How to Safely Tow Your Travel Trailer With A Weight Distribution and Sway Hitch.
Camping, One last great adventure. For some of us, we started camping with the family in a small dome tent, then to a larger family cabin tent. Once we exhausted the tenting avenues, we decided it was time to move to the travel trailer. First, we started with a small used Scamper that we spent time remodeling. Under 20’, this small and light camper was a great item to learn the ins and outs of camper towing.
Do I need a trailer weight distribution hitch with Trailer Sway Control when I tow my RV? The answer is Yes. The Trailer Weight Distribution Hitch when hooked to your travel trailer will help to spread the weight of your trailer off the tongue and hitch to the front of your tow vehicle. This reallocation of trailer weight puts weight on the front wheels that will increase steering control and increase braking capacity. Also it lowers the front of the vehicle so you’re not looking at the stars when you drive.
Additionally, trailer sway control, coupled with your trailer weight distribution hitch will help to our travel trailer from moving side to side, creating that dreaded “S” feeling when you’re towing. This RV Sway Bar uses friction to keep the trailer from the swaying motion.
Even with this little home on wheels, the previous owner had supplied the unit with a hitch stabilizer and trailer sway bar. This RV Stabilizer wasn’t difficult to attach when you back up and hitch and tow your trailer away. On the road, you could feel that the trailer sway control made a tremendous difference in how the travel trailer pulled on the road. I did experiment with and without the RV Stabilizer to see how great the difference. Yes, just to say it, the Trailer Sway Control made a great improvement to the trailers travel.
Since, we have moved up the line over the years, we’ve had a 30’ and a 40’ travel trailer. Here, these travel trailer weight distribution hitch and trailer sway bar control system are worth their weight. The main objective with these hitch stabilizer systems is to make your trailer a solid part of the tow vehicle. Combined, the best weight distribution hitch will minimize the see-saw effect of the travel trailer bobbing up and down. The RV Swing Bar keeps the trailer from swaying side to side so together the effect is a much safer and manageable ride in your tow vehicle.
Other major items to consider to help improve your towing ride, in addition to the RV Sway Bar and best Weight Distribution Hitch, you should consider how your pack the weight in your trailer. You should have between 10 – 15% of your trailers Gross Vehicle Weight on the tongue at the hitch. This means that the heavier items in your gear should be stored in the front of the trailer. The rule is 60/40. I mean that 60% of your carrying weight should be in the front and 40% in the back. Travel Trailers are designed with weight distribution in mind, so typically heavier appliance items will be located over the wheels. Also keep in mind where you fresh-water tank is located. These items can affect the way your travel trailer goes down the road. If you tank is in the back, then you may not want to hitch and tow with a full tank of fresh water.
One last item to consider when packing your travel trailer is the rear bumper. Many trailers provide you with a bumper rack where you can also store items. Be careful not to overload this rack. If you do, you will be removing weight from the hitch and tow point on the tongue of the trailer. Heavy items like generators, blocks and loaded coolers should be stored in your tow vehicle. These items will ensure you have the amount of weight where it needs to be. If all the weight is at the back of the trailer, and you don’t have enough hitch and tow tongue weight, the trailer will feel like it is floating, very similar to the sway feeling.
Just a final reminder, check your tire pressures on the trailer and the tow vehicle. Improper tire pressures can also give you a wild ride. Over inflated tires are just as bad as under inflated tires, causing a floating feeling in the tow vehicle and adds a sway to the travel trailer.
Now, the trailer weight distribution hitch is our first consideration as this best weight distribution hitch will also include some form of trailer sway bar control. This increase in control provides you with a more comfortable and safer ride. However, there are some other key items you can do to further increase the safety of your ride.
So, other items that you can do to improve your ride while towing your Travel Trailer.
· Make sure your personal Gear is secure. Anything that can topple over or roll around inside the camper while your towing will only help to increase sway in the trailer.
· Properly inflated tires on the tow vehicle and the camper you’re towing is a great way to help trailer sway control. Now is also the time to check the condition of your Travel Trailer Tires.
· Keep items on any significant weight to a minimum on the trailer bumper rack at the back of the trailer.
· If your fresh-water tank is at the back of your trailer, you may consider not filling it to capacity. This item will help keep the majority of the weight on the Hitch Stabilizer Ball. Remember the rule of thumb is to have 60% of your weight toward the front of the trailer with 40% at the back.
· Heavier personal gear should be stowed in the front storage compartment. These compartments are provided for this reason and to help you keep the majority of weight on the tongue of the trailer.
· Tongue weight should be 10% to 15% of the Total Gross Vehicle Weight. This means packed and ready to go.
· Be sure to install you camping mirrors to your towing vehicle. If your vehicle doesn’t come with this option, you can purchase after market models that telescope out. You can also purchase trailer towing mirrors that simply attach over your regular outside mirrors. Just note, most of these work well, but you should purchase a model designed for your specific vehicle.
· Make sure your back-up camera is working properly. Most units today, if one is not installed, are wired for this very useful and popular option. Not only does it help you on the road to navigate lane changes and the such, but they are very helpful when backing the trailer and setting up. You can find many options online that you can install in your RV at an affordable price.
· Remember, no one is allowed to ride in your travel trailer when it is being towed.
· Check your backup lights and turn signals to be sure you are good to go for the road trip.
These items are a short list of top things to consider before you backup to your travel trailer and set out for the weekend. While all of these items will help, you still need to know that a trailer weight distribution hitch is at the top of the list for additional items that will make for a safer journey. These best weight distribution hitches come in many sizes and are rated by the number of pounds of tongue weight.
The easiest way to calculate this weight is to take % of the loaded weight of your camper. A 9000 pound trailer will need a trailer weight distribution hitch rated for at least 900 pounds. Keep in mind that you want to size your RV Stabilizer distributing hitch to the weight of your RV. If you go to large on the weight distributing hitch, then your ride will be very stiff. It can be so stiff that the trailer actually bounces down the road, causing another unsafe situation. If you go too light on the camper towing hitch and trailer sway bar assembly, It will provide little additional stability and the trailer with still sway.
Manufacturers like Reese Weight Distribution Hitches, Husky Hitches, Curt and Eaz-Lift are some of the more popular and quality options on the market today for trailer weight distribution hitch and sway control. These manufacturers all offer many varieties of products covering different trailer weights. While weight distribution is key, these manufacturers also offer hitch assemblies that will offer you Sway Control Only. This option is good if you a trailer that is perfectly sized for your tow vehicle and is automatically spreading the weight to the front axels. However, for the additional $100 to $150 it is more that worth it to be on the safe side, especially if you plan on putting long miles on your trailer.
With a properly sized RV stabilizer System that distributes weight and reduces sway, you can now hit the road with confidence. Remember, even if you have the best weight distribution hitch and RV Swing bar assembly, you still need to be conscious of your traveling speed. Unlike cross winds and fellow cars and campers on the road, you can control your speed to make you journey safe.
I’ve spent many miles on the highways, some towing and some not, but either way I’ve tried to stay safe. I have witnessed in person what can happen to a travel trailer when trailer sway caused by a cross wind creates a bad environment. In 2 instances, I have witnessed the travel trailer swing around and actually stop in front of the tow vehicle. In both of the situations, the travel trailers were destroyed. All I can stress is to take safety to the top. Check our above punch list before you hit the road and make sure you install your weight distributing and sway control hitch. Happy Camping
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