Tips and Advice on Towing your caravan

Here at Coast Insurance we know how important safe towing is. We specialise in all types of insurance, including caravan insurance with fantastic benefits. Also 5th wheel insurance including personal accident up to £20,000.

Tips and Advice on Towing your caravan

These tips are for before, during and after your trip.  This is to make sure you are always safe on the road. The most important thing to remember is your total vehicle length is now much longer, This will mean you will need more space to perform manoeuvres. It’s also advisable to take more time too.
To ensure you don’t cut the corner or hit curbs take corners wide and slow.
You will need special mirrors to see behind you properly. These mirrors must be removed when the caravan is not being towed.

Load your caravan safely

Remember to load your caravan correctly, insuring that the weight of the caravan is not too heavy for the tow car you are using and the weight is distributed properly. More information on this can be found here.

Try and avoid very windy conditions, this can sometimes be difficult as our weather is changeable even in the height of summer. Be aware that high winds can cause ‘snaking’ this is when the lateral movement of the caravan can become excessive and sometimes very dangerous to drive.

The Maximum Technical Permissible Laden Mass (MTPLM ) is the absolute maximum weight that the caravan should be and must not exceed this to be legal on the road. This can usually be found mounted near the entrance door or gas locker. This includes all interior contents such as liquids, luggage etc.

An appropriate gear for hills are essential, you don’t want to run out of steam half way up. Equally going downs hills should be met with caution too, the steeper the hill, the lower the gear.

The lights and indicators on the caravan must be in working order.

Tyre pressures on both car and caravan should be checked regularly to comply with the manufacturer’s recommendations. We recommend visually checking them on every journey. It is a legal requirement to have a rear number plate attached to the caravan that matches the towing vehicle, which must be illuminated at night.

A step by step guide to hitching a car and caravan.

Hitching a caravan becomes easier with practice. Follow these simple steps to become an expert at hitching your car and caravan. This may be done by a single person but for safety two people are recommended (particularly until you feel comfortable with the process).

1. Ensure the handbrake if fully engaged
2. Ideally the caravan wheels need to be chocked, especially if on a slope!
3. The corner steadies need to be raised.
4. Use the jockey wheel to lift the front of the caravan and check the nose-weight if required.
5. Reverse your vehicle into the correct position with the tow ball under the hitch head.  You may need to raise the hitch head.
6. Connect your breakaway cable to the attachment point.
7. Place your coupling over the tow ball.
8. Slowly begin to lower your caravan using the jockey wheel onto the tow ball.  You will feel the release handle clicking shut. Slowly wind the jockey wheel back up which will raise the car together with the coupling.
9. Ensure the stabiliser handle is locked down.
10. Fully wind up the jockey wheel.
11. Release the jockey wheel clamp then ensure the jockey wheel column is fully lifted.
12. Use the locking lever to clamp the jockey wheel.
13. Ensure that the trailer electrical connection plug is clean and connect it to the vehicle.
14. Check all of the caravan AND vehicle lights.
16. Always double check the coupling and the breakaway cable then ensure your caravan brake lever is released fully.
17. Remove your chocks and then you are ready to proceed with your caravan adventure!

Legal requirements you must adhere to when towing your caravan

However tempting to the kids, all passengers must travel in the car and cannot travel in the caravan you are towing.
The registration plate should be clearly visible on the rear of your caravan.
The UK speed limit when towing a caravan is 50 mph on a single carriageway and 60 mph on a dual carriageway.
If you passed your test before 1st January 1997 you can tow caravans until your license expires up to 8,250kg Gross Train Weight (GTW). This does cover most large cars/ 4×4 towing caravans and most sizeable motorhomes.
If you passed your test after 1st January 1997 you can drive a motor vehicle and tow a trailer not exceeding 3,500kg. You would need to gain entitlement to Category B+E if you wanted to tow above this legal limit.
The lights and indicators at the rear of your caravan must be in working order.
Tyres should be checked for bulges, cracks and should be at the correct pressure.