What Does Dead Weight Hitch Mean – Definition And Explanation

If you’re new to towing or looking to buy a trailer hitch, you may have come across the term “dead weight hitch.” But what does dead weight hitch mean?

In this article, we’ll explain the basics of this topic, including what they are, their advantages and disadvantages, and other informative data.

What Does Dead Weight Hitch Mean?

what does dead weight hitch mean
Dead Weight Hitch

What is a dead weight hitch? 

A deadweight hitch is a device used to connect a trailer to a towing vehicle.

The weight of the trailer is supported by the hitch when not directly attached to the towing vehicle, making your transport safer.

What does weight distribution hitch do? 

Deadweight hitches are commonly used for recreational vehicles or smaller trailers and can be found in various sizes and weight capacities.

Understanding the maximum load of your distribution weight hitch is significant to ensure guarded towing.

Furthermore, overloading the actual weight with heavy loads can cause damage to your vehicle and increase the risk of accidents on the road.

Thus, it is important to consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual or a professional mechanic to determine the appropriate cargo weight, the weight of passengers, and towing weight capacity for your tool.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Dead Weight Hitch?

dead weight hitch vs weight distributing hitch
Pros And Cons Of Dead Weight Hitch

A deadweight hitch, also known as a weight carrying hitch, is a well-known type of trailer hitch commonly used to tow various trailers.

Like any other type of hitch, it has its own advantages and disadvantages.


One of the main advantages of a weight-distribution towing hitch is that it is relatively easy to install and use. It simply bolts onto your vehicle’s frame and can be removed when not in use.

Also, they tend to be less expensive than other types of hitches, making them an affordable option for many people.

Another upside of a basic hitch is that it distributes the weight evenly across the towing vehicle, making it better to handle and reducing the risk of damage to the pickup truck’s suspension and tires.

This is particularly important for safe towing when carrying heavier trailers or traveling over uneven terrain.


The main drawback is that the dead hitch weight tends to have a lower weight capacity than other types of hitches, which can limit the amount of weight you can tow.

Additionally, because the trailer’s weight is distributed across the towing vehicle, dead-weight hitches can make the car sag, impacting handling and making it difficult to steer.

Another downside of a dead hitch weight is that backing up with a trailer connected can be more difficult.

The weight distribution might cause the trailer or the car to sway side by side or jackknife.

What Are The Safety Precautions When Using A Dead Weight Hitch?

towing weight distribution hitch
Safety Precautions When Using A Dead Weight Hitch

When using a dead-weight hitch, it is important to prioritize safety precautions to prevent accidents or damage. Here are some safety measures to consider:

Proper Installation And Maintenance

It is essential to ensure that the dead-weight hitch is installed correctly and is in good working condition. Be sure you adhere to the manufacturer’s directions and proper maintenance.

Regular Inspection Of The Hitch And Towing Components

Regular exams of the hitch and towing parts can help identify any issues before they become a safety hazard.

Inspect the hitch, ball mount, hitch ball, safety chains, and wiring for any signs of wear, damage, or corrosion.

Understanding Towing Limitations

Before towing, ensure you know the truck’s towing capacity and the hitch’s weight rating.

Exceeding the maximum tow capacity can render the vehicle unstable, raising the potential for accidents.

Proper Load Distribution

Appropriate load distribution is critical to maintaining vehicle stability and lessening the dangers while driving on the street.

Make sure that the allowable weight is evenly distributed between the front and back axles and side to side.

Adjust Driving Habits

Towing with a dead weight hitch requires some adjustments to driving habits.

It would help to slow down, especially when turning or braking, as the extra weight can affect the vehicle’s handling.

Also, you must always maintain a safe distance from other cars and avoid sudden lane changes.

Use Safety Chains

Safety chains provide an additional layer of security in case the hitch fails. Remember to attach them correctly and cross them under the hitch, so they catch the hitch if it becomes detached.

Following these safety considerations can aid in the prevention of accidents and guarantee a safe and effective towing journey.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are The Differences Between Towed Weight And Dead Weight?

Towed weight and dead weight are two common terms for vehicle towing capabilities. While they may sound identical, they refer to different aspects of a towing setup.

  • Towed weight refers to the total weight of the trailer and its contents, while dead weight points to the importance of the trailer itself without any added contents or cargo.
  • The towed weight is the allowable weight the vehicle is pulling behind it, whereas the dead weight is the weight the towing system must support to tow the load.

Understanding the difference between these two terms is significant when determining a vehicle’s towing capacity.

It is necessary to consider both the towed and dead weights when selecting a proper hitch and towing setup.

What Happens If You Exceed Dead Hitch Weight?

You risk harming your car and the trailer if you violate the dead hitch weight or tongue weight limit.

Heavy weight can create sagging in your vehicle, making it harder to steer, accelerate, and brake appropriately.

It can also take a toll on the vehicle’s suspension, making tire noises (especially at low speeds) and damage to components over time.

Excessive dead hitch weight can also put you and other drivers in danger, especially if you are unable to maneuver your car effectively.

Hence, going in line with the manufacturer’s permitted towing capability and appropriately contributing the load between the car and trailer is compulsory.

Do I Need A Weight Distributing Hitch?

Whether or not you need a weight-distributing hitch depends on your trailer’s importance and the car’s towing capacity.

A deadweight hitch may be sufficient if your trailer is relatively light and your car has a high towing ability.

However, if your trailer is heavier and approaches the ability to tow your vehicle, a weight-distributing hitch may be necessary to ensure secure and stable towing.


What does dead weight hitch mean? In summary, a deadweight hitch is a type of trailer hitch that can handle a specific amount of weight without additional distribution or sway control.

While it may not be the best option for all types of towing situations, it can be a cost-effective and efficient solution for smaller trailers and lighter loads.

As always, it’s best to choose the right hitch for your specific needs and to follow all safety guidelines and regulations when towing.

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