How To Prevent Trailer Sway

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One of the worst things that can happen when you’re towing your trailer is the potential for it to sway precariously back and forth, then eventually fall on one side, bringing your vehicle down with it. Trailer sway is a serious and common issue for many who own trailers, and it can make driving and transporting your trailer a sticky, anxiety-inducing affair where you can potentially lose control of your vehicles. When you’re on the road for long periods you should be able to drive with your trailer at relative ease. While trailer sway can be caused by gusts of wind, passing of big rigs, it can also be caused by a multitude of things that you can fix yourself as well.

Not Enough Tongue Weight

One factor that can cause your trailer to sway is not enough tongue weight. Between 10 and 12 percent of the trailer’s weight must be on the tongue (where it hitches to your vehicle). This is the most common cause for trailer sway. Your trailer can be weighed by taking it to a commercial scale (at truck stops). For instance, if the gross weight of your trailer is 2000 pounds, the tongue weight on the hitch should be about 200 pounds. Remove items or redistribute the weight as necessary. Heavier cargo should be placed at the front of the trailer, center the cargo left-to-right, and use reinforcements to tie down the cargo and prevent them from moving around.

Tires

It is important to make sure that both your vehicle and your trailer tires have correct air pressure. Also, check to ensure that they are exactly the same size when inflated.

Load Capacity

Avoid overloading your trailer. You should keep in mind that your load capacity includes the weight of the trailer, tongue, vehicle and your passengers.

Install a Friction Sway Control Device

Installing a friction sway control device will reduce the effects of sudden gusts of wind and sharp turning by applying resistance to the trailer and vehicle with respect to each other. When driving, you should stop and turn the adjustment handle a quarter of a turn in the clockwise direction, which adds more friction. This should be continued until your trailer feels stable. There are three different styles of friction sway control devices available, and they should be used in trailers that have a low tongue weight percentage. If you have a trailer that is over 5000 pounds, the sway control devices should be attached to each side of the trailer hitch.

Avoid Windy Conditions

If you can, avoid windy conditions. But if you can’t, here are a few tips for safe driving in these conditions:

  • Reduce the speed gradually when experiencing trailer sway. Do not slam on the brakes.
  • Don’t increase speed, since higher speeds make trailer sway more severe.
  • Apply only the trailer brakes to help reduce sway.
  • Stop to investigate the cause of the sway. It is not a good idea to take a trailer on the road if you know it is suffering from a swaying issue.

 

Safety on the road should be a priority when you’re towing thousands of pounds of weight. Depending on the state and composition of your trailer, combined with the right conditions, things can get bad fast. If you are having issues with trailer sway, keep these tips in mind, and be safe on the road. For more information feel free to contact us here at Gooseneck Trailers today!

One thought on “How To Prevent Trailer Sway”

  1. I didn’t know that 10-12% of the trailer’s weight should be on the tongue when towing. I’ve only towed a few trailers in my life, but they ended up swaying a lot, probably because I didn’t put enough weight on the tongue. I’ll be sure to get enough weight on the tongue in the future and even weigh the trailer on a commercial scale if I have to. Thanks for the info!

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