Posted on Thursday 30th July, 2015
Towing a caravan or trailer
caravan or boat on holiday can be great fun, but getting there requires extra
driving skill and some amount of preparation.
The Caravan Club and the Camping and Caravanning
Club both offer plenty of advice on safe towing.
The first trip of the
Especially if your caravan has been left idle over the winter it’s well
worth getting a pre-season check. Tyres
that haven’t moved for a few months, especially if under-inflated, could have
cracked. Joints and bearings may have seized and will need lubricating and
coaxing back into action. The first trip of the summer season is when you are
most likely to have a breakdown this way.
National Caravan Council has a list of approved
workshops and at-home services to arrange a pre-season check for your trailer.
loading your car and caravan is important for stability – and that means
set off everything needs to be carefully stowed away. Towing an overloaded
caravan is illegal, so check all weights carefully and make sure what weight
there is has been evenly and correctly distributed.
Heavy items should
be carried close to the axle, preferably slightly ahead, on the floor. Roof
lockers should be empty, or virtually so, with the overall intention to lower the
centre of gravity. Nose-weight on the tow-ball should be around 5-7% of the
caravan’s actual laden weight (typically 50-100kg) but you should never exceed
specific limits for the car, caravan and tow-bar.
On the road
Once hitched, the
caravan will follow you wherever you go – but don’t be tempted to forget it’s
still there! The caravan is wider than
your car and the caravan-car combination is of course a lot longer, so will
need to steer and manoeuvre accordingly. Sudden steering can cause the caravan
to swing, especially at speed, and the extra weight means you will need to
brake carefully and gently, especially going downhill.
needs much greater concentration than just driving and takes its toll on you.
It’s sensible to plan for a much slower journey with stops for a break every
two hours at least.
do stop, it’s sensible to do a walk-round and run through a little routine of
checks. Feel the tyres for heat – if they’re abnormally hot they’re probably
under-inflated; check the coupling, make sure the lights all still work and
that catches are secure. Stand back and check the overall stance; if it’s
leaning to one side you may have a broken spring or suspension.
set off again, make sure you have plenty of fuel for the next stint – your
range will be much shorter with that heavy weight on the back. As you continue
your journey, keep an eye through the mirrors on the behaviour of the trailer –
if you suspect any glitch, stop at the earliest possible opportunity to check it
Planning your route and journey time
all long holiday journeys, you can reduce the stress by planning your journey
beforehand and allowing the right amount of time. Include an allowance for breaks every two
hours and for slow traffic, especially on busy days when everybody seems to be
heading off at the same time and in the same direction.
yourself a reasonable departure time and stick to it! If you set off late it
might mean rushing, less times for comfortable breaks and extra stress if
you’re held up in slow traffic.
of people set off later than planned every holiday getaway day. If you get as much prepared as you can the
night before, you’re less likely to be one of them!
weather on the day of travel can have even more of an impact if you’re towing a
caravan. You will certainly need to allow more time and plan for a slower
journey. Keep an eye on the five-day
weather forecast for your journey, then make a final check the night before so
you know if you will have to leave earlier or expect to arrive later.
strong winds are forecast it might be an idea to check your route and see if
you can avoid any major bridges or exposed stretches of road.