No Hitch in Your Giddy-Up
Selecting the right hitch for your trailer is a fundamental part of safe towing.
The hitch is not a glamorous piece of equipment, but that funny little protrusion from the rear of your car plays a huge role when it comes to bringing your Sea Ray safely from point A to point B. In fact the hitch does far more than simply give you something to hitch to; weight-distributing (or weight-equalizing) hitches actually maintain a tow vehicle’s steering stability and body control when a trailer heavier than the tow vehicle tries to push it around during cornering, hard braking, through dips in the road or in windy conditions.
Tow vehicles come from the factory with a weight-carrying (or conventional receiver) hitch. However, when your boat/trailer combo weighs more than your vehicle, vehicle manufacturers may mandate the use of a weight-distributing hitch (W-D hitch).
Some boat owners mistakenly think replacing the factory hitch with a heavier-duty version, or changing the drawbar and/or hitch ball to one with a higher capacity, increases their vehicle’s towing capacity. It doesn’t. The vehicle manufacturer sets towing limits and equipment requirements on how much the vehicle can safely tow. Be sure to read these requirements before making any decisions about hitches. W-D hitches help maintain driver control, making the tow vehicle feel more stable and steady than it does without a trailer in tow.
“A weight-distributing hitch transfers a lot of the tongue weight from the rear of the tow vehicle toward the front and also toward the rear of the trailer,” says Joe Riexinger, the southern regional sales manager for the Cequent Towing Products group. “This levels out the tow vehicle and places more weight over the front tires for greater steering control.
When you find the best W-D hitch for you, the installation process is quite simple. Connect the trailer to the W-D hitch ball, lock it in place, swing the spring bars into their brackets, make your normal trailer chain/light connections, lower the trailer jack and off you go. No muss, no fuss. (One trick to make lifting the spring bars into their brackets easier is to raise the rear of the truck up using the trailer jack, with the trailer locked on the hitch ball. This takes some of the leverage pressure off the spring bars as they are lifted up onto their brackets.)
A properly equipped tow vehicle and trailer package is a matter of being both safe and legal while towing, but it’s also the first step to getting the maximum enjoyment out of trailering your Sea Ray.