Caravan towing

There are a number of checks that need to be performed before you take a trip with a caravan. It is essential to satisfy all of the legal requirements and to take as many steps as possible to ensure the safety of all road users. This guide should not be considered exhaustive but a good start to getting you on your way.

Relative weights

Having the correct weight distribution is a legal requirement, so it is definitely a good idea to ensure that you have all of the weights worked out before you purchase any new equipment or a new vehicle.

  1. Ensure the engine of the towing vehicle is large enough for the weight of the caravan.
  2. Ensure that the brakes are powerful enough for the weight of the caravan.
  3. Check that the gross weight of the trailer doesn’t exceed the towing weight. The recommended towing limit will be recorded in the manufacturers handbook and on the V.I.N. Plate on the chassis. It is recommended that the towed vehicle does not exceed 85% of the weight of the towing vehicle.
  4. Check the nose weight is either 4% of trailer weight or at least 25kg, whichever is higher.

Loading your caravan

The way in which you load your caravan will affect the way that it drives. Wrongly loaded caravans are far more likely to swerve or snake and so will be much more difficult to control. Follow these loading guidelines to achieve the maximum amount of stability for your caravan.

  1. Always store heavy smaller items low down, ideally over the axles or just in front of them.
  2. Try and maintain even weight distribution. If you have heavy items to place in front of the axle balance them by placing an equally weighted item just behind the axle.
  3. Lighter, larger items should ideally be carried in the towing vehicle.
  4. Only place light items in the overhead lockers.
  5. Place heavy and medium weighted items towards the front of the vehicle.
  6. Safely secure all items in the caravan. Tying them down if necessary.
  7. Gas cannisters must be turned off at the cylinder when moving.

Furthermore the channel tunnel and ferries have their own guidelines regarding gas transportation. Always check before you travel with each individual travel provider. 

Checks to perform just before you travel

It is advisable to perform these checks every time that you are going to travel. They will help to ensure the safety of you and your vehicles whilst on the road.

  1. Check all cables for wear and tear and ensure they are firmly secured to both the towing and the towed vehicles.
  2. Check the tyre pressure is correct on both vehicles.
  3. Ensure that all prop stands and corner steadies are completely wound up and secured in place.
  4. Check the coupling height is correct. The trailer should be level with the towing vehicle.
  5. Check you have adequate visibility from the drivers seat, add additional towing mirrors if necessary.

Information kindly supplied by WestCountry Towing in Cornwall