Box Trailers - What Causes a Trailer to Sway on the Highway?

Sometimes, towing a box trailer can be а daunting task even if you are driving into a calm and windy free weather you may experience the delightful sensation of trailer swaying.

Sometimes, towing a box trailer can be а daunting task even if you are driving into a calm and windy free weather you may experience the delightful sensation of trailer swaying.

Trailer sway occurs when the trailer begins to move from side-to-side when there is a force that influences the trailer trajectory, applied to the hitch box. Common factors that can cause this un-pleasant experience are underinflated tires, high speeds, overloading, improper weight distribution, lateral wind and poor trailer design. Luckily, this awkward situation can be avoided.

Box trailer no matter how large it is, light or heavy must be towed properly. Creating a stable ride depends mostly on the weight you are carrying; significant weight will naturally increase the chances for swaying. Keep in mind that there is also a minimum weight limit you must fulfil. In fact if your tongue weight is less than 10% of the total trailer weight may increase the sway motion and move your trailer move side to side.

Understanding weight distribution is an important factor to keep balance and to prevent sudden manoeuvres that may damage your vehicle. The majority of trailers are not designed to have more weight behind the rear of the axle as such the trailer starts swaying like a pendulum around its centre of gravity.

The best way to prevent trailer sway is to check how tight is your tow ball as this can cause the trailer to have excessive movement when being towed or it could also cause the tow ball to loosen all the way and come off. Balancing the trailer during windy weather can be very hard so you need to be careful not to exceed the speed limit as the wind tends to get under the trailer and pushes it from one side to another.

Last but not least, poor trailer design contributes to trailer sway. Unfortunately, we can’t change the design itself but can prevent unpleasant oscillations by reducing the speed limit and prevent the progressive sway.

If trailer sway occurs and you are confronted with strong winds your first reaction should be to slow down the speed as the safest and best was to get your trailer under control. Speed reduction is the best way to gain control of the box trailers when you are experience the forces of wind against the RV. Try to park your car and determine the reason for the sway.

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