We all need a break occasionally – a chance to switch off from the stresses and strains of everyday life and spend some quality time with our loved ones or by ourselves. Holidays offer us the perfect chance to do just that, as well as the opportunity to see the world and explore new places.
That doesn’t always have to involve getting on a plane and jetting off to far-flung corners of the world, though. There are plenty of destinations to discover closer to home, and there are all manner of different ways to enjoy them.
While they may not be everyone’s cup of tea, camping and caravanning are popular holiday choices for many. It’s easy to see why – after all, there are few greater feelings than hitting the open road, full of excitement and anticipation at the adventure that lies ahead.
However, if this is your first time towing a caravan, it’s only natural that you might be a little unsure about how it works, the dos and don’ts and the various rules and regulations. Fear not – here at Jardine Motors, we’ve got you covered with all you need to know about how to tow a caravan.
Some basic caravan towing tips
Let’s start with the fundamentals. Here are a few handy pointers that will help you understand how to tow a caravan safely and legally:
- Don’t have any passengers in the caravan while it’s being towed.
- Take your time through corners and allow more space than you usually would.
- When packing the caravan, keep the heavier items close to the wheel axle.
- Conduct a thorough check of your car’s and caravan’s tyres before setting off.
- When towing a caravan, its number plate should match that of your car.
- If the caravan, plus its load, weighs more than 750kg, it must have a working brake system.
Can I tow a caravan on my licence?
The answer to this question will likely depend on when you passed your test and the weight of the caravan you wish to tow. For example:
- If you passed your test before 1st January 1997, your vehicle and caravan can weigh up to a combined 8,250kg. This is also known as maximum authorised mass (MAM).
- If you passed your test from 1st January 1997, you can drive a car up to 3,500kg while towing a caravan of up to 750kg MAM. Your caravan is allowed to be heavier than 750kg as long as the weight combined with your car does not exceed 3,500kg.
- If you passed your test before the 19th January 2013 and you have category B+E on your licence, you can tow a caravan of any weight. If you only have category B, the same rules apply as in the point above.
- If you passed your test after the 19th January 2013 and you have category B+E, the maximum weight of caravan you can tow is 3,500kg.
Can my car tow a caravan?
When towing a caravan, you need to make sure you do so safely and securely. First and foremost, you need to have the correct tow bar. Unless your car was first used before 1st August 1998, your tow bar needs to be ‘type approved’, which means it meets EU specifications and is designed to suit your car. Tow bars that are type approved will feature an approval number, as well as details of the vehicles they can be used with.
Information on the maximum weight your car can tow is usually listed in the vehicle’s handbook. For those towing a caravan for the first time, it’s recommended that its loaded mass is no more than 85% of the kerb weight of your vehicle. This is only a guideline figure, but it’s important to know you could be fined up to £2,500 and receive three points on your licence if you’re found to be towing a caravan in a dangerous manner.
What is the speed limit for towing a caravan?
Towing a caravan means rules around speed limits are slightly different. If you’re on a motorway or a dual carriageway and the normal limit is 70mph, the caravan speed limit is 60mph. It’s also important to note that on motorways of three lanes or more, you are not allowed to drive in the outside lane.
On single carriageways where the usual limit is 60mph, you should be towing your caravan at 50mph. For any roads with legal thresholds below that, the caravan speed limit is the same as it is for other vehicles.
How to reverse a caravan
Reversing a caravan is one of the more difficult skills when it comes to towing. Here’s a handy step-by-step guide to help you make that perfect manoeuvre.
- If there’s someone in the car with you, ask them to hop out and offer you an extra pair of eyes.
- Take your time. Reversing a caravan is not easy, even for those who are experienced, so don’t put pressure on yourself to get it right first time.
- Start to turn in what feels like the wrong direction. For example, to reverse to the right, you’ll need to turn the wheel to the left, because that’s where the car will need to go to send the back of the caravan to the right.
- To avoid jackknifing, start to gradually steer back to the right so your car follows the path of the caravan until both are in the desired spot.
So, now you know how to tow a caravan, but do you have the best car for towing it in the first place?
Speak to Jardine today about the best cars for towing caravans
When towing a caravan, you need to make sure you have the right vehicle for the job. At Jardine, we have a wide range of new and used cars from leading brands such as Mercedes-Benz, Toyota and Jaguar.
Our vast selection boasts some of the very best cars for towing caravans. These include the BMW 5 Series, the Land Rover Discovery and the Audi A6. If you’re thinking about joining the green revolution, the Jaguar I-PACE is a fully electric option that offers impressive towing capabilities.
If you want to know more about the best cars for towing caravans before you set off on your adventure, please don’t hesitate to get in touch or pop down to your local dealership where we’ll be only too happy to help.
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