Who out there tows with only a weight distribution hitch and no formal sway control and have never experienced sway? Some people have told me it's an absolute must, some have indicated it's cheap insurance and some have said it's not necessary depending on what size trailer you have and what you're towing with. It seems that most people who have formal sway control deem it absolutely insane not to have it. How would one know if it's really necessary or just added weight to your rig. I suppose a roll cage in the cab of your tow vehicle could be considered cheap insurance but, is it really necessary? I'm new to towing a travel trailer and just trying to figure out why everyone does not agree on sway control for all situations.
The biggest gray area here, and I think the source of most of the disagreements, is what you define as "sway". To some folks, a little wag with crosswinds or passing semi's is normal and considered part of towing. To others, any wiggle at all is uncomfortable.
I towed our previous trailer, a 25' Mallard, with an '00 Expedition with a WD hitch and single friction sway. The wiggle and wag never really bothered me, as it always felt controllable. A year and a half ago I would have said that you really don't need anything else to be safe.
I had a couple of white-knuckle experiences with that rig and I learned real fast just how quickly a little sway can create a disaster. Thankfully I learned without the tragedy of an accident. Sway is kind of like a tornado...by the time you see it coming, it's almost too late to do anything. Unless you do the right thing, right away, to fix a sway situation, you can end up upside down in a matter of seconds.
When I got the present TT, I decided to go with the Hensley hitch, because I knew that the length of the trailer would make reacting to and correcting sway more critical and more difficult.
I think the decision to utilize a sway control device, and also what type of device to use (i.e. friction damper, dual-cam, or HA/PullRite) figures in large part to the tow vehicle and trailer combo.
Length is not the only factor...
Each trailer is different as is each tow vehicle... Some variables are how far the axles are located from the ball coupler, the overhang of the TT rearward of the axles, and of course, loaded tongue weight, suspension, size and weight of trailer, the wheelbase and weight of the tow vehicle along with proper hitch setup and what type hitch... Road conditions will also figure into the equation as will other drivers that cut you off or slam on their brakes in front of you...
I towed for quite a few years with a standard Drawtite w/d hitch and first one friction swaybar and then two friction sway bars... I never felt uncomfortable with the 2 friction sway bar set up even in some very high crosswinds... Yes, I could feel a little push from time to time but it was usually managable...
One day I had a little incident on I-90 in NW Illinois where a semi slammed on his brakes in front of me just before a construction zone (I never did see the ultimate cause of that)...
I had to really "nail" the brakes on the truck... The 27' Nomad tried to "come around" on the left hand side... Fortunately, I had enough time to reach down and dial up the TT brakes to maximum... The TT straightened out and the truck and TT came to a rather abrupt stop...
This is when I decided to go to the Pullrite hitch just for a bit of extra added insurance and I have never been sorry I did that...
Burbman's comments regarding perception of sway are pretty accurate... Some movement of my pervious Drawtite setup didn't bother me as long as I felt it was under control...
I especially like his analogy of the tornado vs. sway and I agree with it 100%...
Once a violent sway begins, there is little chance of correcting out of it... Most of us probably could if we had the practice... The problem is you usually only get ONE CHANCE to practice this maneuver and if you don't do it right the first time, a rollover or worse usually results...
By the law of averages most folks that tow will never have a problem, usually because their time out on the road in the actual towing process is minimal... But IMHO every TT needs some form of sway control...
I guess you could debate the "cheap insurance" theory but IMO it goes far beyond just loss of trailer or tow vehicle... When your family is in the tow vehicle, what price safety...
I, like a few others on this forum, have had the experience of losing a loved one in a vehicular accident... It is something you do NOT want to go through, especially if YOU could have prevented it with a hundred dollar sway bar!!!!
Do yourself a favor and put some form of sway control on the tow vehicle... You may be extremely happy one day you did!!!
*This Message was edited on 14-Aug-02 02:11 PM by LAdams*
2000 Ford F-250SD, XLT, 4X4 Off Road, SuperCab
w/ 6.8L (415 C.I.) V-10/3:73LS/4R100
Banks Power Pack w/Trans Command & OttoMind
Sold Trailer - not RV'ing at this point in time
there are many critical factors. lengtt is one, as is tongue weight (probably the biggest), tires and suspension, frame stiffness, total wieght, tow vehicle size...
Then toss in road condition, wind, traffic, potholes, truck grooves and you see an ever changing scenario.
My '78 Del Rey did pretty well with no extra hitch in a 50 mph wind (gusts to 60+) and did real nice with no wind . But after making the same trip with the Equal-i-zer I can honestly recommend it...the extra suppression is wonderful.
2001 Ford Excursion V10
Equal-i-zer, Voyager Brake Control
2 Artic Cat 500 4x4 ATVs
27' 1978 Del Rey TT
Two ways to stop sway, accelerate out of the sway or apply the trailer brakes separately from the tow vehicle. Accelerating works unless you are going down hill or traffic conditions make it difficult to do.
The rig below in the signature, when being towed with a Tahoe and just a friction sway bar and the Reese Wd system, was a white knuckle rig to drive primarily due to excessive sway. It just was not safe when on the expressway when being passed by the 18 wheelers or in strong cross winds, or even off the expressway when strong cross winds were encountered. Adding the Dualcam sway control to the Reese WD system, which I already had, took care of most of the sway; but not all.
Manuvering the rig was still not 'comfortable' due to lack of adequate power, strain on the transmission, and the 'soft' suspension of the Tahoe. The suspension of a vehicle is another thing that can allow excess sway. Soooooo, I bit the bullet so to speak and upgraded and now don't have to worry about sway as being a problem.
*This Message was edited on 14-Aug-02 03:16 PM by Kusani*
I am towing at the max for towing capacity and GCVWR. 29' TT. I have an EZLift w/d hitch and one sway control arm. Two questions, does a 2nd sway control make a noticible difference and if you do find yourself loosing control due to sway, what do you do? I've been told to let off the gas and use the brake control to brake just the TT. I have not towed the TT yet except through town. No Fwy yet.