Safety tips for towing trailers and caravans


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Reading through the rules on towing a caravan (or trailer) can be very daunting as it all gets quite technical, but the principles you need to follow in order to stay safe, and within the law, are simple

If you are new to towing, experts recommend the weight of the loaded caravan should not be more than 85% of the car's Kerb Weight - otherwise you may find your caravan 'takes control' of your car.

The experts at Caravan Club and the Camping & Caravanning Club have large libraries of technical information and can help you 'outfit match' cars with caravans to make sure you end up with a safe combination. They also offer courses on towing training.

To find out how much the loaded caravan weighs you can take the caravan to a local weighbridge or weigh everything separately and add it to what's known as the caravan's 'Mass in Running Order'.

Your number plate must show your car's registration number, conform to the relevant British Standard and be illuminated at night.

Having a good view of the rear of your unit is always advisable. Extension mirrors will come in handy here but don't forget to remove them when you're not towing - it's illegal to drive with them on if you don't need them.

Tow brackets

Tow brackets must be tested to the appropriate British or European standard and use mounting points recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.

Check your tyres

Perhaps because it's not on the road as often as your car, it's easy to take your caravan or trailer tyres for granted. But a blowout when you're towing can be scary, so make sure the wheel nuts are tightened before setting off, check tyre pressures regularly and change them if they're more than five years old.

Take the wheels off if you won't be using the caravan or trailer for a while, and keep them out of direct sunlight which will deteriorate rubber.

Give yourself more room and time

When towing, take it slowly and remember to take corners wider and allow for the extra width and length. Remember it takes longer to get going and longer to stop, so allow yourself a bigger gap when pulling out and leave more distance between you and the vehicle in front. Slow earlier for junctions and roundabouts etc.

Poor road surfaces and driving on icy/wet surfaces can be dangerous and towing increases the risk. Take extra care and when you're going downhill or round tight bends slow down and engage a lower gear to give you more engine braking.

Read more about towing, caravans and trailers with our other guides: 

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