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Which Vehicle Is Best for Towing A Caravan

Which Vehicle Is Best for Towing A Caravan

Thinking of buying a new caravan or even upgrading an old faithful? Then you better consider investing in the right car to tow it. When looking at a car for caravan towing, you also need to make sure the car will make your family and friends more comfortable. But what type of car is best when it comes to caravan towing equipment, there's so much to consider.

With every new caravan or even an upgrade in vans you need to consider, can my current vehicle cope with towing; what you are considering, and additionally does it have the towing capacity regulations and requirements? When looking for caravan towing solutions Bars N Racks suggests calling in and getting advice, is a good start to look at the weight of your caravan, you also need to consider the extra weight you will pack into the caravan as this adds additional weight to the tow vehicle.

You want a smooth and relaxing drive when towing and we all know caravan towing can be stressful on the road regardless of what you are towing. Thinking for your own safety and the safety of those also on the road around you can be stressful without having to struggle with a vehicle that isn't powerful enough.

Is the vehicle legal?

The biggest consideration when matching your vehicle and caravan or trailer is ensuring it is both roadworthy and legal. Making sure you follow the vehicle specifications with your caravan towing equipment is essential in terms of making sure you keep within the legal towing capacity of the vehicle. This ensures the safety of your passengers, yourself, and other road users. Apart from this, all the rest is a personal preference.

You need to determine four things for your caravan: GCM, ATM, GTM, and TBM. If you are unsure, I would recommend you check with caravan towing solutions to be fully understanding that you are complying.

How Do You Calculate Aggregate Trailer Mass?

ATM is known also as the Aggregate Trailer Mass; this is the overall maximum rating that the caravan or trailer is legally allowed to weigh once you have loaded it with all the extra items you need to carry inside it. When it is fully loaded, it must NOT exceed the ATM rating.

ATM = tare mass (the weight of the trailer) + the maximum load (inc. luggage, passengers in the vehicle, water, fuel, and any additional accessories) + The Tow Ball Mass.

What is meant by the Gross Trailer Mass?

GTM is commonly known as the Gross Trailer Mass and is the rating when the caravan is fully loaded and hitched (or attached) to the vehicle. For absolutely no reason can this be exceeded for caravan towing or any other kind of towing?

So, this means that your Gross Trailer Mass is calculated by the Aggregate Trailer Mass minus (or less) the Tow Ball Mass.

To be 100% sure the weights of your ATM & GTM rating limits are determined by the manufacturer and are in the vehicle manual and the trailer placard.

Tow Ball Mass explained

The tow ball weight is the maximum weight the tow ball can carry when the caravan is hooked up to it. You need to be sure of this as while the vehicle manufacturer may say the vehicle can legally tow up to 2,500kg your tow bar may reflect completely different amounts. When researching towing solutions in Australia, Bars N Racks recommends you check both the vehicle towing weight and the weight the tow ball can carry in total as often the tow ball carries less than the vehicle is able to tow. If in doubt refer to the sticker or plate on the actual tow bar or come into a store and the team will be happy to show you how to do this.

Towing with automatic transmission vehicle

There is no better transmission you can choose either automatic or manual transmission vehicles. It's basically down to your personal preference as to what kind of transmission you choose. However, there are some things you may like to consider before making a final decision on one or the other.

Towing with an Automatic Transmission

Vehicles that are fitted with an automatic transmission have a much higher towing capacity than those who choose to tow with a manual transmission. When circumstances occur and you are towing on uneven ground such as over sand or driving uphill, automatic transmission vehicles handle the job a lot better as there is no fussing around changing gears manually. The chances of stalling in a manual when changing gears or even rolling backward are a lot greater. In saying this an automatic can overheat faster and therefore Bars N Racks recommends a transmission cooler as this prevents overheating.

Towing a caravan with manual transmission

Manual vehicles have a lower towing capacity as when you are shifting gears damage can occur to the clutch, especially when towing large loads. Manuals cope better in off-road situations as the driver has absolute control of the vehicle. Caravan towing solutions also suggest that manual vehicles keep the driver more alert as they must control the gears in the vehicle.

Some drivers feel manual is better if you are driving on hilly ground and gives you more control when you are towing a caravan.

Cars That Are Ideal For Towing Caravans

All wheel drives, 2WD, and 4WD are all great for towing caravans and while you can research sites such as caravan towing solutions, bars N Racks suggests it comes down to personal preference. Local driving is better in a 2WD as roads are mostly even. Off road driving however is way more enjoyable in an all-wheel drive or 4WD as they get better traction and are safer when driving and towing on sandy, muddy, icy, or hilly.

Best Tyres for Towing on a Vehicle

When driving on snow-covered, sandy, or muddy terrain Bars n Racks, the best caravan towing solutions recommends you think ahead about the kind of tyre you will be using on the vehicle. Many experienced off-road drivers choose a light truck tyre but have noted that on bitumen roads they tend to wear down fast. All-terrain tyres are a good compromise especially if you intend on driving in the city also.

Knowing Your Tow Vehicle Service Costs

When choosing your vehicle, you need to consider and factor in the cost of servicing the vehicle moving forward. Costs of replacing parts can vary greatly and caravan towing strongly suggests you work out a few vehicles you favour and from there check servicing costs and replacement part costs. If buying from a dealer you have the bonus reassurance that the vehicle will have a warranty, and terms & conditions but there are still out-of-pocket expenses.

Additional Considerations

Your vehicle and caravan manufacturer may also recommend you install a weight distribution hitch, if you do you need to be mindful of what rating needs to be.

Additionally, the vehicle or caravan may require you to install mechanical and electronic anti-sway systems. The law states trailers over 750kg require a trailer brake controller and additionally trailers over 2,000kgs must have electronic trailer brakes. The brake controller can be positioned out of sight under the dashboard.


In summing up what you need for towing a caravan you can see that there is more than just a vehicle. Research is involved as is knowledge of laws and regulations governing the choice of vehicle you choose to tow your caravan.

As always check the highest ATM you can tow, check the trailer weight, and make sure the tow ball mass is within your vehicle's towing capacity. Also, consult with your caravan dealer or the caravan's manufacturer on any additional components you may need to be installed in your vehicles like a weight distribution hitch or an anti-sway bar.

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