Why Does my Trailer SWAY??


At Savannah Campers & Trailers we want you to have the safest possible time while towing. One of the worst things that can happen when you’re towing is the potential for your trailer to sway precariously back and forth. If left untreated this can eventually lead your trailer to tipping and causing damage to you, your vehicle and others on the road. To help you get to grips with trailer sway we have put together this little piece to help you stay safe.

Trailer sway is a serious and common issue for many trailer owners, and it can make driving and transporting your trailer a sticky, anxiety-inducing affair where you can potentially lose control of your vehicle. When you’re on the road for long periods, especially, you should be able to drive with your trailer at relative ease. Trailer sway can be caused by gusts of wind, or the passing of trucks, but can also be caused by a multitude of things that you can fix yourself.

1. Not enough tongue weight

10 to 12 percent of the trailers weight must be on the tongue (where it hitches to your vehicle). This is the most common cause for trailer sway. For example, if the gross weight of your trailer is 1000kgs pounds, the tongue weight on the hitch should be about 100 kgs. Remove some items or redistribute the weight as necessary. Place heavier cargo at the front of the trailer, center the cargo left-to-right, and use reinforcements to tie down the cargo and prevent them from moving around.

2. Tyres

Make sure both your vehicle and your trailer have corrected air pressure. Also check to see that they are exactly the same size when inflated. If your tyres are distorted this can be a major cause of trailer sway.

3. Load capacity

Do not overload your trailer. Make sure to keep to the manufacturer’s instructions when loading your trailer. Do not go over the weight as these weight limits have been tested under all conditions to keep you safe. Although it may seem your trailer can hold the weight easily while parked, the forces generated while driving are completely different.

4. Install a friction sway control device

They reduce the effects of sudden gusts of wind and sharp turning by applying resistance to the trailer and vehicle with respect to each other. They are available in three different styles and should be used in trailers that have a low tongue weight percentage. For trailers that are over 2500 kgs, sway control devices should be attached to each side of the trailer hitch.

5. Avoid windy conditions

If you can. But if you can’t, here are some tips for safe driving in these conditions.

  • Gradually reduce speed when experiencing trailer sway–do not slam on the brakes.
  • Steady the steering wheel–do not make sudden turns, and do not try to steer out of a sway situation.
  • Do not increase speed, since higher speeds make trailer sway more severe.
  • Stop to evaluate the cause of the sway. It’s not a good idea to take a trailer on the road if you know that it’s suffering from a swaying problem.

When you’re towing hundreds of kilos of weight, safety on the road should be a priority. Depending on the state and composition of your trailer, combined with the right conditions, things can get sour fast. If you have issues with trailer sway, keep these tips in mind, and be safe out there.

If you need a hand sorting out a new trailer, come in and speak to our friendly staff at Savannah Campers & Trailers we are very happy to help you out with all your towing needs. You can also check out our range  of Trailers online. Our full range of trailers are designed for the Australian conditions. Whether you need single axle, tandem or our specialty trailers for motorbikes or the tradesman top trailer, we have something for all purposes.

Now that you know a little more about the causes and antidotes to trailer sway you should be able to confidently get all your towing done safely.