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TRAILER SWAY CONTROL: 3 STEPS TO AVOID TRAILER AND MOTORHOME SWAY

A swaying trailer can be terrifying, not only for the driver, but for the other vehicles on the road. There are a few things you should know when towing your first motorhome or trailer to avoid sway happening in the first place, what you can do in the moment to stop trailer sway, as well as gear, such as electric brake controllers, you can add to your set-up to help prevent trailer sway from happening.

Overview

  • What is trailer sway? 
  • 3 steps to avoid trailer and caravan sway
  • Introducing the Tow-Pro Elite

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. It's important 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 Steps to Avoid Trailer and Motorhome Sway

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

1. Pack properly

Ensure weight is not concentrated at the rear of the trailer or motohome, load heavy weight evenly over the axles.

2.Stay steady

Steer as little as possible to correct the sway. Quick steering movements will make things worse

3. Slow down and brake gently

Reduce acceleration to minimise the magnitude of trailer oscillations

Apply the brakes gently, this will ensure both the vehicle and trailer are aligned. If possible, use the override on your electric brake controller to apply the trailer brakes.

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 trailer.

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 driver or passenger can choose the braking style required to suit the road/terrain conditions, vehicle type or personal preference.

GETTING YOU THERE SAFELY

When you’re next out on the road don’t underestimate the importance of an electric brake controller to minimise and manage your risk of trailer sway. 

For more information on REDARC electric brake controllers see our Tow-Pro page. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I stop my trailer from swerving?

Slow down gently and as much as possible by taking your foot off the accelerator and letting the motorhome or trailer fall back into place behind the towing vehicle. Don't try to steer out of the situation in an attempt to correct the sway.

Should your motorhome or trailer be level when towing?

Motorhomes and trailers handle best when they sit level. Having the nose up or down shifts the weight to just one of the axles and reduces the contact it has with the road. Evenly distribute the weight in the trailer to sit evenly over the axles or take some air out of the tow vehicle's front wheels to increase their connection with the road.

Why do you need an electric brake controller?

Electric brake controllers are essential for managing heavier loads, as it requires significant power and control to bring the weight of the trailer (and the towing vehicle) to a complete stop. Electric brake controllers are required by law for trailers and caravans heavier than 10,000lbs. 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.

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