So, you’ve bought a caravan, you’re ready to go on your first holiday but there is something standing in your way. How do you tow it? Towing a caravan isn’t quite as straightforward as towing a bike rack or a small trailer. They are much heavier, longer and wider so you have much more space you need to be cautious of behind your car.
But the good news is, there’s plenty you can do to prepare for towing safely. From safety checks to courses, you’ll be towing your caravan with ease in no time. In this article we will look at:
- Before Towing a Caravan
- Learning to Tow a Caravan
- How to Tow a Caravan
Before Towing a Caravan
Before you can even think about towing a caravan you need to have the right driving licence, the right car and the right towbar.
First of all, if you passed your driving test before 1st January 1997 and have a standard category B (car) driving licence, then you can tow a combined weight of both your vehicle and trailer up to 8250kg.
However, if you passed your test on or after 1st January 1997, the weight of your towing vehicle cannot exceed 3,500kg maximum authorised mass (MAM) and you can only tow a trailer or caravan weighing up to 750kg MAM. This would give you a combined maximum tow weight of 4,250kg. If you wish to tow a caravan or trailer weighing more than 750kg, you will be required to take an additional driving test to gain a BE licence.
Towing a caravan might seem like a great way to get away for the weekend. However, you need to ensure that you drive a car that is capable of towing a vehicle and trailer combination. Usually, estate cars and 4×4 type vehicles are the best for towing a caravan however, the towing capacity varies from vehicle to vehicle so you need to know the exact towing capacity of your car first. You can work this out here: What can I tow?
You can’t even think about towing a caravan without a towbar. Any style of towbar is suitable for towing a caravan but it needs to be type-approved and specific to your vehicle. So, find out which towbars are suitable for your vehicle and ensure you always have it professionally fitted for optimum safety.
Learning to Tow a Caravan
It is not compulsory to take an additional test or lessons to learn how to tow a caravan, but if you are new to towing, it is certainly advised. You can practice driving your caravan around an empty car park so you can get used to turns, manoeuvres and driving whilst towing. But, the best way to really build your confidence so you can tow your caravan safely is to go on a course. You could take a 1-3 day course or a specialised course to practice manoeuvres with the Caravan Club.
How to Tow a Caravan
Before towing, you first need to hitch up your caravan. The best way to do this is by using a caravan mover. You can learn how to use a caravan mover here and attach your caravan with ease. Before setting off, ensure it is secured by driving forwards a few meters.
Here are some useful tips for you to remember:
- Make sure that the weight of your car and caravan does not exceed what you can legally tow.
- When you’re towing a caravan, you need to give yourself plenty of time and space for manoeuvres. Take corners wider and with more caution than usual and never carry any passengers in the caravan when you are towing.
- Do not exceed 60mph on a dual carriageway or motorway and don’t exceed 50mph on a single carriage road with a speed limit of 60mph.
- Get some towing mirrors which attach to your wing mirrors to give you greater visibility of your caravan and the road behind you.
- Your number plate should always be visible. Therefore, you should add your vehicle registration number to the back of your caravan.
- Always check the light signals on your caravan are working before setting off. You can easily check your lights without the help of anyone else with the new Westfalia WLC 2.0 wiring kit
- Be prepared for snaking and pitching. If you know what to do, it shouldn’t be feared.
What is snaking and pitching?
Snaking is when your trailer sways from side to side and pitching is when it moves vertically, pulling on the rear of the car. So, you need to ensure that you pack the caravan carefully and that your car and caravan are equally matched.
You can try to prevent snaking and pitching by adding a caravan stabiliser or if you have a newer car, it may have anti-sway to give you more stability on the road. However, if there is a big gust of wind or a lorry goes past, you may not be able to completely prevent swaying. If you do start to sway, avoid slamming on the breaks and turning away from the sway. Instead, you should take your feet off the pedals and keep steering in a straight line until you regain stability.