If you have bought your first caravan, or returned to caravanning after a break, the idea of towing so many possessions from A to B then setting up can be a little daunting. Like many things, with caravanning it really is a case of the more you do it, the easier it gets. What might be the source of anxiety now, will soon become second nature.
However, whether you are a camping pro or a complete novice, it always helps to have a check list! This handy list will help you to cover the basics so that you can tow with peace of mind.
Before you hitch:
- Check that your gas is turned off.
- Check your tyre pressure and condition; if in doubt, contact a tyre specialist about replacements.
- Ensure that all windows are closed and latched, including skylights.
- Check cupboard doors and lay down or remove any items that may tip over in transit.
- Make sure that heavier items are loaded around the centre of the van, over the wheels.
Ready to go:
- Make sure that the handbrake is on the caravan and the wheels are chocked.
- Wind the Jockey wheel down so that the nose is higher than the tow bar.
- Wind up the stays.
- Check the nose weight using a nose weight gauge.*
- Position your towing vehicle so the tow ball is directly under the hitch.
- Attach your breakaway cable.
- Lower the jockey wheel until the hitch locks into place.
- Once the hitch is locked, check the join by raising the jockey wheel again; it should take the car with it.
- Remove and store the jockey wheel, or ensure that it is securely tucked away at its highest point to prevent it from dropping during transit.
- Connect the electrics.
- Check that all wires and connections are secure and nothing is dragging on the floor.
- Remove chocks and release the handbrake.
- Check that the electrics are correctly connected by testing all lights and indicators.
- Attach wing mirror extensions.**
*Nose weight refers to the amount of downward force that is applied to the car’s tow ball by the nose of the caravan. The nose weight should usually be around 5-7% of the caravan’s actual weight, but will vary according to the vehicle and caravan manufacturer. You should always check your nose weight before you drive away.
**Wing mirror extensions allow you to see behind the caravan. Seeing behind your vehicle is a legal requirement so unless your towing vehicle is wider than your caravan, you will need extensions.