How to Install a Sway Control Bar

by Thomas West

Towing a large trailer, such as a camper or travel trailer, can be a harrowing experience if some type of sway control system is not used. Sway is the back-and-forth motion a trailer makes in cross winds or when being passed by a large vehicle, such as a truck. A sway control bar attaches to both the trailer and your tow vehicle, using friction to dampen the swiveling action of the trailer coupler on your vehicle's hitch ball.

Hitch your trailer to your tow vehicle and connect the load-distribution system, if so equipped. Park on a level surface, such as a parking lot or driveway. Make sure the tow vehicle and trailer are in a straight line with each other.

Locate the small sway-control ball with a threaded shaft in your sway-control-bar mounting kit. Place the shaft of the ball into the mounting hole on the right or left side of your tow vehicle's trailer hitch. Secure the ball with the lock washer and nut supplied with the kit and tighten with a socket and ratchet wrench.

Measure from the center of the trailer coupler back 24 inches on the trailer tongue on the same side that you installed the sway-control ball and make a pencil mark. Locate the ball-plate assembly that came with your sway-control-bar kit. Position the center of the ball on the pencil mark. Mark the four mounting holes in the ball plate with a pencil. Place the ball plate aside.

Make indentations on the four mounting hole locations with a center punch and hammer. Drill holes on the punch marks with an 11/32-inch drill bit and power drill. Replace the ball plate and line up the mounting holes with the drilled holes.

Secure the ball plate to the trailer tongue with the four self-tapping screws that came with your sway control and tighten them with a socket and ratchet.

Smear a small amount of multipurpose grease over each of the two balls you installed. Slide the ends of the sway-control bar over each ball. Secure the bar with a cotter pin, included with the sway control, inserted at each end. Tighten the handle on the sway control in a clockwise direction until it stops.

Test-drive your rig. Stop and tighten the sway-control handle if necessary.


  • check Some trailer hitches may not have a mounting hole for the small sway-control ball. In this case, a mounting plate will need to be welded to your hitch. If you are not comfortable doing this, take your hitch to a welding shop or hitch dealer to have this done.


  • close In rainy or slippery conditions, you may want to reduce the amount of pressure on the sway-control bar by loosening the handle slightly. This will keep you from possibly loosing control of the trailer in turns.

Items you will need

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