When trailers are part of your transport system, having the weight distribution hitch spares your vehicle from overworking. You must know its torque specs for proper weight distribution. We dug around for perfectly hitched answers from experts for you.
Manufacturers recommend having a torque of 60 to 100 foot-pounds for your weight distribution hitch. The distance mentioned is on the hitch head, which is regulated by the vertical bolts holding the sockets. Moving the sockets closer or further apart, tighter or looser, distributes the trailer's weight evenly, reducing the vehicle sway.
Continue reading to find out why this is important and what more you need to know about weight distribution hitches.
Torque Specs For A Weight Distribution Hitch
A weight distribution hitch equalizes or levels the load your vehicle is towing. It redistributes the trailer's weight evenly to your vehicle's four wheels.
Tongue weight is exerted by the trailer. Once the tongue weight is distributed evenly on the tow vehicle, there will be no swaying, and you will have more control on the road. The most popular weight distribution hitches are 4k, 6k, 14k, and 16k.
The torque specs recommended for their ultimate performance are:
- Socket bolts: 60-100 foot-pound
- L-bracket nuts: 45 foot-pound
- Shank bolts: 180 foot-pound
- Link plate bolts: 27 foot-pound
6k Model (14k Model)
- Link plates bolts: 65 foot-pound
- Shank bolts: 320 foot-pound
- Socket bolts: 60-100 foot-pound
- L-bracket nuts: 75 foot-pound
The 16k models need slightly more torque for their link plates and L-bracket nuts, which is 130 foot-pound for each.
Why Is Specific Torque Required?
When you apply the correct torque, you have proper clamping between the idler pulleys and the engine. As soon as you start the car engine, it vibrates, and so does the rest of the vehicle.
The vibrations or shockwaves reach the bolts and nuts, making them undone when not adequately tightened. The belt load, in turn, has incorrect tension, which damages it. This happens in the case of insufficient torque.
On the other hand, excessive torque also causes damage to the nylon or plastic in bearings, the idler pulleys, and the screw threads or nuts and bolts. Once the screw thread is damaged (which is permanent), you won't get the proper clamping of the load ever again.
How Do You Set The Right Torque?
Don't rely on fastening nuts and bolts without a torque wrench to get or set the correct torque. There is no way around it, and you must have and use a torque wrench. Torque wrenches have a wide variety but ensure you use or purchase one with the required torque specs for your weight distribution hitch.
If you don't have the luxury of getting the exact torque wrench, you can use any available wrench to its maximum capacity. Then get the additional torque using a socket. Turning the socket at precise angles gives you the toques specs you need for your hitch.
Check out how you can do this in the video below—
Should You Torque A Hitch Ball?
Yes, you should! The recommended torque for a hitch ball depends on the diameter of the shank. A one-diameter shank should have a torque of 250 foot pounds, while a three-quarter-inch one should have 150 foot pounds. If your shank is one and a quarter-inch in diameter, tighten with 450 foot pounds.
How Do You Choose A Weight Distribution Hitch?
The purpose of knowing the torque specs of a weight distribution hitch is to help you choose the appropriate one for your vehicle. Keep these tips in mind:
- Consider the type of terrain you often use because some hitches cannot handle uneven or unpaved roads.
- The above-ground clearance must be sufficient.
- Weight readjustment when turning corners for better towing and avoiding vehicle swaying. First, ensure that you correctly calculate the tongue and cargo weight.
- For a smooth ride with no bounces, look for a hitch with chains and shock absorbers.
If you overlook these tips, your vehicle will sag at the back eventually. Check out this post for clarification on tongue weight: Does Weight Distribution Hitch Reduce Tongue Weight?
The Most Popular Weight Distribution Hitches
Weight distribution hitches, as mentioned earlier, come in different models. Additionally, each model has different torque specs on different bolts. However, the difference in designs helps some weight distribution hitches handle more weight than others.
You will find—
These hitches don't have a sway bar; instead, they use dampers and chains. The chains are tightened using a nut that keeps the hitch from bouncing around.
Round Bar Hitches
As the name suggests, this hitch uses a rounded sway bar that attaches to the trailer ball mount. The application generally works well but doesn't handle bumps and potholes well.
Trunnion Bar Hitches
This hitch is similar to the round bar one. However, the sway bars are square, which doesn't require a clip. Although it has reasonable ground clearance, it isn't easy to adjust the head height.
Generally, weight distribution hitches come in specific profile kits, but you can sometimes find hybrid profiles. Read this post for more on weight distribution hitches: Are 5th Wheel Hitches Universal?
Weight Ratings Of Weight Distribution Hitches
For a weight distribution hitch to work well, you must consider the weight ratings. Weight ratings explain how much the hitch can carry, but no more.
Generally, hitches are classified with classes one and two available for smaller cars and SUVs because they have a smaller receiver opening. The one-and-a-quarter opening allows them to manage small weights, meaning a weight distribution hitch isn't necessary.
Larger and more openings enable the use of weight distribution hitches and the ability to carry more weight. The weight ratings are automatically increased, and it classifies these hitches as three, four, and five. Only large vehicles can handle larger loads.
How To Set Up A Weight Distribution Hitch Properly
You can speak about the torque specs, but newbies might be at a loss on correctly assembling or mounting a weight distribution hitch. It is a relatively easy job after you pick the ideal weight distribution hitch, and you only need some elbow grease.
Now, do the following:
- Park your vehicle and trailer on level ground. The main thing is to have the trailer and your car aligned parallel. Measure the distance from the ground to the vehicle's rear and trailer coupler.
- Insert the shank fully into the receiver tube and use a clip or pin to secure it. Raise the assembly about three inches higher than the coupler height and use a mounting bolt but don't tighten it.
- Next, set the handle of the weight distribution hitch's head vertically or slightly backward. Hold it using washers, nuts, and the specified bolts. Some hitches don't require this step.
- Now, you can install the spring bars. Remember to ensure that the chains are attached before installing the spring bars.
- Raise the coupling point with a trailer jack. Mount the brackets on the trailer frame, then the springs. Ensure both sides are symmetrical before locking the brackets into position.
- Once you remove the jack, make adjustments to ensure the distance from the ground stays level. Adjusting the links on the spring bar chains regulates the tension. At this point, you can tilt the head unit.
- Finally, secure all the bolts according to the torque requirements. Following the hitch manufacturer's instructions and your car manual recommendations is essential.
It may look like cumbersome work, but the results are worth it.
Do You Need Loctite On Hitch Bolts?
No, using Loctite when installing a weight distribution hitch isn't necessary. Although experts agree it does a good job, lock washers don't come off and keep the trailer in place through the tow. Some users suggest sticking to the washers and a torque wrench to avoid wearing down the thread on the bolts with this goo and rendering them useless.
Can You Back Up When Attached To A Weight Distribution Hitch?
Some weight distribution hitches will allow you to back up your vehicle with a trailer attached to it without any issues. Users seem to vote for the TrackPro and SwayPro hitches from Blue Ox. However, do not attempt backing up with a tow bar, as it won't withstand these maneuvers.
Wrapping It Up
Most weight distribution hitches require 60 to 100 foot pounds. You will find the specific requirement in your manual. Moreover, ensure you adjust the hitch accordingly and apply the expected torque on the bolts, shank, nuts, and brackets. Using a torque wrench enables you to achieve this without any hiccups.