One of the worst things that can happen to you on the road when you’re pulling a trailer is trailer sway. Correcting trailer sway has to be done immediately, and if it is not done properly disaster can result
Where Does Trailer Sway Happen?
Trailer sway does not occur when you use a vehicle that has a fifth wheel attachment. It only happens when you’re towing something with a connection hitch that is located somewhere behind the rear axle. Some trailers of this type have electric trailer brakes and trailer sway control already installed, and it’s important to familiarize yourself with these controls before attempting to tow anything. It’s always possible to upgrade and protect yourself with more such electronic measures and help yourself do a better job of correcting trailer sway.
What Causes Trailer Sway?
Trailer sway usually starts because of some strong wind gust. This could be from the wind itself, especially in exposed areas or when rounding mountains and entering valleys, or could come from a large passing truck. It’s a good idea not to pull a trailer if you know in advance that winds are unusually high.
How Can I Avoid Trailer Sway?
There is no way to completely avoid any and all possible trailer sway when pulling a trailer. However, there are some things that can mitigate trailer sway and make it easier when correcting trailer sway. Here are a couple things you should do:
- Always have the correct tire pressure in your trailer or towed vehicle. Low tire pressure will keep the trailer from reacting quickly enough when you are correcting trailer sway. There’s nothing worse than knowing you’re doing all the right things to correct the problem, but also seeing that those things are not working.
- Never drive with an unbalanced load. An improperly balanced trailer will pick up the sway and magnify it very quickly. Your trailer should always be loaded so that heavy items are at the bottom and there is not too much weight at the rear of the trailer. The bulk of the weight should be set forward while still being relatively even across the trailer. Above all else, you must never have a load that can shift and slide around as you drive.
- Drive offensively.In other words, be thinking in advance of the obstacles that you will come up against. Slow down as you see large trucks coming to overtake you. As you cross bridges with crosswinds, slow down again. Whenever you come out of the shadow of the building or a mountain and are likely to encounter a strong wind, again, slow down.
Correcting Trailer Sway
Once the trailer sway begins, you need to act quickly. Hopefully, you already have trailer sway prevention measures installed and trailer sway mitigation should automatically control the trailers brakes in a way that counters the fishtailing. If you have to apply the trailer brakes yourself, do this immediately. Hopefully, this will drag your trailer back into line with the tow vehicle. Take your foot off the gas, but you should not hit the brakes unless you are in imminent danger of hitting someone else or an obstacle. Steer gently against the sway of the trailer, and as you slow down you should see the trailer sway begin to mitigate.
Get Some Special Tools
If you don’t have them already, get an RV sway control system, sway control hitch, and any other trailer sway prevention measures that are offered for your RV or tow vehicle. You’ll never regret making this move, especially when you find yourself panicked and correcting trailer sway on the road at speed. The people in your vehicle and around you on the highway will thank you, too.
Trailer sway can be frightening, or at least unnerving, especially if you’ve never experienced it before. It’s important to do everything you can to avoid sway in the first place, to install the right mitigation measures to protect yourself, and when it does happen to remain calm and act quickly.