Towing a caravan for the first time can be downright intimidating. It takes knowledge and a lot of practice to get it down just right. Towing caravans is a skill that not everyone can master on their first try. But that doesn’t mean you’ll have to mess up the first time you have a go at it either. 

Caravan towing isn’t as difficult as it seems if you have the right information. Here are a few tips on how to tow a caravan to help you on your maiden expedition: 

Know your vehicle’s towing capacity 

Your vehicle’s towing capacity refers to how much weight it can safely tow. Know your caravan’s maximum weight (i.e., how heavy it is packed with gear and equipment) to ensure that your vehicle can safely tow it.

Before hitting the road, make sure to calculate the gross vehicle mass, tow ball weight, aggregate trailer mass, and gross combined mass of your caravan. You can visit a weighbridge to know if you will exceed capacity. 

Check the caravan before you leave 

When towing a caravan, you need to make sure the tyres, sockets, stabilisers, and chains are in good condition and in their proper place. Check the pressure of your caravan’s tyres and ensure they’re not cracked or damaged. See if the wheel nuts are tightened, the coupling is securely fastened, and the safety chain is properly attached. Also, put down any roll-out awnings or other amenities and make sure they’re in a travel position. 

You also need to store and lock everything down inside the caravan. You don’t want objects or doors flying all over your caravan while you’re towing it. Keep the load inside the caravan balanced so it won’t be lopsided and harder to tow. Create a checklist and go through it before every trip to ensure you’re towing your caravan safely. 

Go slow and steady 

Pulling a caravan is not a race, you don’t need to be the fastest one on the road. It’s advisable to drive slower than you normally would when you’re towing a caravan. Because of the extra weight and limited view of what’s behind you due to the caravan’s dimensions, it’s much safer to take it slow. This is especially true when towing a caravan for the first time. Going at a moderate speed also allows you to pay close attention to the road and vehicles around you. 

Let others overtake you 

Because you’re driving slower, it’s normal for other vehicles to pass you—let them. When you see a vehicle attempting to overtake you, 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. Always watch out for the safety of others on the road. 

Get more braking room 

Since you’re towing a caravan, you’re going to need more braking room. You’re going to have to press the brakes earlier since it will take longer for you to slow down. The extra weight of towing a caravan may take some getting used to so it’s best to practice braking beforehand. 

If you don’t have enough braking room, you run the risk of crashing into vehicles in front of you which could be even more dangerous because of the additional weight. 

Give your brake a break 

Speaking of brakes, using them can be tricky especially when 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. Understand trailer brakes and how to use them when you tow a caravan. 

Be careful around 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. 

When approaching turns, be aware of where the caravan may cut off. As much as possible, avoid doing sharp turns with a caravan as it may lead to accidents. Have a wide berth when going around the bend and drive at an appropriate speed. 

Keep calm when the caravan sways 

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, remember to slow down gradually. Avoid braking as this increases the speed differential between the car and the caravan. 

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. 

Park wisely  

Designated spaces for parking caravans are always marked. Utilise 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. The 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. 

Avoid trucks and prepare for high winds 

When you see a truck coming, it’s best to avoid them or give them a wide berth. Wind buffeting from trucks could cause your caravan to push or sway which makes it more dangerous. If a truck passes you, try to move away as much as possible and slow down. 

For high-wind areas, you adopt a similar approach of slowing down and making sure the caravan doesn’t sway too much. Mind your speed while keeping an eye on your surroundings. 

Practice makes perfect 

Before towing a caravan, it’s best to familiarise yourself with the route. Find out if it’s rough, narrow, has a chance of flooding, the number of fuel stops along the way, and if it’s a busy area. Drive your vehicle with a fully laden caravan on 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. 

Have confidence 

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 at 1300 889 669 or apply online now


Do I need a special licence to tow a caravan? 

No, all you need is a full driving licence for the vehicle you’re using to tow the caravan. As long as you have the appropriate licence for the tow vehicle, you can tow your caravan. 

What do I need to do before towing a caravan? 

You need to check safety features like the chain, stabilisers, and jockey wheel to ensure they’re securely fastened. Also, check the tyres to make sure they’re in good condition. 

Do you need extra mirrors when towing a caravan? 

You may need towing mirrors or extended mirrors when towing a caravan. Because the caravan obstructs your view having extra mirrors can help expand your field of vision and tow safely. 

How difficult is it to reverse with a caravan? 

For beginners, reversing a caravan could be quite tricky. If you’re just starting, it’s best to have someone guide you when reversing. It’s also a good idea to get extended mirrors or caravan mirrors to expand your field of vision. 

Do you need electric brakes to tow a caravan? 

If your caravan or trailer mass is at least 750kg, you will need to have it fitted with a brake controller and connection. Electric brakes are popular for towing vehicles. 

What is the maximum speed limit when towing a caravan? 

Vehicles towing a caravan are allowed a maximum speed of 100km per hour. If you’re driving behind heavy vehicles or other towing vehicles, you must be at least 60 metres behind unless you’re overtaking. 

Can electric cars tow caravans? 

As long as your electric car has the appropriate towing capacity, you can tow caravans with them. 

What wind speed is unsafe to tow a caravan in? 

It depends on the steady wind and gust speeds. If you’re not confident driving in windy conditions, it’s best to sit it out and wait for better weather. Trust your judgement to determine whether you can navigate the roads even in high winds.