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Unread 04-16-2012, 10:21 PM   #1
saxart
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Suspension Airbags or Weight Distributing Hitch?

I just "upgraded" from a 3/4 ton truck to a 1/2 ton. I say "upgraded" because the ride is fantastic and the mileage is STELLAR on this new truck compared to my old 3/4 ton.

Then today I hooked up my 18' Car Hauler with about #3000 of equipment on it. MAJOR A**-SAG!!!

Actually, I was expecting this, but the question remains... What is the best way to take care of this? Should I put air-bags under the rear axle to help support the trailer weight, or should I buy a weight-distributing hitch?

I'm curious to hear from anyone who has REAL WORLD experience with either of these....

Thanks!

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Unread 04-17-2012, 07:50 AM   #2
BigKen2
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I have had a weight dist. hitch with my old RV and switched to air bags with onboard air and love it. I have since sold the old RV and bought a fifth wheel RV. I also have an 18' car hauler for my jeep. I can adjust the air on the fly as needed to level and improve drive handling. The simplicity of the air bags and road manners make it a worthwhile investment on my Chevy 2500HD.
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Unread 04-17-2012, 08:01 AM   #3
ionakana
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Will the air bags do the same thing as a weight distribution hitch? I believe the hitch does more than just raising the rear end. I don't have any experience with air bags, I use the hitch and love it. Mine also has anti sway control.
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Unread 04-17-2012, 05:59 PM   #4
chainz
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I recommend the bags as well I got them on my truck, it wont work like the WD hitch but money well spent.
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Unread 04-29-2012, 12:08 AM   #5
MPond
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Airbags are great, but they are definitely not a replacement for a Weight-Distribution Hitch. A WDH has 2 primary purposes, as well as several additional benefits.

A WDH will raise up the back of the tow vehicle, and reduces some of the sag caused by the trailer’s tongue weight. And I think this is what the OP is referring to in his comparison to air bags. Both will raise up the rear end of the truck.

But the way a WDH raises up the rear of the truck is key – it uses torsion to shift a percentage of the tongue weight to the front axle of the tow vehicle. This is the key difference between a WDH and airbags. Without shifting some of the tongue weight onto the front axle, you‘re likely to have problems in a panic stop or other emergency maneuver. When you brake hard, the weight of the trailer shifts forward and pushes down on the hitch ball even harder than normal, which causes the truck to get light on the front wheels. When that happens, you can lose steering and a big part of your braking capacity. A WDH resists the trailer’s nose-dive, and keeps more of that tongue weight transferred forward.

By using Airbags instead of a WDH, in the same panic stop as above, the trailer weight will shift forward, pushing down on the hitch ball. The hitch in turn, will push down on the rear of the truck. Since the airbags are resisting that downward force (at the axle), they become a pivot point, and the front end can get light very quickly.

In addition to the 2 primary purposes described above (shifting weight to the front axle & reducing sag), a WDH also introduces more stability when encountering cross winds, especially if you use a sway control device with the WDH. Also, most modern trucks come with hitches that are rated lower when not using a WDH, and higher when using one. Some peope ignore those ratings, but that's a whole other conversation.

Hope that helps.
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Unread 05-03-2012, 02:32 PM   #6
2k2wranglerx
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absolutely. WD hitch is where it's at.
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Unread 06-09-2012, 03:11 PM   #7
Photog2000
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I use both for towing my 32' travel trailer. The WDH was nice and all, but adding the air bags to it made a world of difference on the highway.
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Unread 06-09-2012, 06:56 PM   #8
little_Jeep
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I *might* add air bags to my rig sometime in the future, but they will be in addition to, not a replacement for the WDH. I have the anti sway also... great setup.
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Unread 06-17-2012, 10:03 AM   #9
Joe Dillard
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saxart View Post
Then today I hooked up my 18' Car Hauler with about #3000 of equipment on it. MAJOR A**-SAG!!!
Of that ~3000# of equipment, what percentage of it do the think was placed on the nose/tongue of the trailer?

In other words - do you think you loaded the nose with more than ~450#?

If the load was distributed too much on the nose, there could be an easy solution & just shift the load more towards the center or more above the wheels to correct things.

If this is the case - airbags and/or WDH may not be necessary.
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Unread 06-17-2012, 10:18 AM   #10
TrailersPlus
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saxart View Post
I'm curious to hear from anyone who has REAL WORLD experience with either of these....
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Dillard View Post
Of that ~3000# of equipment, what percentage of it do the think was placed on the nose/tongue of the trailer?

In other words - do you think you loaded the nose with more than ~450#?

If the load was distributed too much on the nose, there could be an easy solution & just shift the load more towards the center or more above the wheels to correct things.

If this is the case - airbags and/or WDH may not be necessary.
I meant to add to my above responce - yep, I have some real world experience.

I install airbag systems, WDH, brake controllers, fabrication work on trailers and tow rigs etc and provide advice on a regular basis to folks who tow.

We commonly have folks come into our facility with concerns like yours and sometimes after a little conversation, we save them money and do things safely at the same time.

Feel free to call me if you've got questions. My location is open from ~8:45am to ~5:45pm, Tue - Sat.

Joe
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Unread 06-17-2012, 07:42 PM   #11
little_Jeep
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Dillard View Post
Of that ~3000# of equipment, what percentage of it do the think was placed on the nose/tongue of the trailer?

In other words - do you think you loaded the nose with more than ~450#?

If the load was distributed too much on the nose, there could be an easy solution & just shift the load more towards the center or more above the wheels to correct things.

If this is the case - airbags and/or WDH may not be necessary.
Good post, Joe..... rest of us just assumed that the trailer was loaded correctly, but everyone knows that you can't assume anything.
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Unread 06-18-2012, 07:07 PM   #12
Joe Dillard
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Thanks.

Yep, sometimes the answer is an easy fix once pointed out (not sure if this is the case here, but certainly something to consider).
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Unread 06-18-2012, 08:56 PM   #13
saxart
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Thanks for all of the thoughts thus far guys. Here is a bit of an update.

I managed to find a really cheap WD-Hitch on Craigslist. It came with the smallish 550lb bars, which I am fine with because I didn't want the thing to go from riding smooth and nice to riding like a train-rail-car. When I tested the new hitch with the previously mentioned trailer and #3000 payload, the hitch really helped, but didn't completely solve the rear end sag. I assume WD hitch bars with a higher rating would 'fix' this, but again, I'm trying to keep the nice ride. On a sidenote, I noticed this last time (perhaps I wasn't observant enough during previous trailer hook-ups) that even the empty trailer really puts a sag to this Suburban.

To make a long story even longer, I was talking to a friend of mine who when through this same experience a few years back and he said that he runs BOTH the WD-hitch AND the Air Bags. He relayed the same story about the WD-hitch helping, but said that when he added the air-bags it really transformed the ride because it now has less of a tendancy to porpoise over bumps.

This past weekend I installed an Air-Lift brand air bag kit inside the rear springs. I have yet to test it with the loaded trailer, but it does look promising because I did drive it around with a bit "too much" air to purposely see what it did, and the thing rode like a lumber-wagon! LOL

I'll keep you posted the next time I hook up the loaded trailer....
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Unread 06-19-2012, 10:13 PM   #14
little_Jeep
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saxart View Post
Thanks for all of the thoughts thus far guys. Here is a bit of an update.

I managed to find a really cheap WD-Hitch on Craigslist. It came with the smallish 550lb bars, which I am fine with because I didn't want the thing to go from riding smooth and nice to riding like a train-rail-car. When I tested the new hitch with the previously mentioned trailer and #3000 payload, the hitch really helped, but didn't completely solve the rear end sag. I assume WD hitch bars with a higher rating would 'fix' this, but again, I'm trying to keep the nice ride. On a sidenote, I noticed this last time (perhaps I wasn't observant enough during previous trailer hook-ups) that even the empty trailer really puts a sag to this Suburban.

To make a long story even longer, I was talking to a friend of mine who when through this same experience a few years back and he said that he runs BOTH the WD-hitch AND the Air Bags. He relayed the same story about the WD-hitch helping, but said that when he added the air-bags it really transformed the ride because it now has less of a tendancy to porpoise over bumps.

This past weekend I installed an Air-Lift brand air bag kit inside the rear springs. I have yet to test it with the loaded trailer, but it does look promising because I did drive it around with a bit "too much" air to purposely see what it did, and the thing rode like a lumber-wagon! LOL

I'll keep you posted the next time I hook up the loaded trailer....
I think it was discussed in this thread, the WDH will lift the sag, but its real purpose is to transfer some of the tongue weight to the front axle. The air bags will lift the sag, but do little to transfer weight to the front axles. Going from 500 lbs bars to 1000 lbs will not make the tow rig drive worse, it will make it drive better. I can see where the air bag / WDH combo would be a nice setup. My other concern (Joe's probably also), is did you go on web or have instructions on how to properly setup the WDH for the first time. There are several steps that need to be taken to insure that your setup is correct for your vehicle / trailer combination. You want some sag in the rear, and you want to be sure that you don't transfer too much or too little weight to the front axle. I pull 5200 lbs and once I got my system dialed in, I can drive down the x-way at 75 mph with only one hand on the steering wheel, if I desire (I typically don't drive this fast while pulling, but I have). My point is, once you have your system dialed in, driving 600 miles with trailer really shouldn't be much different than driving 600 miles without it.
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Unread 06-19-2012, 11:39 PM   #15
MPond
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Quote:
Originally Posted by little_Jeep View Post
I think it was discussed in this thread, the WDH will lift the sag, but its real purpose is to transfer some of the tongue weight to the front axle. The air bags will lift the sag, but do little to transfer weight to the front axles. Going from 500 lbs bars to 1000 lbs will not make the tow rig drive worse, it will make it drive better. I can see where the air bag / WDH combo would be a nice setup. My other concern (Joe's probably also), is did you go on web or have instructions on how to properly setup the WDH for the first time. There are several steps that need to be taken to insure that your setup is correct for your vehicle / trailer combination. You want some sag in the rear, and you want to be sure that you don't transfer too much or too little weight to the front axle. I pull 5200 lbs and once I got my system dialed in, I can drive down the x-way at 75 mph with only one hand on the steering wheel, if I desire (I typically don't drive this fast while pulling, but I have). My point is, once you have your system dialed in, driving 600 miles with trailer really shouldn't be much different than driving 600 miles without it.
Well said!
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