Travel Trailer Sway-Bar Wear

October 21, 2004
Filed under Trailer How To

Q. I own a 26-foot Prowler travel trailer, which I pull with a 1999 2500-series Suburban. Recently, I’ve had a problem with trailer sway. I checked all hookups and they seem to be OK. Is it possible that a sway bar can wear out?

— J.C., Trevose, Pennsylvania

A. A typical friction-type sway control uses friction pads similar to those used for a vehicle’s disc brake pads, J.C., and it’s feasible that with a whale of a lot of use the pads could wear out. Take a look inside your sway control where the narrow steel bar enters the housing. If the friction pads are very thin or nonexistent, it may be time to replace them. If they’re right down to the nubs, though, the steel-on-steel screeching would have probably already alerted you that something is amiss.

If your combo was towing fine until just recently and you haven’t changed anything about the equalizing-hitch adjustment, I’d look at other factors that may have changed enough to cause the instability. New cargo that places extra weight behind the trailer axles (shifting weight off the hitch) is a good source of sway. Underinflated tires, bad shock absorbers, new cargo in the Suburban, worn out front suspension components – any of these things can affect towing stability. Check these details, as well as your sway control.


Jeff Johnston, a TL contributor, started RVing at age 6. During his more than 20 years as a writer/photographer, he has worked for Truckin’ and Four Wheeler magazines before joining TL’s technical staff in 1985. Johnston also has produced an award-winning travel video and TV commercials.

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