Is a sway bar necessary for a short travel trailer?

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Dear Gary,
I am a newbie to RVing. I just purchased a used 22-foot Prowler travel trailer and I am towing it behind my F-250. My question is, do I need a sway bar? I am getting mixed messages, mostly leaning towards not needing one. —Tami W.

Dear Tami,
I am a firm believer in both a weight distributing hitch AND a sway control when towing any travel trailer. Even with shorter trailers you will find the addition of a sway control device to be beneficial.

The hitch assembly is the most crucial connection between tow vehicle and trailer so it just makes good sense to have as much advantage at that connection as possible.

You’ll no doubt hear others state it’s not needed on the shorter towables, but I can show you a bunch of photos of wrecked units that the owners wished they would have gone that little bit extra. Call it cheap insurance (relatively speaking, of course), but it will certainly add to the safety margin.


Also, be very sure all components within the hitch assembly – receiver, ball mount, spring bars, etc. – are rated for the loaded weight of the trailer and that all parts are set up properly. There are certain procedures for proper setup and most are published online. But my number one rule is, never compromise the safety factor!

 gary-736Read more from Gary Bunzer at the RVdoctor.com. See Gary’s videos about RV repair and maintenance.

##RVT891

 


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Mike Sherman
Mike Sherman

I have owned several TTs. It got old going through all the trouble of connecting to that little ball. Going to a 5th wheel greatly improved my attitude and makes driving now a pleasurable experience.

Lisa
Lisa

We own a toy hauler of a similar length to the one in the article, pulled with a substantial vehicle, a diesel F250. My husband was ready to sell the trailer after the first long trip because of handling issues. It ended up in the shop for other reasons, and the shop suggested sway/load management. I figured it was a cash grab, especially after hearing the price — but my husband said it was that or a for-sale sign, so we got it. The ride with it was so different, he was almost in tears. I shudder to think that… Read more »

George B
George B

I had a 24 ft travel trailer behind a 3/4 ton and never had a huge problem. I then went to a 36 ft travel trailer and it was white knuckle until I got the anti-sways bars (I put on two) which made a whole lot of difference. However, if the road is wet or snowy you might not want to keep the adjustment on the anti-sway bars set up too high. If they’re too tight it restricts the ability of the tow vehicle to turn and can cause the front wheels of the tow vehicle to understeer. Best bet… Read more »

Wolfe
Wolfe

Considering the horrible life-changing penalties for an accident, don’t gamble or skimp if you have ANY doubt of the safety. Doing it right won’t hurt, unlike the alternative. Cliff: auto levelling does only what it says, compensating for load/tongue weight by lifting/stiffening the rear suspension…but it can’t help that you’re offweighting your front axle which does all the steering and most of your braking. You could have bad control issues. Spring load leveling bars level the tow by applying torque through the hitch, mostly restoring proper axle weight ratios by “trying” to arch the tow/trailer. Use them with any trailer… Read more »

Keira Bianchi
Keira Bianchi

We had an outdoor expedition company that used up to 24 tow vehicles, each with a trailer. We taught each of the drivers to load the trailers properly, and had sway control bars on about half of the rigs. We did not notice a difference in sway with the sway bars on. What we did notice is that when Jerry drove any of the rigs, we would have sway scares occasionally. When John drove the same rigs, he never had any sway problems. We taught Jerry how to keep the steering wheel steady, and the sway problem disappeared. We had… Read more »

Cliff Aichinger
Cliff Aichinger

I have a 22 foot travel trailer and find it very beneficial to have a sway control bar on my unit.

An additional question I have is…I recently purchased a new Chevy Tahoe with automatic load leveling. Should I continue to use my load leveling bars on my hitch system or just use my sway control?