will I need a sway bar for towing stability? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 10-31-2013, 10:48 PM   #1
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will I need a sway bar for towing stability?

I'm looking to buy a 1998 16 ft Casita LD from a camper dealership this weekend. I will be towing with my 1996 full size ford bronco has big V8 engine( class 3 curt hitch) and tow package.
From what I see from the sellers pictures, it doesnt have a sway bar. I don't know about them or distribution hitches and wonder if I will need to buy one of these for sway control/stability.
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Old 10-31-2013, 11:55 PM   #2
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Try it first. You probably don't need anything. Anti-sway bars will more likely mask a balance problem. Better to make sure it OK without.
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Old 11-01-2013, 05:06 AM   #3
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You won't need it. I have found that the sway bar is more of a nuisance than a help, especially when backing up or maneuvering in tight places. I'm towing with a truck that is significantly bigger than my Casita. If I had a smaller, maybe FWD, tow vehicle and/or was towing in a windy area like maybe OK, I might use it. I think Casita sells them to protect themselves and of course to also make a few bucks. I don't have a problem with that, but just don't need mine unless I go out west. I also keep towing speeds under 65 mph just to be safe, particularly because I just have a single axle trailer and because I don't have much confidence in Chinese made trailer tires.
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Old 11-01-2013, 05:25 AM   #4
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My 16' is prone to sway. And I've towed with Explorers, F150s and a 4600 pound Flex. I have the minium tongue weight (10%) and that's after shifting things around to increase it. I suggest trying it (at a modest highway speeds) before committing.
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Old 11-01-2013, 08:05 AM   #5
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Good day EJ.... Sorry to say with the high center of gravity, very short wheel base, etc, your Bronco is poorly rated as a TV (stability issues). Even with a smallish, lightweight trailer you need to get the connection optimized to reduce the risk of a negative incident.

There was a guy on the TL forum that went from a Bronco like yours to a Ford Freestar and he reported a vast improvement in the overall towing experience when towing his pop up trailer.

Good luck with the venture.
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Old 11-01-2013, 08:53 AM   #6
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Good day EJ.... Sorry to say with the high center of gravity, very short wheel base, etc, your Bronco is poorly rated as a TV (stability issues). Even with a smallish, lightweight trailer you need to get the connection optimized to reduce the risk of a negative incident.

There was a guy on the TL forum that went from a Bronco like yours to a Ford Freestar and he reported a vast improvement in the overall towing experience when towing his pop up trailer.

Good luck with the venture.
The 1996 full size Bronco had a wheelbase of 105", which is less than an inch shorter than my FJ Cruiser and 2" more than the 2nd generation Ford Escape. Both of these vehicles have very favourable reviews relative to towing a small fiberglass rv. I do not see that the Bronco has a geometry that would preclude it from being a suitable tv for a lightweight fiberglass rv. Could you expand on your reasoning MC1?
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Old 11-01-2013, 09:15 AM   #7
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Could you expand on your reasoning MC1?
Hi IB... So much has been written over the years about the Bronco and vehicles like it along with their shortcomings as TV's. Not to be confused with the fact they are great off road vehicles. Two different things.

There has been so much written about very capable and stable TV's on various forums and the Bronco's are not mentioned.
I could write pages on my thoughts but suggest surfing the net on the subject as there is much info out there.

Thnxs
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Old 11-01-2013, 09:35 AM   #8
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IMO a sway bar is an additional optional safety feature that should only be used/needed in the event of the worst case scenario. It shouldn't be the only thing preventing sway during a normal tow.

I seem to recall being told by the hitch shop I use that if the sway bar is called into use often it can put a lot of stress on the vehicle - not sure if that is true or not but regardless it would seem to me to be better to trying towing without it and adjusting your set up in as many ways as you can - either changing hitch height or how your stow the trailer etc, to get it as stable a tow as you can without the sway bar installed. That way at least you will have a better idea as to how good a tow your vehicle really is & under what conditions the trailer is inclined to sway, rather than having a devise on the vehicle that is masking its poor towing capabilities or a trailer that is not stowed correctly or a hitch that is not correctly set up.
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Old 11-01-2013, 10:07 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Ice-breaker View Post
The 1996 full size Bronco had a wheelbase of 105", which is less than an inch shorter than my FJ Cruiser and 2" more than the 2nd generation Ford Escape. Both of these vehicles have very favourable reviews relative to towing a small fiberglass rv.
When the topic of whether or not such an such a vehicle & trailer combo comes up and conflicting views are posted I have over time come to the conclusion that it may simple come down to the actual towing experience of the parties making the recommendations.

One party may be really happy with such and such a vehicle and trailer size and has towed it thousands of miles and are extremely happy with it and feels its all very safe. But if you were to put another party in the drivers seat and ask them to take that same set up for a test drive they may come back and say they wouldn't be comfortable towing it 5 miles.

I can think of one particular make/model of vehicle where I know of 2 parties based on glowing recommendations made by others on this forum who tried towing with it but ended up changed their tow vehicle quickly. In both cases they had experience in the past pulling with different vehicles and trailer combos so they had something to use as a base line as to what a solid tow should feel like - or at least what they believe it should.

The above is just my opinion and YMMV.
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Old 11-01-2013, 10:20 AM   #10
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Just make sure your receiver isn't to high. You need to maintain tongue weight.
Have the sellers measure the ball height on the level.
Make sure your ball is lower than that.
You'll be fine.
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Old 11-01-2013, 11:17 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by mszabo View Post
Just make sure your receiver isn't to high. You need to maintain tongue weight.
Have the sellers measure the ball height on the level.
Make sure your ball is lower than that.
You'll be fine.
Not lower but equal, maybe 1/2" high. The 1/2" will usually be taken up with the tongue weight pushing tow vehicle down. The ideal is for the travel trailer to be towed level, not nose down, or nose up. If you have no choice then a bit nose is ok, but a lot.
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Old 11-01-2013, 11:44 AM   #12
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Anti-sway bars and equalizer hitches attempt to compensate for dangerous engineering deficiencies including tow vehicles that are too light.

That being said your full size Bronco should handle this trailer without them.
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Old 11-01-2013, 11:50 AM   #13
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"Typically, short-wheelbase sport-utility vehicles, such as the Ford Broncos, Dodge Ramchargers and pre-1992 GM Blazers/Jimmys are not as stable as vans, trucks and Suburbans built by the same manufacturers. It's possible to tow successfully with sport-utility vehicles, but they are less forgiving of poor trailer balance and/or improper hitching and sway control."

Controlling Sway Causes of poor tow
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Old 11-01-2013, 03:38 PM   #14
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I've towed all sizes of trailers all over the place with multiple tow vehicles without ever having a sway bar and without ever having sway. Follow the directions about ball height, tongue weight and try it first.
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