when sway happens

Sway often happens if your hitch is not set correctly or the weight in your trailer is incorrectly proportioned.  Looking closely at these two things can reduce the likelihood of sway enormously. 

Constantly monitoring your mirrors and always be on the alert for large trucks passing can assist you in being prepared.  When being passed by a large truck, keep both hands on the wheel and maintain your speed.

When you find yourself in the situation where the trailer behind you developes a sway for whatever reason, the main thing to remember is don't panic.  Quick controlled response is important, but do not react suddenly.

Here are some specific points to note when you find yourself in this situation -

- your first reaction may be to slam on the brakes.  Don't !  Applying the brakes will only make it worse.

- don't try to steer out of it.  By the time you turn the steering wheel one way to steer out of it, the trailer is already swinging in the other direction and gaining momentum with each of your steering movements.  Hold the wheel as steady as you can and try to stay in your lane.  You may find yourself "all over your lane", but staying contained within the lane will assist other traffic around you.


- this is where practising applying your hand assisted brake controller will pay off.  G-e-n-t-l-y apply the brakes using the controller.  This will apply braking to the trailer only and therefore straighten it behind you.  It is impossible to lock the trailer brakes using this method, so it is the safest reaction in a panic situation.  If you can do so safely, also apply a little foot pad braking, but only if you feel you have control of the situation and will not panic by doing so.

- Try to slow down gradually. Without taking your foot off the gas, just back off a little. If you find the sway becoming worse as you are slowing, follow the next tip on accelerating.

- The main thing the trailer is doing in this situation is trying to pass you.  Unable to do this because of the hitch, the energy is passed side to side.  If you are confident that your rig is stable at higher speeds, give it a little gas.  If your trailer easily sways at low speeds it certainly won't help by accelerating.  Hopefully you have driving quite a few miles in the past with your trailer and know it's capabilities and quirks.  This is when people refer to experience.  Knowledge is experience.

other articles that may interest you
towing terms
tow hitch
weight ratings
backing up
trailer tires
tow vehicle
weight distribution
scale weights
trailer wiring
trailer towing
tongue weight
trailer sway
loading the trailer
general maintenance