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Old 02-01-2018, 06:29 PM   #1
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Adjusting Equal-i-zer hitch

So I got a new tow vehicle, a 2017 Expedition EL.
I need to adjust my Equal-i-zer hitch since the hitch height is different from my last tow vehicle (which was setup at the dealership).
My Expedition has an auto leveling rear suspension (a Nivomat setup, not an air ride). This past weekend I tried setting it up by the method listed out in the Expedition's owner's manual (including driving 2 miles to allow the rear suspension to fully raise) and the hitch's manual which both say to do it based off front fender height (to keep it about half or less in height difference with vehicle unhooked and with trailer connected and bars unattached).
Problem I ran into was there was less than a half inch difference between heights with and without the bars engaged. It seemed the tongue weight was just pivoting off the front axle instead of unloading weight off it and raising the front end up. I don't know if the auto leveling suspension is messing with it or what. Trailer has about 750lbs of tongue weight (CAT scale measured) so I know it'll need a good amount of cinching down to have proper weight distribution and sway control.
So my next step is to take it to the scales to try to adjust it based on actual numbers versus just eye-balling it.
My question is what percent of tongue weight should be spread between the front and rear axle? 30/70, 40/60, etc?
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Old 02-01-2018, 10:47 PM   #2
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My 2005 Expy with 1000 pound tongue weight only had about 3/4 inch difference. Dealer had it set up with trailer nose down a good bit and 4 washers. Swayed pretty bad over 55 MPH. Leveled trailer and added 5th washer, towed well. Tried 6th washer but back end of Expy would get pushed by trucks passing from behind or any side wind. 5 washers and level trailer was the best it got. Not bad but at 7500 pounds gross weight and 1000 pound tongue it was too much for a short wheelbase tow vehicle.

I think the independent rear suspension also needs a big sway bar,( anti-roll bar), added to it to tow well. A solid axle like the Yukon or Suburban probably tows better.

My fender measurement was 3/4 inch difference and 5 washers restored a little more than 1/2 inch. 6 washers was just short of restoring the full 3/4 but was over adjusted as evidenced by the back end being sensitive to passing trucks.

Take lots of measurements on both the trailer frame and the fender of the Expy and get your setup close. Then drive it and see how it feels to dial it in from there. Not sure the scale will get you any closer. Long frame rail of trailer should be level within an inch from front to back of trailer and is critical to how it tows, then get your washers right. And make sure you have 12 to 15% tongue weight. 10 or 11% is not enough.

In my case the trailer was too close to max tow number of the Expy,(8600), even though I had 350 pounds of payload left it was ALL that vehicle could tow. Yes it worked, no it never really felt secure. Your trailer appears to be shorter and lighter than mine so you should have a better time of it in theory anyway. I ultimately got a bigger truck, partly because I live in the desert and it is ALWAYS windy here.

Good luck. It just takes some experimenting to dial it in.
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Old 02-02-2018, 05:38 AM   #3
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I'm well within my tow limits, wet and loaded the trailer is at 6600lbs. I rented an Expedition last summer and pulled my camper on a 1900mi trip and it pulled it like a dream, even one of the days had a 25mph cross wind.
I just want to make sure I get the hitch dialed in right. I adjusted it to where there was little pressure on the bars and then to where there was so much pressure I thought I'd never be able to get it hooked up if my campsite was ever slightly off level.
But the thing is that that the font and even the rear barely moved between the 2 settings. Even with the hitch set to a pretty light setting the truck and trailer was sitting pretty level. Again, I think the rear leveling suspension is doing its job but also masking the problem. Click image for larger version

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Old 02-02-2018, 08:08 AM   #4
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Yeah, the extra 1000 pounds was a deal breaker for me. At your weight I would still be driving it. Your setup looks good, got a pic of the hitch? Could be an optical illusion but the nose of the trailer looks high in that pic. How many washers are you using? Are your bars parallel to the trailer frame?

I use the tongue jack to raise the truck and trailer when connecting the bars. Lost the cheater bar a long time ago and never looked back. So much easier with the tongue jack.
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Old 02-02-2018, 09:14 AM   #5
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It's an optical illusion. It's pretty much level.
I use my jack too. I tried it with 2 washers (which I probably could of hand lifted the bars onto the arms) and with 6 which seemed like way too much tension and could possibly damage something eventually. The front had almost no movement between these two settings and the rear maybe an inch at the most.
The back of the Expedition sagged down a fair amount when I first hooked it up but then after driving the two miles to allow the rear suspension to level itself off when I disconnected the trailer and connected it again there was very little movement at all in the rear axle height.
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Old 02-02-2018, 05:34 PM   #6
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May have missed it but did you try setting it up before letting the auto level do it's thing? I had auto level in a Yukon and I set everything before allowing it to auto level. I can remember the scaled weights off the top of my head but it did distribute the weight more effectively.
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Old 02-02-2018, 06:26 PM   #7
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It states in the Expedition's owner's manual to let it level itself (by driving 2 miles) before setting up a weight distribution hitch.
Man, where's the weight police to weigh in (see what I did there) when you really want their advice 😂
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Old 02-02-2018, 07:24 PM   #8
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Old 02-03-2018, 09:42 AM   #9
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Well, you may just have to narrow it down by feel. I would start with 4 washers and go from there. Sorta depends on where your bar perches are on the trailer tongue too. Raising them up one hole is a bigger adjustment than adding washers which is why you are supposed to start with the bars level and parallel to the frame.

What did it feel like with various settings? Don't get too hung up on the fender height. You also could put a piece of tape on the fender. I found it easier to get an accurate measurement that way.
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