Towing a caravan for the first time can be downright intimidating. Like anyone who has a towed a caravan a hundred times before, let us tell you: It takes knowledge and practice. But that doesn’t mean you’ll have to mess up the first time you have a go at it. We’re sure you have a lot of questions and we’re here to answer them for you to make your maiden towing expedition a success.
The most important thing you need to know when you’re towing is the weight of your vehicle, the caravan, and the caravan’s capacity. Ideally, you can make it as heavy or at 85% of the weight of the tow vehicle but never exceed it. You can visit a weighbridge to know if you will exceed 750 kg. Anything above that will require you to put brakes in the caravan.
It’s advisable to drive 25 km/h below the speed limit when you’re towing a caravan. It’s not very appealing but when you have a limited view of what’s behind you due to the caravan’s dimensions, you will find that this is the safest approach.
Give your brake a break
Using the brakes can be tricky especially when you’re going downhill. If it starts to feel spongy at one point, you shouldn’t keep stepping on it. This is a sign that the brakes are fading, so pull over to the side and let it cool. Learn more about Trailer brake tips.
Let others overtake you
Because you will be driving below the speed limit for much of the trip, brake earlier and flash your indicator to let vehicles behind you know that you’re ready to be overtaken. Once they are ahead of you, slow down a little to let the vehicle position itself back in the lane.
Careful with the corners
You need to swing wide and exaggerate when turning so that you have enough room in the arc and, avoid clipping sides. Maneuvering and accelerating will take longer than usual and this is something you’ll have to develop a more methodical approach for.
Don’t panic when the caravan isn’t steady
Snaking is when the trailer moves from side to side. It’s quite a common problem when towing a caravan. When this happens, you could accidentally hit cars near you or worse, it can tip over your vehicle. The best solution for this is to install brakes in your caravan. But if you don’t want to install brakes, just remember to slow down gradually.
Another problem is pitching or when the caravan bounces up and down which then pulls the car. You can prevent this by lifting off the accelerator and steering it back into a straight line while only relying on the car’s engine braking.
Designated spaces for parking caravans are always marked. Utilize them to make sure you’re not obstructing any other vehicle. Once you see the spot, always pick a flat surface and avoid slopes. A slope can make caravans lean and hit poles and trees nearby. Same goes for uphills that make it difficult to have enough grip. There’s always a danger of hitting a kerb so attach towing mirrors to see the back better.
Before towing, familiarize yourself with the route. Find out if it’s rough, narrow, has a chance flooding, the number of fuel stops along the way, and if it’s a busy area. And practice. Drive your vehicle with a fully laden caravan in a secure road where you can maneuver and reverse. First timers and those who have recently bought a bigger rig are advised to do this.
Be on your way
If you’re still a bit afraid to tow a caravan for a weekend adventure, remember that hundreds of people do this every week with no problems — and they were once first-timers too! Just keep these guidelines in mind and you’ll be well on your way to becoming an expert.
If you are looking to buy your first motorhome or update your current caravan, Aussie Leisure Loans can help you get a loan from trusted lenders. They also work to give you competitive interest rates, so give them a call on 1300 889 669 or apply online now.