Hitching up a caravan can be a stressful business. The kids are in the car, the neighbours are watching expectantly and the beginning (or the...
Towing Advice Part One: Before You Go
Planning on a trip? This summer, millions of holidaymakers will be taking to the roads with their caravans. If you are consider joining them, check out this series which gives you everything you need to know.
In this series, we will start you off with the basics before talking about towing tips and how to make hitching up go without, well, a hitch. First off, the legalities. Towing a caravan, you will be subject to laws designed to keep you, your passengers, and other road users safe.
- Check your licence. If you passed before 1997, you can tow on your licence; if you passed after, you will need to get Category B+E entitlement in order to tow with a gross weight of over 3,500kg
- Don’t be tempted to put passengers (human or four-legged) in the caravan while you tow. All passengers should be in the car, as usual.
- While towing, your speed limit is 50mph on single carriageway and 60mph on dual carriageways. We all know that other road users can get frustrated with caravanners, but don’t feel the pressure: while towing a caravan, you need to be slower and more cautious for everyone’s safety.
Before You Go…
- Before you go anywhere, you need to make sure that the caravan is ready to tow. You must have working lights and your car’s number plate must be clearly visible on the back of your van.
- Make sure that your tyres are in good condition and that tyre pressure meets the recommendations. Check for bulges, wear and perishing; age can do as much damage to your tyres as wear, so don’t assume that, because you haven’t done many miles, the tyres are ok.
- Ensure that your tow bar meets regulations and that it is designed for your vehicle
- Attach towing mirrors to your car’s wing mirrors. These will help you to easily see the rear of your vehicle.
- Make sure that your caravan is properly packed, not exceeding the MTPLM (Maximum Technical Permissible Laden Mass) of your caravan. Heavier items (such as the awning) should be placed over the axle.
On The Road
It stands to reason that when you are bigger and heavier, you will be harder to control. Windy conditions, going a little too fast, overtaking or being overtaken can cause your caravan to pitch or snake. This can be scary and the instinct can be to slow down abruptly. Gently ease your speed until the pitching stops. If pitching and snaking becomes an issue, attaching stabilisers to your tow hitch can help. Snaking and pitching can also happen when you don’t have the right car to tow your caravan; make sure they match!
Towing a caravan can take a bit of getting used to, so go slowly when manoeuvring and give yourself extra space on corners.
If you are nervous about driving, contact your local driving instructor. They will be able to help you to find a caravan towing course to boost your confidence and keep you and your beloved caravan safe.