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What You Need to Know Before Towing

What You Need to Know Before Towing

Towing a vehicle can be very daunting, especially if you are a first-time trailer owner or are thinking of taking your trailer or caravan off the grid. It can be a scary thought to have to tow on rough roads sometimes on harsh conditions, but you can be reassured there is help there and ways to learn the best way to stay safe.

Choosing the right vehicle for towing

When choosing the right tow vehicle, you need to make sure it is legally the correct size to tow your caravan, trailer, or camp trailer. Failure to have the right size vehicle for towing can lead to further expense if you need to go to the added expense of buying a new car.  You should not have to maximise your trailer weight coming anywhere the maximum towing capacity of your vehicle and you should never under any circumstances exceed it.

Load distribution on the trailer

You need to make sure you check the way you load your caravan or camp trailer as this is the best way to ensure that you remove some of the risks of the caravan or camp trailer from swaying. Make sure all the heavy items are stored away low and secured offer the front of the axle. Place all the lighter items up high securely in containers with non-slip matting underneath.

Do you have water tanks?

If so keep them full, this will help the centre of gravity on the trailer low and assist in stabilising your load. If your trailer has a heavy amount at the front, you may feel the need to even the load, but don’t, you will end up creating a pendulum effect that will only cause the trailer sway.

Electric brake controllers

The electric brake controller literally controls the brakes on your caravan or trailer. When you have a very heavy load being towed on your vehicle behind you braking on the road can become dangerous when you only have your vehicles brakes to rely on. Electric trailer brakes are vital to assist in slowing down and coming to a stop. With the weight of the caravan behind you slowing down becomes a major issue and can lead to the possibility of the caravan or trailer not slowing in time and crashing through the back of the tow vehicle. This is where you can rely in the electric brakes. When towing a caravan, the electric brake controller can be installed and wired into your vehicle to allow you to manage the brakes on your trailer from the driver’s seat. You will have a remote knob that allows you to manage the brakes in case of an emergency.

Choosing the right brake controller

Not sure on what you need, our expert fitters at Bars N Racks can advise you on what you need and fit it to your vehicle. There are 12 volt and 24-volt systems, both have user controlled modes to allow the driver to safe both on and off the road.

Before towing

There are several things that are essential to check before taking off and towing a caravan on your next adventure.

• Boot and windows in your van need to be closed and locked, this includes the awning and any other external additions you may have on the trailer.
• Check that the licence plate and brake and indicator lights are all working.
• Tyre pressure, you should check the tile of your caravan to see what the recommendations are in regard to tyre pressure. Also check the tow vehicle to ensure you have a smooth ride.
• Fridge, make sure it is in working order and change it over to the gas bottle on the caravan while travelling, this way it remains on until you can plug it in to power.
• Inside the caravan, make sure that everything is secure and distribute the weight for travel.
• Water pump needs to be made sure is switched off. If your tap leaks while in transit you could end up with water damage, it is also suggested you empty your tanks when you get to your destination.
• Trailer connections need to be double checked to make sure they are connected and should continue to be checked along your way. Make sure your hitch is locked in and that the handbrake has been taken off. Jockey wheels should be checked and plugs that control the brakes and lights need to be firmly connected. And finally always make sure the safety chain is in a criss-cross pattern so as to ensure if the van for some reason becomes disconnected it will land on your chain and not on the road.

Towing maintenance

Just like a car the caravan or trailer needs servicing. Its best to always have your brakes and bearings checked and ensure all other mechanical systems are in good order. The mechanic should make sure all things have lubrication and that all lights and wiring are in good condition. Having all this maintained will ensure you have the maximum towing capacity on your next adventure.

Making sure you choose the right tyres for the tow vehicle.

Choosing the right tyres will reflect on how they wear on the vehicle while towing. It is recommended you look at a light truck tyre as they are recommended at making loads more even and stable on the road. Keep a watch on the age of your tyres, most have a life expectancy of 5 years before they wear and need replacing.

Checking the pressure in your tyres is also vital to ensure the longevity of your tyre life. Always know the weight of your load and change the pressure accordingly. If you are about to embark on the dirt roads you need to reduce the pressure by 4psi, although this can vary depending on the condition of the roads. To avoid overheating and tyre blow outs, use your hand to brush over the tyre when you stop, if they are extremely hot it may indicate the tyre pressure is high and needs to be decreased. If not the case you may have a brake or bearing issue.

If you are looking at any of these and thinking you have an issue or something needs replacing, visit us at Bars N Racks. We have a range of accessories that will keep you safely out on the road and should you need help installing something the team is always ready to book you in and get it all ready for your next outing.


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