Ford F-150/F-250: Why is My Trailer Swaying?

A swaying trailer makes for a dangerous drive. We will show you the proper steps for insuring that your Ford truck doesn't start swaying.

By Marc Carter - October 24, 2014

This article applies to the Ford F-150 (2004-2014) and the F-250, F-350 Super Duty (2005-2014).

Before we address some of the ways to prevent trailer sway on your Ford F-150 or Super Duty, we must first acknowledge that it does happen. No matter how big or small or how light or heavy your trailer is, there will always be a certain amount of sway. Crosswinds are your enemy and will suddenly cause your trailer to waver without notice. The best way to avoid it is to slow down. Also, passing trucks or busses push a large amount of air towards your trailer, which will cause some sway. The "bow wind" of a passing truck will push your trailer sideways, while the vacuum created at the tail end of the truck or buss will pull the trailer back toward it.

So now you know that you need to drive slowly, but what are some other ways to prevent trailer sway?

Step 1 - Make sure you are using the correct hitch

Figure 1. Use the correct trailer hitch.

There are some hitches on the market that will help control trailer sway, like the Pullrite towing system and Hensley Arrow. These types of hitches transfer the pivot point of the trailer over the rear axle of your truck, which limits lateral movement. If you use a standard hitch with a ball attachment, there is more chance for trailer sway, since the ball attachment is located behind the rear axle of your truck, which creates two pivot points.

Step 2 - Use a sway control device

Figure 2. Use a sway control device.

A sway control device is highly recommended and is even required by law if your trailer is over a certain weight. A friction sway bar or dual cam sway control system will help prevent trailer sway from the start.

Step 3 - Calculate your tongue weight

Figure 3. Set your tongue weight.

If the tongue weight is too light, then it can lead to swaying. If it's too heavy, it will be hard to steer. You want your tongue weight within 10 to 12 percent of your gross trailer weight. To find the weight of your trailer, take it to a local public scale. To find the weight of your actual tongue, you can use a bathroom scale (if the tongue is light) or a tongue weight scale.

(Related Article: How to Calculate Tongue Weight - Ford-trucks.com)

Step 4 - Level your trailer

Figure 4. Be sure that your trailer is parallel to the ground.

It's recommended that about 10 to 12 percent of your trailer's weight must by on the tongue (where your trailer attaches to your truck). The best method is to place heavier cargo at the front of your trailer, and center the cargo left-to-right. You will also want to tie down all of your possessions to prevent them from moving around.

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