Understanding Weight Distribution And Sway Control

Understanding Weight Distribution And Sway Control

Weight Distribution

When a caravan or trailer is connected to a vehicle, there is an inevitable addition of weight to the rear of the vehicle. The added weight can alter the handling of the vehicle due to the imbalance of weight from the front to the rear.

This can pose serious safety concerns, especially at high speeds. Less weight over the front axle reduces braking efficiency and steering control, and combined with the added weight at the rear, can cause the vehicle to lose control. Additionally, head lamps are thrown out of alignment and fuel use & tyre wear can dramatically increase.

Weight Distribution Hitches have been designed to address these problems by restoring even balance across all axles of the vehicle and trailer. Their aim is to enable the vehicle to be driven at the maximum legal speed while not compromising on safety.

Weight Distribution Hitches work by changing the point at which the load of the trailer is transferred to the vehicle. Traditionally, the entire towball weight of the trailer is transferred and carried at the tow ball, as shown in Diagram 1.

Diagram 1: Incorrect Weight Distribution

Weight Distribution Hitches correct this by redistributing the weight across all axles of the vehicle and caravan (as shown in Diagram 2), much like the lifting action of a wheelbarrow.

Diagram 2. Correct Weight Distribution

Hayman Reese Weight Distribution Hitches have been designed & engineered to ensure towing vehicles operate at their optimum braking, steering and general driving capacity. Available in a range of sizes and weight specifications, Hayman Reese Weight Distribution Hitches help you stay safer on the roads.

Sway Control

In addition to managing the weight distribution of the vehicle and trailer, trailer sway is one of the most common concerns for those who tow. Trailer sway can be influenced by a number of factors including tyre pressure, towing speed and suspension. Most commonly however it is caused by strong winds and wind buffets from large vehicles such as trucks.

Complete sway control can be obtained by fitting a sway controller. Sway controllers are designed to be used in conjunction with a weight distribution system and prevent trailer sway by restricting and damping the movement between the tow-hitch and the trailer. There are two main types of sway control; reactive and proactive.

Reactive Sway Control

Reactive systems detect the sideways movement of a trailer, and react to bring the trailer back in line with the towing vehicle. This can be achieved electronically by applying the brakes to the trailer, or manually by the use of a friction sway controller. Friction sway controllers work by using friction material (similar to what is used in modern disk brake pads) and a sliding, adjustable bar that acts as a counter balance to regulate the sideways movement of the trailer.

Proactive Sway Control

Unlike reactive sway control systems, proactive sway controllers prevent the trailer from swaying in the first place. This is most commonly achieved by forming a rigid connection between the vehicle and the trailer, using a ‘dual-cam’ sway control system. Widely considered as the best method to prevent trailer sway, the dual-cam system effectively locks in the spring bars on the weight distribution system, forming a rigid connection between vehicle and trailer.

While this can seem limiting when tight cornering is required, the Hayman Reese Dual Cam High-Performance™ Sway Control system has been designed to allow for all cornering scenarios. Through clever engineering, the system allows the spring bars of the weight distribution system to automatically disconnect from their fixed position when tight cornering manoeuvres are required. When the movements are short and abrupt however, the system locks in place and maintains its rigid connection.

Sway control systems are designed to complement weight distribution systems, helping to keep you safe while towing. Hayman Reese provides a range of weight distribution and sway control system for a variety of towing scenarios.