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Top Tips on Towing a Caravan

  • 8th Oct 2019

Top Tips on Towing a Caravan

Whether you are going on a luxury caravan holiday or a cheap last-minute caravan trip away, it isn't all about the destination; you have to get there first!

Towing a caravan can be quite a daunting prospect - even for experienced drivers. This is why our expert team here at Allens Caravans has compiled our advice and helpful tips on towing a caravan to ensure you reach your destination safely and are ready to make the most of your holiday.

Remember the Speed Limit

This should really apply to all drivers, not just those with a caravan in tow - but this is one is so important, so we'll reiterate: It's important to know that the speed limit for cars pulling caravans or trailers is 60mph on motorways and dual carriageways, and 50mph on a single carriageway.

Is Your Licence Valid?

We have no doubt that you're fully licensed to drive a car, but the date when you passed your test will dictate whether or not you are eligible to pull a caravan of a certain weight.

In the UK, if you passed your driving test before January 1, 1997, then you are fully authorised to drive vehicles with trailers up to a combined Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) of 8,250kg. However, if you passed your test on or after this date, then you're restricted to towing a trailer with a total weight of no more than 750kg MAM.

This may sound confusing, but it's important to make sure that you stay within the law at all times when towing your caravan or learning to tow a caravan.

How to Work Out if Your Car Can Tow a Caravan

Many modern cars are capable of towing a caravan, but it can be difficult to understand the maximum size and weight of caravan that each particular car can tow. However, it's important to make sure you're aware of your car's towing capacity as this will determine whether or not you can safely - and legally - tow a particular caravan with your car.

In order to calculate the towing capacity, you need to know your car's kerb weight and the maximum mass of the caravan. For reference, you should be able to find the kerb weight in your car's manual, whereas the weight of the caravan can normally be found on a plate near the doorframe. Alternatively, you can request the required information directly from the manufacturer.

Once you have these details to hand, you can then calculate the towing capacity and work out if your car can tow a caravan. In simple terms, if the mass of the caravan equates to less than 85% of the car's kerb weight, there should be no problems with towing. However, if the caravan works out at 85%-100%, you may encounter some weight-related issues when towing.

Loading and Weight Distribution

No matter whether you're heading away for a long weekend or a few weeks, there will always be plenty of supplies and equipment to pack up and bring with you on a caravan holiday! From caravan essentials to your own personal possessions, the checklist can soon add up and if you're not careful, you could end up with a sizeable amount of belongings needing to be packed into your car and caravan.

When loading your caravan ready for a holiday, it's important to take weight distribution into account in order to ensure your caravan is safe, properly prepared, and not over the required weight guidelines. Caravan towing techniques, including finding the best and most efficient way to load your caravan, will come naturally over time so before long, this should be second nature to you!

As a general rule, it's best to keep the heaviest items nearest to the axle in order to avoid upsetting the balance of the caravan. Try to avoid storing items in overhead cupboards and lockers. Instead, keep your possessions close to the floor of the caravan whilst travelling. Finally, don't forget that you can also store items in your car whilst travelling! Make full use of your car's boot space in order to avoid overloading your caravan.

Towing Mirrors and Indicators

Though it might sound obvious, you still need to be able to check your mirrors and indicate when you are towing a caravan. The majority of caravans have a connective cable which links your car's indicators to the back of the caravan.

When it comes to mirrors, you are legally required to have extension mirrors fitted, which you can attach to your car's wing mirrors in order to see past the full length of your towing outfit. If you are learning how to tow a caravan for the first time, it might be a good idea to familiarise yourself with using extension mirrors as part of your training.

Plan Ahead!

Traffic is a pain at the best of times, but it is made a lot more frustrating when you have a caravan in tow. One of our top towing caravan tips is to try and keep abreast of any traffic developments via radio and social media - although it's essential to remember to pull over before using your mobile phone!

Making sure that you're aware of any traffic problems in advance will certainly make life a lot easier as you need to be fully aware of other vehicles when you are towing a caravan. Similarly, your acceleration and braking will be impaired because of the extra load. Plan ahead, try to anticipate the movements of your fellow drivers, and above all - stay safe.

Beware of Snaking

Now that you are essentially driving two vehicles, you need to watch out for swing, especially when steering. Practical caravan towing tips like these are largely common sense, but you must be aware of other road users to avoid accidentally clipping other vehicles.

Additionally, snaking can occur when the caravan starts to sway excessively. It's important to make sure you know what to do in this situation, as it can be dangerous and understandably quite scary. If this should occur, simply slow gradually and continue in a straight line. Avoid speeding up or braking harshly as this could cause the snaking to worsen. If your caravan is snaking but you don't take any action to counteract this, it could lead to an accident or even cause your caravan to jack-knife.

Time to Head Out on the Road!

In short, when towing a caravan, be sure to use common sense and pay extra attention to the road and other vehicles around you. Once you have taken all the steps we've recommended in our caravan towing guide above, you should be ready to head out on the road and kickstart your caravan holiday!

If you are looking for high-quality caravan parks in the UK, then Allens Caravans has a wide variety of holiday parks with availability for both caravan hire and touring caravan pitches. Each of our parks has an impressive array of facilities and amenities, ensuring you can make the most of your caravan getaway.

Full information regarding our holiday and touring parks can be found on our website, but if you have any specific questions or queries then please don't hesitate to get in touch today. Our helpful team will be on hand to advise you in any way possible and we look forward to welcoming you to an Allens Caravans holiday park soon!

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