Skip to Content

Do You Need a Sway Bar to Pull a Camper?

Do You Need a Sway Bar to Pull a Camper?

RVers everywhere dread sway. Luckily, you can significantly reduce trailer sway with the addition of a sway bar for your camper. Let’s take a deeper look at sway: what it is, what causes it, and how you can prevent it.

What Is Sway and What Causes It?

You can experience sway when driving any vehicle, not just a camper. When referring to vehicle sway we are talking about side to side body roll. This is more pronounced on high-profile vehicles because the weight is so much higher.

Trailer camper sway is a bit different. Camper sway is when the trailer starts to swing side-to-side behind the tow vehicle, usually while you’re going down a highway. Trailer sway can become dangerous and uncontrollable if not managed. It can even lead to accidents. 

So what causes sway? Trailer sway has several causes: Improper weight distribution, driving too fast, and wind gusts or bursts of wind from other large vehicles like RVs or semi-trucks. 

Dangerous Trailers.Org Presents Trailer Sway 101
This video demonstrates trailer sway and how weight distribution can affect it.

What Is a Sway Bar? 

A sway bar is simply a device that stiffens side-to-side motion to minimize it. They can be installed on vehicles to minimize body roll or on hitches to minimize camper sway.

Sway bars are included on one axle on most vehicles and are a single piece of metal that connects from one side of the vehicle to the other. As the vehicle rolls one way the bar twists and pushes up on the side that’s low. This helps stiffen the side-to-side rocking and keeps the vehicle more upright.

How a Sway Bar Works
This is a video about sway bars for vehicles

You can add a sway bar to your trailer hitch to reduce sway when pulling a camper. There are different kinds, but they all work to reduce sway when towing. Some use a cam lock to prevent your trailer from moving from side to side, while others use friction to prevent swaying. These sway control hitches are mounted at the back alongside the hitch ball.

andersen friction sway control hitch
This is the Andersen sway control hitch that uses friction inside the ball to reduce trailer sway. Source: https://andersenhitches.com/collections/wd-hitch/products/8-drop-rise-weight-distribution-hitch

Do You Need a Sway Bar to Pull a Camper? 

Fifth wheel trailers do not need sway bars. One of the major benefits of a fifth wheel is the way it pulls from over the axle it is much more stable. Travle trailers however can benefit greatly from a sway control hitch.

Sway control or sway bar hitches are optional pieces of equipment that you can add to your camper or hitch to prevent sway. Although they’re not required, adding a sway bar will provide a much more comfortable and stable towing experience and give you peace of mind. 

sway bar hitch for camper
This is a sway control hitch with the sway bar on the left hand side

A vehicle-based sway bar is usually not required to pull a trailer, or the factory sway bars are typically adequate. For taller vehicles like motorhomes or trucks with truck campers, a vehicle sway bar upgrade is highly recommended, however.

Vehicle sway bar
The big metal bar in the center is a vehicle sway bar

Which Campers Need Sway Bars?

All types of campers can benefit from sway bars. Long travel trailers being pulled by short wheelbase vehicles however are the most prone to sway. If you are towing a long travel trailer we highly recommend using a sway control hitch.

Ways to Prevent Sway with Your Camper

There are many ways to prevent sway with your camper. From sway bars to driving techniques, here’s what we recommend. 

Sway Bars

The first and best way to prevent sway is to add a sway bar. They do a great job of preventing sway, but they won’t eliminate it altogether. Your camper can still experience sway, so it’s important to keep the rest of these tips in mind. 

Weight Distribution Hitch

A weight distribution hitch helps distribute the weight of your camper more evenly on your tow vehicle. This makes for a more stable towing experience. 

Some will sell weight distribution hitches and sway bars together. They work well in combination to distribute weight evenly and reduce sway. 

Load Your Camper Properly

When towing a trailer, you should always load 60% of the cargo weight in the front of the camper, closest to the hitch. When you load the weight in the rear of the camper, sway happens almost immediately. No matter what type of trailer you’re pulling, evenly distribute the weight from side to side and load most of it in the front of the trailer.

overloaded trailer at rear

Avoid Driving on Very Windy Days

Always check the weather on travel days. If you see a lot of wind in the forecast, don’t travel if you can help it. The wind is a significant contributor to sway, and it’s a factor that you can’t see or control. 

Driving an RV in High Winds - Avoid an RV Accident | Mondays with the Mortons

Wind from passing RVs and semis can cause sway, too. Be vigilant when passing other vehicles, keep both hands on the wheel, and check your trailer for sway every time.

Drive Slower

When pulling a trailer, you should generally drive slower than the flow of traffic. Driving too fast can cause trailer sway. Many trailer manufacturers will recommend a maximum speed of 60 mph. 

Prevent Trailer Sway with Sway Bars and Mindful Towing

Some factors contributing to sway are out of your control, but adding a sway bar isn’t. When used in combination with a weight-distribution hitch and proper safe towing practices, you can greatly reduce your risk of experiencing trailer sway.

Have you ever used a sway bar before? Let us know in the comments below!

Become A Mortons On The Move Insider

Join 10,000+ other adventurers to receive educating, entertaining, and inspiring articles about RV Travel Destinations, RV Gear, and Off-Grid Living to jump-start your adventures today!

Read More From The Mortons:

About Mortons on the Move

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of The RVers, producers of “Go North” on Amazon Prime, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for Hwy.co and an Arizona travel guide.

About Us

Sharing is caring!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Glen Taylor

Saturday 8th of January 2022

Sway bar is essential for trailer, this feature makes driving with trailer easier and it also ensures your safety. The RV won't sway with it.

Tom Brian

Monday 22nd of November 2021

Traveling in your RV might be terrifying, especially if it sways a lot. Fortunately, this can be avoided by adding a sway bar and sway controls to keep your camper stable at all times.

Dalton Bourne

Thursday 30th of September 2021

Do I Need a Sway Bar for My Travel Trailer? the answer is have because even if you observe preventive measures, there is always the risk of unknown forces causing your travel trailer to roll. Having a stabilizer bar under your travel trailer’s chassis can minimize the threat of sway and improve road safety. A sway bar for travel trailer is an aftermarket accessory that RV owners install in their travel trailer’s suspension to improve its handling characteristics. Sway bars work by controlling wheel suspension action, keeping the travel trailer’s wheels in constant contact with the road surface.

Dalton Bourne

Thursday 30th of September 2021

Installing a sway bar helps keep your travel trailer wheels in contact with the road surface at all times. It also smoothens the ride, making you feel like traveling in a luxury coach. If you want a more comfortable and safer ride, I recommend getting the best possible sway bar for your travel trailer today.

Eric

Wednesday 11th of August 2021

I think it would be very useful to also include the ProPride 3P / Hensley Arrow in this discussion. Instead of controlling/damping sway, both of these options mechanically prevent sway and totally transform towing conforms (especially when you are not towing with 1 ton truck). Yes, they are expensive, but they are truly a product that delivers exactly what they claim and makes for the safest towing experience possible. No other sway control or weight distraction design can even come close.

Eric

Gary Jordan

Wednesday 28th of July 2021

Yes! You are exactly right on all statements. The sway on our new 32 ft trailer was awful - almost unsafe! We didn't know the original owner had the day bar in the front compartment. Installed it on day 2, and it is like night and day difference! Now, you have me checking the manufacturer's safe speed. I never knew they had that! Thank you!

Mortons on the Move

Thursday 29th of July 2021

You're welcome. Glad you found the sway bar and were able to install it. Safe travels!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.