I cannot find a hitch receiver that makes my camper completely level. I have tried five types with different drops. None is right on the money. I finally settled on one that puts the camper an inch higher in the front than if it were completely level. So my question: Is it better to have the front of the trailer a bit too high or a bit too low? —Emma Jean H.
Dear Emma Jean,
Although there is no standard hitch height, as all vehicles are different, most manufacturers try to establish a 17” height which will avoid bottoming out in most cases. The goal is to get the hitch height as close to level as possible. If you are having trouble finding a drop hitch that will do that, I would suggest looking at the various adjustable hitches such as the Curt Adjustable Channel Mount model that can go down as far as 10-1/8”.
If your tow vehicle is level, a one-inch drop in the trailer hitch is acceptable as long as it is not bottoming out when driving out of fuel stations and such. This is only if the vehicle is level. If not, there is most likely too much weight on the tow vehicle hitch. That means the front will be light and affect steering and stopping distance, and put additional stress on the rear axle/tires.
It is not advised to have the trailer hitch higher than level as this means the trailer is pitched back and weight distribution is shifted. This will cause the trailer to sway more often when introduced to wind gusts.
Consider the weight
One other very important consideration is the weight-carrying capacity of your tow vehicle and the actual weight of your trailer as well as hitch weight. I would recommend searching your tow vehicle manufacturer’s towing chart to find out your towing capacity and then take 10 percent off that number for safe towing. You don’t want to be at maximum weight when trying to stop on a hot day, in rain, or trying to get up a 6 percent grade.
Next, get your trailer weighed with all the “stuff” you plan to take. Every trailer has a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). You should make sure you are 10 percent below max here, as well. You should be able to find the rating on the data plate typically located on the tongue. You can get your rig weighed professionally by individual wheel position here.
Otherwise, use a CAT Scale found at most larger truck stops. Place your tow vehicle’s front wheels on the first platform, back wheels on the second, and trailer on the third. Make sure you have a full tank of gas and all passengers that will be traveling with you. If you are using a weight-distribution hitch, you will need two more weights. Drive off and disconnect your weight distribution hitch and put the bars in the back of your tow vehicle. This will verify the hitch is set correctly. Next, drive off the scale and disconnect the trailer and weigh just the tow vehicle. This will tell you what the weight is on the tow vehicle hitch.
Make sure you let the attendant know you are weighing your rig and will be doing three trips through. And, keep in mind this will not provide individual wheel position weights, which are important for weight distribution and tire safety. Not all trailers are built with proper weight distribution. Click here to find a weighing location near you.
You might also enjoy this
Safe towing speed—How fast is too fast for towing?
By Cheri Sicard
What is a safe towing speed? How fast is too fast to tow? The team at Keep Your Daydream wanted to cover this topic for a long time. That’s because they say they frequently get passed by all sorts of RVs, from massive Class A’s to SUVs towing single-axle trailers. That led them to the question, “Is there a right speed to tow?” Continue reading.
Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and the author of the “RV Handbook.”
Read more from Dave here.
HAVE A QUESTION FOR DAVE?
We have a popular forum for Ask Dave. Please be as brief as possible. Attach a photo or two if it might help Dave with his response. Click to visit Dave’s forum. Or send your inquiries to him using the form below.
Just a bit low. And I have an adjustable, heavy pintle hitch, I prefer low, but it won’t go higher anyway without some unsafe add-on.
My pop up camper instructions said to keep the rear level to low to avoid the bad handling of a tail high situation.
It may take you a couple of hours to weigh you rig the way you described at a truck stop as trucks are usually weighing there also.
While vehicle and trailer both perfectly level is ideal, even if they are while sitting on a perfectly level slab, they won’t be when going down the road. Roads are not level, vehicle and trailer suspensions flexing etc will change that continuously. If they are within an inch on their lengths, it’s not going to matter much, if at all.
Well, if you should happen to suffer from acid reflux or indigestion, go with the direction of the bed, your feet should be a little lower than your head.
Another case where RV “advice” would benefit from a consultation with a high school physics teacher. Raising or lowering the front of a twenty- or thirty-foot vehicle an inch “shifts the center of gravity” a tiny fraction of that inch. It does not matter.
If I have to make a choice I will always go lower in the front. Whether the “ inch” makes a difference or not I will never tow “nose” high unless it’s a small utility trailer.
You didn’t answer the question. The trailer is properly weight distributed but the trailer is not level. The question is should the front or the back be higher when they aren’t able to find a hitch to provide a level stance .
Well, I think the appropriate answer would be, ‘The trailer should be perfectly level’ in a perfect world.
No such thing as perfect and I agree with Matt. The question was not answered. I have this exact situation with our new tow vehicle and trailer and was hoping to get a good answer. We have a 3/4 ton truck towing a 25 series Flagstaff Micro Lite and all our numbers are good. Iam a 70 year old carpenter and know what level is. Our trailer is an inch high in the nose. So again the question is asked. Is it better to be an inch high or an inch low?
Your choice, Ed. If it has to be one way or the other, you pick.
Tommy, u did not answer it either….I don’t know the answer…..I’m a retired carpenter as well so level is level ….you can move 3 feet and have a different reading so if you are close it is good to go…if u are going up a long mountain road and then down level means nothing…..the way rigs are built where is the true level point theses days….as Tommy says pick one…
If you have a weight distribution hitch some can be adjusted by changing the angle of the ball .
Dan, I thought I DID answer the question a few posts back. I said the trailer should be ‘perfectly level’. You said as a retired carpenter, “level is level”. I totally agree with that. Now, arriving at “perfectly level” was the start of this whole discussion, and we were lucky enough that the dealer (now defunct) set us up perfectly back in 2012. I like to look at our setup from back a ways and say. “Yep, she’s level”. 😉
I saw this in the article, “It is not advised to have the trailer hitch higher than level as this means the trailer is pitched back and weight distribution is shifted. This will cause the trailer to sway more often when introduced to wind gusts.”
Seems that the question was answered!
I agree. Read the article people.
Yes, clearly answered… ADHD for seniors…🥳