I just purchased a 2012 F250 and was told that the electronic braking system was smart enough to work with the trailer brakes to counteract sway conditions. I thought, “That’s pretty cool!”. With only a few hundred miles on the truck, I towed a trailer down to Flagstaff and then loaded it up with 12,000 lbs of commercial tires to bring back up to Utah (8-9 hour drive). The tongue weight was so much that I had to adjust my hitch to the highest position to keep it from hitting the ground. (I know – this isn’t an optimal setup)
The problem was that the trailer’s brakes were non-functioning and the anti-sway bar was broken and therefore we didn’t take it with us. I thought that if I just kept my speed down and kept plenty of distance between me and the car ahead, that I’d be fine.
The 6.7L engine was great at pulling the load and didn’t have much trouble, even up some tough hills. What I soon found out was that my problems wouldn’t materialize until I was going downhill.
Shortly, out of Flagstaff, I realized that even though I could push up the hills at 70 mph, the downhill sections were where my problems started. When going downhill, the trailer started pushing the truck and become the tail-wagging-the-dog. As soon as I got over 60 mph, the trailer would start swaying uncontrollably and was difficult to stop.
After a couple of scary episodes, I started to monitor my speed and make sure that I never exceeded 60 mph on the downhill sections of road. At one point as I was deep into conversation with my traveling companion, I inadvertently let the trailer push me to about 63 mph on a downhill section, at which time the trailer started into an uncontrollable sway. As I tried to slow down, it just got worse and I started going faster. In the back of my mind I was thinking that if only I had the trailer brakes working, that fancy Ford computer system could save me by applying the brakes appropriately to the trailer.
The sway got so bad that I was thrown to the right side of the white shoulder line on the highway and was sure that I was about to “buy the farm”. Just when I had given up hope of saving the situation (remember that I only had several hundred miles on the truck), the most peculiar thing happened. The truck, on its own, skidded the rear wheels for about 40 ft, which straightened out the trailer immediately, and slowed me down rapidly.
At first I thought that somehow the trailer brakes had started working and that the trailer tires were the tires that were skidding. Then I realized that it was only the rear tires on my F250 that had skidded.
Now I realize that the fancy computer system is much smarter than I previously thought. It probably just saved my life.