What Is Trailer Sway and How Do You Prevent It?
Trailer sway control is an extremely crucial aspect of driving with an attached caravan or trailer. Without trailer sway control, there can be a large number of accidents for any vehicle that tows a caravan with it. Even the most experienced drivers have at some point had to deal with trailer sway.
Trailer sway refers to an unfortunate circumstance where the trailer that is being towed begins moving around and gets caught up in the momentum of the towing vehicle. This causes an effect known as fishtailing that is extremely dangerous not only for the driver of the towing vehicle but also for any other vehicles that are on the road. This is because a swaying trailer starts pulling on the towing vehicle, thereby compromising the amount of control the driver has over the vehicle. In the worst case, the trailer could end up tipping over and dragging the towing vehicle along with it, which can cause catastrophic accidents.
But how does trailer sway occur in the first place? There is a multitude of reasons for the same.
The first and most common are strong gusts of wind. When you are driving your car on a highway there will be multiple occasions where a larger vehicle will pass by you at a significantly higher speed. This causes both your vehicle and your trailer to have a microsecond of compromised balance. This happens due to strong gusts of wind left behind in the wake of the passing vehicle. Furthermore, downhill descents or uneven roads can further influence trailer sway either due to a change in momentum or due to a loss of balance.
The final reason for trailer sway is if the trailer has been loaded poorly or excessively. The onus here falls completely on the towing vehicle as it is not capable of pulling a heavy weight in dangerous situations and if the loading is done in such a way that there is excess weight towards one part of the trailer then the towing vehicle is in even more trouble. As such, trailer sway control becomes extremely important to ensure that any of these unfortunate accidents do not occur.
The good news is that there is a solution for every cause of trailer sway, making trailer sway control a quite simple task though it requires significant attention to detail and level of care.
All you need to do is ensure that you don’t overload your trailer and ensure that 60% of the cargo weight is placed in the front half of the trailer box.
Another important consideration is to understand that your tow vehicle is also at potential risk of losing its momentum under the heavy weight. So, ensure that your tow vehicle is also loaded with an appropriate weight that it can easily carry.
There should be no loads that are tied to the top or side of the trailer. Make sure that you are only carrying items that can be fitted comfortably in the interior of the trailer.
Finally, it is important to maintain a speed of not more than 80 kilometres per hour, as this will help keep your towing vehicle safe and will go a long way in enhancing your trailer sway control.