When it comes to travelling in a caravan, a lot is riding on the towing vehicle. If you are considering purchasing a caravan and taking the long road trip you have been dreaming about, you must ensure that you have a towing vehicle capable of safely towing your caravan.
Alternatively, if your current vehicle is struggling to tow your caravan and you are in the market for an upgrade, you must be wondering where to start when it comes to finding an upgrade. If this is the case, you are in the right place.
Read on as we offer helpful tips on what to consider in your vehicle when you want to tow your caravan. We also provide recommendations for accessorising the vehicle for safely towing your caravan.
How to Ensure the Vehicle is Capable of Towing the Caravan
Here are a few ways to ensure your towing vehicle is capable of towing the caravan; to enable you to enjoy a smooth ride and a safe and enjoyable trip. Here is what you need to consider.
Consider Your Vehicle’s Towing Capacity
The first consideration is the vehicle’s towing capacity. It is the maximum weight that your vehicle is rated to tow. You can usually find the information in the car’s manual or the manufacturer’s website. For your vehicle to safely tow your caravan, it must have a capacity sufficient enough to cater to the maximum weight of the caravan when loaded.
For this purpose, you must know the gross vehicle mass of the caravan. If you have not purchased a caravan yet, you can find this information from the dealer or manufacturer. If you already own the caravan, the information will be available in the user’s manual. This information is important as you must ensure your vehicle can legally and safely tow the caravan.
Check Your Vehicle’s Tow Bar
Besides the vehicle’s towing capacity, the tow bar on the vehicle must be rated to carry the caravan. If your vehicle already has a tow bar fitted, you can check its towing capacity, including trailer and ball load, stated on a sticker or plate usually.
In most cases, tow bars are designed for towing light trailers only and are unsafe and illegal for heavy use. You can replace the existing one and ensure the tow bar you get is designed to suit your vehicle and meet the towing capacity requirements.
Accessorising the Vehicle for Towing the Caravan
Once you have ensured that your vehicle is capable of towing a caravan, here are a few add-ons you can consider to make your towing experience safe, easy, and even enjoyable.
Get Towing Mirrors
The line of sight within the mirrors is hindered when towing. For this purpose, you can get clear view towing mirrors that are extendable, so you can extend them when towing and bring them back in when the caravan is not attached. These will replace the existing mirrors. Alternatively, you can get extension mirrors attached to the car’s existing side mirrors. They come in a removable option, so you can remove them when not towing.
Dual Reverse Camera
This is helpful when you need to reverse in a tight spot or when driving on the highway. It is attached to the car’s rear and can make reversing easier.
Electric Brake Controller and Breakaway Units
This does not apply to the vehicle but to the caravan being towed. Caravans over 2000kg are usually equipped with electric brake controllers as a legal requirement. However, if you want to prevent wear and tear on your vehicle, you can get these regardless of the caravan’s weight.
Moreover, it is also recommended to install a breakaway unit in the caravan. In case your caravan detaches from the vehicle on the road, the breakaway unit system will apply the electrical brakes to the caravan to halt it and prevent any accidents.
Modify the Vehicle Suspension
The vehicle suspension can be affected due to the added weight of the caravan being towed, and the vehicle’s rear may sag. The standard suspension of vehicles is usually incapable of taking the caravan’s weight, and you may want to upgrade it. One option is air suspension. A compressor directs air into the airbags, allowing you to uplift the sagging back of the vehicle.
ECU Tuning for Performance Upgrade
Want to increase your vehicle’s life and performance? Consider ECU tuning to replace the factory-installed ECU map of the towing vehicle to a custom version. Your vehicle will gain more power and will have a better fuel economy. It will also improve and sharpen the throttle response and provide a smoother ride.
What Not to Do When Towing a Caravan?
The most important consideration when towing the caravan is to avoid overloading the caravan. If the weight exceeds the towing capacity of the vehicle or the recommended caravan weight limit, it is not only a legal violation but is also dangerous and can cause damage to the towing vehicle and the caravan.
Is It Better to Tow a Caravan in a 2WD or 4WD?
4WDs are better for towing a caravan as they are heavier, have a higher towing capacity, and can handle towing a caravan better than a 2WD.