Owning a trailer gives you freedom to travel the country while enjoying the amenities of a home on the road. However, operating a large vehicle comes with a learning curve to ensure you and your family are safe on the road. One issue which many trailer operators face is sway. RV sway is an unpleasant side-to-side motion laden vehicles make when they are not balanced properly. It is a scary sensation and can even lead to an accident if severe enough. Fortunately, most sway is correctable with only minor trailer repair.
Improper Loading Can Cause Swaying on the Road
The causes of sway are many, but a few stand out as more common than the rest. The prime culprit is improper loading. Trailers are designed to carry loads evenly dispersed from side to side and front to back. When too little weight is in front of the axle, not enough downward pressure will be applied to the hitch. The sweet spot for tongue weight is between 10% and 15% of the total load weight. Rearranging your load can often solve the issue.
Make Sure Your Tires Are Inflated for a Smoother Ride
Improper tire inflation is another contributor to unstable loads. Check your manufacturer’s recommendations for tire inflation and keep your tires filled. Even a five-pound differential is enough to throw a weighted trailer off balance. Keeping your tires properly inflated will make your tires last longer, produce a smoother ride, and help with steering. All great reasons to check the pressure every time you stop for fuel.
Check Your Vehicle Towing Capacity Against Your Total Load
Overloading can cause sway. If your vehicle is rated for 3,500 pounds, you must include the trailer and all of payload on the trailer to calculate the weight. This sounds simple, but it is missed by many people. When you purchase a new trailer, make sure your towing vehicle is up to the challenge. Only purchase from reputable manufacturers.
Friction Sway Controls Help You Stay Straight
These solutions will help eliminate sway, but if you are still occasionally rocked by the feeling of yaw, you might need a friction sway control. This device attaches to the ball and trailer tongue. It acts as a dampener when sway occurs, reducing the effects if not eliminating them altogether. Your local trailer repair shop stands ready to recommend the right device and advise on its installation.
Any of these aforementioned issues may be causing your sway. Correcting each will make for a smooth ride and a safer trip. Sway is unpleasant, but it does not have to be a death sentence for your dreams of RV’ing. With a little maintenance, some knowledge about towing weights, and a specialty hitch item or two, you should be back on the road again.
Trailer Sway 101, Howtofixyourstuff.com
The Six Worst Towing Mistakes, Esurance.com