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How to Use Anti-Sway Bars on a Travel Trailer Properly

how to use anti-sway bars on a travel trailer

Heavy gusts of wind can be dangerous to your vehicle because they can roll it into corners. If you like to keep your camper safe, you’ll enjoy the benefits of an anti-sway bar. But how to use anti-sway bars on a travel trailer?

You’ll need to install and hook up the anti-sway bar properly. Make some certain adjustments to improve the performance and unhitch it safely. Even if you have these bars installed, practice safe driving and load balance management.

Learn the basics of anti-sway bars below.

Installing Sway Bars for Camper

trailer-anti-sway-bar

Anti-sway bars can be installed on the vehicle’s frame or on the hitch and tongue. Here are instructions on how to install a standard friction sway control unit. You’ll need a sway control unit, some lubrication, a marker, and a screwdriver.

  • Connect the travel trailer to your tow vehicle. Align these two units to a level surface.
  • Using the necessary hardware, mount the sway control ball to the hitch. Torque to 100 lb-ft and rack up the mounting bar if necessary.
  • Measure 24 inches from the midpoint of the hitch ball and mark it with a pen. Remember this mark because you’ll need to align it to the center of the ball assembly.
  • Once done, punch four holes on the trailer tongue with the most suitable drill bit.
  • Place the ball assembly over the holes and apply screws.

Watch how to install sway control in this video.

Hooking Up the Sway Bar

  • Put some grease or a drop of oil on both balls. Place the socket of the slide bar over the ball and keep it steady with a spring clip. Loosen the handle.
  • Pull the sway control assembly and place the socket over the mounted ball on the trailer. Fasten the setup with another clip.
  • Tighten the handle. Make it tight until the handle aligns with the main body.

Taking Proper Adjustments

One of the concerns in using a trailer anti sway bar is how tight it should be to work properly? Should I tighten it as much as I can, then rewind half a turn, or leave it at that position?

Your goal is to keep the sway at a minimum, so keeping the bar pretty tight might be a good solution. However, you want to leave a little room for movement, so backing off half a turn can also suffice.

Now, other RVers like to leave the anti-sway bar fairly loose to minimize noise.

If you want to be sure of the adjustments, do a road test:

  • With your loaded trailer, try the sway control at the initial force setting.
  • Next, turn the adjusting bolt to increase or decrease the tension. Continue doing this until you have found the desired control.

The bottom line is, it’s your call. For more detailed instructions, refer to the manufacturer’s manual of your hitch.

Unhooking The Sway Control

When you need to replace or refine the anti-sway bars, you have to unhook them safely. Unhitching the sway control can be pretty easy.

  • Turn on/off the handle counterclockwise.
  • Remove the two clips, then the sway control.

For a hitch with sway bars, the unhooking process can be a little complex. You’ll need to loosen the sway bar, then take it out. Next, unlock the ball latch and take down the tongue jack.

This will allow you to lift the tongue and take out the weight bars.

Tip When Using Trailer Stabilizer Bars

  • Avoid painting or lubricating the slide bar.
  • Sway typically occurs at high speeds. When sway happens while driving, don’t speed up. Instead, stop the vehicle and determine the cause of the sway and make corrections, like checking the load and making necessary adjustments.
  • Even if you use a sway bar, secure your belongings by tying them down to avoid weight distribution changes.
  • Consider adding an electronic tow control monitor to provide the right amount of brakes automatically.

What Causes Sway and How to Prevent It

Below are the factors that cause your travel trailer to sway.

  • Gusts of wind
  • A hitch fixed behind the rear axle
  • Curvy roads, especially when you take a turn
  • Out-of-proportion load

What are your first lines of defense?

  • Load your travel trailer properly. Put heavy items on the floor, facing the axle to avoid unnecessary sway and instability. Distribute the load evenly from side to side to prevent shifting.
  • Tongue weight less than 10% may cause sway. Try to load heavier on the front.
  • Avoid steering abruptly. Take it slow to put less strain on your trailer.

If you want the best method to eliminate dangerous sway, use an anti-sway bar.

How Do Sway Bars Work on a Trailer?

trailer-stabilizer-bars

Anti-sway bars help make your RV stable. They use the RV weight to prevent the vehicle from moving from side to side. Each bar on the side keeps the vehicle steady amidst heavy winds and rocky roads.

In other words, these bars help provide more maneuverability to your RV.

There are three main types of anti-sway bar systems, and each works differently.

  • Dual Cam – This sway control system has bars connected to your trailer’s frame and swing bars. It features some cams to hold onto either side of your trailer, keeping it from swaying before it starts to happen. When the trailer turns, the cams unlock to allow movement.
  • Weight Distribution Hitch – While dual cams work best on large trailers, this type of hitch suits best for small tongue trailers. The sway bars attached to the hitch transfer the weight of the trailer to the rear part. They often come with a spring system to spread the weight and reduce the swaying.
  • Friction Sway Control Bars – As their name implies, these bars use friction to keep your vehicle from moving side-to-side. This kind of sway control is cost-effective, but it entails a lot of work. You need to remove this unit each time you back up or drive on slippery roads.

An anti-sway bar isn’t recommended for travel trailer with surge brakes because they lack the sensitivity to adjust like electric brakes.

Conclusion

Getting on the road is a truly complex job because you’ll need to deal with heavy gusts of wind and curvy roads. To improve your safety, you’ll need to know how to use anti-sway bars on a travel trailer. These stabilizers will help keep your vehicle steady and make your driving smooth.

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