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Posted on August 9, 2013 in Articles
One of the worst things that can happen when you’re trailering is the potential for your trailer 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 trailer owners, 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, especially, you should be able to drive with your trailer at relative ease. Trailer sway can be caused by gusts of wind, or the passing of big rigs, but can also be caused by a multitude of things that you can fix yourself.


example weight distribution1. Not enough tongue weight–10 to 12 percent of the trailers weight must be on the tongue (where it hitches to your vehicle). This is the most common cause for trailer sway. You can weigh your trailer by taking it to a commercial scale (at truck stops). For example, if the gross weight of your trailer is 2000 pounds, the tongue weight on the hitch should be about 200 pounds. Remove some items or redistribute the weight as necessary. Place heavier cargo 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.

2. Tires–make sure both your vehicle and your trailer have correct air pressure. Also check to see that they are exactly the same size when inflated.

3. Load capacity–do not overload your trailer. Keep in mind that your load capacity includes the weight of the trailer, tongue, vehicle, and your passengers.

propride_3p_hitch__39433_zoom4. Install a friction sway control device–they 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, stop and turn the adjustment handle a quarter of a turn in the clockwise direction, which adds more friction. Continue to do this until your trailer feels stable. They are available in three different styles, and should be used in trailers that have a low tongue weight percentage. For trailers that are over 5000 pounds, sway control devices should be attached to each side of the trailer hitch.

5. Avoid windy conditions–if you can. But if you can’t, here are some tips for safe driving in these conditions.

  • Gradually reduce speed when experiencing trailer sway–do not slam on the brakes.
  • Steady the steering wheel–do not make sudden turns, and do not try to steer out of a sway situation.
  • Do not increase speed, since higher speeds make trailer sway more severe.
  • Apply only the trailer brakes to help reduce sway.
  • Stop to evaluate the cause of the sway. It’s not a good idea to take a trailer on the road if you know that it’s suffering from a swaying problem.

When you’re towing thousands of pounds of weight, safety on the road should be a priority. Depending on the state and composition of your trailer, combined with the right conditions, things can get sour fast. If you have issues with trailer sway, keep these tips in mind, and be safe out there.

10 responses to “How To Avoid Trailer Sway”

  1. Des cash says:

    Thank you for your safety tips on trailor sway.

    • tim says:

      Tuson makes a electric brake sway control this works great with trailer sway it brakes independently to control sway faster.

  2. Ronald Bertsche says:

    Hi my name is Ron, we have a 35ft over all length bought a new hitch kit is still having problems with it swaying my camper has a front kitchen they told me that most of the weight is there it weighs 7500 lbs I tow it with a Dodge 1500 and it still sways.

  3. Joni says:

    My husband and I just bought a brand-new 2017 King Ranch. We bought it because they insured us that it would easily pull the 35 foot trailer that we bought. However, we brought it out for the first time a couple weeks ago and my husband had white knuckles on the steering wheel because it was wobbling. It seemed that the front end was too light. But, we brought it back to the RV place and they did everything they could but said everything looked great. The person who looked at the truck at the RV place told us to bring it back to Ford because he said that the truck in fact is not good enough to pull that trailer even though Ford said it can pull 12,200 pounds and the trailer is only 9000 pounds full weight. We brought it to Ford and they said it is most likely the tires. Is that possible?

  4. John mesger says:

    I have a dump trailer rental business. When I switched from a single wheel 3500 to a dual axle all of my trailer sway went away. I drive the interstate thru the ozark mountains pulling 20k plus. Night and day difference between the 2 trucks.

  5. Dennis Lorton says:

    My trailer never swayed with Gladiator,or Maxxis tires. Bought Hercules st2.Awful sway problem. Yes tires alone can do it 23 ft 2 axle trailer.

  6. Ric Emerson says:

    I would say that a cargo carrier is pretty much out of the question with a 200+ lb. generator aboard behind a 20′ Kit Companion. Right? It would be in the bed of my extended cab GMC Sierra if it weren’t for the Tonno cover limitation.

  7. steve szeman says:

    Has anyone looked at Pullrite for ease of towing Have had one on my 91 Dodge Ram 2500 CTD since 97 and I do not experience any trailer sway at all,no matter what Iam pulling.My hitch is basically an upside down fifth wheel,with receiver and two spring bars that attach to two special brackets on the trailers a frame.Side winds,big rigs,buses nothing affects the truck or her trailer.This system gives you peace of mind and no worries out on the road.They do cost more than a boat hitch, but peace of mind and safety on the road is worth it.After 22 years with this system,it has paid for itself over and over.

  8. I liked that you pointed out that it would be smart to have a not overload the trailer. It does seem like a good idea to really know what you can put in or on a trailer. I want to use a flatbed trailer to move some of my cars when I move later this year. It seems like I should look for a trailer that can support the weight.

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