What is the Best Sway Control Hitch for Me?

If you've ever white-knuckled your way down the road while your trailer swayed freely behind you, you know why you need sway control for your weight distribution hitch.Of course, knowing you need sway control and knowing which type you need are two different things. Friction bars, dual cams, electronic, 4-point and 2-point sway control—how do they work, and which one is best?Below, we'll go over the different types of sway control, how they work, and what their benefits are, so you can choose the best system for your needs.
Read on for the following:
  • Our Top Sway Control Picks
  • What Types of Sway Control Are Available?
  • 4 Questions to Ask When Choosing Sway Control
The best sway control system for you depends on what you plan to tow, how often you plan to tow it, and how much you're willing to spend.If you're looking for a quick recommendation, check out our top picks below. Otherwise, read on for an overview of the different types of sway control, then we'll help narrow down what works best for you.

Our Top Picks - Systems with Integrated Sway Control

Weight Distribution Hitch with Sway Control

What Types of Sway Control Are Available?

All sway control is designed to prevent or limit trailer sway. However, different systems achieve this in different ways. Read on for more information on the following:
Weight Distribution Friction Bars
Friction Bar Sway ControlFriction sway control bars attach to your trailer frame at one end and a small hitch ball on the WDH head at the other end. The unit provides tension to help keep the trailer in line, and an interior bar telescopes in and out as your trailer moves. When your trailer begins to move out of line, the friction pads inside the unit create resistance to help reduce any further side-to-side movement.The number of friction bars you need depends on your trailer size and weight. If your trailer has a GTW of 6,000 lbs or less, a single friction-style sway control can be used. If your trailer's GTW is between 6,000 lbs and 10,000 lbs, you will need 2 sway-control units (one on either side of the trailer). You will also want to use 2 units if your trailer is 26' or longer.The number of friction bars you need depends on your trailer size and weight. If your trailer has a GTW of 6,000 lbs or less, a single friction-style sway control can be used. If your trailer's GTW is between 6,000 lbs and 10,000 lbs, you will need 2 sway-control units (one on either side of the trailer). You will also want to use 2 units if your trailer is 26' or longer.
When to Use:Recommended as an entry-level, economical sway control option, especially for those who tow infrequently. Best suited for smaller campers (under 24'), utility trailers, flatbed trailers, etc.What To Know About Friction Sway Control:Pros:
  • Economically priced
  • Great option for towing small trailers
Cons:
  • Not compatible with surge or hydraulic trailer brakes
  • Must remove friction bars before backing up, or damage can occur
  • In slippery conditions (rain, ice, gravel), turn the unit's on/off handle counterclockwise until all tension is removed to ensure both vehicle and trailer turn properly
  • Reactive—stops sway after it starts
2-Point Sway Control
2-Point Sway Control2-point sway controls are built into weight distribution systems. Unlike bar-style friction sway control, 2-point sway control systems do not use chains. Rather, 2-point sway control systems include brackets on either side of the trailer frame, which act as resting points for the spring bars and provide additional tension. Friction occurs when the spring bars move forward, backward, or side to side along the brackets, creating resistance and limiting the movement of the spring bars.These systems combat trailer sway as soon as it begins by creating enough resistance to force your trailer to remain in line. Typically, they rely on the downward force of the spring bars to apply frictional resistance to the brackets on both sides of the trailer frame.Some 2-point systems make use of steel-on-steel friction, which provides locomotive-like functionality. Others use friction pads (similar to brake pads), which offer automotive-like friction. Friction pads are quieter, but steel-on-steel provides more friction.
When to Use:Recommended as a step up from friction bars, 2-point sway control is great for larger (24'-30') trailers and campers, as well as smaller trailers that are frequently towed.What To Know About 2-Point Sway Control:Pros:
  • Can back up without disengaging system
  • Can be used with surge (or hydraulic) brakes
  • Typically easier to hook up than systems with chains
  • Great option for towing mid-size trailers
  • Overtightening/undertightening is not an issue (unlike with friction sway systems)
Cons:
  • Costs more than friction-style systems
  • Does not provide as much control as 4-point or dual-cam systems
4-Point Sway Control Weight Distribution Hitch
4-Point Sway ControlLike 2-point systems, 4-point sway control systems are built into the weight distribution hitch. Also like 2-point systems, 4-point systems feature 2 brackets on the trailer frame that provide resistance (rather than snap-up brackets and chains, like friction bar systems). These are proactive systems that combat sway before it begins.However, 4-point systems take this a step further and also include another secure connection point at the head, where the spring bars are held tightly in place to ensure adequate tension. These comprise the other 2 points of the 4-point system. The additional resistance ensures that adequate tension is applied throughout the system.
When to Use:Recommended as an upgraded system for additional convenience, comfort, and trailer control. Ideal for larger trailers (30'+) or small to mid-size trailers that are towed frequently.What To Know About 4-Point Sway Control:Pros:
  • Provides additional control compared to 2-point or friction-style systems
  • Can back up without disengaging system
  • Can be used with surge (or hydraulic) brakes
  • Typically easier to hook up than systems with chains
  • Great option for towing larger trailers
  • Overtightening/undertightening is not an issue (unlike with friction sway systems)
Cons:
  • Costs more than friction-style and 2-point systems
Electronic Sway Control

Electronic Sway Control

Electronic brake controllers are available from Hayes, Tuson, and Lippert.These systems can be used in setups with or without weight distribution. They operate by activating your trailer brakes based on the degree of sway and the trailer's speed. Electronic sway control is proactive, stopping sway before it begins. Installation can be more complicated with the addition of wiring (however, the Hayes system offers plug-and-play installation).
When to Use: Recommended trailers without WDHs (not all trailer manufacturers approve the use of WDHs). Or, if your current WDH and sway control aren't doing enough, you can add an electronic system onto your existing system.What To Know About Electronic Sway Control:Pros:
  • Provides more control than friction systems
  • Some systems are plug-and-play
  • Prevents sway before it begins
  • Most systems feature one-time self-calibrating setups
Cons:
  • Not compatible with surge (or hydraulic) brakes
Dual-Cam Reese Strait-Line Sway Control
Dual-Cam Sway ControlSpring bars with curved ends can be used with dual-cam stabilizers. With this kind of system, the curve in the bar rests over a cam. If the spring bars move, they quickly settle back into place. Dual-cam systems are proactive in that they stop sway before it starts.
When to Use:Recommended for campers 30' and larger, as well as for smaller campers that are towed frequently. Dual-cam systems offer the smoothest, most controlled ride.What To Know About Dual-Cam Sway Control:Pros:
  • Provides more control than other systems
  • Can back up without disengaging system
  • Typically easier to hook up than systems with chains
  • Great option for towing larger trailers
  • Overtightening/undertightening is not an issue (unlike with friction sway systems)
Cons:
  • Not compatible with surge (or hydraulic) brakes
  • Costs more than other systems
Weight Distribution Hitch Setup

4 Questions to Ask When Choosing Sway Control

1. How big is your rig?

Bigger rigs act likes sails, catching more wind from passing vehicles and, as a result, experiencing more sway. With a camper under 24', you can probably get away with a basic form of sway control, like friction bars (although for your own comfort and convenience, you may prefer an upgrade.) The bigger your rig, however, the better your sway control will need to be.

2. How often do you want to tow?

If you only tow every once in a while, you may want to consider a more economical system, like friction bars, particularly if you have a small camper.However, if you tow frequently, we highly recommend an upgrade for the additional convenience and ride quality, even if you're towing a smaller camper. A 4-point or dual-cam system will always control sway better than a 2-point or friction bar system. Plus, you won't have to remember to remove the system to reverse, hook up and disconnect them each time you tow, or loosen the system when the weather is bad (looking at you, friction bar systems!).

3. Do you have surge brakes?

Surge brakes typically require a certain type of integrated sway control. If you have surge brakes, you'll need a weight distribution system compatible with them.

4. Do you care about backing up?

Technically, you can back up with friction bars—you just have to get out of your vehicle and disengage the system first. This isn't the case for many other systems, though. Friction bars are more economical, but with 2-point and 4-point systems, you won't have to remember to disengage the system each and every time you want to reverse. The convenience and avoidance of potential damage to your system can be worth it in itself.
What is the Best Type of Sway Control - Chart
Expert Vs Expert
Expert - Jameson C.
-Jameson C.

Which is better: the 4-point Equal-i-zer or Reese dual-cam system?

The two systems you mentioned are basically the two best systems available for weight distribution. Either one will work great for you as long as it is properly rated for your setup and is properly installed/set up.Personally I like the Reese Strait Line system since they use spring steel for the spring bars that are designed to bend and then go back to their original shape. Equalizer bars will still flex back too but since it's not spring steel it will be a more rigid flex. I also like that the dual cam setup of the Strait Line systems works to proactively stop sway before it starts. The Equalizer system uses friction to slow the movement of sway but does not actually work to keep the vehicle going straight like the dual cams do.That being said there are several people out there who swear by the Equalizer as the best system around. It gets debated pretty frequently on forums. But for the reasons I mentioned (and because you don't have to lube the Strait Line systems ever) I would go with the Strait Line system over the Equalizer. View full answer
Expert - Bob G.
-Bob G.
The Equal-I-zer, # EQ37100ET, and Reese Strait-Line, # RP66084, weight distribution systems are both top notch systems that will get the job done for you, but I usually tend to lean towards the Equal-I-zer systems for a few reasons.First, Equal-I-zer does not require any drilling to install on most trailers. It offers the maximum amount of ground clearance because the frame brackets mount around the frame rather than below the frame like the Dual Cam sway control of the Strait-Line system. Also, the setup is pretty straight forward. The Strait-Line system can take some fine-tuning to make sure it is set up for maximum effectiveness. If you have to remove your spring bars for any reason, such as a tight turn or hazardous road conditions, the Dual Cam arms will hang freely unless they are secured.Finally, Equal-I-zer has focused solely on perfecting weight distribution and they have developed quite a following in the towing community. Reese is also a pretty big name in the towing industry, but weight distribution is just one of many different product lines that they offer. Again, the Strait-Line is an effective and proven system, but I have found the ease of use of the Equal-I-zer system to be more appealing. View full answer
Still have questions?Give our experts a call at 800-298-8924, or contact us online. We're happy to assist any way we can!
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Related ArticlesRelated ProductsWritten by: Amber S.Updated: 5/7/19

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