a car parked next to a camper on a dirt road

Your Complete Guide to Towing a Caravan

a car parked next to a camper on a dirt road

Towing a caravan can be a bit scary if you’re new to it. But don’t worry! With some simple tips and a bit of know-how, you’ll be on the road in no time. Here’s a guide to help you get started.

Can Your Car Tow a Caravan?

First things first, can your car tow a caravan? You need to check your car’s towing capacity, which you can usually find in the handbook. This is important because dimensions can differ, even within the same type of caravan. For example, not all 2 berth caravans are made equal in terms of dimension.

However, a good rule of thumb is that the caravan’s weight shouldn’t be more than 85% of your car’s kerbside weight​​​​. 

Also, check the rules on towing licences. If you got your licence after 1 January 1997, there are some restrictions unless you’ve done extra tests​​.

Choosing the Right Caravan

You don’t need to spend loads of money on a new caravan. A 10-year-old one can have everything you need. When you pick a caravan, make sure it suits your family. Like, if you’ve got teenagers, they might not want to share a double bed! Think about the layout and what you’ll need​​.

Essential Caravan Accessories

You’ll need a few things to get going:

  • Towing Mirrors: If your caravan is wider than your car, you must use towing mirrors. They let you see behind your caravan safely​​.
  • Number Plate: You need a number plate on the back of your caravan. It should match your car’s registration number​​.
  • Spare Wheel: Always have a spare wheel for your caravan. You never know when you might need it​​.
  • Leisure Battery and Hook-Up Lead: These power your caravan when you’re not driving. The battery gives you electricity, and the hook-up lead connects you to power at campsites​​.
  • Gas Cylinder and Connectors: You need gas for cooking and heating. Make sure you have a cylinder and the right connectors​​.
  • Water Containers and Pump: For freshwater, get a container and a pump. This makes it easy to use water in your caravan​​.
  • Waste Water Containers and Pipes: Have containers and pipes to deal with wastewater. It keeps your caravan clean and tidy​​.
  • Levelling Ramp and Blocks for Steadies: This helps keep your caravan level and steady when parked. Especially useful on uneven ground​​.
  • Toilet Fluids and Noseweight Gauge: Toilet fluids keep your loo clean. A nose weight gauge makes sure your caravan isn’t too heavy at the front​​.
  • Bedding and Kitchen Stuff: Don’t forget your bedding, plates, cups, and cutlery. But remember, don’t pack too much to avoid extra weight​​.
  • Wheel and Hitch Lock: These locks help keep your caravan safe. They’re often needed for insurance​​.

Hitching and Unhitching Your Caravan

When you’re ready to hitch up, make sure your caravan’s handbrake is on. Lift the corner steadies and check the nose weight. When reversing up to the caravan, make sure the jockey wheel is high enough to avoid hitting the hitch. Connect the caravan to your car and hook up the electrics. Make sure to use a carabiner-type breakaway cable for safety​​.

Planning Your Journey

Plan your route and think about when you’ll be travelling. Try to avoid busy times and give yourself plenty of time. Before you set off, check your car and caravan. Look at the oil, battery, tyres, tow bar, lights, and so on​​.

On the Road

When you’re driving, remember these tips:

  • Don’t Overload Your Caravan: Keep your caravan light. Put heavy things low down and near the axle. This helps you drive safely​​​​.
  • Follow Speed Limits: Stick to 30 mph in built-up areas, 50mph on single carriageways, and 60 mph on motorways and dual carriageways. These are the limits when towing a caravan​​.
  • No Passengers in the Caravan: You can’t have people in the caravan while you’re towing it. It’s not safe​​.
  • Use the Right Motorway Lane: If there are three or more lanes, don’t use the right-hand lane on a motorway. This rule helps with traffic flow​​
  • Use Towing Mirrors: If your caravan is wider than your car, you need towing mirrors. They let you see what’s behind you properly​​.

In Summary

Towing a caravan might seem daunting, but with the right preparation, it’s not as hard as you think. Ensure your car and caravan are a good match, get the right gear, and take time planning and driving. Before you know it, you’ll be having a great time on your caravan holiday!