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dnezfrly

Wisconsin

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Posted: 06/26/20 09:43am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I have a 2020 Subaru Ascent and am pulling 2800+ lb dry wt Gulfstream Vintage Cruiser. According to Owner's Manual and forums, WDH is not recommended with the unibody design of vehicles such as mine. My question is about using a sway-bar. No reference in the owner's manual and little information on forums. Opinions and/or recommendations in this forum?

rexlion

Broken Arrow OK

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Posted: 06/26/20 11:11am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I can't see any reason why a sway bar would be bad. I think you have to keep in mind that rain (wet) will reduce the amount of friction supplied by the bar. And I hear that they have to be loosened before backing up sharply or the bar can get bent. Of course, the best protection against sway is to make sure you have at least 10% (but no more than 15% generally) of total trailer weight on the tongue; in your case you probably want 350 to 450 lbs actual hitch weight when loaded for camping. (If the fresh water tank is under the front bed, be careful! Water is 8.3 lbs/gallon.)

How long is the trailer? I'm guessing 20'?


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Lwiddis

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Posted: 06/26/20 12:19pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I second the tongue weight comment as a major factor in preventing sway.


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Flute Man

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Posted: 06/26/20 05:46pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

If the trailer is loaded properly you should not need a sway bar.
If it was me I would try it first before I invested in a sway bar.


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campigloo

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Posted: 06/26/20 06:16pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I like sway bars. It’s true that if you’re loaded properly you shouldn’t need it. I’ve found they can be really nice in unexpected gusts of wind coming broad side.

dnezfrly

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Posted: 06/26/20 09:09pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

rexlion wrote:

I can't see any reason why a sway bar would be bad. I think you have to keep in mind that rain (wet) will reduce the amount of friction supplied by the bar. And I hear that they have to be loosened before backing up sharply or the bar can get bent. Of course, the best protection against sway is to make sure you have at least 10% (but no more than 15% generally) of total trailer weight on the tongue; in your case you probably want 350 to 450 lbs actual hitch weight when loaded for camping. (If the fresh water tank is under the front bed, be careful! Water is 8.3 lbs/gallon.)

How long is the trailer? I'm guessing 20'?


yes, it is 20'. what do you mean watch out? fresh water tank is under the bed, which is at front of trailer. what i am reading is cargo weight should be forward, if at back will cause more sway.

dnezfrly

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Posted: 06/26/20 09:15pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

campigloo wrote:

I like sway bars. It’s true that if you’re loaded properly you shouldn’t need it. I’ve found they can be really nice in unexpected gusts of wind coming broad side.


i am new to towing so don't know what is typical/reasonable/usual. i have taken my foot off the gas if i feel sway (a little rocking back and forth?) and then accelerate again. but i am told the Trailer Stability Assist of my Ascent will grab at the opposite wheel. last tow there was a significant gust that i felt car/trailer "pushed" over but didn't feel any sway such as the rocking i described. so again just not sure what i should expect. i did have a significant head wind returning home and overall driving wasn't too disconcerting.

dnezfrly

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Posted: 06/26/20 09:18pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Flute Man wrote:

If the trailer is loaded properly you should not need a sway bar.
If it was me I would try it first before I invested in a sway bar.


since i am new to towing i don't know what is typical/reasonable/usual. i did have a significant head wind returning home and overall driving wasn't too disconcerting. i have taken my foot off the gas if i feel sway (a little rocking back and forth?) and then accelerate again. but i am told the Trailer Stability Assist of my Ascent will grab at the opposite wheel. also on the return home there was a significant gust that i felt car/trailer "pushed" over but didn't feel any sway such as the rocking i described. so again just not sure what i should expect and looking for / appreciating any insight. i think i agree, i will hold off getting sway bars for now.

valhalla360

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Posted: 06/27/20 07:01am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

dnezfrly wrote:

yes, it is 20'. what do you mean watch out? fresh water tank is under the bed, which is at front of trailer. what i am reading is cargo weight should be forward, if at back will cause more sway.


Towing is best with high tongue weight. 10% is bare minimum. 12-15% is generally considered good. Even higher is better...this is why 5th wheels with 20-25% tow so well.

BUT!!!!!
Your Subaru likely has limited payload and tongue weight capacity. If you load up the front with gear and fill the water tank in the front...you could wind up overloading the rear axle of the tow car. That would negate any benefits of keeping the tongue weight percentage up as it can create other issues.


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rexlion

Broken Arrow OK

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Posted: 06/27/20 09:15am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

dnezfrly wrote:

rexlion wrote:

I can't see any reason why a sway bar would be bad. I think you have to keep in mind that rain (wet) will reduce the amount of friction supplied by the bar. And I hear that they have to be loosened before backing up sharply or the bar can get bent. Of course, the best protection against sway is to make sure you have at least 10% (but no more than 15% generally) of total trailer weight on the tongue; in your case you probably want 350 to 450 lbs actual hitch weight when loaded for camping. (If the fresh water tank is under the front bed, be careful! Water is 8.3 lbs/gallon.)

How long is the trailer? I'm guessing 20'?


yes, it is 20'. what do you mean watch out? fresh water tank is under the bed, which is at front of trailer. what i am reading is cargo weight should be forward, if at back will cause more sway.
What I mean to watch out for is too much hitch weight. If you fill a front tank with 35 gallons of water, that's 290 lbs; half or maybe more than half of that weight will be on the hitch, depending on exact tank location in relation to the axles. That's how I bent a spring.

If you feel a slight wiggle of the trailer, it's not a big deal. But if it turns into a larger, repeating oscillation ("sway") here's how to handle it:
1. Do not brake! Trailer may jackknife immediately!
2. Use the trailer brake controller lever to apply trailer brakes ONLY. This should bring the trailer back into line.
3. Once the trailer is no longer oscillating, slow down nice and easy, then at first opportunity stop and look for possible cause of the sway. Check hitch weight, coupler, tire condition, look for broken welds on trailer suspension.

I tow 16'-17' trailers all the time on the ball, no sway bar or anti-sway hitch. And they are well-behaved. But when I was young I towed a 4x8 open utility trailer quite often, and one day I loaded it improperly (negative hitch weight) so after a 3 hour drive it suddenly swayed violently when I slowed down. It scared the pants off me! Lesson learned.

I've also had a 23' TT and even with plenty of hitch weight it felt very squirrelly with a short wheelbase tow vehicle (which the Ascent is, too). Honestly, my rule of thumb is to use sway control of some type for 20' and longer trailers. An arbitrary number based on my personal experience. Sway bars are cheap insurance (Harbor Freight has 'em for less than $30, I think), so add the balls for either end and enjoy peace of mind.

Be sure to air up all tires to max sidewall pressure! Sidewall squirm can contribute to trailer wiggling and eventual sway. Some folks switch to a lower sidewall profile or to an LT tire (stiffer sidewalls). I think you have a fairly short rear overhang on the Ascent, which is helpful; some folks who are having a stability problem will go so far as to drill an extra hole on the receiver to shorten the effective ball mount length.

Also keep in mind that wiggling and sway chances increase exponentially (not proportionally) as speed increases. And chances increase when going downhill, around curves, or (worst) going fast downhill AND around a curve.

Get a good brake controller and get it set properly. A proportional controller like Tekonsha Prodigy (I have P3) will be smoother stopping than a time based controller, but both work. To set it, roll forward 10-15 mph on level pavement and apply TT brakes via the controller lever; they should slowly bring the rig to a halt, without locking up and skidding a tire. Check and readjust this at start of each trip and occasionally during the trip, because the TT brakes will change (a little rust after sitting a long time, warmer/cooler brakes, etc). Then if you do encounter sway you will be ready to counteract it the best way (not saying it's foolproof, no guarantees, but it's the best way short of mechanical sway control between tug and trailer).

I would not put a ton of faith in the vehicle stability control. Too many variables in real life.

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