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Old 07-29-2015, 10:57 AM   #29
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Personal Experiences - TRAILER BRAKE CONTROLLER

I recently found out that the integrated brake controller on the 2013 F-150 Ecoboost somehow detects sway AND automatically applies the trailer brakes. I can personally attest that turning the trailer into a huge anchor by applying the trailer brakes will stop sway IMMEDIATELY. And that holds true whether it's self actuated by the truck or whether you use your paw.

Speeding up? In my limited experience, it's immaterial. Why? Because the second you hit the brake controller, the RELATIVE speed of the trailer WILL drop drastically compared to the speed of the tow vehicle. The trailer will become an anchor even if you take your foot off the gas. If your reaction time is even slightly delayed by thinking about accelerating... not good.

As older members will recall I experienced sway (with an ending just like the YouTube video) about 2 years ago. Darling people - it taught me that I'm an amateur driver even with 40 years on the road and this my only major accident. I get on a gut level that my reaction time isn't what it was when I was younger. It may be human nature to think "I'm just a bit smarter, faster, more experienced than the next person. So... I can get away with (fill in the blank)." Trouble is, we all get away with stupid stuff every day, then finally we get kicked in the ass by "the odds".

How did I find out that the brake controller had integrated sway control? I towed a 34 foot Avion from Northern Ohio to Colin Hyde's place in Baltimore earlier this year. I took the PA Turnpike most of the way. NOT a fun trip. The 1984 tri-axle had empty propane and water tanks and was WAY light in the front end. NO OPD valves so I couldn't fill those tanks. Another member here really tried to help me dial in the hitch I was using for the trip, but what I probably should have done was go to Lowes and buy 15 sacks of Quickrete mix and load them on the front sofa.

I worried about sway all the way and spent most of the trip with one hand on the wheel and the other on the brake controller. I did apply the brakes myself every time I felt the slightest sway... then got caught in one curvy section with heavy traffic that required both hands on the wheel. I felt the sway start then suddenly the brakes hit and released. I looked in the mirror and sure enough the trailer was tracking straight and level. My human sense of sway is a little more sensitive than the F-150's but once I realized the truck could sense it too, it got a little less stressful to tow.

The trailer never swayed if I was at 50 mph or lower - which told me I should have stayed on back roads - but in Western PA? EUUUG!
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Old 07-29-2015, 11:21 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by BoldAdventure View Post
F-250 although it could be an F-350 it's clearly not a GM, RAM or F-150.
Well I'm just glad it's not a Ram 1500 like we have because I've been bragging how stable it is pulling our Airstream.
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Old 07-29-2015, 11:22 AM   #31
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I had to try.



Cheers,

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Lol!
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Old 07-29-2015, 11:23 AM   #32
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Accelerating while applying the trailer brakes is the recommended way to stop sway. However, some newer vehicles will automatically shut down the throttle when you manually apply the trailer brakes.
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Old 07-29-2015, 11:25 AM   #33
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Well I'm just glad it's not a Ram 1500 like we have because I've been bragging how stable it is pulling our Airstream.

I don't care what a person is towing with, when a trailer gets that bad out of shape and the driver does not take the right corrective measures, bad things are going to happen.

This is an example of driver error from A to Z.
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Old 07-29-2015, 11:41 AM   #34
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Wow, I can't believe the person filming didn't even slow down -- much less stop and lend a hand.
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Old 07-29-2015, 12:09 PM   #35
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I just came back from California - using I-80 through the western states. Most interstates look alike, but that could certainly be I-80 or I-70. Either one, the speed limits are 75 and 80 on long stretches of it.

By the look of the hood on the vehicle which recorded the wreck, it's a semi, and semi's rarely travel long lonely stretches of highway without loads, so it could have had one or tandem trailers attached. Note that in the opposite lane you see a semi with tandem trailers.

It may be jumping to a confusion, but perhaps the sway was caused or worsened by the RV driver passing that semi. You certainly can see that the driver of the semi slowed down a bit as the sway got worse. I agree he/she should have stopped, but the tow vehicle did remain upright. I must say that it was lucky that it went backwards and off the road to the left. Had it not, the tractor might have become one with the tow vehicle.

Perhaps the driver did call the highway patrol, or he might have still been in "holy s***" mode and just very glad that he hadn't hit the truck. Of course you always have to worry that the other party will blame you for the wreck even if it's clearly his fault. That happened to me once - it was unpleasant until the woman in my passenger seat asked the other driver why he'd thrown his cell into the back seat? The officer then looked at the other driver's call log and - oops!
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Old 07-29-2015, 12:14 PM   #36
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Wow, I can't believe the person filming didn't even slow down -- much less stop and lend a hand.
I think it was a dash cam mounted in the truck.

But, did anyone else notice the luggage rack on the back of the trailer, and what looked like water bottles flopping from side to side as the trailer swayed?

Wonder if the weight back there, and the fact that at least some of the weight was free to flop around had anything to do with the result?
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Old 07-29-2015, 01:40 PM   #37
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RLS is right ....apply trailer brakes only. The sway starts when the trailer begins to push the TV. Accelerating works only as long as the rig is pulling the connection at the hitch to straighten everything out. You can't accelerate for ever. My guess is that if nothing else broke leading up to the loss of control, the driver simply didn't know what to do and he was "lost" from that moment on....Lucky his TV stayed up-right and they didn't get hurt. High center of gravity on the trailer didn't help either.
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Old 07-29-2015, 01:47 PM   #38
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This is a classic case where the tail wags the dog.

Cross wind?? Poor weight distribution??.....front vs back??.....unequal tire pressure?? It doesn't matter.

What matters is this could've been prevented. Although he had plenty of time, this idiot driver didn't even slow down. Backing off the accelerator and applying trailer brakes (only) should've been his first course of action.

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Old 07-29-2015, 02:08 PM   #39
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The single biggest issue can be seen as the trailer clears the left of the 18 wheeler. There is a cargo basket on the rear of the trailer and it is LOADED. I have done some extensive research on trailer loss of control accidents and in excess of 85% of the incidents the trailer has a cargo basket on the rear of the trailer and it has significant weight in it. That produces a contingent instability. The weight at the back of the trailer is, in essence, a pendulum with the pendulum hinge being the hitch. If ~60% of the trailer weight is in front of the axle and 10% to 15% of the trailer weight is on the hitch, lateral energy input will dampen out on its own. Reduce the forward weight to 55% of the total and a contingent instability arises. At 50% the instability approaches absolute and a small lateral energy input (like the wake turbulence of a semi) will create an uncontrollable pendulum motion that will be exacerbated by lagging driver input. The effect increases with relative air speed velocity.

There is a methodology detailed in the AS manual for measuring tongue weight using a bathroom scale, but doing so at a public scale location is important. I flew helicopters professionally for quite a while, and it is easy to land at a field site and have people load equipment in the helicopter that will take it out of weight and balance limitations. An aft out of balance situation produces the same tail-wag effect as the helicopter leaves ground effect.
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Old 07-29-2015, 02:20 PM   #40
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I have done some extensive research on trailer loss of control accidents and in excess of 85% of the incidents the trailer has a cargo basket on the rear of the trailer and it has significant weight in it.
Not to raise the BS flag on you, but 85%? Do you have a source?

To reiterate my early point. Pretty positive this guy was towing without WD or Antisway if you watch closely, looks like straight on the ball towing. And he probably didn't have it loaded properly.

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What matters is this could've been prevented.
Yup.

Also, I love how in this thread, no one has talked about how a bigger truck would of prevented the accident.
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Old 07-29-2015, 03:04 PM   #41
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It would have taken that truck driver a 1/4 mile to make a safe stop, and then he would have to back up the interstate, dangerous under any circumstances, more so with people distracted by the accident.

By the time he would have made it back to the scene others would be there already.

Seeing as the truck didn't roll over I think proceeding was the more safe move.
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Old 07-29-2015, 03:16 PM   #42
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WOW! That video was hard to watch. A cautionary tale to al of us who tow TTs!
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