With many caravans having the sway control feature nowadays, you might think that you don’t need to know how swaying happens and what to do when it happens.
But it’s still reassuring to know that caravan swaying can be controlled by systematically conducting a series of solutions. But the first thing you need to know is how you’ll know if your rig is swaying.
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Loss of Control of the Rig
Out of the total caravan accidents in Australia, 30% swayed on the highway and 14% due to the wind. Moreover, 20% lost control when it swayed due to gravel or overtaking.
In total, 64% of the total 14,000 caravan accidents were due to swaying. In addition 91% of rollovers were also caused by the swaying of the rig.
Swaying refers to the loss of control of the caravan when driving on an uneven terrain due to wind, overload, imbalanced loading and other causes.Technically referred to as ‘Yaw’ or ‘Snaking’, a swaying caravan has an equally opposing force of inertia to the towed vehicle.
The first symptom of a swaying caravan is lurching and in worst cases, the rig overcorrects or topples over.
Steps to Stop your Caravan from Swaying
Not so easy a task, stopping a caravan from snaking or swaying should be handled calmly.
To prevent accidents, follow this simple checklist before starting your journey. The first step is to make sure you avoid these factors that make a rig sway: improper load, tyre pressure, suspension, wind speed, slipperiness, towing speed and over speeding when going downhill.
And if ever your caravan sways, remember that you can stop it, provided the road and weather are not against you!
If you just noticed that your caravan is swaying, calm yourself down first because you’ll not regain control of the rig when you have a tensed mindset.
But if you can’t calm down, pass the wheel and relax. You can also gesture to drivers about the situation so that you could get help or warn them to stay away, lest both of you get into an accident.
Activate your Sway control
If your caravan is equipped with Sway control systems including Friction Pads, Round Bars, AKS system or any other latest sway prevention, enable it.
Do not apply the brakes your tow vehicle or steer off road or opposite
Any sudden change in your trajectory can get the caravan off track. Hence, never apply brakes suddenly when your caravan is swaying or snaking. Don’t do this especially if your rig is built with an electrical braking system. Instead, switch to manual control to slow your caravan when it sways.
Maintain your speed until the rig straightens out
By maintaining your speed, your rig will stop swaying. This is done to re-establish the control of your car over the rig.
On Flat roads
Never apply the tow brakes, but gradually slow down your vehicle.
On Uphill roads
Accelerate a bit till the swaying stops. When the swaying stops, stop the vehicle, then restart but this time, proceed slowly.
When going downhill
Press the electronic brakes to decrease the speed of the caravan and gradually bring you to a halt!
Check what made your rig sway
Stop and switch on the hazard lights to inspect what made your rig sway.
From weight distribution to tyre pressure, there are many causes to cross-check before ruling any out.
How to Prevent Swaying
Swaying occurs when the tow vehicle sways. Depending on the friction of your towballs to the wind resistance, multiple factors affect swaying of the caravan.
But don’t worry, note that swaying that dies out within three cycles is safe and harmless.
Tow hitch overhang
In Oz, the right overhang or the distance from the tow vehicle until the tow ball from the rear axis is 1.26 m.
Tow ball mass
Caravanners are recommended to maintain a tow ball mass of 8%- 12%.
Ideally, your caravan should be (laden) 30% heavier than the loaded tow vehicle, provided it is longer than 5.5m.
For better towing and to prevent snaking, it is suggested that you reduce your caravan’s tyre pressure to 20-35 kPa or 3 to 5 psi.
Ensure that when you load stuff into the caravan, it is appropriately positioned.
The rule of thumb is to keep the heaviest items close to the axle while the light items in the front and the back, in equal weights.
Make the most out of your journey with best off road caravan by identifying the cause of caravan instability, you can avoid swaying in the future. Other factors that can cause caravan swaying are drained water tanks, storms, and unexpected roadblocks.
Since you cannot control occasional wind gusts, the best way to make sure your caravan has the modern anti-sway control system. With this system, the caravan will self-correct the yaw.
To complement these, you should balance the load on your caravan, check the tyre pressure and do maintenance checks before getting on the rig.