There’s nothing like knowing you can attach your caravan, jump in the car, and set off for an adventure caravanning is a firm favourite with holidaymakers across the UK, for very good reason, but there are a few things it’s nice to know before taking the plunge. Here’s our handy guide to caravan towing.
If you are towing a trailer or caravan that is under 3,500kg, you can do so using your regular driving license. If you’re looking to tow a heavier caravan, you will need to take a separate car and trailer test, unless you got your license before 1997. If you took your test before then, you will be licensed to drive a vehicle and trailer combination of up to 8,250kg of the Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM).
You aren’t legally required to have any special insurance for choosing to tow a caravan. That said, because damage while towing a caravan is one of the most common types of accidents, you might want to think about looking into a policy that has good coverage.
Caravans are also popular with thieves and if you get cover, you might have to invest in a hitch lock and wheel clamp to be eligible to make a claim should your caravan be stolen.
The towing capacity of your vehicle should be listed in your handbook. It can also be calculated using the VIN plate, where line one is the maximum allowable mass while line two tells you the maximum trian mass. By subtracting line one from line two, you’ll be able to see the towing limit.
However, just because a car can legally tow a certain weight, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s comfortable to do so. If you’re new to towing, it can be a good idea to follow the 85% rule, which suggests your caravan is no heavier than 85% of the kerbweight of car you’re using to tow it.
You should always follow the speed limit wherever you are driving, but there are a few extra things to bear in mind when you’re towing a caravan. The most important is that, normally, there’s a limit of 60 mph on when driving on a motorway or dual carriageway when towing. That said, the limit can vary so be sure to pay attention to the road signs.
There are a few width and length rules to bear in mind when you’re towing a caravan in the UK. The maximum trailer width is 2.55 metres, no matter what vehicle you’re using to tow it. The maximum length for a trailer that’s being towed by a vehicle weighing up to 3,500 kilograms is 7 meters.
When you’re packing a caravan, you want to make sure you’re not adding too much extra weight. If you’re taking a lot of heavy equipment with you, be sure to factor it in to your maximum towing load calculations.
The way you distribute your equipment and luggage can make a difference too. Placing heavy items to the front or the rear could destabilise the caravan when it’s being towed, making it harder to handle. Place heavy items on the floor, as close to the caravan’s axles as possible, and be sure to secure your luggage, as movement can throw your distribution off balance.