What Causes Trailer Sway and How To Prevent It

Picture this: it’s a clear summer day in August, and you’re heading to the beach for the last few days of summer. Perhaps you have your boat hitched to a powered dolly, or maybe you’re bringing an entire trailer so that you can enjoy the beach in peace. All seems to be well, but as you’re on the road, you notice a shift in the weight distribution of your truck. You look back and notice your trailer swaying back and forth. How do you deal with this problem?

This situation happens to motorists moving trailers and other large tows more than expected. This issue is called trailer sway, and it’s far more likely to happen on the road than you might expect. So, what is trailer sway, and how do you prevent it? Read on to discover the answer to this important question.

Defining Trailer Sway

Trailer sway is exactly what it sounds like. If you have a trailer hooked up to your truck, trailer sway occurs when the trailer sways from side to side on the road. Various side forces push the trailer back and forth. Several factors play a role in trailer sway; let’s take a look at these factors and explore why trailer sway is so dangerous.

Trailer Sway Is Dangerous

Trailer swaying is a common cause of accidents on the road. The sway of your trailer can easily cause you to lose control and swerve into traffic in a different lane. At worse, it can vehicle your entire car over, which can be fatal. Remember that you might not be the only person harmed if you’re in an accident. Other people could also be at risk, or you can even cause a pile-up, which endangers the lives of multiple people.

Factors of Trailer Sway

So, what are some of the factors of trailer sway? There are three primary reasons why your trailer will begin to sway. We’ll go over these reasons below.

Wind Force

Unpredictable wind gusts can cause your trailer to sway from side to side. Unfortunately, since the wind is so unpredictable, this problem is something you won’t be able to stop. Instead of trying to stop the wind with wishful thinking, work on pre-planning your route, and give yourself extra time to reach your destination. Drive slower so that you won’t have to worry about the trailer swaying as much as you would at high speeds.

Other Motorists

The next thing you need to worry about is the people around you. That’s right; passing vehicles can cause wing gusts that hit the sides of your truck and give it that side-to-side movement. Since most trailers are very high-profile, they’re more likely to sway with greater force than a smaller tow. Unfortunately, since you can’t control who else shows up on the road, it’s impossible to avoid situations such as this unless you have a long stretch of empty road. Because of this, you should invest in an RV sway control system that reduces side-wind effects dramatically.

Low Tire Pressure

An RV tire blowout is a huge issue. When sidewalls start to compress and bow, there may not be enough tire pressure on the tow vehicle tires or the trailer to stop the sway. Instead of riding with low tire pressure, inflate the RV trailer’s rear tires to the maximum recommended pressure. This measure will keep them from becoming too compressed and causing sway. Ensure you check tire pressure every three to four months and top it off when needed.

The Tow Vehicle Is Unsuitable

Finally, your tow trailer’s design could just be untenable. If it has wheels that are out of alignment or a poorly designed frame, you’ll certainly experience trailer sway. Things could be far worse for you if the side walls are too flimsy or bowing under pressure. Additionally, if it’s too light, it won’t be able to handle strong gusts of wind, making it far more likely to sway from side to side.

Weight Distribution

Loading too much gear on one side of your camper can cause a serious imbalance that will almost certainly cause your trailer to sway. You should avoid loading too much weight on the back of the trailer. If you do this, your car’s rear end will act like a pendulum that swings back and forth because of the trailer’s momentum. As your trailer moves in this way, it will pull your vehicle along.

Meanwhile, loading too much weight toward the front can cause your vehicle to sag and your front tires to lose traction—putting you at risk of a serious accident. Regardless, you won’t have adequate steering control on the road.

How To Control It

Now that we’ve defined what causes trailer sway, we must consider how to prevent it. Generally speaking, the answer lies in doing the opposite of every issue mentioned above. However, you’ll see the steps in more nuance below.

Make Sure To Distribute Your Cargo Weight Properly

Luckily, learning how to load a trailer to keep it from swaying is straightforward. However, you will need to pre-plan. We recommend spreading your weight around the trailer near the front and back. After this, you can spread the rest of your weight off to the sides; try not to load it too heavily to the left or right. Load a little over half of the contents to the front of the trailer and a little under half to the back.

Don’t Overload Your Trailer

It’ll be better to make multiple trips than overload your trailer for one single haul. The extra weight will cause you to displace your weight, making your trailer sway back and forth. If you can, only load your truck up to 2/3rds of the weight you need to and make extra trips. If you don’t underload your trailer, you could accidentally cause an accident, especially when you make sharp turns, as the trailer will flare out toward the sides.

Avoid Sudden Movements and Drive Slow

Suddenly jerking to the left and the right on the road is the worst possible thing you can do, and it guarantees you’ll encounter trailer sway. Gently merge, turn, and follow the speed limit to keep this issue from happening. The appropriate speeds will be different in various states and road types. If you drive slowly, you’ll also reduce strain and save on fuel for your trailer.

If you’re interested in hitching your trailer to your truck, we got you covered here at Trax Power Dolly Systems! Here at Trax, we have the industry’s best selection of trailer dolly sets. Contact us for more details.

What Causes Trailer Sway and How To Prevent It

Jerry Heikkila
Jeff is amazing to work with, before-during and after the sale. I have...
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Jerry Heikkila
Jeff is amazing to work with, before-during and after the sale. I have owned the TX 6000 since 2021 and couldn’t be more satisfied with the unit. I have an incredibly small spot to store my trailer, but handle it with ease with my dolly. I tell all my friends about the Trax dolly, and recently a friend of mine purchased a GT8000 model. Keep up the fantastic customer service/support and top tier product quality.
Jerry Heikkila
Jerry Heikkila
Aaron H
This company has been great to work with. The innovative and powerful product design, build, ...
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Aaron H
This company has been great to work with. The innovative and powerful product design, build, and manufacturing quality is everything I hoped for. That alone is enough to earn my business. I smile every time I break out my X2 power dolly to precisely move around my travel trailer in rediculously tight spaces ... it is both amazingly useful and insanely cool. But it gets better. They really have a customer-centric focus: they do a great job at understanding and thoroughly answering your concerns BOTH before and after the sale. My highest recommendation for this group of amazing people, and the products they produce. Do yourself a favor ... if you are in need for product like this. Contact them today. Thank you Jeff and GO TEAM TRAX!
Aaron H
Aaron H
Michael Svoboda
I bought a TRAX GT8000 so that I could move my Outdoors RV trailer Model...
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Michael Svoboda
I bought a TRAX GT8000 so that I could move my Outdoors RV trailer Model 21 RBS into and out of my shop. The dolly is solid as a rock! I can see getting many years of reliable service out of this unit. I value excellence in customer service, manufacturing and truth in advertising. You get it all with a TRAX dolly. Jeff and team are knowledgeable, honest and treat customers they way they would expect to be treated, that’s as good as it gets! If you’re looking for all around excellence, in product and support you’ll find it with a TRAX product. I’ll post again in a month or so when I move my Lund boat around as well!
Michael Svoboda
Michael Svoboda
Dave C
Jeff and the team at TRAX are top shelf. Buying process was uncomplicated and they ...
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Dave C
Jeff and the team at TRAX are top shelf. Buying process was uncomplicated and they were very helpful. The machine does exactly as they say. It pulls my 8000 pound toy hauler around with without any effort. Definitely recommend these guys
Dave C
Dave C
Eric Helfgott
I recieved this unit used but still within good warranty time. This company honored the ...
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Eric Helfgott
I recieved this unit used but still within good warranty time. This company honored the warranty even tho the previous owner had just about destroyed this unit due to over weight application. You don't see this customer satisfaction anymore. Trax has gone above and beyond to make sure I'm satisfied with their product Thankyou Trax
Eric Helfgott
Eric Helfgott
Chris Kidd
i have dealt withTrax for a few years and could not be happier with their ...
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Chris Kidd
i have dealt withTrax for a few years and could not be happier with their help during and mostly, after the sale. Jeff was extremely patient in looking for solutions to my application. If you need aTrax tow system, you should use these guys as you will be very pleased. I do not give very many reviews because I am picky and Trax meets my standards by far. The machine is solid and easy to use
Chris Kidd
Chris Kidd
Bill Wood
I bought a TX6000 Power Dolly from them May 12,2022 and have been very happy with ...
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Bill Wood
I bought a TX6000 Power Dolly from them May 12,2022 and have been very happy with it the workmanship is superb. Had a slight problem with reverse on it December 11,2023 I emailed them to purchase the part. I recieved a phone call and was told there would be no charge for the part. Great Customer Service!!!
Bill Wood
Bill Wood
Tom Senger
WONDERFUL! Received my X2 remote control power dolly about October of 2022. A real WORK HORSE. ...
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Tom Senger
WONDERFUL! Received my X2 remote control power dolly about October of 2022. A real WORK HORSE. I use it to move a variety of both large (over 30 feet long and over 14,000 pounds gross weight) and small boat and camper RVs on gravel surfaces. X2 is small enough to maneuver into and within tight spots--much easier than using tractors/skid steers. Service/sales has been very prompt in getting new and replacement parts & accessories to me (in Wisconsin). My unit is used in spring and fall for seasonal storage : about 30 working (moving) hours over its first 7 months. Yes, I would buy it again! -- Tom from Wisconsin
Tom Senger
Tom Senger
Jamrock Jerk
The second most valuable piece of equipment in our fleet, the first is our...
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Jamrock Jerk
The second most valuable piece of equipment in our fleet, the first is our food trucks! We’ve been a loyal customer since 2018 and the continued support over the years along with their progressive innovation has been exceptional. Ask for Jeff, he knows his equipment and he’ll get you what you need to move your trailers, he might also throw in a nice enlightening conversation as a bonus too!
Jamrock Jerk
Jamrock Jerk
Jason Day
"I've been using the TRAX X2 powered trailer dolly to move my 5th wheel trailer ...
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"I've been using the TRAX X2 powered trailer dolly to move my 5th wheel trailer around in tight camping locations, and it has been a total lifesaver! In the past, I used to struggle to navigate my trailer through narrow spaces and tight corners, but with the TRAX X2, I can easily and precisely maneuver my trailer exactly where I need it. The joystick control is incredibly responsive and allows me to make small adjustments, even in tight spaces, easily. Overall, I'm thrilled with how much easier and more efficient the TRAX X2 has made my camping trips, and I would highly recommend it to anyone in a similar situation." Jason Day - Portland OR
Jason Day
Sergei Boutenko
The dolly arrived yesterday and all I can say is WOWZA! When the Fedex truck...
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Sergei Boutenko
The dolly arrived yesterday and all I can say is WOWZA! When the Fedex truck showed up, I instantly dropped what I was doing and started assembling the TX6000. Then I grabbed my camera and started shooting. 🙂 My first video just went live: https://youtu.be/qUF10nUPbIY a few minutes ago. Here is another one with me moving a tiny home. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXHHLZq51XQ
Sergei Boutenko
Sergei Boutenko
James Willis - Pasadena CA
Sorry for the delay in writing my customer testimonial Jeff, we just got back from ...
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James Willis - Pasadena CA
Sorry for the delay in writing my customer testimonial Jeff, we just got back from a long-needed vacation. Ok, my thoughts on your trailer mover.. It's Fantastic!! When I talked to you over the phone and told you the gross weight of my trailer was 2000 pounds over your limit and that I might be using it on grass and gravel. You were confident the TX6000 would move it nicely. I am very happy to say it did the job perfectly! Thank you for your time spent talking with me during the weekend. It still surprises me that you were available to talk so late at night. Best wishes to you and your company James.
James Willis - Pasadena CA
James Willis - Pasadena CA
Kerry Stark - Shamokin Dam, PA
Hey guys I received my Trax power dolly this week. I am very impressed with ...
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Kerry Stark - Shamokin Dam, PA
Hey guys I received my Trax power dolly this week. I am very impressed with its overall construction and nice detail. You can tell it's a quality built item. I'm sure it will serve me well. In this day and age it's nice to buy quality from people who take pride in their work. Thanks again for going the extra mile and doing it right. I will glad to recommend your product to others. I already posted on Facebook on one of my RV sites showing pics of the Trax. Thanks again!
Kerry Stark - Shamokin Dam, PA
Kerry Stark - Shamokin Dam, PA
Richard Sharpe - Camarillo, CA
Thanks for your great customer service. It is nice to know that when something goes ...
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Richard Sharpe - Camarillo, CA
Thanks for your great customer service. It is nice to know that when something goes wrong, your people stand behind your products and fix the issue. well done.
Richard Sharpe - Camarillo, CA
Richard Sharpe - Camarillo, CA
Jeff Pulikowski - Sioux Falls SD
All I can say is that this is AWESOME. It far exceeds any expectation...
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Jeff Pulikowski - Sioux Falls SD
All I can say is that this is AWESOME. It far exceeds any expectation I had when I purchased it. Not to mention the fact that it is whisper quiet. I can’t thank you enough for producing such a superior product at a more than fair price.
Jeff Pulikowski - Sioux Falls SD
Jeff Pulikowski - Sioux Falls SD
Better build dolly indeed!
I have owned a few power dolly solutions to move my bass boat into my...
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Edward Derosier
I have owned a few power dolly solutions to move my bass boat into my tight garage but none of them could get my trailer's tires over the curbing. They simply didn't have enough speed to drive the tires over the quick rise and simply caused the other powered dolly solutions to lose traction and spin on the spot. The TX6000 had a huge amount of power and speed. I was able to hop over the curb as if it never was there in the first place and the ability to switch between high and low speeds at a flick of a switch was what I've always wanted. It took me only a few seconds to get used to the thumb speed control for super smooth pushing and pulling my boat trailer. I was very impressed with how easy it was to connect, operate and move my boat trailer in and out of my Garage. Thank you Jeff Sawlor for driving up to Brampton and giving me a demo of how to use this amazing power dolly. I'm SOLD! It's the Easiest to use power trailer dolly on the market. [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DgIcS8N8dmo&feature=youtu.be[/embed]
Better build dolly indeed!
Edward Derosier
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