Tail Wags Dog (Trailer Makes Tow Vehicle Wobble)

Shel_B

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A pickup truck is pulling a trailer with one of those Honda Can Am type off-road machines on it. Passes me in the left lane, smooth and stable. Then all of a sudden the trailer and the pickup start wobbling and swaying left-to-right in opposite directions. I thought for sure there was going to be an accident but the driver got things under control

Question: what are some things that could cause such a situation? I didn't see any flat tires when I s-l-o-w-l-y drove past, so perhaps that's not an issue.
 
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tongue weight not correct usually too light but if way over heavy can also cause issues.
Speed can be a factor.
Why towing specs in europe that allow heavier loads with lighter tongue weight are limited to lower speeds.
 
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A pickup truck is pulling a trailer with one of those Honda Can Am type off-road machines on it. Passes me in the left lane, smooth and stable. Then all of a sudden the trailer and the pickup start wobbling and swaying left-to-right in opposite directions. I thought for sure there was going to be an accident but the driver got things under control

Question: what are some things that could cause such a situation? I didn't see any flat tires when I s-l-o-w-l-y drove past, so perhaps that's not an issue.
Loaded too far back, not enough tongue weight. No sway control. Depending how fast you were driving... towing at questionable speed.
 

Shel_B

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Loaded too far back, not enough tongue weight. No sway control. Depending how fast you were driving... towing at questionable speed.
I thought the Can Am thing seemed pretty far back on the trailer. Thanks for the suggestions. It was scary watching the scene unfold in front of me ...
 

CKN

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Yea-maybe scared the guy enough where he go to YOUTUBE university and figure out what he is doing wrong.
 
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Need engine in front of the axle, or at least over the front axle in a tandem axle trailer. Within reason, a little too much tongue weight is better than too little.
 

Shel_B

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This little clip from U-Haul shows the effect of trailer weight distribution

Thanks for all the responses. I've learned a few things and will probably pay attention to how folks are using and loading their trailers for the balance of my trip.

As an aside, I am a little surprised by how many people are towing something. I don't see much of that when driving around Calif.
 
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Even with a heavy tongue can have problems. Have a 5 x 10 single axle tilt trailer. Picked up a big load of vinyl sidings stuck out the back put 300 lbs on the tongue still couldn't go over 45 without trailer wagging after getting to my destination looked at the whole picture and realised the trailer axle on a tilt trailer is forward of the center line verses a non tilt which is back of the center line.
 
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Even with a heavy tongue can have problems. Have a 5 x 10 single axle tilt trailer. Picked up a big load of vinyl sidings stuck out the back put 300 lbs on the tongue still couldn't go over 45 without trailer wagging after getting to my destination looked at the whole picture and realised the trailer axle on a tilt trailer is forward of the center line verses a non tilt which is back of the center line.
Hmm, that's a bit odd, I have a little manual dump trailer and the axel is well back on the box, it helps get the dump angle steeper...
Are you sure you had it tongue heavy? Like try to lift the trailer off the ball? I've never had sway with proper tongue weight or with very heavy tongue weight(up near 40%?), but I limit my speeds to 50-55-60mph depending on the load and road.
 
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Even with a heavy tongue can have problems. Have a 5 x 10 single axle tilt trailer. Picked up a big load of vinyl sidings stuck out the back put 300 lbs on the tongue still couldn't go over 45 without trailer wagging after getting to my destination looked at the whole picture and realised the trailer axle on a tilt trailer is forward of the center line verses a non tilt which is back of the center line.
That was overloaded as well as unbalanced. Tilt trailers are more specifically for hauling vehicles where you have the heavy engine end well forward.
 

Shel_B

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As long as we're talking about towing, here's something that puzzles me. I've seen several cars towed with all their wheels on the pavement. I think I've heard it described as flat towing. In any case, that seems like an inefficient way to tow a vehicle as with all four wheels turning on the pavement a lot of drag would be created. Also, shouldn't FWD vehicles be towed with the drive wheels off the pavement? So, what's the deal with this type of towing?
 

CKN

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As long as we're talking about towing, here's something that puzzles me. I've seen several cars towed with all their wheels on the pavement. I think I've heard it described as flat towing. In any case, that seems like an inefficient way to tow a vehicle as with all four wheels turning on the pavement a lot of drag would be created. Also, shouldn't FWD vehicles be towed with the drive wheels off the pavement? So, what's the deal with this type of towing?
Many cars can be retrofitted so that are not damaged by 4 flat towing. Also-as far as RVing is concerned-not flat towing needs a tow dolly which is yet another item you need to store when you are not using it-either at your residence or your destination when you are traveling.

When you are in to the RV lifestyle-fuel consumption is the least if your concerns. I had two - two week trips this past couple of months, towing my travel trailer-spent $2,000.00 on fuel-not to mention campground costs. So yea.


BTW-all RV parks we stayed out were at capacity-or less than 6 spaces left EVERYWHERE we stayed.
 
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