This is an example of trailer sway...

Discussion in 'Tow Vehicles, Hitch & Towing' started by JungleJim, Jul 5, 2011.

  1. JungleJim

    JungleJim New Member

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    An example of trailer sway...

    http://www.break.com/index/car-loses-control-from-fishtailing-trailer-2074155
     
  2. fmbhappycamper

    fmbhappycamper PuP Power

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    OMG that is scary
     
  3. Unstable_Tripod

    Unstable_Tripod Well, there's your problem!

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    That video shows just how fast sway can go from a wiggle to disaster!
     
  4. Hyperterex

    Hyperterex Active Member

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    WOW, that's scary
     
  5. dgeddes

    dgeddes Member

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    I think it also shows how crazy those Europeans are... [:D]

    caravan crash
     
  6. natty bumppo

    natty bumppo 2009 F-150,1998 Coleman Westlake

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    The tow vehicle looked a little light to be pulling that load.Once that wobble starts everything gets" iffy".
     
  7. CampCrazyMom

    CampCrazyMom Member

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    I'm a new "hauler". Can you tell me if you can definitely feel the trailer begin to wiggle or sway? Will slowing down eliminate the problem? I've pulled a boat before, but that was behind my grandfather's suburban (and a small boat). Now I'm going to be hauling a large pup behind a small van! Advice, tips, tricks... all appreciated! :)
     
  8. CampCrazyMom

    CampCrazyMom Member

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  9. Unstable_Tripod

    Unstable_Tripod Well, there's your problem!

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    Yes, you can feel it and yes, slowing down will help. Sway feeds on energy and speed is energy. The moment you feel it get your foot off the gas and manually use the brake controller to apply the trailer's brakes. Sometimes two or three applications with brief pauses in between are necessary. Some people think you should step on the TV's brakes right away but I disagree because in one sense sway is the trailer trying to go faster than the TV and hitting the TV's brakes exacerbates that. Try to drive in a straight line because attempts to compensate for the sway in one direction just add energy for the next oscillation in the other direction.
     
  10. Dusty82

    Dusty82 Active Member

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    I watched that happen right in front of me a few years back, not 5 miles from my house. A Toyota pick-up towing a small TT was going up a small hill, hell-bent for leather, doing 70mph. I was the first car behind him, and that's how fast I was going, anyway...

    He got up to the top of the hill just fine, but about the time he got to the top, it started to wiggle just a little bit. That's when he made the mistake - he started riding the brakes down the hill. That wiggle turned into a sway and that sway got more intense like in the first video.

    The hill is about half mile from top to bottom, and I don't think it's more than 4% grade - so it's a relatively short, gentle grade. By the time he got to the bottom of the hill, the trailer was swaying across both lanes of the 2 lane highway, and he stayed on those brakes. By this time he had slowed it down to about 55mph, but he was all over the road doing it. Finally, the trailer swung out wide and spun the pick-up sideways and laid over on its side. It slid a few feet, and the pick-up stayed on all 4 wheels, but only through pure luck.

    I had backed way off by then and was watching helplessly as it flipped onto its side and slid. Of course I and I think 4 other cars behind him stopped to see if everyone was okay. Luckily, nobody was hurt. He was ticketed for reckless driving (it's a 65mph zone, so he was speeding while towing) and it took two wreckers to get the trailer back onto it's wheels, get them straightened out, then haul off the trailer (on a roll-back.)

    I learned 2 things that day - stay off the brakes (use the brake controller, which I don't know if he had or not) and slow the heck down while towing!

    I also learned the the Nevada Highway Patrol has no sense of humor at all when you block both lanes of a 2 lane highway for 4 hours, but that was already a given... [:D]

    Yes you can feel sway, CampCrazyMom. Towing slower to start with will help, but if you feel it, starting to wiggle, stay off the van's brakes if you can. If your pup has brakes, get a brake controller installed in your van and learn how to use it. Just about all controllers have a button, lever, or switch that engages the trailer's brakes without engaging the brakes on the tow vehicle. If the guy I watched lose his trailer had been driving slower and used his brake controller to slow down the trailer instead of the tow vehicle, he most likely would have never flipped it.

    Using the controller to slow the trailer down keeps the trailer from trying to pass the tow vehicle as the tow vehicle brakes are applied. I helped a buddy of mine move a car on a flatbed car hauler one time, and he had to use the controller a couple of times to stop the trailer from wiggling.

    The main cause of sway (not the only cause, but the most common) is having more weight behind the trailer's axle than in front of it. The next most common cause is wind. When you load the pup, put most of the cargo on or in front of the axle(s) and that will help eliminate sway a great deal.
     
  11. thegoodlife

    thegoodlife New Member

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    The first time I experienced trailer sway I was 16 years old. We were heading to Florida for a family camping/ fishing trip. I got volunteered to drive my grandfathers truck and pull his boat. This was my first time pulling a trailer on the road so I was already nervous. Someone pulled out in front of me and allowed the rest of the group to start pulling away from me. I did not want to lose sight of them and get lost so I decided to pass the person that had pulled in front of me. The trailer started swaying as I was moving back over into the lane after passing. I had already been told to let off the gas and do not hit the brakes if the trailer started to sway so that is what I did. Being 16 and no experience pulling a trailer, I should have never been passing anyone and was very lucky that the trailer straightened out just from letting off gas. Thats something I will never forget.
     
  12. jmcclung11

    jmcclung11 Active Member

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    The reason a trailer sways is usually because it is going faster than the tow vehicle. I tow at about 60-65 mph. If the trailer gets a little sway, I speed up first. This will make the tow vehicle faster than the trailer and stop the sway. Then, I gently apply my brakes. This slows both my tow vehicle and the trailer down (since I have electric brakes).

    BUT, if it is major sway, you should NEVER hit your brakes first. You should hit the brake controller manual brake button to slow the trailer down immediately!

    A little something I learned...If there is an 18 wheeler going to pass you, slow down before it gets to you. Then, just before the truck gets to your back bumper (while going to pass you), start speeding up a little. This will help stop the sway caused by the big rigs. Slowly keep accelerating until the big rig is passed. Once mastering this, you should be going at your safe tow speed and shouldn't need to brake or use the brake controller to stop sway.
     
  13. fmbhappycamper

    fmbhappycamper PuP Power

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    good point, 1st instinct is to hit the brakes.
     
  14. CampCrazyMom

    CampCrazyMom Member

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    Have I mentioned that I love this portal??? [:D]

    You've answered my questions & concerns about the pup sway. DH thinks the van will pull 3k-3,500 & pup is 1k less than that. Bringing it home from purchase I had the parents huge Denali w/all the bells & whistles, didn't even feel the pup back there. I towed it to the RV center & home later & knew she was there (driving the Villager). I am confident in my driving abilities because I use my brain. But, if I don't know what to do...how can I do it! So, thank you for all the responses to my question & I hope I haven't interrupted the OP.

    My pup is equipped with the brake system, but the van does not have the wiring for it. My dad bought me the adapter plug that has wiring ready to be hooked in once we get the brake system on the van. Dad's are as great as a popup portal! :)

    After reading this, I will for sure get my van up to date to be safe for the pup before venturing past our 25 mile favorite spot!
     
  15. Spridle

    Spridle Active Member

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    That's a classic video. Sort of puts my little seesawing problem I've been whining about into perspective!
     
  16. mckeapc67

    mckeapc67 New Member

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    I had a trailer sway incident years ago. I was pulling small 10 ft. flatbed trailer with a Mazda pickup. The trailer was improperly loaded / balanced (negative tongue weight) and when it started swaying it quickly got out of hand and swung my truck and the trailer across the road. We ended up facing the opposite direction on the left shoulder. We were lucky in that nobody was hurt. The only serious damage was a dent and hole in the side of the truck bed from jackknifing and a dent in the rear bumper.
     
  17. silvermickey2002

    silvermickey2002 Morris County, NJ

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    We had a friction bar installed when we bought the pup. We drive 65, I admit we will go up to 70 at times on flat highways. But most of the time we are at 65. The friction bar does help, especially when an 18 wheeler blows by you! The pup does not even fishtail a bit with that friction bar. Also making sure to load properly helps!

    One more thing, when making lane changes do it slowly don't jerk the wheel too fast, keep your rig under your control!
     
  18. RonB

    RonB New Member

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    That reminds me of a very frightening experience in my life. However, after a mile or so of less violent oscillation I did mange to get back under control.

    Glad you posted it. Folks here pull trailers and need to see what can happen if you don't pay attention to loading. A Pup can put you out of control just as easily as that trailer did. [!] [!] [!]

    RonB
     
  19. carlr

    carlr New Member

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    I agree with speeding up first to straighten out the trailer and stop the sway. I was taught that many years ago and it works.
     
  20. RonB

    RonB New Member

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    Agree. But then you have to slow down. I got into a pretty violent sway condition years ago with a heavily loaded 16' utility trailer. The problem persisted for more than one mile and most attempts to stop it failed, except accelerating, but that has an inherent problem [:O]. I finally tried gentle acceleration combined with gentle braking of the trailer using the hand lever on the brake control. That got us back below the sway threshold. My next option was the ditch.

    RonB
     

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