If you own a trailer, one of the worst things that could happen is the trailer beginning to sway as you’re heading down the highway. There’s always the possibility of an accident, which is a sure fire way to ruin your day.
In a worst-case scenario, the trailer can fall on one side and this could bring the vehicle down too.
Swaying is quite a common occurrence, and can serious too, especially where large travel trailers are concerned.
This can make traveling and even transporting quite precarious. It can make even the most experienced drivers nervous, knowing that an accident could happen.
However, technology has come to the rescue and anti-sway bars can drastically reduce the chances and impact of trailer sway.
But, how do we use anti-sway bars on a travel trailer? The anti-sway bars are attached as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Next, we’ll carry out a road test and see how the trailer handles, adjustments can then be made to the anti-sway bars until the desired handling characteristics are obtained.
For more advanced tuning and adjustments based on the type of anti-sway bar, read on.
Table of Contents
What Causes A Trailer To Sway?
Sway can be caused by wind or big rigs. However, there are many reasons that could cause the issue and fixing it is the only solution.
Sometimes the trailer may not have adequate tongue weight. It is necessary for around 12 percent of the weight of the trailer to be on the place where it is hitched to the vehicle. This is a very common reason as to why the trailer may sway. It is important to redistribute weight to avoid swaying.
It is important to have the correct air pressure on all tires. When inflated, the tire size should be the same.
You should never overload the trailer. The load capacity includes the trailer weight, the passengers, the vehicle, and the tongue.
How To Avoid Trailer Sway?
You should try as much as possible to avoid driving in windy conditions. However, sometimes this is not possible. In such a case, you should reduce the speed without necessarily slamming on your brakes.
You should also try to steady the steering wheel without making any sudden turns or trying to steer away from the situation. Try not to increase your speeds because this makes the sway more severe.
If safe, stop so that you can evaluate the situation and find out what is causing the sway. It is not safe to be on the road when the trailer has issues.
How Anti-Sway Bars Work
Swaying on the road can be very unpleasant for the rider. The motion makes it very difficult to actually control your vehicle. The lasting solution is to affix anti-sway bars to the hitch or suspension system so as to make it stable and to reduce the motion. With the anti-sway bars, things get so much better.
Friction sway devices can help reduce the effects caused by sharp turning and wind gusts. This is because resistance is applied to the vehicle and the trailer. If you have an anti-sway bar installed and you sense swaying, then you will need to stop. You should then find the adjustment handle and make sure you turn it to add friction.
You should continue turning until you feel the trailer is stable. There are different options to choose from. The control bars should be on either side of the trailer.
The anti-sway bars usually use the trailer’s weight to make it stable. The bars are installed to the vehicle frame and its chassis. The bars are usually designed for the tongue and the hitch so that they can work in a similar way. They are effective in reducing the side-to-side motion of the vehicle by simply bracing the vehicle’s axle weight against its chassis. These bars distribute the weight of the vehicle evenly. The bars hold your vehicle every time a force tries to sway it.
The anti-sway bars are tasked with reducing body lean. This usually depends on the stiffness of your vehicle. The total stiffness usually does not change the state load transfer. It only reduces the lean. The lateral transfer of the load is usually determined by the track width and the CG height.
The second function is to tune the car handling balance. You can tune the oversteer and understeer behavior by simply changing the roll stiffness proportion which usually comes from the rear and front axles.
Passing and turning
When you try to use the steering wheel to control swaying, you will get tired. In addition, trying to make the trailer curve where there is a winding road can be rather dangerous and swaying becomes even worse.
Having anti-sway bars makes it possible for the vehicle to remain stable regardless of the curves. It makes it possible to maneuver especially when there are other vehicles using the road. When a sway is prevented, the trailer’s structure remains stable and wear and tear is reduced. When a trailer keeps on swaying, the structure is compromised greatly.
How To Use Anti-Sway Bars On A Travel Trailer
There are different types of anti-sway bar systems available today and they all depend on the size of the trailer. If you have a long pull trailer, then a dual-cam sway control system is most suitable. In such a case, the bars can attach to the swing bars of the trailer as well as the A-frame just next to the hitch.
The cams are hooked to both sides of your trailer to make it impossible to sway. Usually, the cams are unlocked once the trailer begins to turn and this ensures that it moves but keeps it from swaying intensely. If you have a small tongue trailer, then hitches that are connected to the anti-sway bars should be adequate.
Hitch anti-sway bars
When you have a hitch for weight distribution, it usually has anti-sway bars connected to it. These are the bars responsible for trailer stabilization. They keep it from swaying by transferring the weight to the rear axle, and to the trailer’s rear. If your trailer is over 50 percent the weight of your vehicle, then it is necessary to have a hitch for distribution of weight to stop the swaying.
Adjustable anti-sway bars
There are some anti-roll bars that can be adjusted externally. Yet others can be adjusted from within the vehicle by the driver. This allows you to alter the stiffness by either decreasing or increasing the lever arm’s length. This allows you to tune stiffness to match different kinds of situations without having to make a whole bar replacement.
Anti-sway bars usually connect the wheels on either side of your trailer. This means that the bar will transmit the force of bumps experienced on one wheel to the opposite one.
When the pavement is broken or rough, you may end up experiencing the side-to-side body motions. This is usually a waddling kind of sensation that can be alarming. The intensity of this is increased by the stiffness and the diameter of the sway bars. There are other suspension techniques that can actually dampen or delay this kind of effect on the connecting bar.
When there is excessive stiffness on the anti-sway bar, the inside wheel can lift when you are taking a hard corner.
Tips and warnings
If you notice uneven swaying and notice that the trailer is moving frequently and quite readily on one side compared to the other, then you should make sure that the screw on that side is adjusted a quarter turn.
If you have to tow in icy condition, then you need to remove the anti-sway bars. The same case applies when you are driving in heavy rain. You should carry out the adjustment process each time you reinstall the sway bars.
The History Of The Anti-Sway Bar
Anti-sway bars are usually a part of the car’s suspension and they make sure that the body of your vehicle does not roll when you are cornering fast or when there are irregularities on the road. The right and left wheels are connected together using lever arms that are then linked to the torsion spring. A sway bar usually increases the stiffness of the suspension roll. The anti-sway bars have been in use since the ’50s.
Installing an anti-sway bar is one of the most thoughtful things to do and the results can be quite remarkable, this is not something that your passengers may appreciate but the benefits can be felt by the person driving the trailer.
When your trailer sways a lot, handling is difficult and it can be alarming as well. It is hard to remain calm, especially when swaying is too extreme. Things like the wind and trucks speeding by can make the trailer bounce a lot. Uneven roads make things even worse for the driver.
When you do a suspension upgrade, then you end up minimizing most of that kind of effect and this changes the kind of trailer experience that you get. If you plan to use your trailer, then installing the anti-sway bars is quite necessary. This will improve your driving experience and travel or transport in general. The investment is worth it and makes it so much safer to be behind the wheel.
You will notice that some of the trailers come installed with the anti-sway bars already. However, these are usually not strong enough to handle the side-to-side movements. By installing stronger and larger bars, you get a cleaner and better job and this makes it possible to improve the handling. Anti-sway bars are not meant for the back to front kind of bouncing.