With the ever-increasing popularity of camping and caravanning we are bound to see an increase of rookies on the roads. If you are a first-time caravan owner (or tower in general) and you’ve got your sights set on the grad Aussie Road trip to make the most of not being able to travel overseas – then this is the read for you!
Size and (and weight) really does matter!
Being aware of how much your vehicle and caravan weigh is crucial to ensuring your rig is legal and safe to be on the roads. If the weight of your caravan is too heavy for your car, not only is it illegal and dangerous, but the insurance you have on the vehicle may also be void. If you are unsure if your car can handle the weight of your caravan (or boat) then be sure to seek help from a professional. It is important to be aware that the added weight of the caravan will change the rate at which your vehicle stop, so be sure to leave plenty of space between you and the vehicle in front.
Think before you pack
Where you carry your weight matters. You should look to pack your heaviest items close to the caravan’s axles (along where the wheels sit). If you have got too much gear up towards the front, then you risk putting too much weight on the vehicle causing it to lower at the connection point. If you have too much at the rear, then the caravan is at higher risk of fishtailing. Be frugal with what you decide to pack and try to travel with full water tanks, as it lowers the caravan’s center of gravity and helps to minimise weight shifting.
Secure caravan and cross-check
Much like preparing for take-off, towing should always start with a safety cross check. Here is an 11-point safety check to get you on your way:
- Check that the 7pin or 12pin is connected properly.
- Make sure chains are crossed and connected correctly, as well as the d-shackles.
- Check that the hitch on the car is connected properly.
- Check the emergency break away is connected correctly.
- Check that the pin on the hitch is in the lock position.
- Check the indicators on each side are working, as well as the brake lights.
- Make sure the handbrake is off.
- Remove the jockey wheel.
- Make sure all van items are secured, i.e. windows, hatches, and doors.
- Check that the fridge is operating.
- Check that the electric brake is working.
Practice makes perfect
If you’ve never towed before, enrolling in a towing course is a worthwhile investment. Here you will be able to learn from an expert the best way to tow your caravan, how to take corners (swing wide), how to reverse and how to park! It is always a good idea to get out and check your surrounds before reversing. If you lack confidence, investing in some equipment such as cameras, larger side mirrors, sensors, and beepers would help.
Many of our wonderful Park Managers will be there to assist if you ever need help towing, reversing or setting up your van! Check out our many parks across Australia: https://www.belgraviapro.com.au/