What Impacts Safety When Towing A Caravan?
When it comes to towing, there is no disputing it takes practice and experience to become comfortable behind the wheel of your rig – no matter the situation and conditions. Experience will come with time, …
When it comes to towing, there is no disputing it takes practice and experience to become comfortable behind the wheel of your rig – no matter the situation and conditions. Experience will come with time, however there are several factors that should be considered that can impact the “towability” of any trailer, whether it be a caravan, box trailer, boat trailer or horse float.
The Tow Vehicle
Your tow vehicle is obviously one of the most important parts of your towing set up. Let’s face it, you won’t get very far without it, so make sure you choose wisely. All aspects of the tow vehicle must be adequately rated to tow your trailer. You must also consider the effects of loading your tow vehicle up with gear as this may reduce the physical towing capacity of your vehicle.
Load Distribution and Capacity
Loading your caravan correctly is crucial to ensuring a safe and hassle free journey. All items inside your caravan should be adequately stowed and restrained because lateral movement of items during transit can contribute to trailer sway and instability. Distribute the loads evenly, remembering that heavier items should be stored as low as possible and in the centre of the caravan as close to the axle group as possible. Only light items should be placed in the overhead compartments.
Consider the consequences of any DIY additions or modifications you may carry out on your caravan. While it might seem handy to simply fit an additional toolbox or jerrycan holder to the rear bumper or A-Frame of your caravan, these types of additional loads can have a substantial impact on the towability of the product. These kinds of additions and modifications should be carried out by an authorised and adequately trained person, and ideally fitted by the manufacturer at the time of original production. This will allow the manufacturer to consider these loads and their effects on the product during the design stage of manufacture.
Servicing and Maintenance
Just like your tow vehicle, you must get your caravan regularly serviced. Further to this, you should also conduct frequent maintenance checks on your caravan prior to heading off on any trip. Incorrect tyre pressures can contribute substantially to vehicle instability, so make sure you check your tyre pressures regularly and ensure the tyres are inflated to the recommended pressure. It is also advised to regularly check the wheel nuts or studs to ensure they are tightened to the correct torque as specified by the manufacturer.
Towing aids such as anti-sway bars or hitches and electronic sway control units may reduce the effects of trailer instability – but do not necessarily eliminate or rectify the actual cause of the issue. While all of these towing aids may assist in keeping your rig inline if things get a little out of hand, considering other factors such as load distribution and capacity in conjunction with these components to get to the bottom of the issue is more effective.
If you are in the market for a new caravan or camper trailer, make sure you look for a manufacturer who is RVMAP Accredited. The Recreational Vehicle Manufacturing Accreditation Program, or RVMAP, is one of Caravan Industry Association of Australia’s industry-specific accreditation and compliance programs. RVMAP Manufacturers are independently and regularly audited and must display a commitment to consistently build and supply product that adheres to all relevant Australian Design Rules (ADRs), Regulations and Australian Standards (AS).
This article was originally posted by Lets Go Caravan and Camping.