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Equal-i-zer Hitch Failure

13858 Views 10 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  jdubh
Just wanted to let you know that my beloved Equalizer has broken on me while on a trip! I towed the camper up to Michigan on Friday in some high winds causing a bit of was windy due to Earl or something. I followed a 2500 RAM with a big TT for 100 miles or so, he was dealing with a lot of sway and almost lost it once, went into the other lane, almost got on two wheels around 70mph. I'd follow him around 50 yards and if I saw his trailer swing hard I'd slow down. Not sure what kind of hitch he was using but he was having trouble (with a smaller TT I might add)...can't say mine didn't look the same from the rear, I assume that at the rear of the camper the wag is more exaggerated than at the front of the camper or what you feel in the truck. Weatherbug said the gusts were between 35-45mph where we were driving.

Anyway, I didn't seem to have much of a problem but later on it seemed like I had more sway with less wind, wasn't sure why. Stopped to look at the hitch and one of the welds on the L brackets on the tongue broke causing the spring arms/sway bars to push violently against the L pin and the L bracket, badly bending the L bracket and the bracket wrapped around the tongue. Fortunately I didn't have far to go so I towed it the rest of the way with 1 bar but it doesn't do well in that situation. The bolts holding the clamp on the tongue are badly bent too.

I tried to bend it back but I lack the tools to do it. So I contacted Progress Manufacturing on Friday and they haven't responded yet. I will call them in the morning and see what they are gonna do about it. It's a short week so hopefully they can 2nd day air a replacement to me. I love the hitch and it works well (have the 12K version) but this was disappointing. Of course the hitch does have over 20K miles of towing on it now, but it should last a lot more.

I do have pictures and will post them soon as well as an update on how they handle warranty claims and treat their customers. I've recommended this hitch a lot but a big part of that recommendation will come into play with how they handle situations like this. I definitely don't wanna tow it 450mi back to Ohio without both brackets.
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Do you have the 1,000 lbs or 1,200 lbs Equal-i-zer? What is your actual hitch weight?

I have heard of the bracket on the hitch head cracking and causing failures as you have described.

Do you have the 1,000 lbs or 1,200 lbs Equal-i-zer? What is your actual hitch weight?

I have heard of the bracket on the hitch head cracking and causing failures as you have described.

I have the 12,000lbs model. Actual hitch weight is around 920lbs. It's not the bracket on the hitch head which I think I've seen as well...I think someone here posted some pics of that failure which was related to grade 5 bolts in the hitch head instead of grade 8 and it bent sideways. It's the L brackets that are on each side of the tongue, one of them sheered off on my unit. Pics soon.
Just got off the phone with Progress, they actually called me which I was appreciative. He told me that this wasn't an item covered under warranty, however, they had a good neighbor program and would send me the broken pieces new...I just had to pay the shipping. Second day air from Utah to MI is $24 for the weight of the parts. I'll post another update when I get the replacement parts. This is acceptable to me.
Keep us posted, Ive been researching, and I was looking to purchase the equal-i-zer in the next week or two, let us know how it all turns out
Got an email today saying that they accidentally shipped it to my house instead of the campground I am visiting. The support person said he sent an intercept request for the package and it shows on the UPS website, however, still shows the destination as my house. If it goes to my house tomorrow I'm going to ask them to next day air another to the campground at no cost to me, sounds fair right?
Pics as promised:

Here you can see the bar caught the L bracket and pushed it down the tongue and bent it

Top view of above:

The bolts that held the L bracket to the tongue didn't give up easily

The L bracket holder...what I suspect gave way...there is a crack on the other side and I think this allowed it to bend too much

Another view of the bracket:

The actual L bracket....Progress told me this was normal for it to bend some and that it would bend back with use

The L pin
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Wow, that is the same setup I use on my trailer when towing. I assume the amount of bar length through the L bracket was correct all this time? I had one issue where the L Bracket rotated on the trailer frame, probably from aggressive backup maneuvers. Put some solid steel plate between the holding bolts and the frame and they have been rock solid since. Glad you made it to your location OK even with the failure, I will be keeping an eye on all my hitch components going forward when I check the torque settings.
I have emailed Progressive a couple times and the company has always been prompt and helpful, glad to see they are backing their product for you.
The setup is perfect, I downloaded the guide and went through it just to make sure, L brackets are 29" from ball center. I did this after Progress tried the "blame the customer installation approach" which I responded to, "one of your authorized and trained dealers, according to your own website, installed the hitch on this trailer."

The L brackets are now in my hometown. Glad I paid for 2 day shipping. UPS shows that they received the intercept but cannot update a delivery date. If it is not here tomorrow I will have to pay for two additional days to stay in MI and it will make unwanted changes to my vacation. I'm assuming it will get here Monday and UPS doesn't deliver to the campground until after checkout, so I'll have to pay for an additional day to be here. If this happens I think Progress should pay for the extra days since 1. they made me pay for 2nd day shipping. 2. they admitted it was their system that caused the mistake and they made the intercept 3. there mistake caused me to change my vacation plans and lose two days in addition to having to pay extra time to pick up the intercepted package. If they refuse I will remove my recommendation of their product since they do not take care of their customers.
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As I assumed the package did not arrive. UPS had a scheduled delivery date of 9/14/2010...a week after I ordered the part and paid for 2nd day air. I called UPS around 4pm on 9/10/2010 to confirm that the package had begun its way to Michigan then went back to Ohio...they confirmed it. I immediately called and emailed Dan to see what he would do about it. Without asking he refunded my money for the shipping, so that was a good thing as I would have been very angry if I had to argue about that.

When I worked in customer service, if this had happened to one of my customers...we screwed up...admitted it...then just sat back and did nothing...heads would have rolled. I would have immediately sent out another the same day 2nd day air to the correct address which would have been fine in my case. If that didn't work I would have overnighted the part with Saturday delivery. That is how good customer service works and how it should have worked in this instance.

Dan did step up to the plate and gave me three options. Tow the rest of our vacation with just one bar. He said it's not recommended as it puts all of the weight (not half like I assumed) on one bar. He would reroute the package again and have it shipped to my house and have it waiting. The second option was to give him the address of the place we are going to be next week...we hadn't decided on Friday where we were going so that wouldn't work either. The third option was to drive to the nearest dealer and if they had the part in stock he would try to work out a deal with them to give me the part. I applaud Dan on the third option that since it was quitting time on Friday he gave me his personal cell number so that he could take care of business Saturday if needed. I really appreciated the gesture. However, this put me out big time due to a programming error at Progress. The nearest dealer with the part in stock was an hour and a half drive one way.

So I called the first dealer on the list and talked to a nice lady who was very willing to help. Here I want to give a big thank you to Jensen's RV Center of Cadillac. They went so far to call Progress on my behalf instead of me calling Progress, giving them the contact information, and then waiting. In the world of RV's dealers are finicky enterprises. The dealer 45min from my house will not service my trailer because I didn't buy it there even though they exclusively sell that brand, so I have to tow it 2hours to the dealer I bought it from to get it serviced. I half expected none of these dealers to help me but Jensen's was very willing. I spoke with the owner when I arrived today, he was a very nice young man, polite, and a pleasure to work with. I would recommend them to anyone. He was busy dealing with a customer who dropped his 5th wheel on his bed rails in his parking lot, and he took time away from the incident to take care of me. That's what I call customer service and going the distance. I wish I could have done something for the kindness I received so I bought a tank handle and a couple of other small parts that needed replaced on my rig. This experience was better than just about any dealer I've worked with or purchased from. If I lived in the area I would buy my next rig at Jensen's, no joke.

While driving 3 hours on the last Saturday of my vacation was not ideal, it did get me back up 100%. I'm somewhat satisfied with this resolution. I do think the proper thing for Progress to do was to overnight the part with Saturday delivery since the shipping mishap was their fault. But instead they put me out and I had to leave my family at the campground with no vehicle for several hours to retrieve the part in another city. If anything else breaks I am not really looking forward to dealing with Progress again so wish me luck. This was the first mishap I've had in 20,000 miles of towing with this hitch.

The owner at Jensen's did tell me he now only exclusively deals with Equal-I-zer because he has seen them fail the least over the years. He said he used to carry Reese Weight Distribution hitches and another brand but they both failed more frequently and were harder to replace. He has an engineering degree with specialization in metallurgy so he really admired the hitch. He told me that I could use a torch and a hammer to bend the damaged parts back into place, remove all of the paint, and then "bake" the parts in the oven at 350F for about 4 hours to give it its strength back. He said he sees this kind of failure more often than others with this brand and he said they have went to a two hole/two screw setup on the newer models where the L brackets go.

I did a search on Google for other Equal-I-zer hitch failures. The most common ones I found were the same thing that happened to me (besides L pin failures which seemed must common but most obvious--I even carry spares because I assumed this) or the hitch bending off of the shank . Some of those failures are due to grade 5 hardware which on new models has been updated to grade 8...guess what grade the hardware on my hitch head is....grade 5! Yikes. I guess I'll just go to Lowes when I get home and buy grade 8 myself as I don't want to call Progress again, I'd probably have to pay the shipping anyway.

I went ahead and moved my L brackets up on the tongue from 31" to the minimum 29" distance, hopefully this will help to keep the brackets from bending again and give them more room to move if they start to fail and hopefully I will see it before it happens. Many of the people with other Equal-I-Zer failures mentioned difficulty dealing with customer service at Progress, one even was told he had to pay $100 for his failure. Other reported great service with quick responses. Seems kinda finicky to me. For now I'm going to continue using the hitch but I'm not going to recommend it with as much ferocity as I did before. It's a good hitch, it works...and it can fail just like anything else. I really can't compare it to any others because I haven't used any others. I do think I will withhold my opinion on other products until I deal with the customer service of that product as that gives me great insight into what exactly I paid for and whether or not a company stands behind their product or only kinda stands behind it as in this case.
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