As days get longer and we start to cautiously make plans for late spring and summer escapes, caravan owners are probably looking at preparing their homes on wheels for much-needed adventures. One underrated but essential part of a caravan or trailer is the jockey wheel. In this series, we go through everything you need to know about the jockey wheel, from which wheel to choose, to how to fit a new jockey wheel (or when you are better off asking your local caravan service centre or garage to do the job for you).
Why is the jockey wheel so important?
Your jockey wheel will determine how easy it is to manoeuvre your caravan, either on site, or when parking up. If you don’t have a motor mover, your jockey wheel will make a massive difference. A typical noseweight ranges from 75-95kg, that’s a lot of pressure on your jockey wheel – and on you if you have to drag it through the mud.
Does wheel width matter?
Generally speaking, you are better off buying a wider, larger jockey wheel. This will allow the caravan’s noseweight to be distributed over a larger surface area and make it less likely to create ruts in your driveway or pitch.
Pneumatic or solid?
There was a time when pneumatic jockey wheels were preferable to solid ones as they have more give when negotiating uneven surfaces – such as rough ground in storage or gravel pitches. However, pneumatic wheels aren’t without their disadvantages; solid wheels aren’t susceptible to punctures and, while they may carve up the ground, you won’t need to pump or patch them.
However, there is a new jockey wheel on the block – and it comes with Caravan and Motorhome Club endorsement, no less. Solid rubber wheels have give just like a fully pumped pneumatic, but the durability of a typical solid wheel. They also come in more generous widths than the old style, narrow solid wheels, so are less likely to carve a delightful line through your pitch. Win-win.
Intelligent jockey wheels
For most mere mortals the choice of heavy duty, pneumatic or solid is probably enough to contemplate, but serious caravanners can opt for jockey wheels with in-built noseweight sensors, or even caterpillar wheels to manoeuvre you smoothly over any surface.
How to change a jockey wheel
If in doubt, speak to your local garage or caravan service centre. However, usually, changing your jockey is fairly simple; simply support the nose via a jack and unscrew the wheel completely until the handle and wheel pieces come apart. Fit the new pieces into the gap and turn the handle to reconnect the wheel. Simple.