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.
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.
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.
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.