Trailer Sway Control: Tips and Tools
Each time you take your trailer out on an adventure, you run the risk of experiencing trailer sway. It’s an ominous experience. As you drive, your camper sways back and forth against your will. It can leave you feeling out of control and nervous for your journey! Trailer sway isn’t safe, so it’s important to do what you can to minimize it. We put together the following guide for reducing sway. For all your RV needs, visit RV Station - Colbert. You’ll find us in Colbert, Oklahoma.
As the adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! A little proactivity before you hit the road can help minimize trailer sway. A pre-ride inspection of your fifth wheel helps you catch issues that contribute to sway. Check your tire tread and air pressure and ensure both are up to the standards outlined in your owner’s manual. Pack your camper so that the weight is evenly distributed. Stay within the bounds of your tongue weight and avoid overloading your fifth wheel, tow vehicle, or tongue. The limits are there for a reason!
The most common cause of trailer sway is misplaced weight on the tongue. Aim for resting 10-12% of your camper’s weight on the tongue. Take your fifth wheel to a commercial scale at a truck stop or material supply. Then remove or adjust your weight as needed. Load heavier cargo at the front of your camper and center it from left to right. Tie down the cargo to prevent the items moving around (and undoing your careful weight placement!)
Some fifth wheel owners find it worthwhile to upgrade their camper with a specialized customization. It’s known as a friction sway control device. It places resistance on the trailer and tow vehicle, which reduces the impact of wind gusts and sharp turns. These work best for campers with a low tongue weight percentage and higher tongue-weight trailers should use devices on both sides of the hitch. They can be adjusted so you tweak them for ultimate performance. Add some extra oomph on those more blustery days. Choose from three different styles to find the one that works best for your fifth wheel.
Dealing with Windy Conditions
The second biggest cause of sway is, not surprisingly, wind. Your first solution is to simply avoid wind as much as possible. Check the weather forecast before embarking on an adventure. If you see high chance of wind, stay home.
But this isn’t a solution that works in every scenario. Sometimes you have to travel on a windy day. Sometimes the wind starts up unexpectedly. In those scenarios, you’ll need to work to minimize the sway.
Try to limit slamming on the brakes. It’s much better to gradually decrease your speed while applying your trailer brakes first. Keep your camper wheel steady and try to drive in as straight of line as possible. Avoid making any sudden turns or jerks to one side. If the wind is bad enough, it may be best to pull over and wait for it to die down.
We hope you found our guide helpful! Trailer sway is a nuisance that all camper owners eventually face. You can take proactive steps to prevent (or at least reduce) your experience with it. But prioritize safety above all! Make sure your fifth wheel is running smoothly before your trip. If you notice any issues, bring it to RV Station - Colbert for a service or parts replacement. We also offer a range of new and used RVs if you are looking to buy. Whatever you need, you can find it with us! We are located in Colbert, Oklahoma and proudly serve those in Sherman and McKinney, Texas. Come visit today!
This information is for educational purposes. VIARV shall not be responsible nor retain liability for RVer’s use of the provided information. Prior to making any RV service decision, you are advised to consult with an RV professional.