What Is Sway Control?
Trailer sway can be caused by crosswinds, poor trailer loading (load being too far back), or inadequate spring bar tension in the weight distribution system. The use of a weight-distributing hitch by itself may help limit trailer sway by evenly distributing the weight of the load, but it will do little to improve sway caused by crosswinds.
To help control sway, a sway-control device is recommended for most standard weight distribution systems. Because sway control is so important, it is built into many systems. If you want to wait to add on a sway control device, you will likely be limited to a bar-style friction sway control. Trailer sway devices come in 2 basic types - those that reduce sway once it has begun and those that work to prevent sway altogether.
Sway control systems that reduce sway typically rely on friction to keep your trailer from shifting, preventing sway from increasing only after it has begun. There are 2 styles of friction sway control systems - independent and dependent.
How Do I Choose a Weight Distribution System?
There are many different types of weight distribution systems on the market, each with different features. But before you can choose which of those features you'd like to have, you must determine which size system will work best for your towing setup. As with any towing component, capacity is key.
A weight distribution hitch will have 2 weight ratings - the gross trailer weight and the tongue weight. In choosing a system, therefore, you must determine the following:
Gross Trailer Weight (GTW) refers to the weight of the fully loaded trailer in its actual towing condition.
· GTW is measured by placing the fully loaded trailer on a vehicle scale.
· Rating of weight distribution system must match or exceed your GTW.
Tongue Weight (TW) refers to the tongue weight of your trailer plus the weight of the cargo that sits behind the rear axle of your vehicle.
· Trailer TW is measured using a tongue weight scale
o Typically, about 10 to 15 percent of GTW
· Weight of cargo behind the rear axle can be measured using a commercial scale
o Weigh vehicle without cargo
o Weigh vehicle with cargo loaded
o Subtract initial weight from weight of loaded vehicle
Tongue Weight (for weight distribution) = trailer tongue weight +vehicle cargo load behind rear axle
The TW rating is the most important factor in determining which size weight distribution system you should use. If the bars of the system you choose are rated too high for your setup, they will create a rigid ride, which can result in a bouncing trailer. If, on the other hand, the bars are not rated high enough, the system will be unable to properly distribute the weight, rendering it virtually useless.