What is a stabiliser?
A towing stabiliser is a sway control device that restricts or alters the lateral and vertical articulation between the towing vehicle and caravan or trailer. It does not increase the inherent stability of an outfit.
What is snaking?
Trailer snaking is an instability situation that occurs when the trailer acts as a swinging mass behind the vehicle (similar to a pendulum), whereby relatively little energy is required to initiate and maintain the pendulum movement. Once the oscillations reach the natural resonance of the outfit the amount of movement increases uncontrollably prior to an inevitable crash.
When does vertical instability happen?
Commonly called pitching, this can happen on an undulating or uneven road, after a sudden dip or hump such as a bridge, or even when a pothole or drain cover unsettles your outfit. An incorrect nose load, high centre of gravity or worn rear suspension will increase the susceptibility to pitching.
When does lateral instability happen?
Commonly called snaking or swaying, this can happen with unexpected side winds, sudden road camber changes, the suction effect when a larger vehicle passes and the pressure effect when a much faster vehicle passes. A badly matched outfit or high centre of gravity will increase the susceptibility to snaking.
Why do I need a stabiliser?
There is nothing more frightening than the feeling of your caravan or trailer starting to sway or snake behind your tow vehicle. There have been many reported accidents as a result of the loss of control of the tow vehicle steering due to the uncontrollable sway of the caravan or trailer.
Can I do anything to improve the inherent stability of the caravan/trailer?
It has been proven beyond doubt that increasing the nose load (static vertical load on the towball) reduces the susceptibility of a trailer/towing vehicle to instability. Therefore, the recommendation is to increase the nose load up to the maximum allowable on the vehicle/trailer specification (whichever is lower) and also ensure that the outfit is balanced and well matched.
Are some caravans more stable than others?
Single axle trailers are more susceptible to instability, with twin or multiple axle trailers being the preferred and more stable option. This is due to their inherently greater resistance to changing direction.
What can I do to increase the stability of my caravan?
Having the mass in the trailer as low as possible tends to reduce the susceptibility to instability. Caravan and vehicle tyre pressures must be checked every time to the manufacturers’ specifications.
Can I improve the handling of my caravan?
Quite often trailers and caravans have existing damper mounting points but do not have them fitted as standard. Fitting dampers to the trailer/caravan have been known to improve stability.
What can I do to my tow vehicle to improve stability?
On the towing vehicle, there are more variables to adjust such as:
Tyres: A tyre at the high end of the recommended pressure range will tend to be better at minimising instability.
Springs: Stiffer springs also help reduce instability. Towing vehicles also tend to perform better with leaf springs, compared with coil springs, especially when towing trailers with known stability issues.
Dampers: Stiffer dampers (shock absorbers) also tend to reduce susceptibility to trailer instability.
Do I need a stabiliser?
Unforeseen circumstances and outside forces can drastically reduce the stability of a vehicle in an instant. A stabiliser provides the driver with peace of mind and confidence that any instability will be minimised.