Towing – Sway controls

Sway is the side to side movement of the rear of the caravan or camper trailer. This movement is sometimes referred to as snaking and can result in complete loss of control. Because prevention is better than a cure, sway controls should only be considered when all other factors contributing to the instability have been eliminated.

Some of the causes of sway are:

  • Poorly designed caravan.
  • Axle located too far forward.
  • Incorrect ball height.
  • Unsuitable tow-vehicle & caravan combination
  • Under inflated tyres
  • Incorrect weight distribution

As a rule sway control equipment should only be fitted to larger caravans that may occasionally be affected by strong gusty winds.

Before purchasing any sway control equipment, discuss your problems with people experienced in caravan towing. In some cases particular types of equipment may be unsuitable.

For example, some types are not recommended if override brakes are fitted.

Remember that even the best sway control equipment cannot be expected to, and should not, compensate for a towing vehicle that is too light, an unbalanced caravan or lack of a weight distribution hitch.

Loading the caravan or trailer

As a general rule, heavy items should be stored at floor level and as close as possible to the wheels. Lighter items can be placed closer to the ends. If in doubt as to the best location for certain equipment, check with the supplier of the caravan. Ultimately it is only a visit to a weighbridge that will tell you that what’s behind the car is correctly balanced and is not likely to become unstable.

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