Safety is the first priority
To make sure your caravan adventure is as smooth as possible, there are a range of aspects to check before setting out and to keep in mind when travelling.
Eureka 4WD Training Manager Peter Deas said the first step was to make sure the vehicle you were using to tow the caravan/trailer was suitable and met all the legal requirements.
“Next on the list is to inspect tyres on the vehicle and caravan/trailer making sure they are in good condition, free of any defects and at the correct pressures, not forgetting the spare tyres,” he said.
“Our recommendation on tread depth is no lower than 3mm although legal limits are 1.5mm.”
Mr Deas said to check the connection between the caravan/trailer and recommended crossing the chains when attaching for added safety. Further attachments should be made with the installation of wide view side mirrors.
Image: Eureka 4WD Training at the 2019 Perth Caravan & Camping Show
“Check all lights and indicators for correct operation. We recommend checking hazard lights separate to the indicators,” he said.
Along the line of hazards, there are some final checks to be made.
“Make sure the trailer hand brake is disengaged, the jockey wheel is secured and jockey wheel clamp tightened,” Mr Deas said.
“Check all gas bottles are turned off and all latches, hatches, windows and doors are secure.”
Knowing the legal towing capacity and the weight of your caravan when towing is another aspect which will allow you to tow safely.
Global Gypsies Tours Director and CoFounder Jeremy Perks said aside from a caravan swaying due to it having a flat tyre, there could be other culprits.
“If the weight is not distributed correctly, you can get a caravan swaying around behind the back of a vehicle,” he said.
“A good indication of weight not being distributed evenly is a V-shape between the vehicle and the caravan, which will show the vehicle is not level.
“Before you head off even on a small trip, you should have the vehicle parked on a flat surface and you should make sure the caravan and the vehicle are in a straight line.”
Mr Perks said to remember the maximum towing speed is 100km/hr.
Image: Global Gypsies demonstration at the 2019 Perth Caravan & Camping Show
“The other thing is keeping a safe distance from other vehicles because you’ve got this big weight behind you, so allow more distance than you normally would between the vehicle in front of you and yourself,” he said.
The locations you are travelling through should also impact the way you are driving when towing a caravan, along with keeping weather in mind.
“When you are in urban areas and going through towns, anticipate a stop like a traffic light a little earlier than you would if you weren’t towing anything, as it will take you a little longer to stop,” Mr Perks said.
“Be careful and reduce your speed in wetter weather and be aware of other vehicles around you in traffic, particularly road trains and trucks. When they come up behind you, stay at the same speed, stay in the same lane and let the truck come past.”
When going off-road, Mr Perks said to lower the general tyre pressure by 10 per cent.
“You always lower the tyre pressure because it gives you a longer footprint on the dirt road, which gives you greater traction,” he said.
You should also only venture off-road if the caravan/trailer is designed for that purpose. Even if it is designed for off-road travels, Mr Deas said to tread carefully.
“Be extremely cautious when towing across flowing water, as the caravan/trailer can easily float and take the vehicle with it,” he said.