Trailer Sway is the #1 cause of travel trailer accidents. Unfortunately, no government agency keeps data on the number of accidents that involve trailer sway. Despite Hensley Mfg.’s dedication to bringing light to the issue for the last 20 years, trailer sway accidents still remain the dirty little secret of the RV industry. Judging by the thousands of trailer owners we’ve spoken to over the years, though, and a small collection of private surveys, it’s fair to estimate that 1 in 10 travel trailer owners will be involved in a trailer sway accident during their time on the road. These accidents range in severity, from a side swipe with no permanent damage up to rolled over trailers and tow-vehicles. As mentioned in previous posts, Hensley receives letters, e-mails, and photos of many of these accidents. Some of the stories are heart-breaking, which only strengthens our resolve to bring light to a serious issue.
Sway Control Options
The problem we face in the RV industry is that the vast majority of RVers are not seeking the luxury motor homes, Airstreams, or high-end 5th wheels. Most are the weekend warriors, the families who only get out during summer vacation, and who have limited disposable income. That means the RV industry focuses on keeping costs low. Anyone who has owned an average trailer for more than a few years will nod in agreement. Trailers begin to deteriorate quickly. Few last more than ten years.
The low-cost principle is also applied to trailer hitches. Especially trailer hitches. The first time trailer owner is excited about interiors, counter space, and comfy couches. She’ll spend about ten seconds looking at the tongue of that new trailer. It’s not terribly exciting. And the salesman isn’t going to linger over that ugly black trailer tongue too long. He’s made the sale. It’s time to move on.
Chances are that our salesman will “throw in” a sway control hitch. It will look something like this:
While every sway control hitch manufacturer will claim their hitch is NEW AND IMPROVED or somehow different, the truth is they’re all essentially the same. Each one will use some variation of friction or cam system to control sway. Though they claim to do a great job of controlling trailer sway, you’ll never see any of them offer video evidence of their claims. When you get your free Hensley DVD in the mail, you’ll see some pretty incredible footage of drivers of small cars trying to make large trailers sway. They can’t do it.
The Cost of Sway Control
When Colin Connell first introduced the Hensley Arrow to the RV world in 1993, he didn’t realize the sacred cow he was attempting to slay. To offer a $2000 trailer hitch in an industry that had fixed the price of a hitch in the $200-$300 range took a lot of courage. Colin invested his time and money because he believed that RVers deserved better than what they were getting sold by big trailer hitch companies and trailer manufacturers.
The question he asked, and we still ask today is “What is it worth to avoid an accident?”
Remember the 1 in 10 who will get into a sway-induced accident? Most will be minor, so no big deal, right? Wrong. The repair cost of even minor trailer damage will always run into the thousands of dollars. If another vehicle is involved, you can kick that number up to over $10,000. Injury? Let’s not even go there. And that’s just the dollar cost. If you’re on your way to a one week vacation with the family and get into a minor accident, there’s a good chance your vacation is lost as you wait for your trailer and vehicle to be repaired. You get a vacation in a motel somewhere along your route and a nice bill for repairs when it’s time to go home.
Your trailer salesman will not paint this scenario. That speech won’t make him many sales. Unfortunately, the industry he works for will continue to block the truth for fear it will cut into the much larger profits of a trailer sale.
Hensley Mfg. believes that telling the truth to your customers will earn their respect and their business. It’s why we all use our products in the same manner any of you would, a rarity in the RV business. We often end our e-mails with “See you under the awning!” because you just might.
We do hope our fellow RV enthusiasts will insist on the truth from their dealers and the RV industry. Colin knew he couldn’t change the status quo alone. He would need thousands of voices to get the message out. So far, you’ve stepped up. Many of the e-mails and phone calls we get now are from folks who refused to take what the salesman offered. It’s a simple question: “Will the hitch you’re ‘giving’ me make it impossible for the trailer to sway?”
If the answer is anything but “Yes,” give us a call. We’ll give you the “Yes” and the peace of mind to get the best out of your trailer.
See you under the awning.