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Old 03-21-2014, 06:43 AM   #1
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How important is sway control?

I have towed plenty of different trailers with my truck, rental travel trailers, utility trailers, car trailers, u-hauls.... I have never used sway control. I have always made sure the trailers were loaded front heavy, and all has been fine.

The new travel trailer I purchased has sway control from the previous owner. However, due to the height of my truck I would need to most likely have a new hitch / ball mount made for the sway control.

I have towed a very similar trailer with no problems, and the little bit I towed the new one (maybe 30 miles) it seems to tow just fine.

So what are your thoughts? Is it worth using the sway control or do you think I'm fine?

Tow vehicle is a 2001 F-250 7.3 auto. 8 inch lift on 37s
Trailer is a 2012 Keystone Passport Express Super Lite. 20'
Hitch setup is OEM receiver with a custom made 12 inch drop ball mount.

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Old 03-21-2014, 07:08 AM   #2
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This is a good question. I got it for our old 27' TT because I couldn't completely control where weight would be and while one slide was mostly over the axle, the rear bedroom had one too. The tanks were also center to rear, so if I didn't have a lot of stuff to put in the front, it'd end up without much weight on the ball. If you're able to keep weight on the front, then it shouldn't be a big deal. Never know until you need it though.

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Old 03-21-2014, 07:16 AM   #3
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Sway is determined by alot of factors and you really don't know if you are suseptible to it until you match the truck and trailer and get out on the road for some tests.

Generally speaking though, you have a very heavy large truck with a long wheelbase and a relatively light, short trailer (I'm assuming a tandem axle too?). I think you are probably just fine on the ball hitch without anything else. The wild card is your truck is lifted. Not sure what effect, if any, that has on the equation.

If your trailer were alot longer, I'd say you'd probably need sway control. Heavier on the tongue, you might need some weight distribution depending on how much compression you are seeing on the rear suspension.
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Old 03-21-2014, 07:46 AM   #4
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Ok, it seems like we are all agreeing here. Yeah, the lift is not ideal for towing, but the tires are stiff sidewall so I get no sway there, and I had the hitch designed to create a slight forward lean of the trailer. I am also going to be designing a mount for the trucks spare tire on the front A-frame. That will help move another 130 lbs to the front of the trailer. The water holding tank is ahead of the axles on the trailer, (yes it is a dual axle setup) so with that full it helps even more.

I wish the truck had a longer wheelbase, but we cant have everything. That 1200lb 7.3 over the front axle helps though.

I did tow a rental back from Pocono last year and with the black and grey tanks almost full, and water tank empty, that made a big change. Just shows how much it matters to get the weight forward of the axles.
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Old 03-21-2014, 04:37 PM   #5
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A friend has a lifted F250 w/ 35 or 37s and tows a 30' TT and has no problem BUT he has to use a WDH for his with sway control. The shorter 20' trailer you have may not need sway or WDH. He is a welder at CSX and opted to purchase a REESE drop hitch since they have done more safety research for the hitch he could have made himself, but he said "since my family is involved - I can put the liability on someone besides me IF anything failed." SO, all I can say is be careful on how much you add to the weight the hitch has to carry.

Since the title of the thread is "How important is sway control?" I would like to answer for other readers of this thread. The OP sounds like he knows how to load a trailer and tow. Many regulars know too, but I'd like to point out why Travel Trailers sway more than other trailers. Travel Trailers tend to weigh less than trailers of the same length designed for other uses and people think they can be towed by the family sedan, SUV, or light truck "JUST BECAUSE the vehicle GVWR is higher than the published weight".

Lets start out with OTHER trailers first; Light utility trailers - long tongue and axle back, not centered helps keep sway down. Extremely overloaded may sway. Motorcycle/enclosed trailers - long tongue and axle towards the rear 1/3 of trailer. Same here, extremely overloaded may sway, normal use shouldn't. Car haulers/ flat bed trailers - weight over the axles and slightly forward because of deck length and axle placement. People usually know the weight of what they are putting on them and tow with a proper tow vehicle. Equipment trailers - usually have specialty tow pintle hook up and are not generally behind light vehicles.

Now, Travel Trailers - different lengths, weights, designs, and builds. Lots of inexperienced towers buy and try to tow and get sway. WHY? Light trailer and LONG and weight not always over axles. Refrigerators, food in them, pantries, food in them, water heaters (6 gallon normal x 8# = 48#) and storage cubby holes are quite often NOT over the axles. Lots of weight towards the ends of the trailer. Get the weight moving side to side away from the axles and sway is intensified. Using too small of a TV and it can't absorb the sway. Sway control (friction or cam or other designs) helps absorb and stop the continued side to side movement. Keeps the tail from wagging the dog.
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Old 03-23-2014, 06:05 PM   #6
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I have not used any mechanical sway control and have not had a problem, but both my TVs have E-sway control. You have a small trailer and if you run a lot of tongue weight and the trailer is a little nose-down, it should be fine. Just make sure you have enough "drop" on your ball mount to overcome the lift. Some of those big drop ball mounts are not particularly strong or well made.
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Old 03-23-2014, 07:21 PM   #7
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I've been towing trailer of all types and sizes for nearly 20 years. I've never had sway control and never needed it.
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Old 03-23-2014, 09:51 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by KD4UPL View Post
I've been towing trailer of all types and sizes for nearly 20 years. I've never had sway control and never needed it.
So have I. Its all about proper loading. But RV Trailers are hard to distribute the load properly. So sway control might be required to center the load. But not to depend to much on it because unlike load distribution its very unpredictable.
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Old 03-23-2014, 10:15 PM   #9
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One thing you should consider is.....it only takes one moment to possibly end your life and your family's and someone else's. Be safe use sway control!!
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Old 03-23-2014, 10:48 PM   #10
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You do not need a sway control until that one brief moment that the RV is hit by a sudden gust from a mountain pass or passing truck. At that moment in time, you can not stop and magically apply a sway control.

The best thing to do is get a weight distributing hitch with the integral sway control...like a Reese Dual Cam Straightline.

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Old 03-23-2014, 10:54 PM   #11
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Ken, could not agree more. I have the Reese Dual Cam on mine and it is great! 40 mph side wind and no sway!
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Old 03-24-2014, 05:40 AM   #12
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All good advice.

The hitch I have is way overbuilt, so Im not worried about any breakages there. But there is obviously quite a bit of multiplication in forces when you use such a large drop hitch. I dont think I would want to tow anything bigger just for that reason.

I was looking at the sway control setup that came on the trailer, It looks like I just need a bigger drop for it to work. It is a bolt on design to a solid square tube drop L bracket. However the one it came with is only probably about 3 inches. So I will have to see if they make a bigger one. If I can use it I will, just not sure how easy it is to adapt to this truck.
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Old 03-24-2014, 06:26 AM   #13
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This idea has not been mentioned but after having three TT's I believe it deserves some consideration.

Consider that most TT's have straight axles. When one tire in this type of set up hits a hole/bump it transfers movement to the other wheel as well. So you hit a bump raising the axle which causes the TT to move the opposite direction. That is the beginning of sway. Much information that was posted lists the many variable factors that affect the ability to control or eliminate trailer sway. That was good information and should lead to a better understanding of the problem.

Back to hitting a bump. If TT's had shock absorbers properly installed when the bump that might lead to trailer sway is properly dampened it has to lessen the ability of the TT to go into uncontrolled sway. To put it simpler: anything done to dampen the movement of the TT from wind,bumps, dips, semi's etc will to some degree effect the TT sway. Shock absorbers are intended to dampen the suspension movement. ALL suspensions (leaf, coil, torsion) will bounce. The bouncing will continue until it is gone or dampened. All that oscillating is either converted into heat by a shock or transferred to the TT.

Our first TT had straight axles and I correctly installed shocks. It improved the handling of the TT a great deal. The second and third TT had Dexter's Tor-Flex axles with independent axles and we traded it for our WBGO MH before I had a chance to install shocks.

Several individuals have mentioned this fact on several threads that I have been involved with over the years. "Many know which TT pulls the best and that's an Air Stream and they come with shocks."

Yes they are more aerodynamic but my years of experience in this field also tells me that shocks play a good part in it as well.

One more piece of information regarding straight axles. Years ago I had a 1953 GMC pick-up with a straight axle in the front. The first drive with it was all white knuckle. The straight axle was awful. I had a very difficult time keeping it on the road. I had a worn out set of radials at the shop. I installed them and it was 2 finger driving all the way home. I was amazed at the handling difference between bias and radials. I would not have believed the difference had I not experienced it myself.

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Old 03-24-2014, 06:30 AM   #14
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Its funny that you mention that because I was just discussing that with a friend of mine. How did you do the install? is there a kit or did you measure and figure it out on your own?

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