We’ve created a simple and effective checklist that you can run through prior to hitching your caravan. The list will assist you in being well prepared for your short break or extended tour and will aid you in avoiding problems when on the road.
Check oil, water, brake fluid, the battery etc.
Inspect all tyres carefully and remember, when towing heavily loaded trailers your vehicle’s tyre pressures should be increased to the level recomended in the owner’s handbook or on the tyre placard. If in doubt, contact your local tyre dealer.
Check that your vehicle and trailer’s wheel nuts have been tightened
Ensure the coupling socket and ball match in size.
Check the safety chains are correctly connected.
Check the trailer brake and light connections are secure and test all light including indicators, ensuring they work
Check towing light are operable, ensuring number plates and registration labels of your caravan is clearly visible.
Disengage any reserving catch fitted to the trailer coupling (as used with over run brakes).
Make one or two test stops to check that the brakes are working properly
Ensure that your load is promptly secured.
Limit the amount of the load in the boot of the tow vehicle.
Ensure that the rear vision mirrors on the tow vehicle are properly adjusted.
While you are travelling ensure that the gas cylinders are turned off and that the refrigerator door is closed.
Check that the roll-out awning is stored away and locked in the travel position.
Remove the jockey wheel from its clamp and store it in the boot of the car or RV, or if it is of the swivel mount variety, lock it in the travelling position.
Check that the front and rear corner stabilizers are in the up position.
Ensure that the hand brakes of the trailer have been correctly released.
Check the recreational vehicles roof hatches, windows and stone shields are secure.
Check that water, sullage and electrical cords have been disconnected and stored away.
Check that the TV antenna is in the travel position.
Know the height of your RV to ensure safe clearance at services stations, under bridges and in cark parks.
Checks during the trip
Check that the coupling and the chains are still securely fastened.
Check that the brakes and wheel bearings are not overheating, by comparing to your car brakes.
Check that light connections are still secure and that the lights are working.
Check that the tyres are still sufficiently inflated.
Check that the roll out awning still properly locked in the travel position.
Towing a Caravan will alter the way the car performs, it will decrease its acceleration and braking ability, and can affect a vehicle’s general control. It’s wise to practice with short trips before you attempt a long journey.
Pay particular attention when accelerating and braking, especially when approaching corners.
Leave more distance than usual between yourself and the vehicle in front, and allow plenty of extra time and space if entering traffic
Allow more time and distance when overtaking other road users and ensure you are well past them before moving back to the left hand side of the road again.
Be careful when driving in poor conditions or in high winds, as their impacts are magnified when towing a caravan.
Where possible, pull over regularly to allow following vehicles to overtake.
As reversing with a caravan is difficult, where possible drive out forward from a parking spot. When practicing reversing, ensure it is done in a safe environment and have someone to guide you.
Ensure load distributing hitches are set up properly and the load in the caravan is correctly distributed, to reduce the chance of the caravan swaying.
Swaying is more prone in high winds, particularly side winds, or when passing approaching larger vehicles.
Keep left to give overtaking vehicles as much space as possible.
Plan plenty of rest stops to avoid the onset of fatigue – but remember if you are fatigued the only cure is sleep. It’s important to remember that falling asleep at the wheel is a very real and deadly consequence of driving when fatigued. If you’re tired, don’t drive.