One time, when I was transporting my camper, I was a little frightened when I could feel the body of my vehicle tilting to the other side when I took a turn on a curvy road. Someone told me to get a sway bar, and it got me thinking about whether it’s really necessary? Do you need a sway bar to pull a camper?
The short answer is yes. A sway bar helps control the weight shift when entering a corner. It diminishes the sway for a small camper, providing a better ride and towing experience.
Let’s learn more about this wonderful suspension tool below.
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What Are Sway Bars and How They Work
A sway bar is a wide-shaped bar with parallel ends. It’s equipped with a torsional design that springs back into place whenever it gets twisted. This type of suspension bar always keeps its shape no matter how much load it pulls.
These travel trailer stabilizer bars make towing safe and manageable when making turns.
The sway bar is fixed to the arms that link to your vehicle’s body. When the body begins to lean on one side, the sway bar twists and pulls to the other side. This helps keep the vehicle flat to the road surface, improving handling and stability.
Are Sway Bars Necessary
Technically, towing camper without sway bars is possible, but using an RV sway bar makes a big difference in comfort and safety. These trailer sway bars improve grip on the road and keep the wheels aligned, creating a firmer hitch point between your travel trailer and tow vehicle.
When the weather gets cruel, sway bars are greatly needed as they make the towing experience more manageable. You don’t need to exert much effort to battle the large gusts of wind that can push your vehicle sideways.
Also, the crosswinds from passing vehicles won’t stir your camper when using sway bars for towing as they help level the whole vehicle.
However, this RV sway control bar will only work when there’s a twisting movement. When both tires hit something at a similar force, there’s no need for a sway bar.
Is Stiffer Always Better
That depends on your preference. Stiffer sway bars are the best for vehicles that tow loads. They offer more resistance to counteract the sway. For a stock daily driver, increasing the stiffness may create extra pressure on the tires, causing traction loss.
An aftermarket sway bar is stiffer and lighter than stock sway bars. In most cases, it’s going to enhance the handling of the vehicle. RV drivers love this improvement as it offers adjustments to driving dynamics, leading to a more neutral vehicle handling.
The desired stiffness of the sway bar depends on your specific vehicle.
- If you drive on a front-wheel drive vehicle, integrate a stiffer rear sway bar to minimize understeer (a case where the rear tires overpower the front tires).
- For a rear-wheel drive vehicle, add a stiffer front sway bar to minimize oversteer.
- If you have an all wheel drive vehicle, consider installing a stiffer rear sway bar to prevent understeering. A stiffer front sway bar will help reduce oversteering.
Stiffer sway bars don’t always mean better. Using an overly stiff rear sway bar in a front- wheel drive vehicle can cause oversteer and make it more challenging to drive. The key is to find the right balance.
Sway Bars Vs Weight Distribution Hitch
You might think that sway bars and weight distribution systems are the same, but they’re not. They do have a common goal, and that is to make a ride smoother and safer.
A weight distribution system helps improve steering control and braking capabilities when coupling your camper to your tow vehicle. The addition of a weight distribution system spreads some of the vehicle weight back to the tow vehicle’s front axle and increases tow ratings for longevity.
Poor loading, large rigs, and high winds are among the causes why your camper might sway back and forth. To reduce the risk of sway, you might need a trailer anti sway bar.
Unlike the weight distribution system, you need to remove the sway bar before backing the trailer into place.
If you want the best of both worlds, look for a sway bar with a weight distribution hitch, like the Equal-i-zer.
Finding the Right Sway Bars for Camper
There are many things to consider when choosing a suitable anti-sway hitch for a camper. This includes size, type, and material.
- Material: Most sway bars are made either of steel or aluminum. To ensure durability, choose steel over aluminum as it’s stronger and harder. Even when exposed to heat, steel won’t warp or deform easily.
- Convenience: You want a camper sway bar kit that’s easy to use and install.
- Size: Make sure that the sway bar fits just right with your hitch and weight limits. Also, consider the total weight of your setup, including the vehicle’s towing capacity. You want a sway bar that won’t weigh down your vehicle.
- Type: Sway bars are available in two main types – friction and dual cam. Friction sway bars are perfect for towing small trailers, while the dual cam type is more reliable for big vehicles. The latter also maintains its performance abilities in all weather but is more expensive.
Installing a Sway Bar for Travel Trailer
The sway bar installation is quite easy, as long as you have the right tools like wrenches and a drilling machine.
- Step 1: Connect the camper to the tow vehicle. Mount the sway bar to the hitch and make sure that the shaft aligns with the tow vehicle’s tow bar. Apply the supplied lock washer and nuts to secure the shaft of the sway bar.
- Step 2: Mark a point on the trailer tongue, following the sway bar’s instructed measurements. The standard point is around 24 inches from the coupler.
- Step 3: Mark four hole locations on the plate.
- Step 4: Drill holes on the marked points of the trailer tongue. Tighten the ball’s bolts with the socket set to connect the sway bar to the plate.
- Step 5: Lubricate the sway ball with oil, then lock the bar in place and calibrate properly.
Watch how to install a sway bar on your travel trailer in this video.
So, do you need a sway bar to pull a camper? Definitely, if you want better braking abilities and faster acceleration when taking a turn. A sway bar will make your camper steady even when you take a turn down a curvy road or in a windy environment.
Let us know your experience with sway bars in the comment section below. If you like this article, please share it with your friends.
Okay, so I’m Philip Lopez. I join Riverside Trailer as an editor, where I will be doing research for both content and reviews. I contribute to studies aimed at understanding the most typical problems encountered by RVers on the road. I also keep up with the newest RVing gadget innovations so that I can promptly evaluate and recommend the best options.