close photo of hands on a car steering wheel and rain is on the windshield

How Does Weather Affect Trailer Sway?

Trailer sway can happen even during the best weather conditions, but poor weather can add additional complications to the towing experience. Knowing what to do when trailer sway starts and how weather can affect trailer sway will help you stay safe on the road. So how does weather affect trailer sway? 

Wind

The wind is one of the most common causes of trailer sway and is often one of the most unexpected. There are a few different ways wind can cause trailer sway, and some of them can really catch you off guard.

High Winds

When high winds blow perpendicular to your vehicle and trailer, it can push the trailer, causing it to pivot on the hitch ball and begin to sway. The larger your trailer surface area is, the more force you will feel from high winds. Be prepared to travel cautiously if you know you’ll be driving through high winds.

Gusting Winds

You might be traveling on what seems like a day with reasonably calm weather, and suddenly, a strong gust of wind surprises you and sets the trailer into motion. Changes in weather can cause gusts of wind, like when a storm is approaching. If high winds are being blocked by a bridge or tree line, you may experience the feeling of gusting winds once you pass the blockage. When your trailer suddenly goes from low side force to high force, a low tow angle is created when the trailer pivots on the hitch ball.

Bow Wind

This kind of wind, also known as a crosswind or bow wave occurs when passing a large box truck, van, or semi-truck. When those kinds of large travel down the road, the air moves around the vehicle and down the sides. This creates a wind disturbance in the nearby lanes and creates a sudden high to low pressure in the air traveling down the side of your trailer. This sort of “sucking” action can make you feel as though you are being pulled into the other lane. When this happens, the trailer will pivot on the hitch ball and create trailer sway.

Rain

Rain can complicate towing a trailer for a few reasons. With rain comes wet and slippery roads, but it is also likely to be windy as well. As we know from above, the wind is a common cause of trailer sway, but adding rain to the mix makes it even more dangerous and difficult to control. As it continues to pour down, water can collect on the road surfaces, adding the risk of hydroplaning from either the vehicle or trailer. A trailer that is unloaded or has poor weight distribution is likely to hydroplane sooner than the tow vehicle and can cause the driver to lose control.

Snow and Ice

When conditions are snowy or icy, your trailer and tow vehicle are much more likely to slide and spin, causing you to lose control. The risk of this increases even more when the trailer and tow vehicle lack proper weight distribution. Regaining control of a sliding vehicle and trailer on ice is very difficult, and you are at a much higher risk of getting into an accident. Installing a weight-distribution hitch will help give all tires a more solid grip on the road while working to keep your trailer from swaying in the first place. However, to be as safe as possible, the best way to prevent your trailer from swaying on snowy or icy roads is to avoid driving on them. 

Stop Trailer Sway Before It Starts

Many trailer sway control devices cannot be used in all kinds of weather conditions. However, the SwayPro weight distribution hitch can! SwayPro prevents trailer sway before it starts, using spring bars to keep constant pressure inward to hold the trailer in place. This highly effective type of trailer sway prevention is easy to install and is one of the safest, user-friendly sway prevention systems on the market today.