There is a lot more that goes into towing a caravan than securing the hitch and starting up the engine. There are crucial elements that must be correct in to ensure that towing a caravan is a safe and painless process. However, understanding the most common mistakes that drivers make when engaging in this activity can make getting out on the open road with your caravan in tow a much less intimidating prospect.
The first step is to make sure your tow is fixed properly to your vehicle. Get your tow bar installed by a professional who can fit the right size and type of tow to suit you and your vehicle. There are plenty of towing centres that specialise in tow bar fitting and who will also be able to help you with any spares or parts for your towing equipment should they become damaged or worn.
Number One Mistake
The number one mistake that drivers make when towing is speeding. When you are towing a caravan, your maximum speed should be 10Kph lower than the national speed limit. For example, drivers should not typically exceed 90 kph . Exceeding these limits will cause drivers to have inadequate time to brake in order to ensure the safety of other cars on the road around them. Braking is another area of safety that should be of major concern. Drivers should always be sure the wiring that allows your brake lights to translate to the braking signals on the rear trailer are functioning. Should this system breakdown, drivers behind you will have no idea that you are reducing your speed, creating a serious risk for a rear-end collision.
The weights of both vehicles you are using must also be taken into consideration. If the vehicle doing the towing is far outweighed by the vehicle in tow, the chances of losing control on the road are greatly increased. Using a vehicle that is not rated to tow the amount of weight you are dealing with can also do severe damage to the engine over time. Check the towing payload of your vehicle before hitting the open road or research the recommended ratios for safety when it comes to towing your particular caravan. This will allow you to avoid overloading on either side. Uneven weight distribution can be equally dangerous, quickly leading to the dreaded snaking and pitching. For example, avoid packing one end of your caravan with an excessive amount of heavy equipment. Distribute additional weight that comes with gear and suitcases evenly throughout the space.
Finally, perform all the normal checks and vehicle maintenance that come with any vehicle.
Look for rust and other signs of damage that might weaken the integrity of towing components and replace worn out and damaged parts. Your inspection should also include checking fluid levels and ensuring proper tyre pressure. If your tyres are over or under inflated, your gas mileage will suffer, your caravan will be less than stable when encountering bumps along the road, and you will increase your risk of experiencing a blow-out or flat tyre.
Also read: How to drive whilst towing a caravan