With the holiday season fast approaching, now is a great time to start planning that getaway with your new caravan. First thing is first though, you'll need to touch up on your towing skills. Here are the top 5 tips on how to tow a caravan.
1. Size matters
Chances are your caravan is actually wider than your tow vehicle. Try to keep that in the back of your mind at all times when towing, particularly when driving around right-angle corners and when pulling up to the kerb to park. Take corners a little bit wider than you normally would, and ease in the steering to gently bring the van around. As for parking, make sure your mirrors are adjusted so you can see the edge of your caravan and pull up accordingly.
2. Sway control
It's almost inevitable that your caravan will encounter a sway or wobble at some stage. It can be a little frightening the first time you experience this but try not to panic, there are simple ways to alleviate swaying. If you're on the highway, apply a little bit of throttle. This will stabilise the van and remind it that the vehicle is in charge. Softly applying the brakes can also reduce a sway in some circumstances. The worst thing you can do is try to slow down too quickly. Also, if you do absolutely nothing - no throttle or brake - the van will likely continue swaying.
3. Steady on the brakes
A caravan adds an additional load to your vehicle, both in terms of pulling and braking. Fuel consumption will increase, but there isn't much you can do about that. As for braking, try to use the gears and the engine revs to wipe off speed when needed. This will take some pressure off the brakes.
4. Understand the traffic
Aim to concentrate and monitor the traffic around you more so than you would when not towing. If you understand what everyone else is doing on the road you'll be able to prepare for changes sooner. Remember, you can't dart in and out of lanes at the last minute when towing, so it's a good idea to look as far ahead as possible and read and prepare for the upcoming conditions before you get to them.
5. Gentle, gentle
Lastly, remember that you're on holiday and that there's no need to rush. Always gently apply all of the vehicle's controls, including the throttle, brakes, and steering. If you prepare for the conditions as mentioned above this will be easy. Out on the freeway aim for a speed no higher than 100km/h. Going faster only uses more fuel and costs you more money. Your car will appreciate it too, with less demand comes less load and stress for all of the mechanical parts. This reduces the chance of a breakdown or mechanical failure.