Whether a kind and understanding friend has lent you theirs for a weekend’s trial or whether you have taken the plunge and already decided to buy your own touring caravan, sooner or later you are going to be faced with the challenge of towing it from one place to another.
Initially, it might seem a daunting prospect. In most instances, however, drivers soon pick up the particular skills necessary for towing a caravan behind the car they are driving.
First, the paperwork you need before thinking about towing a caravan.
You need to be qualified to drive a car that is towing a caravan. The particular driving licence you require depends on the weight and size of the caravan and on the date when you passed your driving test.
Changes to the rules have made the situation quite complicated, but the website Caravan Talk provides a useful summary, which explains that:
- if you passed your driving test before 1997, you may tow a caravan of up to 8.25 tonnes;
- if you passed your driving test after 1997, your category B driving licence allows you to tow a trailer (including a caravan) of up to 750 kg or a car and trailer combination with a maximum authorised mass (MAM) of up to 3.5 tonnes;
- if you passed your driving test after the 1st of January 1997, and the combined MAM of car and trailer exceeds 3.5 tonnes, you need to hold a licence which allows you to tow such a trailer – a so-called B+E category driving licence – for which you need to pass an additional driving test.
In addition to the relevant category of driving licence, you also need to check on the status of any insurance for the caravan you are towing. The law requires that you have a minimum of third party cover and many insurers limit their policies to just that minimum for the caravan too.
Therefore, you might want to contact us here at Cover4Caravans in order to arrange comprehensive caravan insurance for any trailer you are planning to tow.
There are a number of simple things to bear in mind when it comes to the actual practice of hitching up and towing a caravan:
- the first step, of course, is to hitch the caravan to the car that is going to be towing it – although the hitch ball arrangement, with its lock and safety chain, makes this fairly straight forward, beware that as you are manhandling the caravan into position even the slightest change in level of the pavement may send the trailer scooting forward at a suddenly alarming rate;
- since the caravan you are towing may be wider than the car itself, you may need to fix special extendable wing mirrors to ensure that good rearward vision is maintained;
- on the road, you obviously need to exercise rather more caution and to drive well within the prescribed speed limits;
- you might need to take corners wider than you otherwise do, in order to avoid the caravan’s wheel’s hitting the kerb or other roadside obstructions;
- once you have mastered the art of driving forward with your caravan, at some stage you may need to reverse it whilst it is still hitched to your car – this likely to prove a whole new experience, which you might wish to leave ‘til a later date.
Although towing a caravan poses no intrinsically difficult skills, it is important to ensure that you are properly licensed and insured and that you exercise due caution when taking to the open road for the first time.