Hooking up, be it with a boat, caravan or trailer, can be tricky—
Towing Capacities – all modern vehicles have a rated towing capacity. This includes the trailer or caravan, as well as all its contents, so people intending to tow a caravan should include everything they plan to take with them, including full water tanks, and read the caravan’s safety weight and compare this to the vehicle’s towing capacity.
Brakes – there are two common types of trailer brakes – the older type is mechanical, which triggers a hydraulic system that reacts when the tow vehicle decelerates. New trailers and caravans have an electric braking system that is much easier to control. Make sure you have your brakes checked before you hit the road.
Other gear – it is a legal requirement for drivers to have a clear view of the road at all times, so you should consider fitting larger mirrors or mirror extenders, especially if you are towing a caravan.
Spreading the load – the way a trailer or caravan is loaded is important. Put too much weight at the front or too much at the back of the caravan/trailer and it will negatively affect the handling, perhaps leading to a crash
Maintenance – most trailers are stored in the back yard and are not used that often, so it is important that they are regularly checked and maintained. Wiring can easily erode, tyres can crack from old age, wheel bearings can dry up and braking systems can seize. The same goes for caravans. They may also be fitted with gas cylinders and cooking systems which must be checked before travelling.
Tow driving tips – allow extra distance in traffic. Apply throttle and brakes more gently. If the caravan/trailer starts to sway do not apply the town vehicle’s brakes. If the caravan/trailer is fitted with independent electric brakes, apply them slowly. If not, continue at a steady speed or accelerate slowly. Engage in a lower gear for better control downhill and if possible pull off the road to allow faster traffic to pass.
By Jessica Jenkins