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How to avoid the dreaded trailer sway

What is trailer sway?

Snaking, shaking and swaying. These are some of the most common causes of towing accidents because when faced with this situation, drivers can often panic and lose control of their trailer.

However, there are ways to avoid and diminish the effects of the dreaded trailer sway.

One of the most common causes is uneven weight distribution and poor packing technique. A good rule of thumb is to place all heavy loads as close as possible to the axles and never at the rear of the trailer. The video below by Swift Caravan Services highlights the effect that poor weight distribution can have.

There are many other causes of trailer sway such as uneven tyre pressure, speeding, poor suspension, side winds and even entering slipstreams of other vehicles, particularly semi-trailers. Poorly maintained roads can also increase the risk.

Therefore, it’s imperative to drive to the correct road conditions and actively have your wits about you for any possible hazards. It can be hard to manage all of these factors at once, especially if you are driving on an unfamiliar road.

3 Simple Steps

By following these steps and necessary precautions you can drastically reduce the chances of your trailer sway.


  1. Steer as little as possible to correct the sway. Quick steering movements will make things worse
  2. Reduce acceleration to minimise the magnitude of trailer oscillations
  3. Apply the brakes gently, this will ensure both the vehicle and trailer sway is aligned. If possible, use the override on your electric brake controller to apply the trailer brakes.

By law, all trailer that are heavier than 10,000lbs must be fitted with an electric brake controller to provide the ability to adjust the strength of the trailer braking system. Some electric brakes can operate the trailer brakes independently of the vehicle brakes which aid in controlling trailer sway. Some controllers need to be mounted on the dash in a certain orientation to perform correctly and used for changing settings between different braking systems.

Introducing the Tow-Pro Elite

Our Tow-Pro Elite electric brake controller allows you to apply the brakes independently to the vehicle's brakes, which helps eradicate the dreaded caravan sway. The Tow-Pro Elite is Dexter and Tuson Sway Control System approved, which are both very popular systems that are fitted on most new vans to reduce the incidence of sway.

The Tow-Pro Elite features a three-axis accelerometer and the main unit can be mounted in any orientation whilst still being able to accurately sense the brake level required. Once installed, you can adjust the control knob depending on the weight of the caravan.

What truly sets it apart from many other electric brake controllers on the market is that the Tow-Pro Elite is the only electric brake controller to offer two types of braking in the one unit. Offering selectable Proportional or User-controlled trailer braking modes, the user can choose the braking style required to suit the road or terrain conditions, vehicle type or personal preference.

So, when you’re next out on the road don’t underestimate the importance of investing in the best electric brake controller for your needs to minimise and manage your risk of caravan sway.