I am just curious how many others have experienced the issue I had with my B&W hitch. Upon inspecting my hitch this last go around, I noticed a metal ring had popped out of the shock absorber on my B&W coupler. Furthermore, I have determined that this metal ring is supposed to keep the seal in place within the shock itself. Without this seal firmy in place, the shock absorber will not function properly and fluid can leak out.
The shock absorber expands/contracts during side to side pivot motion of the coupler. It has a few duties that I am aware of.
1) It absorbs road shock and helps to make the ride smoother with respect to "side to side" pivot motion.
2) It helps to keep the coupler head (plate) level (with respect to side to side pivot) so to make it easier to hitch.
3) It prevents the coupler from jiggling around (again with respect to side to side pivot motion) when there is nothing attached.
I spoke to the B&W warranty department so to find out why this happened. It turns out that I probably over extended the limit for "side to side" pivot motion. From what I was told, there is a total 7 degree swing that the coupler head is allowed to pivot (side to side). More specifically, the head can only swing a maximum of 3.5 degrees in either direction. Going beyond that 3.5 degrees will result in damage to the shock absorber (since it can only expand/contract the length of the internal rod). That internal rod allows 3.5 degrees of motion either way thus yielding a full 7 degrees between the +/- 3.5 degree swings.
B&W went ahead and shipped a new part and I am having my dealer install it (I am not a mechanic). I was told that this part is really not considered a warranty part but they would go ahead and ship and send for free anyway.
I spoke more to the warranty guy and I admitted that I very well could have over extended the "side to side pivot" limit and I told him that more than likely I will do it again in the future.
. He thanked me for my honesty and assured me that if the issue happens again, they would send a new part for free. He also said that this could happen while on the road if there was a really hard "chuck". It could also happen if the trailer went over a curb and the truck did not (this could cause that shock absorber to over extend). He implied that this is one of those things that could happen from time to time. More than likely I did cause the damage but it is one of those things that could happen randomly also.
My dealer however will end up charging me for their time to install the part. The bill will probably be around $50 or so. I asked the B&W warranty guy if they would pay for the labor to install the part. Again, he said that this part is not normally considered a warranty part but because of my honesty and the fact that he wanted to help a guy out (so to speak), they would pick up the tab for the labor cost.
Anyway, I am just doing this shout out to inform all of you B&W hitch owners that you very well may have the same exact issue with your hitch and might not even realize it.
Let me be clear that this issue IS NOT A SAFETY ISSUE. The hitch will perform safely with or without the shock absorber being functional.
If you have a bad shock, you may notice that the coupler head is not staying level (with respect to side to side pivot) and you could be experiencing harsher road shock (however this shock is not there to prevent chucking). Also, if you take off the coupler and put it on its side, you will most likely notice oil pouring out of the shock if there are issues with the seal.
Mike & Pam