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We’ve all heard the saying, ‘If this van’s a-rocking, don’t come a-knocking.’ But what about if it’s swaying?
Caravan sway is something that happens to even the most experienced van owners (yep, even us Queenslanders). And although it’s not always a sign of trouble, it is something every van owner should be vigilant about.
While a little wobble is okay, too much can put you at risk of an accident or do some hefty damage. And even though we love checking out everyone’s vans, you don’t want to spend your precious time having it repaired.
So, what causes caravan sway, and what can you do to keep it steady? We check out the causes, and simple fixes, that can ensure your next ride is a smooth one.
What Causes Caravan Sway?
Driving behind a van that’s swaying too much can be a scary experience. And if you happen to be the one driving the rocking rig, even more so. But what’s going on that causes this motion?
According to ABC News Australia, caravan sway has been reported as a factor in a number of accidents recently, due to uneven or overweight loads. And with one in 13 Australian households now owning a caravan, there’s a lot more on the road to be mindful of.
Aside from basic caravan safety, like loading it incorrectly and not using sway bars for towing a caravan, they sometimes sway because the caravan travels faster than the towing vehicle. This happens thanks to physics and thermodynamics, including the energy your car transfers to the van as you drive.
The truth is, even the most experienced drivers with perfectly serviced caravans will occasionally get a bit of sway. Towing something as heavy as a caravan behind an already heavy vehicle is bound to lead to some issues. The solution? A few simple tricks to reduce the wobble.
How To Stop Caravan Sway
Even though it feels like you should speed your car up so you can straighten out, the opposite is a far better approach. And no, we don’t mean slamming on the brakes. Take the energy out of the caravan by overriding your electric brake controller, and gain control again.
Aside from slowing down, these simple measures will ensure your caravan tows as smoothly as possible.
- Keep Your Tow Ball Weight In Check
FYI: your caravan’s tow ball weight must be about 10% of its total weight. And if it’s too light, your van will start swaying. The compliance plate of your caravan will tell you its tow ball weight, so get familiar with it. From there, you can learn how to reduce tow ball weight — or increase it — so you balance out.
- Use A Weight Distribution Hitch
As the name suggests, this hitch will help your caravan distribute weight across the front and rear wheels, reducing your sway. As a bonus, these devices also simplify steering, accelerating, and braking, so they’re a win-win.
- Take Care When Loading Your Van
This is no time for Tetris packing. You need to get strategic when packing your caravan. Put your heaviest stuff close to the axle and the lightest at the back. This means the most weight is in the centre, giving you greater control and less sway.
- Install A Caravan Sway Control System
There are loads of excellent caravan anti-sway bars and stability systems on the market to combat this problem. Electronic stability controllers put on your van’s brakes when it starts to sway and save you the hassle of doing it yourself. Need help getting one installed? The Caravan Guys can do it at your next servicing visit.
- Check Your Tyres
The tyres on your towing vehicle could be causing some imbalance in your van. Choose tyres with stiffer walls to combat sway, and always keep the air pressure at the right level.
- Slow Down
Hold your horses. Towing a hefty caravan means it’s even more important to stick to the speed limit and go a little under it when it calls for it. The faster you drive, the more your van will sway. So, take your time and enjoy the journey. After all, isn’t that what this Van Life is all about?
Steady As She Goes With The Caravan Guys
A swaying caravan isn’t as fun as it sounds, and it’s not very safe either. So, if all this commotion is getting in the way of your Aussie adventures, it’s time to call in the pros.