Given the increasing trailer-towing capabilities of full-size pickups, one of the most notable new safety features introduced in recent years is trailer sway control, as demonstrated in a video from Ford.
Trailer sway is a dangerous condition that causes a trailer to fishtail back and forth while it’s being towed. It’s typically caused by improper weight distribution of the load carried on a trailer, either too far back or too much to one side. If not controlled, it can pull a truck and trailer off the road.
In 2009, Dodge and Ford introduced trailer sway control on their new light-duty pickups. In the Dodge Ram 1500, its stability control system was enhanced to automatically counteract unintended trailer motion by using the truck’s antilock braking and traction control systems to apply individual wheel brakes and/or reduce engine power. It works by asymmetrically applying brake pressure on the tow vehicle’s opposite side to counteract sway.
The Ford F-150 uses a more sophisticated trailer sway control system. By taking advantage of its integrated trailer-brake controller and roll stability control, the F-150 can apply both its own brakes and a trailer’s electric brakes without the driver's intervention to stop sway when the vehicle senses excessive rear yaw input from the trailer.
For 2011, Ford has added trailer sway control to the new F-Series Super Duty pickup, something that the current 2010 Ram HD and 2010 GM HD pickups don’t offer. It works similar to the F-150’s system.
Ford’s demo video shows the trailer sway control being used for the new Super Duty and compares it to the competition.
Trailer sway control isn’t expected for Ram HD pickups until the 2012 model year, when federal law calls for all cars and light trucks to offer stability control as standard equipment. The new 2011 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra HD pickups that are scheduled to go on sale this summer will have trailer sway control standard.