Touring caravan ownership has been increasing recently so it’s likely that some of our readers are just getting started with their new home on wheels.
Going through the process of buying a new (or used) caravan can be a very exciting experience … with lots of thoughts about where you might take it … living in your new luxury ‘home’ … sitting outside in the sunshine with a glass of something refreshing.
However, actually preparing to tow it for the first time, deciding what to take and then hitching up can be a little daunting. If it’s a new caravan you’ve bought, then no doubt the dealer went through its operation just before you towed it away.
However thorough that briefing was, it is likely that not much of it actually stuck in your head!
Fortunately, there is a mass of helpful information out there … all you have to do is go through it and understand it!
Even before you make your initial investment there are a number of things to consider.
What does your license let you tow …
If you passed your car driving test before the 1st January 1997, you can drive a car and caravan combination weighing up to 8,250kg.
However, if you passed your car driving test after the 1st January 1997, you can drive a car and caravan combination weighing only up to 3,500kg.
You can find the details here … https://www.gov.uk/towing-with-car
Matching the weight of your car to the caravan you want to tow …
Towing capacity is the maximum weight that your car (or SUV, or Van) can tow safely and legally.
To work out the towing capacity you only need to know two key figures: the kerb weight of the car and the maximum mass of the caravan (called ‘maximum technically permissible laden mass’, or MTPLM). You’ll find these figures in your vehicle and caravan handbooks … or from your dealer.
If the loaded weight of the caravan is 85% or less of the car’s kerb weight, the car will tow it with ease.
However, if it’s between 85% and 100%, you need to be really careful!
The 85% limit is not enshrined in legislation, but it is a guideline which is taken very seriously by the authorities. Only very experienced caravanners should use that car to tow such a heavy van.
If the caravan weight is more than 100% of the towing vehicle … don’t tow it … that is illegal!
There is yet another weight to consider when towing a caravan … the nose weight. This is the downward force the caravan exerts on the tow hook on your vehicle. This weight will vary as to how you load the caravan.
Too much weight toward the front of the caravan (i.e. in front of the axle) will increase the nose weight; similarly, too much weight toward the rear of the caravan will reduce the nose weight.
This is all important to ensure that your vehicle tows your caravan … rather than your caravan affecting how your vehicle is driving!
There are so many different figures, acronyms and formulas associated with towing and the weight ratios of the vehicle and the caravan it is worth taking a little time to understand it all. Fortunately, the internet comes to our assistance here:
- The RAC … http://tinyurl.com/y9t8pfpk
- The Camping and Caravanning Club … http://tinyurl.com/y96puwn6
- Caravan and Motorhome Club … http://tinyurl.com/ybtpwjc3
… and there are loads of other websites … all just waiting to be Googled.
Getting out on the road …
So … you’ve got your new caravan, you’ve done your research, followed the advice and now your ready to set off.
You’ll find quite a lot of advice about this on the website.
Because there’s quite a few different things to consider … tyre pressures, loading he caravan, making sure the gas is disconnected, hitching up, fixing the mirrors … it’s worth getting a checklist together.
You’ll find plenty of these on the website … here’s one from the Caravan and Motorhome Club … http://tinyurl.com/y7aofc9m
Do remember your speed limits when towing … 50 mph on single carriageway roads and 60 mph on motorways and dual carriage ways. A few experienced caravanners quite like to sit at about 55mph on motor ways and dual carriageways … you don’t get there much later and it’s a more relaxing speed to drive at.
Finally … you’re at your destination …
There are a few things to do once your caravan’s been sited on your pitch and before you can enjoy that well-earned glass of wine or cup of tea. You won’t be surprised to hear that there are checklists on the internet which will help get you sorted.
When you arrive at South Meadows we’ll be happy to take your caravan to your pitch and site it for you. It’s best if you can give us a little notice and let us know your expected time of arrival by calling the day before.
Today’s caravans really are a little home from home … bathroom and toilet, cooking facilities, fridge and freezer, heating … what more could one need?
How about running water. It’s amazing how much water we can go through and that means another trip to fill the ‘Aqua Roll’, or whatever water carrier we’re using … and a trip to empty the grey waste carrier.
Our fully serviced super pitches provide a supply of running water into your caravan … and a grey waste point for the waste water.
You’ll need a mains water adaptor fitted to the side of your water carrier and then some tubing or plastic pipes (32mm diameter are just right … with a few push-on connectors) to take the grey water waster to the drain … so simple!
Now you can enjoy that glass of wine!