If the original length of your caravan drawbar is too short for your liking for a few reasons, you may be wondering if it is possible to extend it and whether it would benefit you. If you face the same dilemma, this article addresses all the questions you are looking for. So read on as we discuss the possibility of caravan drawbar extension and the possible pros and drawbacks in this regard.
What is a caravan drawbar?
The drawbar is an integral part of the caravan but perhaps one of the most overlooked parts. It is the length of steel that links the caravan to the coupling, with the coupling attached to the tow ball in return.
Besides keeping the caravan attached and at a distance from the towing vehicle, it serves some important jobs. For instance, the drawbar is intended to accommodate the coupler so it can be hauled or towed while maintaining the caravan’s balance.
Thus, its job includes keeping the caravan balanced when it is towed and keeping the weight on the tow bar, which is necessary for skilled towing. Moreover, the drawbar adds to the rigidity of the chassis and keeps the caravan stable in a straight line behind the tow vehicle, depending on the load placement and axle.
Ideally, a caravan drawbar must have a good sideways and vertical length, and depending upon the size of your caravan, or the load you want to carry, will define the material size and design required for the drawbar. The drawbar length is measured from the axle centre to the centre of the drawbar, linking the axis point with the level of the drawbar.
Drawbar comes in three styles; Straight, A-Frame, and Compound. The most common of these is the A-Frame. This is mainly due to its full-angle frame, which strengthens the caravan and backs its outer edges while preventing the chassis from twisting when it is inaccurately loaded.
Length of the drawbar
You may have a fair idea by now that the drawbar is a critical element for your caravan. It must withstand all the stretches, twists, and compresses it is subjected to during every turn or bump your vehicle encounters on the road.
Ideally, the drawbar length must be at least half of the tow vehicle’s width. Since most vehicles have a width range between 1.55m and 2.0m, the drawbar length must be half of the distance respectively, plus a few mm, so it has good clearance and balance when the vehicle takes a turn.
If your caravan comes with an undersized or shorter drawbar, with time, the stress inflicted on it may create small cracks in the drawbacks. There is also a strong likelihood that the front of the caravan may clip the tow vehicle when taking a tight turn at some point.
Why use an extended drawbar
An extended drawbar increases the ease of towing, mostly when reversing. It also enables easy access to the vehicle’s rear while still attached to the caravan. In addition, you have a better view of the rearview mirrors when the drawbar is longer. A longer drawbar hence provides a smoother ride and more stability.
Most caravans use drawbars with fixed lengths, while others use extendable options. In most cases, manufacturers design the drawbar to cater to a particular trailer style with its unique size and weight measurements.
However, the drawbar length can be extended as long as the material section is also increased in terms of size and bracing, which is incorporated to provide rigidity and stiffness to the drawbar. If you extend the drawbar, you can have a more stable and smoother traveling caravan. In addition, it will prevent the caravan from unexpected turning as the slight movement of the towing vehicle may put the caravan in a jackknife in the blink of an eye.
However, one flipside of extending a drawbar is that it may compromise the load-carrying capacity of the caravan. So, you may want to reconsider extending your drawbar if you do not want to compromise on its load-carrying capacity.
On the other hand, a shorter drawbar works better if you plan to travel off-road. This is because the drawbar leads the caravan to follow closely behind the towing vehicle, particularly when turning tight corners. A shorter drawbar also lowers the risk of the caravan bottoming out, particularly when on a bumpy road. On the other hand, if you have a longer drawbar, it will cause the caravan to swing out wide when the tow vehicle turns, which can also be dangerous. Hence, a shorter drawbar is a better choice for sharp turns and load carrying.
When should I extend my caravan drawbar?
If you have trouble backing up your caravan or feel it clips the towing vehicle when turning, you can have your caravan drawbar extended to resolve the problem. However, turning and riding with a longer drawbar may be challenging if you plan to camp on an off-road route. Similarly, if you have a longer drawbar, you must remember to avoid poor weight distribution in the caravan so that the drawbar is not under any stress.