Trailer sway is not fun. In fact, it’s dangerous and can cause an accident. There’s not much else that can make you grip the steering wheel for dear life than having your trailer wagging back and forth behind you while you’re going 70 miles per hour down the interstate.
Thankfully, there are ways you can prevent swaying and keep you and your equipment safe on the road. In this article, we will explain how to use anti-sway bars on a travel trailer to help eliminate swaying.
Why Sway Happens
Sway, also known as fishtailing, occurs when forces pushing on the sides of your trailer cause it to move out of line with your tow vehicle. These forces are usually wind or drafts from passing vehicles, especially large trucks. Sharp or frequent curves and imbalances in the trailer’s load can also cause sway.
How to Prevent Sway
You can prevent sway by adhering to the following tips:
- Strive to keep the weight on your trailer distributed evenly. In general, keep your heaviest items toward the front. If your travel trailer has heavy appliances or other features, make sure the weight is even on both sides.
- Try to avoid traveling on windy days. If you must drive when it’s windy, keep an eye on your speed and stick to areas with windbreaks such as trees as much as possible. It may be safer to take side roads rather than highways in windy conditions.
- Make sure you don’t exceed the gross weight ratings of your trailer or vehicle. Weigh your vehicle at a weigh station before getting on the road and adjust the weight distribution as needed.
- Check the pressure of all tires. You want all the tires to be the same size so there isn’t an imbalance.
- Use anti-sway bars and weight distribution systems.
How Anti-Sway Bars Work
Anti-sway bars are a good solution for travel trailer sway. By attaching sway bars to your hitch or suspension, you can make towing more stable and reduce trailer motion. Reducing sway prevents dangerous fishtailing and the possibility of an accident while driving.
Also Read: How to Install a Fifth Wheel Hitch on a Short Bed Truck?
Anti-sway bars work by applying resistance to the trailer and vehicle in conditions that might result in swaying. They use the weight of the trailer to add stability by bracing the weight against the vehicle’s chassis. During installation, you securely attach the bars to the vehicle’s frame and are effectively doubling the stability provided by the tongue.
By reinforcing the load you’re towing, and distributing the weight evenly, anti-sway bars add friction to the connection and prevent swaying. Sway bars also increase the stability of the load, decreasing wear to both your vehicle and trailer. For even more stability, you can install a weight distribution system to distribute vehicle and trailer weight more effectively.
How to Use Anti-Sway Bars on a Travel Trailer
There is a variety of anti-sway and weight distribution systems available. What you choose to use depends on your needs and the weight of your vehicle and trailer. You can purchase a combined sway bar and weight distribution system or get them separately.
The simplest type of anti-sway bar system is a set of friction sway control bars. You can use these with any hitch configuration. To install friction sway control bars, follow these simple steps:
- Back your tow vehicle into position.
- Lower the hitch tongue until it is almost at rest on the ball.
- Insert the weight distribution bars into the receivers on the hitch, pulling them tight on the trailer tongue.
- Lower the tongue until it rests on the ball.
- Reconnect the sway bar and you should be ready for the road.
Friction sway control bars work by applying friction to the hitch connection in order to prevent swaying and keep the trailer aligned with the towing vehicle. Because of how they work, they can be problematic when turning or backing up, but you can remove them fairly easily prior to these maneuvers. They work best when towing shorter travel trailers.
Also Read: How To Increase Towing Capacity?
For longer trailers, less involved use, or more stability, there are other options to consider. Dual cam sway and electronic tow control systems are more expensive but offer automatic adjustment to friction or trailer braking, respectively. These work with longer trailers and allow turning while preventing sway, without having to remove or disable them beforehand.
If you tow a travel trailer or any other kind of trailer frequently, you know how difficult and tiring it can be to maintain control over sway. Installing a sway control system will help this problem significantly and keep you, your passengers, and your equipment safe when on the road. Not to mention it will prevent an accident which could injure other people and damage property.
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