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Towing Tips

Published: 06/03/2008

Choosing the correct caravan, assuring that it is suitable for your towing vehicle.


 

Choosing a caravan

The relationship between your car and caravan needs to be carefully considered! You can have the best caravan in the world but your car will not tow it! It is essential you have a tow car that has sufficient power to pull your caravan safely, without putting yourself and others in danger. NOTE: having an incorrect tow car will invalidate warranties and your car and caravan insurance.

The Car

You will need to know the kerbweight, noseweight and maximum towing limit for the car you intend to tow your caravan. The figures for every vehicle is different, and will differ depending on age, engine and specification. To ensure you obtain the correct figures look at your user manual, or consult your local car dealer.

The Caravan

You will need to know the Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass (MTPLM), the Maximum Gross weight (MGW – pre 1988) or Fully Laden Weight (FLW). This measurement needs to be lower than the maximum towing limit of the towing vehicle (see below). If unsure consult your caravan dealer.

Matching MTPLM to Kerbweight

In a perfect world, your caravan’s MTPLM should not exceed 85% of your towing vehicles kerbweight.

The MTPLM must never exceed the kerbweight of the towing vehicle and only experienced caravanner’s, should ever consider towing where the MTPLM is between 85% and 100% of the kerbweight of the vehicle.

NOTE: It is also important not to exceed the lowest noseweight of your car and caravan.

Matching Car to Caravan

Some caravan dealers offer a matching service, where they will assist you in assuring you have the correct towing vehicle for your caravan. Also towsafe.co.uk can also give assistance.

Tow Bar (Ball)

The tow bar is an essential piece of equipment allowing your caravan to be connected to the car. If you do not already have a tow bar you will need to have a tow bar fitted to you car professionally. NOTE: since August 1998 a ‘Type Approved’ towing bracket can only be fitted. A 12V electrical socket must also be fitted to ensure the standard road light operated (brake, indicator lights etc.) and a second connector will also have to be fitted to run the caravan’s internal electrics (fridge etc.). For further help see Trailer Plug Wiring

Noseweight

The noseweight of a caravan or trailer is crucial to how it performs whilst towing (see caravan-towingtips.htm), it can be extremely hazardous if the noseweight of caravan or trailer is incorrect.

You should ensure that the noseweight does not exceed the maximum allowed weight of the car and the tow bar (consult the tow bar manufacturer), this is usually around 75 Kg, or 7% of the caravan’s or trailers Actual Laden Weight.

Choosing the Right Caravan

A few simple decisions have to be made, are you buying new or second-hand, how much money do you have available and what are your requirements! Have a look at local dealers (see Caravan Dealers), caravan magazines and caravan manufacturers (see Caravan Manufacturers).

Ask yourself the following:
How many berths does the caravan have, are they a single or twin and are they a good size!
Is the bathroom suitable, toilet, sink and shower
Storage space, you do not want to live in mess with no where to put anything.
The seating layout
Appliances – Fridge, Cooker, Water Heater, etc.

Also consider:

Size of the caravan for storage, you might purchase a caravan that will not fit on your drive!

Finally consider the caravan weight for towing, in all the excitement you may have purchased a new caravan that also requires you buying a new car!

Some useful links:
Tow Cars
TowSafe

 

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