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Towing a Caravan For the First Time

May 9, 2014

If you’re new to caravanning, the task of towing can be a daunting prospect and can actually put people off the idea of owning a caravan. The Caravan Club run regular training courses with qualified instructors which can really help boost your confidence when towing and maneuvering a caravan. This is ideal if you’re really unsure where to start and want the reassurance of a professional on-hand for your first attempt. But if you fancy going it alone, we’ve compiled some handy advice and top tips for novice towers to help you take the plunge – you’ll be a touring pro in no time.

Caravan towing

Nice and Easy

When towing a caravan, it’s essential to remember that you are significantly increasing the weight of your vehicle, and that the connection between your car and the caravan isn’t rigid. With this in mind, it’s vital that you adjust your driving style when you tow. Think of it as driving a totally different car when you have a caravan or trailer in tow. You should not drive your vehicle as you would unhitched. Key things to remember are acceleration and braking – both of these should be smooth and gentle. Make sure you give yourself more room to brake, as the increased weight will boost your vehicle’s braking distance. Gentle changes in speed and direction are key to avoiding any accidents when towing.

Know the Law

Different rules apply when towing a caravan, one of which is a reduced speed limit. In the UK, vehicles towing caravans or trailers should stick to a maximum speed of 50 mph on single lane roads, and 60 mph on dual carriageway. Drivers should also note that it is illegal to enter the outside lane on a motorway which is three or more lanes wide – unless instructed to do so by signs or road works etc. When towing a caravan, you will also need an additional number plate. The same rules apply as to normal number plates, meaning it must conform to DVLA requirements. If you are using a side-mirror extension to see behind your caravan in tow, ensure you remove them when you pitch up – it’s illegal to use them unnecessarily.

Towing Etiquette

Everyone has been stuck behind a slow caravan at one point in their driving life and it’s not fun. However, caravans are strictly required to stick to a lower speed limit by law. If you are on a single carriageway with no lane for others to overtake, pull over from time to time to let traffic buildup pass. When parking a caravan at the side of the road, ensure that you’re not obstructing the road and that there’s plenty of room for other vehicles to pass.

The Snakes

When you first tow a caravan, you may experience the alarming phenomenon known as snaking. This is caused when the caravan sways side to side in an increasingly dramatic fashion. It can cause serious accidents if you are unprepared. The best way to combat snaking is to ensure you have the correct car for the job and evenly distributed weight. The bigger and heavier your car, the less threat is posed by snaking. 4x4s and SUVs make ideal towing cars – check your car’s driver’s manual to see its maximum tow capacity rating – this should exceed the weight of the caravan. If you notice your caravan beginning to pitch from side to side, don’t panic. Braking or trying to correct the movement can worsen it – instead, respond by lifting your foot off the accelerator and allowing the car to gently slow in a straight line.

Did you know you know that low interest financing is available for caravans? That’s right. Just like the cars that tow them, financing is a great option when it comes to buying a new or used caravan. Pegasus Finance are specialists in financing caravans, motorhomes and other specialist vehicles. Try our caravan finance calculator now to get a quick and easy quote.

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