Towing a caravan for the first time as a driver may seem a difficult task, but with the right guidelines and tools, it’s a fun adventure.
There are certain things you must know before embarking on a trip of towing a caravan.
Before you buy a caravan or plan a holiday, It is important to know that some of the larger caravan shows have opportunities to try towing a caravan, under the watchful eye of a professional instructor.
Guidelines For Towing A Caravan
Getting the right driving license is very important and it guarantees that you’re fully covered when towing your caravan. Your ability to legally tow a caravan or trailer will depend on the driving license you hold, while the type of trailer you can tow is determined by the category entitlement on your driving license. The need of acquiring a license makes you run away from trouble and validate your caravan insurance.
You will be entitled to tow a caravan or trailer up to a combined weight of 8,250kg once you pass your test before 1997. While you will be entitled to tow a trailer weighing up to 750kg with a combined weight up to 3500kg if you passed in or after 1997. If there is a need for you to tow anything heavier you’ll need to take a towing test.
When acquiring a tow bar, ensure it is approved for the make and model of the vehicle and that it meets EU regulations.
It is important not to exceed the gross train weight of a vehicle, usually found on the vehicle identification number under the bonnet or inside the driver’s door. Ensure that the weight of a loaded car and loaded trailer put together doesn’t exceed the required weight.
On The Road
When towing your caravan, there is a need for you to give yourself more time and space for everything. The best option is to apply brakes earlier than normal and you’ll probably accelerate the car more slowly with a caravan on the back.
The extra length of your outfit implies that you will need to take corners more widely than normal so the caravan wheels don’t clip the curb or cut the corner.
Remember the allowable speed limits are often lower when you’re towing. Make sure not to exceed 50mph on single carriageways or 60mph on dual carriageways.
You may not tow in the greatest extent of the right (‘outside’) lane of a three-or-more lane motorway unless instructed to do so.
Before embarking on your journey, insert a
pair of extended wing mirrors into your car. This will allow you to have a good view of the rear of your unit. You mustn’t forget to take them off when you’re not towing.
When towing a caravan, never carry passengers in the caravan for it is not recommended.
Ensure that the number plate on the back of your caravan is showing your car’s registration number, conforming to the relevant British Standard and making sure that it illuminates while at night.
Ensure your rear light panel is always working. Always check before driving and keep an eye out for anything that changes during your journey.
Indicators must be working perfectly well while towing your caravan and this can be done positively by using a special light flashing or buzzer sounding when the indicators are on or done negatively by giving a warning if a bulb fails.
When you notice traffic building behind you, do well to pull over at a layby or other suitable place and let the other vehicles pass.
Make sure to Park carefully where you won’t cause an obstruction. Caravans shouldn’t be parked in parking meter bays.
Snaking and pitching
You need to be aware of what to do when snaking occurs.
Snaking is when the lateral swinging movement (technically known as the ‘yaw’) of the caravan behind a car exceeds the usual swaying. In severe cases, the caravan swings ever more excessively from side to side, thus dragging the back of the car with it so the driver loses control.
When driving, the swinging up and down of the caravan’s front end thereby pulling the rear of the car around like a seesaw is called pitching.
As a driver, snaking and pitching can be avoided when you have your car and caravan well-matched and equally make sure that your unit is carefully loaded.
Any trailer weighing over 750 kg, including its load, must have a working brake system.
You are required to tow a max of 750 kg or half the curbside weight of the towing vehicle or whichever is lower if your trailer doesn’t have a brake.
You need Electronic and friction stabilizers for your caravan and these can also reduce the problem in a well-matched outfit.
If with all these above steps taken, you still find out that the back of your car is being pulled by your caravan because of the air turbulence caused by a passing lorry, coach, or a crosswind, quickly take both feet off the pedals to bring down your speed using your car’s engine braking. Ensure you avoid the instinct to brake, but keep steering in a straight line. Trying to steer out of the swing can make the problem worse.
Whether as a driver you tow a trailer for work or domestic reasons, it’s important to know your legal obligations and ensure that you do not drive a vehicle or tow a trailer that your driving license may not cover.
In conclusion, it is advisable when towing a caravan to ensure that all safety equipment is correctly fitted before setting off, such as extended mirrors and correct registration plates.
Observe other road users and pull over when necessary, safe, and at the right place.
The max trailer width for any towing vehicle is 2.55 meters. The max length is 7m for a trailer towed by a vehicle weighing up to 3,500 kg.