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Old 09-22-2017, 10:49 AM   #1
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Thumbs up Truck's Onboard Sway Control

I have a 2017 F-150, max payload and max towing, 156" WB, with inboard sway control.

My sales person at the Ford dealer said that my truck's inboard sway control does actuate the trailer's brakes! Considering that, the braking caused by the sway control should help in limiting sway of the trailer, faster than a human can react. That is, if the truck reacts quickly enough.


He said that the truck's sway control also slows down the engine. So, the truck would slow down. Hopefully that means that the truck's braking will slow the momentum of the trailer more than the truck. Otherwise, the problem remains, the trailer could have more momentum than the truck.


Momentum is a function of mass and velocity. When the trailer is at even the slightest angle to the truck and has greater velocity than the truck, it seems that it would still tend to pass the truck. Wind resistance along the broad side of the TT would cause it to sway back to the other side.


Anyway, the fact that the truck's sway control will actuate the brakes on the trailer is important. So then, I suppose that the trailer brake setting in the truck is important in assuring that the trailer would slow down enough to sufficiently reduce its momentum.

I wonder what the experience is of other AS owners with their TV's inboard sway control.

Oxen
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Old 09-22-2017, 11:14 AM   #2
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I don't mean to be snarky, but I think you mean "onboard" not "inboard".

I haven't noticed that my F-150's trailer sway control has ever engaged. I'm assuming there would be a readout or warning light in the instrument display if it did engage just as there would be if traction control or stability control were activated. I suppose that means I've not encountered a situation where sway control needed to intervene. Setting the trailer brake bias correctly is going to be important in any event.
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Old 09-22-2017, 11:16 AM   #3
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Thanks for the post, Oxen. Hmmm . . .

Did the dealer/sales person give you any written materials or links to check?

I can't find any info about the TSC system applying the trailer brakes here:

https://owner.ford.com/how-tos/vehic...y-control.html

[You have to choose the right options . . . ]

If the TSC does apply the trailer brakes you would think that Ford would have said so explicitly IMO.

This TBC video is only about the standard brake-controller, and does not mention sway:

https://owner.ford.com/how-tos/vehic...ontroller.html

This YouTube video is equally silent about the trailer brakes being engaged by the TSC:

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Old 09-22-2017, 11:21 AM   #4
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My first reaction is we are talking about 2 different Sways. I suspect the on board truck sway control is more of a skid control and if that is the case it would be in conflict with trailer sway control.

If the trailer goes into osculation you do not want the truck to slow down but rather have the trailer bakes applied manually and the truck under acceleration.

I would look for comments from a third party source with trailer experience not a salesman. This may be a starting place.
https://www.etrailer.com/question-61877.html

Ford also has a web site with this topic but it requires signing up to access it
ford.com/how-tos/vehicle-features/load-and-terrain/trailer-sway-control.html
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Old 09-22-2017, 11:25 AM   #5
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Howie, you probably posted before seeing the 2 Ford videos I just linked. What do you think about the situation after seeing them?

Thanks,

Peter
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Old 09-22-2017, 12:04 PM   #6
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The video you posted is for a smaller lighter trailers than the average RV and most likely without brakes.

If you get 7,000 lbs back there swaying you sure don't want the truck brakes on.

I put that option in the cup holder class but then again I generally take a year or 2 before I have finished setting up a truck to tow.
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Old 09-22-2017, 02:51 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OTRA15 View Post
Howie, you probably posted before seeing the 2 Ford videos I just linked. What do you think about the situation after seeing them?

Thanks,

Peter
Quote:
Originally Posted by HowieE View Post
The video you posted is for a smaller lighter trailers than the average RV and most likely without brakes.

If you get 7,000 lbs back there swaying you sure don't want the truck brakes on.

I put that option in the cup holder class but then again I generally take a year or 2 before I have finished setting up a truck to tow.
This is from the 2017 F-150 owner's manual. My reading is that in fact the trailer sway feature does apply individual brakes and reduces engine speed in much the same way as the normal vehicle stability system does. There's no trailer size limit specified although the disclaimers state that the system can't stop "some" trailers from swaying. FWIW, the warning message you receive when this happens is specific to trailer sway.

As Peter has pointed out, there's no mention of trailer brakes being applied when the sway feature activates. That said, the trailer brakes obviously do coordinate with the TV under normal conditions. We just don't know if the stability algorithm is smart enough to modulate them during a sway situation.

TRAILER SWAY CONTROL (If
Equipped)
WARNING
Turning off trailer sway control
increases the risk of loss of vehicle
control, serious injury or death. Ford
does not recommend disabling this feature
except in situations where speed reduction
may be detrimental (such as hill climbing),
the driver has significant trailer towing
experience, and can control trailer sway
and maintain safe operation.
Note: This feature does not prevent trailer
sway, but reduces it once it begins.
Note: This feature cannot stop all trailers
from swaying.
Note: In some cases, if vehicle speed is too
high, the system may activate multiple
times, gradually reducing vehicle speed.
This feature applies your vehicle brakes at
individual wheels and, if necessary, reduces
engine power. If the trailer begins to sway,
the stability control light flashes and the
message TRAILER SWAY REDUCE
SPEED appears in the information display.
The first thing to do is slow your vehicle
down, then pull safely to the side of the
road and check for proper tongue load and
trailer load distribution.
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Old 09-22-2017, 06:48 PM   #8
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Truck's Inboard Sway Control

I have automated sway control on my GMC 2500. I hope it never gets activated - that would mean something has gone very wrong with my hitch setup and driving dynamics (driving too fast with side wind, driving too fast trying to manage the bow wave from semi, etc..).

In 25,000 miles I've only ever experienced sway once, it was early on in my towing experience driving across Nebraska with high cross winds. Sway happened because my hitch was not setup correctly.

Fortunately I knew exactly what to do - immediately accelerate while manually applying firm trailer brakes. After things got straightened out I slowed down the rig, then pulled off the road and spent the next 30 minutes re-adjusting my hitch setup.

I think computer-controlled sway-control is a good safety feature, like airbags - something you hope never gets deployed, but its there as a last line of defense when all else fails.

PS - note that the computer onboard the TV can only apply braking voltage to the main trailer line - which brakes ALL trailer wheels. It can manage individual wheel braking on the TV, but NOT the trailer.
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Old 09-22-2017, 07:54 PM   #9
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The only trailer control on the Ford's is if you have the adaptive cruise control and are in tow haul mode. Sway control is just the trucks brakes.
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Old 09-22-2017, 10:24 PM   #10
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Hopefully it'll at least give a little extra time to hit the brake controller manually and give the truck a little gas, then start controlled deceleration.

It didn't go into details so I'm not sure how it's going to apply trailer brakes. Ideally it would try to control sway by controlling the truck brakes independently while applying heavier braking to the trailer. Electronically should be able to do this. It obviously can't do anything but control all trailer brakes evenly, but if applied heavier than the trucks brakes it can help straighten things out.

Then you get a break to change your pants, provided the clean ones are not scattered down the road.
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Old 09-22-2017, 11:14 PM   #11
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Cool Anser Please!

Quote:
Originally Posted by OTRA15 View Post
My guess would be that the salesperson has merged/confused the information in the first two videos by Ford. Could you please send these video links back to the dealer and ask for confirmation?

Thanks,

Peter
Peter, thanks for the cites. I now e-mailed the sales person, poor guy. I really want an authoritative answer to the question, one way or another.

Whether the truck's sway control actuated the trailer brakes came up in another thread with the opinion that the truck system could respond faster than the driver could.

If the truck slows down and the trailer is not directly affected, it seems that the trailer's momentum would carry it past the truck. This is an important topic!

Oxen
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Old 09-23-2017, 04:03 AM   #12
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Yes, Oxen, I have seen other posts about certain after-market sway control systems that are able to apply the trailer brakes to control sway. Some apparently have a sway sensor mounted in the trailer, and can even apply individual brakes, or at least do the right and left brakes separately [which makes sense from a design point of view IMO].

But if we limit the discussion here, per your original post, to the Ford OEM built-in sway control system, I don't think it is designed to do this.

We are on our fifth Ford van used to tow a trailer, starting with a 1970 E100, so I am pretty up to speed on what Ford vehicles can and cannot do. The current van is a 2017 Transit 350, with all trailer towing options available. The last was a 2015 Transit which got totaled in a rear-end collision.

We shopped for a 2017 Ford F-250 before deciding on the van.

To my knowledge NO Ford sway control system does what your salesperson said it does. Those videos are certainly silent on this, and do not seem to limit the discussion to just small trailers.

A sway control video is a sway control video about all trailers -- in my opinion -- until Ford says otherwise.

Looking forward to what the sales rep says. If you get a generic reply blah blah blah, backing up his/her original claims, please ask for written documentation, videos, etc., as sales people can take offense at being challenged sometimes.

Thanks again for raising this issue!

Peter

PS -- There are tons of threads on "sway control" in general, so hopefully this thread will not wander off-topic into that dark and evil forest!

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Old 09-23-2017, 04:18 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeinca View Post
. . . My reading is that in fact the trailer sway feature does apply individual brakes . . . [emphasis added]
. . .
Thanks for the post, but could you please quote very specific language which indicates this?

If your conclusion is that "the trailer sway feature might apply individual [trailer] brakes," I can buy that. [Edit -- of course the sway control system does apply individual brakes in the tow vehicle, with or without a trailer attached. That is a given.]

But "does" ? -- I just don't see.

Have you watched the first Ford video via the links in Post #3? [not the YouTube video] The Ford video is completely silent on the system applying the trailer brakes, unless I missed something. Please indicate the time stamp where the video says something I may have missed.

Thanks,

Peter

PS -- Here is that link again:

https://owner.ford.com/how-tos/vehic...y-control.html

You have to fill in certain variables, for which I chose, to match the OP:

2017 -- F-150 -- Sync 3 [a guess for the more advanced Sync to match the model year]


Thanks again, Mike, for the manual quote. Looking forward to your further comments. Have a good weekend!

Peter

PS -- The Ford OEM trailer towing wiring harnesses contain only one wire dedicated to the trailer's braking system, as far as I know. Wouldn't more wires be required for the sway control system to apply individual brakes in the trailer?
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Old 09-23-2017, 07:03 AM   #14
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For what it is worth the GMC system on modern 1500/2500 trucks with integrated brake controller will absolutely apply individual TV brakes (as needed to control yaw) AND if necessary, trailer brakes as well.

Any TV with a 7 pin trailer connection can only send voltage to the trailer to apply braking to all trailer brakes (left and right) at the same time. Thatís just how trailer brakes work via a 7-way adapter - itís all or nothing when being actuated by the TV connection.

To apply trailer brakes selectively to the left or right side brakes in a trailer you need a separate, after market electronic anti-sway controller that is installed in the trailer itself. These devices have accelerometers that detect sway and apply left or right trailer brakes to stop it. Hayes makes such a system and it requires Re-wiring certain parts of the trailerís brake system to isolate left vs right circuits.

The (only?) downside (if you can call it that) of a trailer-only anti-sway electronic controller such as the Hayes system is that it only works to apply left or right trailer brakes, and does not affect TV dynamics, which are still governed by the TV stability control systems. So itís isolated to the trailer and does not work as a ďcompleteĒ system (TV+trailer) as, say, the GMC software does....

All that being said any anti-sway system is better than nothing and I stand by my earlier comment that I hope Iím never in rig where sway is bad enough for the system to get activated
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