Do V-nosed Trailers Tow Better?
It seems there’s a bit of a myth being spread about by trailer salesman. The claim is that v-nose trailers are more aerodynamic and do not have a tendancy to sway as much as flat-fronted trailers. Travel trailers like the one pictured below seem to be the new industry trend, as manufacturers use every trick at their disposal to create more space with less length.
When I was a first year engineernig student at Lawrence Tech University in Michigan, our instructor put several shapes up on the board and asked which was the most aerodynamic. Almost every student pointed to the V shape.
We were wrong. Our instructor then put up a side view of a Navy jet aircraft. Naturally, any aircraft manufacturer will choose the most aerodynamic shape possible. Our jet aircraft all have a teardrop shape, with the wide end pointing forward. That’s because it is the turbulant air that runs alonside the body of an aircraft, or trailer, that causes the most drag and turbulence.
A V shape does not deter turbulence. In fact, it makes it worse. Now you have wind pushing against two sides and not away from the trailer.
What is a good trailer design?
If we could design a trailer based on the teardrop shape, we would. However, it just isn’t a good use of interior space. Some manufacturers, like Airstream, Earthbound, Galileo, and a few others utilize a rounded front end, like the front end of the tear drop. This is the most aerodynamic design available that is also feasable for good interior space utilization.
Even with the more aerodynamic shape, all trailers will experience trailer sway. There’s no way to avoid the side-winds and passing trucks that will push against the side of the trailer. Uneven roads and sudden evasive steering will also cause a trailer to sway.
Benefits of V-nose trailers
That being said, I can’t simply discard the v-nose as a passing fad or bad idea. The space provided by these designs may very well make up for the decreased towability. The front kitchen design provides acres (okay, maybe not acres) of extra counter space. In a day when trailers are getting smaller, any extra square foot is worth any downside.
Getting rid of the trailer sway
You all know by now that I will never suggest you skimp on safety. Trailer sway is a very real problem and has resulted in thousands of accidents every year. Any trailer benefits from a good sway control hitch, but sway elimination is a better option. Click here for a free downloadable report about different sway control options.
The next time you visit an RV show or dealer, check out the v-nose options. If it’s fuel economy you’re after, a round nose trailer is the better option. I really like the new Earthbounds and Gallileos. These may be the next generation of towables in North America.