Installing an Equil-i-zer Hitch
Updated: Jan 12
Your first question may be, why an Equil-i-zer Hitch? To be honest, because our first trailer came with an Equil-i-zer brand weight distribution hitch. Yes, there are a number of weight distribution hitches on the market, and this is just one of them. All of the weight distribution hitches have their own advantages and disadvantages, but the most important component of any weight distribution hitch is proper installation.
This post will guide you through the installation process for an Equil-i-zer hitch, but includes tips for all weight distribution hitches. As always, please do your own research. We are not RV experts, but hope to share our experience with you to help you learn a bit more quickly than we did. 😂
Step One • Find Level Ground
It is important that you find level ground for the installation process. The truck and trailer must both be on the level surface. You will be taking measurements of the distance between the ground and the front and rear bumpers to ensure proper installation, so if you have uneven ground, your measurements won't be accurate and the hitch may be installed improperly. We know sometimes it can be hard to find a level surface close to all your tools with enough space for a trailer and a tow vehicle, but improper measurements can lead to big time towing problems.
Step Two • Get Your Coupler Height
Make sure your trailer is level (we recommend Level Mate Pro & Rocking Levelers for the easiest leveling process) and then measure from the ground to the TOP of the coupler on your trailer. This will give you the proper height for the installation of ball hitch later. There is a bit of wiggle room here, so you don't need to get a measurement down to the 10th of an inch or anything like that, just get as close as you can. Once again, if your trailer isn't level or if you're not on level ground, this measurement won't be correct .
Step Three • Place the Shank into the Hitch Receiver
The shank allows you to set the proper height for the ball hitch. You will install the shank dependent on your coupler height measurement. If your coupler height was higher than your receiver tube, you will install the shank with the holes above the receiver tube. If the coupler height is below the receiver tube, you will install the shank with the holes down. Once you have determined how you need to install the shank, place it in the tube.
Step Four • Place the Shank into the Hitch Receiver
Once installed correctly, secure it with a hitch pin and clip. This makes sure your shank doesn't go anywhere. The size of your pin and clip will be determined by your shank and receiver tube, as well as the max weight of your trailer. You can find a variety of hitch pins and clips on Amazon, just like the one pictured to the right. Click the photo to be taken to Amazon.
Step Five • Place the Ball Hitch
Remember your coupler height? Add 1-3 inches to that number. This is the height for your ball hitch. You add 1-3 inches because the weight of your trailer will lower your tow vehicle 1-3 inches. That means your ball needs to be slightly higher than the original coupler height. That also means this may be an area of the install that takes some trial and error. If you find your trailer is not level after you have loaded the weight of the trailer on the vehicle, you may need to adjust your ball height. We had to do this several times and even had to purchase a larger shank for our Ram 2500 to allow the ball to drop low enough for the trailer to be level. Again there are a variety of shanks on the market, so you'll need to find one that fits your tow vehicle, receiver tube, and the weight of your trailer.
Step Six • Get the Ball Vertical
After you've found the appropriate holes to place the ball hitch at the correct height, you will place the bolts and loosely tighten the nuts down. Once the ball hitch is loosely on the shank, you will make adjustments to the hitch to ensure the ball is vertical or slightly tilted towards the tow vehicle when the ball is pushed as far back as it will go. There is a nut located on the bottom of the hitch you can tighten to hold it vertical. There are also washers you can remove or add to make the ball vertical.
Step Seven • Torque The Bolts
Once you ensure the ball is vertical, it's time to tighten the bolts to the manufacturers specifications. If not torqued properly, the ball can move under the weight of the trailer. You will find the correct specifications in your owner's manual. Before you complete tightening your bolts, be sure to push the ball back tight to vertical.
Step Eight • Get Tow Vehicle Measurements
Before attaching the trailer to your vehicle, you will take a measurement from the ground to the bottom of your front bumper and a measurement from the ground to the bottom of your back bumper. This measurement will be checked again after you have the weight distribution bars installed and the weight of the trailer on the tow vehicle. The goal is for these measurements to be as close to the same as possible when your trailer is attached.
Step Nine • Place the Brackets
Check your owner's manual to see how far back your brackets must be set. You need to place them at the proper location to allow for movement when you are turning your rig. For our hitch it was 32". Then, measure the correct distance and loosely place the brackets in place. Generally you will measure from the middle of the coupler back along the frame. It's also important to note that you may have to temporarily remove items (such as the propane take covers) to place the bracket in the correct location. The bolts should be torqued to the proper specifications before installing the weight distribution bars.
Step Ten • Back up the Tow Vehicle
To complete the installation process you need to get the weight of the trailer on the tow vehicle. So, you will back the vehicle up. For more complete instructions on hooking up your hitch, check out our post.
Step Eleven • Raise Stabilizers
If you have your stabilizers down, be sure your wheels are hitch and raise the stabilizers, leaving the trailer resting on the tongue jack only. If you do not raise your stabilizers you may damage them when raising and lowering the trailer on the tongue jack.
Step Twelve • Lower the Trailer onto the Ball
With the stabilizers up, it's time to lower the trailer onto the ball hitch. You will still leave your tongue jack down since you will need to raise the trailer again in the next step. Taking the weight off of the tongue jack would make it nearly impossible to install the weight distribution bars.
Step Thirteen • Raise the Trailer Height
You will raise the trailer about 3 inches using the tongue jack. This prevents tension on the weight distribution bars when you are trying to place them on the L-brackets.
Step Fourteen • Place the L-Brackets
Now you will need to install the L-bracket that holds the weight distribution bar. It provides a small shelf for the weight distribution bar and also allows for the bars to be secured into place. This process may take some trial and error as well. You will place the bracket onto the frame where you believe the weight distribution bar will be parallel with the frame of the trailer. If you get the weight distribution bar onto the brackets and find they are not parallel, you will need to adjust the height. If you find you are having a difficult time getting the weight distribution bars on the L-brackets raise the nose of the trailer until you can easily maneuver the bars.
Step Fifteen • Bolt the L-Bracket in Place
Once you have found the correct height for the L-bracket, it's time to bolt it in place. Once again, be sure they are torqued to the correct specifications listed in your owner's manual.
Step Sixteen • Repeat on the Other Side
Once your L-bracket is placed and secured on one side of the trailer, repeat the process on the other side of the trailer.
Step Seventeen • Put the Weight of the Trailer on the Tow Vehicle
Lower the trailer down and raise the tongue jack to place the weight of the trailer on your tow vehicle. Once the weight is placed on the vehicle, check to ensure your weight distribution bars are still parallel with the frame while the vehicle is under load. If they are not, place the jack back down and make the appropriate adjustments.
Step Eighteen • Remeasure Bumper Height
Once the hitch is fully hooked up, it's time to remeasure the bumper heights to check for proper installation. Your remeasures should be with in a half an inch of your original measurement. If your measurements are off, check your L-Bracket height and ball height. Make adjustments to either or both of these until you get the appropriate measurements on your bumper heights.
Step Nineteen • Grease it Up
Using a multi-purpose EP grease, lube up anywhere on the hitch where there is metal on metal. This includes where the weight distribution bar hooks into the receiver, where the coupler meets the ball, and where the weight distribution bars sit on the L-brackets. Properly greasing your hitch will increase its life span significantly.
If you feel as though your trailer isn't as stable as you'd like after install, you likely need to make adjustments to your set up. We encourage you to make adjustments and give the trailer a "test drive" before taking long trips.
If you need help competing the hook up process, jump over to our detailed post on Hooking Up your Equil-i-zer Hitch. We'll see you on the trail!
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