Towing a caravan requires skillful driving and careful preparation. Caravan ownership in the United Kingdom will soon hit the half million mark, according to figures from the National Caravan Council. With so many caravans on the road network, accidents are inevitable. Before hitching your caravan to your car and heading off on holiday, make sure you know the legal and driving licence requirements for towing a caravan. Also carry out basic maintenance and safety checks and practice coupling and uncoupling the caravan to your car.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Wing mirror extensions
- Tow ball
Fit extension wing mirrors to your car so you can see behind the caravan.
Carefully pack the caravan to ensure even weight distribution across the vehicle. Secure all loose items.
Fully wind up all stabilising legs on the caravan, which should stand on its travel wheels.
Reverse your car until the tow ball is close to the caravan's trailer hitch. Leave a gap of no more than around 6 inches.
Alter the height of the caravan trailer hitch by winding down the jockey wheel at the front. The tow hitch on the trailer must be just higher than the tow ball on your car.
Release the hand brake on the caravan, if fitted. Reverse your car slowly and carefully so the caravan trailer hitch is directly above the tow ball.
Wind the jockey wheel upwards so that the tow hitch drops on to the tow ball. Wait until it locks into place with a firm click. Wind the jockey wheel down until the back of your car lifts very slightly. Secure the jockey wheel in the "Travel" position.
Attach the breakaway cable from the caravan to the towbar on your car. Also connect the caravan's electrical cable to the correct socket on your towbar. This is essential for the caravan's external lights to work.
Drive carefully and slowly and observe speed limits. Remember that moving off will require more power and your car will take longer to slow down and stop. Take extra care when turning sharp bends.
Tips and warnings
- Make sure all towbars and hitching equipment meet European Union standards. This information is included on labels when you buy equipment.
- Speed limits for caravans are 60 mph on UK motorways and dual-carriageways and 50 mph on all other roads.
- Do not exceed an 85 percent caravan-to-car weight ratio. Use a Department of Transport public weighbridge to accurately measure the weight of your vehicles.
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