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Old 02-05-2016, 05:14 PM   #31
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I had a 20' home made enclosed car trailer made from a U-Haul truck box. Two mobile home axles with electric brakes. First trip to Road Atlanta towing with a 16 passenger Dodge van. If passed bu a semi while going down hill it would take both lanes on I-85 to keep it on the road. If I would accelerate the entire time, it would stay straight. Bottom of hill @ 80+ mph. Later fixed it by adding leaves to rear leaf springs of van, extending tongue of trailer 4', adding third axle trailer, adding two shocks per wheel on van, converting rear axle of van to dual wheels.
After all that could run 65-70 mph any where any time. Never weighed trailer to van, afraid to. Ah! the thrills of youth.
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Old 02-05-2016, 10:50 PM   #32
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Youroo is correct. Apply the trailer brakes manually while accelerating with the TV. Basically you are stretching the hitch point. That should help to pull the rig straight. Once you have regained control is the time to gradually brake. Braking with the TV will only only amplify the sway especially if the brake controller is set on the light side. You may also have to steer into the slide to keep the TV from coming around.

I have had this happen once on flat open land in Nebraska. I was pulling a single axle 21' camper with a HD everything 3/4 ton 4WD Chevy. It was set up properly with a WDH. A rouge gust of heavy wind came broadside on the driver's side. It literally heaved the camper sideways-and the back of the TV with it. If it had been really windy that day, I may have expected it, but it came out of nowhere. I used the brakes on the trailer, accelerate the TV method and it worked. Heart back in the chest and a little TP and we made it home okay. This is the only time it has ever happened. Phillyg, you can do this if your life depends on it.

Actually, this is something you should practice for because most often the brake controller is hard to reach and learning in a situation is not prudent. Ford is now putting the integrated brake controller at the top of the dash which really make sense. We will be putting one on our E-450 chassis.
I really like the way Ram has located the trailer brake control box. I normally drive with my right elbow resting on the center console. If I want to activate the trailer brake all I have to do is drop my right hand down and there it is.

Don't even have to move my elbow or look for the controller. I've gotten used to the position because I change the power settings a lot depending on the driving conditions (always drop it to the 3 setting during stop and go traffic in town and to zero as soon as I pull in my driveway).
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Old 02-06-2016, 07:30 AM   #33
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I think the best way is to not have sway in the first place !! Buy a good hitch in the first place and do a good setup !! Seems like it's to little truck or not enough hitch. If your going to tow a big trailer with a small SUV you better get a good hitch.
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Old 02-06-2016, 09:54 AM   #34
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I'd advise GENTLE application of the trailer brakes while easing OFF the accelerator and steering in the direction you need to go. You want the trailer to slow everything down. In theory, speeding up should accomplish regaining control BUT, if it doesn't happen that way, the extra speed has just made a dangerous situation even more dangerous. Once the swaying has stopped, you can release the trailer brakes and continue driving. You WILL have an anti-sway device installed, right? Make sure it's properly installed & adjusted.

PS: if you can SAFELY do so, activate the four-way flashers early on to alert other traffic that all is not right with your rig (you DID check all lights were operating before starting the day's drive, didn't you?). Ideally, other motorists will give you some room when they see your flashers activated (of course, this is NOT guaranteed). Remember to cancel the flashers once you've resumed normal operation.

Thinking ahead and planning for the unexpected (but possible) is a sign of a good & responsible driver. Keep up the good work!
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Old 02-06-2016, 11:06 AM   #35
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I think the best way is to not have sway in the first place !! Buy a good hitch in the first place and do a good setup !! Seems like it's to little truck or not enough hitch. If your going to tow a big trailer with a small SUV you better get a good hitch.
This is not black and white. As you may note in our above post, the TV was a very heavy 3/4 ton 4WD, the heaviest build I could get on special order. The WDH and properly set up. The TT was 21'. So all well within limits. We had driven approximately 1,500 uneventful miles until we got broadsided by a very strong wind gust.

If you have ever sailed a boat, a 10-15 MPH wind is enough to sail. At 20-25 MPH, a 21-22 ft trailer sailor will start to lay over pretty good. You may be down to the jib sail. Now, you may have an approaching front and all of a sudden, you have a 35-40 MPH gust. If you can't slack the sails in time, life gets very interesting very quickly. Our son/daughter-in-law had that happen and ended up trying to swim out from under the sails. She is somewhat reluctant to sail now.

A TT is like a fixed sail and you can't change the sail surface or the direction of the wind. If it is strong enough it's going to move you where you may not want to go. Our son is an experienced sailor and the majority of those on this site are experienced RVers. Though you may never experience what some of the others have experienced, Mother Nature may trump the best set up-and you have to contend with it-the best way you know how.
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Old 02-07-2016, 12:22 PM   #36
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It would be a good idea to practice all of the above if you are going to have the need to control sway. Don't wait until you need to perform the actions to try all of it. All professions that need to perform maneuvers like everyone is describing practice them daily or, at least, weekly.

The initial reaction will be to hit the brakes on the tow vehicle and steer unless you have practiced and trained yourself. That is the exact opposite of what you need to do.

I've talked to people weekly who have had trailer sway accidents for the last 19 years.
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Old 02-07-2016, 01:25 PM   #37
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It would be a good idea to practice all of the above if you are going to have the need to control sway. Don't wait until you need to perform the actions to try all of it. All professions that need to perform maneuvers like everyone is describing practice them daily or, at least, weekly.

The initial reaction will be to hit the brakes on the tow vehicle and steer unless you have practiced and trained yourself. That is the exact opposite of what you need to do.

I've talked to people weekly who have had trailer sway accidents for the last 19 years.
You nailed it.
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Old 02-09-2016, 02:58 PM   #38
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The following incident is NOT what you should do with functioning electric brakes, but it should be kept in mind if you ever find yourself with non-functioning trailer brakes.

I've never experienced significant sway, but my Dad did while towing a car hauler. My 2 brothers were with him, my oldest brother's Firebird on the trailer. Post-incident inspection found that the surge brakes were not working at all. So, on a long downhill run, the Econoline's brakes faded out and he could not slow down. Since he had no manual control over the surge brakes (even if they had been working), the trailer was going wherever it wanted.

At it's worst, the trailer was pulling him back and forth across 4 lanes of traffic. It was so bad that the van's bumper had dents from contact with the tongue. He avoided rolling the rig by braking hard ONLY when the trailer was directly behind him. When it started pulling him in 1 direction, he got off the brakes, and hard on the gas. He kept the front wheels always pointed downhill. to keep the trailer from coming in front of him.

He did this all the way down the hill, until he could finally pull over. All traffic had seen what was happening, and backed way off. A semi truck driver stopped to check on them, and said he did not know how he kept it on the road.

The take away for functioning trailer brakes is that once sway starts, you do not want to be on the vehicle brakes (nor releasing the accelerator) until the trailer is back behind the vehicle. For my dad, that was only the case for a split second at a time. If the trailer is actively swaying, and you pull off of the gas without applying trailer brakes, that's the same as applying the truck's brakes. That's why some people advocate slight acceleration.

In the end, I would say keep the gas pedal as it has been while cruising. No more, no less. Apply trailer brakes slowly until trailer is back in line (should happen quickly). Slowly release gas pedal and let the trailer brakes bring you down to 45mph or less. Slowly release trailer brakes.
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Old 02-09-2016, 10:58 PM   #39
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All great advice and I'm glad I asked the question. Having only towed for the last 2 years, I've never experienced a bad sway event and I'm glad all of you who've posted experiences are safe! Hopefully this will help other people who are new to towing!
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Old 02-10-2016, 10:36 AM   #40
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All great advice and I'm glad I asked the question. Having only towed for the last 2 years, I've never experienced a bad sway event and I'm glad all of you who've posted experiences are safe! Hopefully this will help other people who are new to towing!
We all thank you for posting this question. This is a safety issue that all of us should be aware of. It has also brought to the attention of some, that no matter how well the set up, an event out of your control can happen in a heart beat. That is not the time to be asking the question.

Here are a few safety checks that should be performed at least a week or two before a trip. This may help prevent a sway event:
* Initially, set up the TV and the cargo trailer, TT, toad, etc. correctly. There are no shortcuts or economy decisions on this.
* Make sure that both TV and the towed item are in proper mechanical condition.
* At least a week before taking an adventure, check each tire, including sidewalls and treads, for cuts, tread separation, unusual wear. That will mean getting under the unit and inspecting VERY closely.
*Make sure all tires, including spares are aired properly. If there is one that is not holding air, look for the reason and address it. A tire failure on a 2-wheel trailer is almost certain to cause a sway event. If there are four or six trailer wheels on the ground and one goes flat, the remaining tire(s) on that side is carrying extra weight and you have lost the benefit of one brake.
* Jack each wheel off the ground and check for unusual noise while rotating the wheel. Push/pull the wheel from side-to-side to check for a loose or failing wheel bearing. A loose/failed bearing can cause tire wear on the inner tread, can damage the brakes, and can damage an axle. Remember, also, that bearings require interval maintenance.
* Is the trailer break-away battery charged? This is a very small sealed battery and can only take a 2 amp charge. Any more will toast the battery.
* Is the break-away switch and cable in operating condition?
* Check the TV hitch for stress cracks and that the hitch receiver pin is not wearing.
* When loading, make sure the majority of weight (in proportion) is forward of the trailer axle(s).
* Set the gain control on the TV. This may be a consistent setting unless there is a significant change in towed weight.
* Upon leaving the drive, manually engage the brake controller lever to see if the trailer brakes will significantly slow the unit without using the TV brakes.
* With traffic clear behind and at 45-55mph, apply the TV brakes and determine that the unit as a whole smoothly reduces speed without swaying.
* Each time a rest/fuel stop is made, check each tire for pressure and check each wheel hub for excessive heat. Note that the hubs on the sun side will be slightly warmer. Also, do a walk around to make sure everything looks good.
* Be aware of weather and traffic conditions. Take heed of tall vehicle wind warnings and hazardous road conditions.
* Drive looking for danger signals far ahead of you, keep a safe interval, be aware of the 360 degrees around you, and be vigilant of road hazards that can damage a tire. Anticipate what another drive will do. Drivers of average vehicles have no clue as to what we are contending with, will take away the interval and often don't respect the big rigs or the law.
* It is best to travel in the far right lane on a 4-lane because you have the shoulder as a safety lane. On six or more lanes with a lot of merging traffic, it may be best to be over to the left one lane, allowing traffic to merge without having to brake. In large cities where frequent lane changes are required, make the change as soon it is safe-it will be a zoo the closer you get.

For those of you wanting to add/detract from the list, feel free to chime in. Safety on the road is all of our responsibility.
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