Guide to towing a caravan
To many caravan insurance customers towing a touring caravan or trailer is a daunting task and puts a certain percentage of “would be buyers” off from taking to touring, but it is simple once you know how. Safe towing is common sense. Follow some simple guidelines and you will find the experience can be enjoyable.
So let’s get down to brass tacks. Although the following isn’t a full, in depth, feature, this introductory guide to caravan towing does offer some solid, sound advice.
Firstly, when choosing a touring caravan, it is not just down to the number of berths, the colour schemes and/or your budget. Although these things are important, the main criterion is your tow vehicle. Is the car in good overall mechanical condition and will it be able to tow your chosen caravan legally? Make sure to check your car over, especially if it is of an age where parts need to be replaced. Can you still get a tow bar for the car easily?
If everything’s okay, you need to check the car’s kerbweight and towing limit. Some manufacturers will give a high towing limit that’s well above the car’s kerbweight. As a rule of thumb, the Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass (MTPLM) of a caravan i.e. the absolute maximum authorised mass (weight) specified by the caravan manufacturer (including all caravanning equipment, personal belongings and all essential fluids), should be around 85% of the car’s kerbweight. If you have a smallish car, then your choice of caravan could be limited to just a few models. However, towing at 90% for new hands isn’t out of the question – ideally though, for safety and stability reasons, the caravan industry recommends that when looking to match a caravan to a car, it shouldn’t exceed 85% (- “the 85% rule” you often read about in specialist caravan magazines).
Don’t forget too that some new motoring laws make certain licence holders limited as to what they can legally tow. For those who have passed their test after 1st of January 1997 there are strict limitations. Log on to www.direct.gov.co.uk to check if you need to take the towing test. Also, after the age of 70 when renewing your licence, you will need to check what you are permitted to tow.