Australian’s love the freedom that caravan ownership offers. With the ability to pack up your stuff and travel anywhere with your home behind you, you can understand why caravanning is so popular.
A common misconception when it comes to caravans is that you need a four-wheel drive to tow them. This is not true. Aussies are always craving better stronger cars and that’s why cars these days are more suited to towing today’s caravans. Most modern sedans are great towing vehicles. You should be aware that driving a car with a caravan is a different story to just driving your everyday car though.
First things first, you need to have a caravan and a car that are suited. There would be no use trying to tow a big caravan behind a mini cooper. Having a vehicle that is heavier than the caravan is better suited for towing.
Four-wheel drives are only necessary when traveling off road. If you would like to tow your caravan with a car then it is often preferred that you have a manual, this is also not necessary. Many vehicle manufactures recommend an automatic transmission for towing.
Things you need to know about before towing a caravan:
- Size & Weight
- Tow bars and hitches
- Weight distribution
- Driving techniques
- Tyre care
Tow Bars and Hitches
When choosing which car to tow your caravan with you should always check the maximum load capacity, you should not exceed this for safety reasons. The recommendations always refer to the loaded weight of the trailer.
Tow bars are often over estimated when it comes to towing. Before towing with a tow bar make sure it is capable of towing the loaded weight of your caravan. There’s many tow bars that are only designed to pull small trailers. So take your car to a professional when getting a tow bar fitted. Furthermore, if you buy your vehicle already fitted with a tow bar, for safety reasons you should make sure it’s capable of towing a caravan before towing with it.
A heavy duty hitch receiver is necessary when towing a larger caravan. This is a tow bar that mounts onto your vehicle in several positions and distributes the load of the trailer over the area of your vehicle.
Distributing the weight inside your caravan is essential, the weight should always be evenly distributed to avoid putting more strain on the front or rear wheels of your vehicle.
Proper weight distribution will eliminate that nasty dipping of the tow bar you see when caravans are packed incorrectly or overloaded.
When towing a caravan it’s important that you leave travelling distance between yourself and the vehicle in front. It can take longer to stop because of the extra weight you are towing behind your vehicle.
Tyre care is crucial for every vehicle. Always check your tyres before going on a long trip. The correct tyre inflation will save you money. Plus, when inflated incorrectly tyre inflation can affect the stability, and therefore safety, of the vehicle.
It’s important to keep an eye on your tyres the first few months of towing your caravan, if the tyres are showing premature or uneven tyre wear then it can be a sign of under-inflation, overloading, unstable caravan or mechanical defect.
Towing a caravan can be as easy as driving your car and once you know what you’re doing it will be easy. The most important things to remember are:
- Ensure your vehicle is compatible
- Always load your caravan equally
- Remember your acceleration will be slower when towing a heavy caravan.