Vehicle Preparation

Before the trip – Towing Vehicle:

  • Roadworthiness: Is the vehicle generally roadworthy?
  • Suitability: Is it suitable to tow the particular load?
  • Tyre Inflation: Check the vehicle handbook or the tyre placard for recommended tyre pressure when towing. If these figures are not available, the tyres (including the spares) should be inflated to about 15kPa above normal.

Before the trip – Caravan / Trailer:

  • WHEEL BEARINGS: Firmly grasp the tyres and rock. Is there excessive movement that requires further investigation?
  • LOAD MASS: Does the caravan/trailer suspension look right, is the load properly distributed and balanced, and is it below the allowed weight limit? It may be advisable to weigh the caravan on a public weighbridge.
  • BRAKES: Do brakes function correctly? Make one or two test stops from low speed to check that the caravan/trailer brakes operate correctly.
  • LIGHTS: Do all lights work properly? First check brake lights, then left indicators, then right indicators, then park lights, then finally others. Carry spare globes. Check all lamps with tail lamps on.
  • TYRE INFLATION: Are the tyres (including the spares) correctly inflated? Check the caravan/trailer handbook or the tyre placard for recommended tyre pressures.
  • TYRES/RIMS: Do all the tyre and rim sizes match?
  • CARAVAN/TRAILER COUPLING: Are the trailer coupling and safety chains securely fastened?
  • CHAINS: If two safety chains are fitted, are they crossed to prevent the drawbar from contacting the road if the trailer becomes disconnected?
  • CHAIN FIXING SHACKLES: Are the “D” shackles of sufficient strength to hold the ball weight of the caravan/trailer if required to do so?
  • BRAKE FLUID: Are the levels correct? (where applicable)
  • BATTERY: Are the batteries fully charged and are the water levels correct? (Where fitted)
  • LOAD: Ensure that your load is properly secured. Limit the amount of load in the boot of your tow vehicle.
  • MIRRORS: Ensure that the extension rear vision mirrors on your car are properly secured.
  • AWNINGS: Check that the roll-out awning is stored away and locked in the travel position.
  • JOCKEY WHEEL: Remove jockey wheel from its clamp and store in the boot of vehicle, or if it is the swivel mount variety, lock it in the travelling position.
  • STABILISERS: Check that the front and rear stabilisers are in the up position. Stow the winder in a safe, easily accessible place.
  • HANDBRAKE: Ensure that the handbrake of the caravan/trailer has been correctly released.

During the trip:

Inspect the caravan/trailer during the trip (soon after commencing a journey and during rest stops).

  • OVERHEATING: Check that brakes and wheel bearings are not excessively hot.
  • COUPLING: Are the coupling and safety chains still secured?
  • TYRES: Are the tyres still correctly inflated?
  • LIGHTS: Are all the lights still functional?
  • ACCESSORIES: Are the doors, windows, hatches, cupboards, microwave inner turntable plate, refrigerators all still secure?

Towing Safely:

The following procedures will help reduce risks and improve towing safety:

  • Electric brake controller must be fitted to the tow vehicle if electric brakes are fitted to the caravan/trailer.
  • Remember to allow for the extra length and width of caravans and trailers, and their tendency to ‘cut in’ on corners and curves.
  • The extra weight of your vehicle and caravan/trailer combination requires greater stopping distance when braking. Always allow for this when towing.
  • Brakes should not be applied more than very lightly when cornering or travelling around a curve, particularly when the road is wet or slippery.
  • Reversing a caravan/trailer can be difficult and requires extra care and practice. Directions from an outside observer watching the rear of the caravan/trailer can be helpful.
  • Caravans/trailers reduce a towing vehicle’s performance therefore greater care is needed when overtaking.
  • Accelerator, brake and steering must be operated smoothly when towing. Unnecessary steering wheel movement should be avoided.
  • Driver’s must heed any ‘Dangerous Crosswinds’ sign. These are installed by Road Authorities in areas where wind gusts can affect the stability of caravans/trailers. Reduce your speed accordingly.
  • When travelling downhill with a caravan/trailer, a lower gear should be engaged. This gives you greater vehicle control and reduces the load on your brakes.

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