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Old 03-23-2011, 07:32 PM   #1
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Should I worry? Hitch receiver rated 400# tongue but trailer 459#

I just checked all the components in my hitch setup between Jeep and 2010 16' International (3,261 lbs base weight; 4,300 gross). The 2" receiver bolted to my frame is rated for max 400 lbs. tongue weight when using a weight-distribution hitch (which I am using), but the specs for my unlaiden trailer say tongue weight is 459 lbs.

I bought the 2" receiver from U-Haul, made for the Jeep, attached with four bolts onto the rear cross member of the Jeep's frame. Although I haven't checked, I'm guessing that this 400 lbs. max tongue weight limit is pretty standard for any similar hitch.

Should I be concerned? Replacing the hitch isn't a big deal, but I expect that finding one with a higher rating might be. I'm not sure if the weak point is where the bolts connect the hitch to the frame, or in the 2" receiver tube itself.
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Old 03-23-2011, 07:34 PM   #2
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What class hitch is it? What rating? How much gross trailer weight for the receiver?
It sounds like a class I or II receiver, you will need a heavier duty one.
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Old 03-23-2011, 08:29 PM   #3
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We had a client come into the shop with a Mercedes and realized the reciever is not rated for a weight distribution setup. The 2" square box began to tear away from the hitch and luckily they made it to their destination. Upon inspection saw the hitch tilted upwards. You have to make sure that reciever is rated for the twist it will get from those load bars.

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Old 03-24-2011, 08:16 AM   #4
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I don't see a "class" rating on the receiver -- only the weight limits. Here are the limits on all the components:

Hitch receiver, V-5 rating
Weight-carrying hitch capacity: 3,500# max trailer weight, 350# max tongue weight
Weight-distrib. hitch capacity: 4,000# max trailer weight, 400# max tongue weight

Hitch bar
Max trailer weight: 15,000#
Tongue weight: 1,500# or 1,000# depending on pin position (I'm using position for 1000#)

WD spring bars, V-5 rating (Reese model 67509)
Max hitch weight: 800# (2 bars)
Max gross trailer weight: 10,000#

Ball
8,000#

Trailer
Base weight: 3,261#
Gross weight: 4,300#
Tongue weight: 459#

I'm guessing the hitch receiver is Class II based on its max 3,500# rating, even though this is raised to 4,000# if a weight-distributing hitch is used. Sounds like I might need a Class III, given the actual tongue weight of the trailer (459# for unloaded trailer).

UPDATE!
I just found the installation instructions and now see it warns "Use this hitch only as a weight carrying hitch. Do not use with any type of weight distributing hitch." That's odd - on a label affixed to the hitch, it clearly states up to 4,000# / 400# when used with weight-distributing hitch! I don't like this... I think it's time to find a hitch with a higher rating.
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Old 03-24-2011, 09:33 AM   #5
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Now I'm more confused. I'm seeing some hitches listed as "class III" and still having only 3,500# limit (4,000# with weight distrib.). I thought Class III was something like up to 5,000#...
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Old 03-24-2011, 10:38 AM   #6
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The capacity is probably limited by the strength of the frame crossmember on the Jeep to which the hitch attaches. Aside from having a custom hitch made that reinforces the crossmember or does not depend on it there isn't much you'll be able to do. I would be concerned and if I towed with such a setup at all would watch extremely carefully for any sign of bending or distortion on the hitch and crossmember, and would be careful not to overtighten the WD bars as that setup doesn't look like it would handle torque very well.
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Old 03-24-2011, 10:40 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amm3824 View Post
Now I'm more confused. I'm seeing some hitches listed as "class III" and still having only 3,500# limit (4,000# with weight distrib.). I thought Class III was something like up to 5,000#...
The "class" system is wonky and many hitches have a lower limit than the class maximum.
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Old 03-24-2011, 10:57 AM   #8
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I know, I'm bad. But forgive me for pointing out that this is yet another horror story involving U-Haul hitches.

A few years ago I was six cars behind a truck and trailer that separated due to hitch failure on the 405 southbound in L.A. The trailer went nose up and veered left through busy traffic with cars squirrling in all directions. The trailer hit the center divider nose up and astonishingly leapt over it, going head first into oncoming traffic where it hit four cars, causing injuries. The driver of the TV started to run away but was run down by angry motorists. When the CHP got there, he was face on the ground with a big guy's knee on his back. The hitch receiver was still connected to the trailer. I was one of several testifying witnesses.

Trust me, you don't want to be that guy. Get this fixed right by a competent hitch shop. In my humble opinion U-Haul is not that shop.
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Old 03-24-2011, 11:08 AM   #9
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Tongue weight isn't really the issue with a load leveling hitch. It is often a factor of 5 to 10 times less than the hitch rating using a proper load leveling setup.

re: "You have to make sure that reciever is rated for the twist it will get from those load bars." -- spring bars are intended to reduce or eliminate the twist. That is why their use usually results in higher load ratings because all of the receiver attachments are working in the same direction. Tongue weight only means the front of the receiver is pushed up and the rear down. Load leveling stiffens the hitch so both front and rear carry load the same way.

I wouldn't worry about a tongue weight ratiing overload of 20% or so. That just means a bit of care is needed in driving and some extra attention to maintenance.

No matter how you are set up, always check the hitch bolts, both receiver, ball mount assembly, and other parts for proper torque and inspect for signs of wear, cracks, or other problems.
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Old 04-03-2011, 10:45 PM   #10
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Where does the "twist" come from? I thought I understood the basics of WD hitches -- appears that it makes a more rigid connection between trailer and vehicle, transferring more weight to the front axles, instead of everything pivoting on a weight-on-ball... but everything appears symmetrical (spring bars, etc.). The only "torque" or twisting effect I can see is maybe from the direction the motor's flywheel is going, but that just doesn't explain it for me. Am I misunderstanding how a WD hitch behaves? When the tow vehicle accelerates hard, yes, I can see that if something like a heavy trailer (or a heavy trailer on a long drop bar) is holding the hitch receiver "level" that the member it's affixed to will want to twist... but again, is there enough torque from the motor to do this? Or is there something else at work?

I do understand the lever / moment-arm situation that could bend the hitch receiver upward, but that's a separate issue, not an issue of twist, as far as I know.
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Old 04-03-2011, 10:59 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amm3824 View Post
Where does the "twist" come from? I thought I understood the basics of WD hitches -- appears that it makes a more rigid connection between trailer and vehicle, transferring more weight to the front axles, instead of everything pivoting on a weight-on-ball... but everything appears symmetrical (spring bars, etc.). The only "torque" or twisting effect I can see is maybe from the direction the motor's flywheel is going, but that just doesn't explain it for me. Am I misunderstanding how a WD hitch behaves? When the tow vehicle accelerates hard, yes, I can see that if something like a heavy trailer (or a heavy trailer on a long drop bar) is holding the hitch receiver "level" that the member it's affixed to will want to twist... but again, is there enough torque from the motor to do this? Or is there something else at work?

I do understand the lever / moment-arm situation that could bend the hitch receiver upward, but that's a separate issue, not an issue of twist, as far as I know.



Thats probably a better way to put it .

Many light receivers are not rated for weight distribution. The vehicle that came into our shop suffered exactly what you are describing here. The lever action of the bars put a stress on the receiver box that was welded to the receiver that gets mounted to the frame. The welds failed and tore away from the receiver. When I say "twist" its only because it seemed to tear away. In short. Just be sure that your hitch is rated for weight distribution.

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