Driving with a Caravan: The Facts

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Caravanning has long been known as a great British tradition, but it is also an ideal method of snatching a quick break without having to wreck your bank balance in the process. However, it is a good idea to be aware of a number of factors relating to driving with a caravan before you actually go out and buy one…

Caravan towing tips

In order to keep both your caravan and yourself safe while towing it on holiday, there are a few helpful tips that should always be kept in mind.

It is a good idea if you provide yourself with more space and more time for almost everything related to driving when towing a caravan, particularly when it comes to going around corners. Passengers should never be carried in the caravan while it is actually being towed, while the rear light panel needs to be regularly checked to ensure it is still in full working order. You should also try to keep the caravan that you are towing as light as possible, with heavier items positioned lower down and near to the axle. Tow bars need to be ‘type approved’: actually designed for your vehicle and meeting with EU regulations, although this does not apply to cars that were originally used prior to the 1st of August 1998.

When driving on single carriageways while towing a caravan you should never go faster than 50 miles per hour, and no faster than 60 miles per hour when on a dual carriageway. Your number plate needs to be illuminated in the dark and should show the registration number of your vehicle while also conforming to the relevant UK standard. In order to avoid problems such as pitching and snaking, you should try to make use of stabilizers and make certain that your caravan and car are well-matched.

Weighty issues

New drivers who pass a category B driving test after January 2013 can legally tow small trailers weighing less than 750 kilograms, and trailers more than 750 kilograms so long as the car and trailer together weigh less than 3500 kilograms. You would need a license with a B+E entitlement if you wish to tow a trailer over 750 kilograms if the combined weight was over 3500 kilograms.

Those who passed their test after January 1997 with a category B licence can drive a vehicle weighing up to 3.5 tonnes, and tow a trailer as heavy as 750 kilograms – or more, providing the combined weight is less than 3500 kilograms. Those who passed their test prior to 1997 can usually drive a combination up to 8.25 tonnes.

A towing vehicle should have a maximum trailer width of 2.55 metres, with 7 metres being the maximum length for a trailer that is towed by a vehicle that weighs up to 3500 kilograms.

Get packing

Finally, here’s a handy list of items that you’ll need when caravanning:

  • Jack
  • Spare keys, tyres, wheels, fuses and bulbs
  • Wheel-clamp
  • Corner steady pads and tool
  • Mains lead 230v, adaptor lead and polarity tester
  • Battery 12v and box
  • Gas cylinders, regulators, cylinder spanner and spare hose
  • Chemical toilet, toilet fluids, water waste hose