy you have a good setup, they are rare.

about this part of your post

“That said, yes, the RV forums are much like @mattswaggs opinion, that anything that is considered a camper automatically needs both a wdh and sway control.”

if you looked at my posts I said the opposite. I thought I did not need WDH’s at first. This is with towing with my 2013 Ram 2500 with leafs, 1999 Ford with leafs. 2020 Ram 2500 with coils and 2018 Ram 2500 with coils.
There were plenty of times I thought, eh, it’s only an hour drive, I won’t use the WDH, and the bouncing and the sway was so bad I had to pull over.

Pulling this 2018 Revere was one of those times. I didn’t bring the hitch, I was delivering it 1 hour to a customer. I was limited to 60 mph on the highway because anything over that I couldn’t keep it in the lane.

Car Wheel Tire Land vehicle Vehicle


here’s another couple of the ones I had

Wheel Tire Snow Vehicle Car
 
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