Trailer Sway and How to Avoid It

Whether you’ve got the boat or the caravan in tow, trailer snaking, shaking, or swaying is something all towers dread. Caused by a combination of factors both inside and outside your control, there are a few simple things you can do to keep trailer sway at bay.

What causes trailer sway?

Weight distribution

One of the most common reasons for trailer sway is uneven weight distribution and poor packing. If you’re loading up the caravan or the boat, you’ll want to pack all the heaviest loads as close as possible to the axles and never at the very rear of the trailer. If your load is packed incorrectly, any interference while driving can quickly cause a pendulum effect and lead to severe sway and accidents.

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Tyre pressure

Higher tyre pressure will increase wear on the centre of your tyres and lead to a bouncy ride with an increased likelihood of sway. It’s important to frequently check that your tyres line up with the recommended pressure on the compliance plate of your trailer.

To get the most accurate pressure reading, it’s always recommended to wait at least two hours for the tyres to cool.


Most trailer and towing accidents are speed-related. This is because no matter how unevenly your trailer is loaded if you’re driving slowly, you will not sway.

Knowing your trailer, being sensible and driving to the road conditions make sure that you’re staying as safe as possible on the road. When you’re looking to overtake a vehicle ahead, you’ll want to be 100% confident with your vehicle, trailer, and speed to ensure you’re keeping yourself and other vehicles safe.

Loading your trailer with the weight either over the axle/s, or slightly forward to maintain the appropriate weight on the drawbar, will minimise the risk of sway.

How to avoid trailer sway?

There are a few simple steps you can use to reduce trailer sway when you encounter it on the road. Firstly, when you feel your trailer start to sway, avoid steering to correct it. These quick steering movements will often only make things worse.

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Next, reduce your acceleration to minimise the magnitude of trailer oscillations. Slowing down is almost always a helpful step to take when you feel things starting to go awry on the road. Lastly, gently apply the brakes. This will ensure that both the vehicle and trailer sway is aligned.

Using the override feature on the REDARC electric trailer brake controller to apply the caravan brakes independently of the vehicle can also aid in controlling the sway and help you come to a safe stop.

The benefits of an effective brake controller

While there are a few things you can do to prevent trailer sway before you hit the road, factors outside of your control can also be the cause of trailer sway.

This is why you need an effective and reliable trailer brake controller to ensure you’re as safe as possible on the road. Simple to install and operate, the Tow-Pro Elite offers two types of braking in one unit: inertia sensing (proportional) and usercontrolled.

Proportional braking is used mainly for highway driving, where the trailer brakes are applied at a proportional level to the vehicle braking and provide a smooth, safe trailer braking response. The user-controlled mode gives the driver the greatest level of control, allowing you to adjust the brake level up or down, one or two for light braking or up to 10 for full trailer braking.

Featuring a manual override, the remote-control knob can also be pressed in a trailer sway situation to apply the trailer brakes independently of the vehicle brakes. With a range of universal wiring kits, the Tow-Pro can be easily installed at home or by one of REDARC’s certified RedNetwork members around New Zealand.

Made in Australia, the Tow-Pro Elite is backed by REDARC’s in-house customer and technical support and a hassle-free warranty.

Learn more about the Tow-Pro here.

February 2023 - Grant Dixon
New Zealand Fishing News Magazine.
Copyright: NZ Fishing Media Ltd.
Re-publishing elsewhere is prohibited

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