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Old 06-12-2011, 09:05 AM   #1
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2011 23' FB International
2007 20' Safari
Irvine , California
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Thumbs down Almost lost in UTAH

Lost control of AS going north on I-15 downhill after Beaver in Utah. Going at 70 mph with cross winds. Felt like blown a tire and has no control of the vehicle. luckily applied the brakes intermittently and after thinking about that we are going into a fatal accident we finally slowed down and stopped on the side. One good samaritan stopped and told us that the traffice behind us on both lanes was slowed down and they were sure looking from the back that we were going to have a fatal accident.
According to them the trailer was swaying side-to-side and at times on one wheel. We I was shaken up and my spouse was in a shock. We slowly took the next exit and opened the door and guess what?
Total disaster cabinets, drawers content were on the floor, even the oven contents were on the floor.
After clean up we headed to Yellowstone park and continued to our planned journey. Every thing on the trailer worked fine during the last five days of our trip. We have 20' Safari pulling with Lexus GX 470 both 2007.

Should I be concerned about the integrity of the trailer or get something checked by the AS service center.

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Old 06-12-2011, 09:16 AM   #2
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Almost lost in UTAH

Good to hear that your sway incident was a scare and not a serious accident. While I doubt that any damage was done, I would suggest having your coach checked for the following:
  • Check axle for evidence of bending or misalignment.
  • Check your coupler for evidence of torquing - - or bending such that it may no longer properly mate with the hitch on your vehicle.
  • Check your weight distribution bars for evidence of unusual or new bends.
  • Check hitch head for evidence of torquing or bending from forces applied while the trailer was misbehaving.
  • Check the trrailer's frame for eveidence of bending/tweaking that may cause it to track in an undesired manner behind your tow vehicle.
I would also suggest evaluating the functioning of your sway control device. If your current hitch doesn't have built-in sway control, I would definitely suggest looking into one of the five or six different brands of hitches that offer built-in sway control.

Good luck with your investigation!


Kevin D. Allen
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Old 06-12-2011, 09:20 AM   #3
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It seems like more accident occur going downhill then any other situation. One suggestion is to go down the hill at the same speed you went up.

Glad to hear that you were able to recover safely.


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Old 06-12-2011, 09:46 AM   #4
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I would also think carefully if there were any unusual loading conditions that would have significantly reduced the tongue weight of the trailer - internal trailer loads, fullness of gray and fresh water tanks. etc.

One of the interesting things about many trailer sway incidents is that the driver's reactions form an integral part of the dynamic system that causes the problem to occur. Often the best driver reaction is to not react to the trailer sway; e.g. steer straight ahead to avoid pumping additional energy into the oscillations - and instead to apply moderate braking with just the trailer brakes ( with the brake controller).

As you've already figured out, slowing down (especially on downhills) is important.

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Old 06-12-2011, 10:12 AM   #5
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I know the speed limit is 75-85 on this section of I-15, but it is important to consider what you are driving and adjust the speed limit for your own safety. I had a friend killed many yrs ago in that same situation so glad you 2 are safe with just a mess to clean up. It's not fun to do a "Lucy" when no camera is there.
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Old 06-12-2011, 10:14 AM   #6
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Yikes.. very scary.

Glad you guys are safe and were able to continue your trip.

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Old 06-12-2011, 11:50 AM   #7
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Just what is the Lexus 470? If it is the Lexus version of the 4Runner, it may be a little light for even a 20' trailer. And what tires do you have on the Airstream and what is their condition? They may have had poor traction allowing more sway than better or less worn tires.

We stay at 65 or below because it feels right. Because so many vehicles have large engines and can climb fast, it may be better to rewrite the rule to go down at the same speed as up—you can stop faster going uphill, so going slower downhill may be a better approach. The other version of the rule is to go down in the same gear as you went up, but with so many smooth shifting automatics now, who knows what gear you were in going up? Many newer transmissions will downshift automatically downhill, but you can manually shift down sooner. We've been in serious cross winds, once on icy snow, and have had no problems with sway, so I think there's a good chance something(s) can be upgraded to make for a safer trip.

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Old 06-12-2011, 12:36 PM   #8
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Glad to hear you are safe! I'm surprised no one has asked what sort of hitch/weight distribution/sway control you have on the rig. I would look at hitch setup first.

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Old 06-12-2011, 01:24 PM   #9
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A friend of mine bought a brand new Victorinox Bambi, it went totally out of control before she got to her first event with it. That stretch of road I know you can't be doing more than 50. The dealer didn't install any type of sway control. We made sure she got some before she left the next town. Why would a dealer not install sway control?
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Old 06-12-2011, 01:54 PM   #10
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So glad you made it through this scare in one piece. I agree with the general consensus that speed may be a factor here, especially downhill ... and with crosswinds. We, too, travel no more than 65 mph unless passing, and when we are going downhill we manually shift down to keep us from gaining too much momentum. I also don't know what the details of your Lexus GX 470 are... make sure it's up to the job. You didn't mention what your anti-sway hitch set up is.
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Old 06-12-2011, 03:11 PM   #11
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I looked up the specs on the Lexus, looks like it's got a factory hitch, a rear sway bar, decent suspension, adequate engine, six speed transmission.... 6500 lb tow spec, and what's that trailer weigh...4500 lbs maybe loaded up?

So I wonder.. are the electric trailer brakes set up right? did someone put a lot of weight in the back of the Lexus, or the far end of the trailer?
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Old 06-12-2011, 05:28 PM   #12
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How scary! Glad to hear you are safe.

🏡 🚐 Cherish and appreciate those you love. This moment could be your last.🌹🐚❤️
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Old 06-12-2011, 05:33 PM   #13
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A 2007 Safari Special Edition has a GVWR of 5000 pound. The Lexus GX 470's tow rating of 6500 pound is clearly enough to tow this size trailer at highway speeds. I believe that the primary cause of the sway in this case was most likely excessive speed made worst by the cross wind. Another contributing factor may have been the short wheelbase of the Lexus 109.8 inches Over the last four years I have towed a similar trailer over 25,000 mile with no sway problems. I tow with a half ton GMC pickup truck, tow rating of 7500 pounds and a wheelbase of 143.5 inches. But most importantly I down shift and slow down on steep down grades. Glad no one was hurt!
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Old 06-12-2011, 08:21 PM   #14
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Better hitch rigging via weight scale tickets to confirm loadings should be a priority. I elected to go with a sway-eliminating hitch on mine (would purchase a PRO PRIDE today), and hitch rigging according to formula is the key step for any combination of vehicles.

Down a mountain grade, at speed (any) "causes" the trailer to want to travel faster than the tow vehicle (as a general description of sway, the trailer is trying to pass) and it takes very little in this situation to exceed poor margins. Increase the margins and study up on what the driver should do. Then practice, every trip. It's no different than a big truck driver testing the air system for proper operation of his brakes, he does it every time he starts the truck.

Glad your adventure was no worse. It'd be wise to examine the two vehicles more closely as in above posts for damages.

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