How to tow a caravan: a hitch guide, plus the speed limit for towing and other laws you need to know to avoid a £ 1,000 fine
While hotels and self-catering accommodation are popular, there are also signs of the camping and caravanning boom, with retailers, rental companies and campsites reporting a surge in demands for caravans as people search for campsites. vacation alternatives closer to home.
While exploring the best the UK has to offer looks fantastic, many caravan novices could put themselves and others at risk, while facing substantial fines and penalty points.
Not securing a caravan or other trailer securely is dangerous and may result in a fine from the police, but there are other issues to consider as well, including permit eligibility and different regulations such as the speed limits that apply to caravans.
Here’s our guide to the basics, from hitching up a trailer to checking your license eligibility and vehicle towing capabilities.
Can I tow a caravan?
The first thing to do is to verify the eligibility of your license.
Your standard driver’s license may not cover you for towing a caravan, depending on the size and weight of your caravan and car, and when you passed your driving test.
If you passed your driving test on or after January 1, 1997 and hold an ordinary Class B (car) license, you can drive a vehicle up to 3.5 tonnes or 3,500 kg maximum mass. authorized (MAM) towing a trailer up to 750 kg.
You can also tow a trailer over 750 kg MAM as long as the combined weight of the trailer and towing vehicle does not exceed 3,500 kg. For anything heavier, you must pass a category B + E driving test.
However, if you passed your driving test before January 1997, you are generally allowed to drive a vehicle-trailer combination up to 8.25 tonnes MAM.
If you exceed these limits, you could receive up to six points on your license.
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Is your towing vehicle suitable?
Different vehicles have different towing capacities and before you go you should make sure that your car is designed to tow your caravan or trailer.
Your car’s manual should contain this information, but you can also calculate it by subtracting the maximum allowable mass from the maximum train mass, both of which should be on the car’s VIN plate.
It is generally recommended that novice carvanners ensure that their van’s MAM does not exceed 85% of their car’s curb weight.
Does your insurance cover you to tow a caravan?
If you have just purchased a trailer, you need to make sure that your auto insurance covers you for towing or any other trailer.
Most policies cover you if you’re towing, but it’s worth checking out, especially since many policies won’t cover any damage to the trailer in the event of a collision.
How to attach a caravan to your car?
We’ve covered the basics below, but if you’ve just bought or rented a trailer, it’s a good idea to ask the seller / renter to show you how to hook it up and then practice before you go.
If you can, get someone else to help you. This will make things easier and provide a second pair of eyes to make sure it’s done correctly.
First, use the jockey wheel to adjust the height of the trailer hitch so that it is higher than the hitch ball before backing up the car.
Tie the breakaway cable of the caravan to the tow bar attachment point and make sure there is enough slack so that it is not strained, even at the ends of the joint. This cable applies the trailer brakes if the vehicles pull apart so you don’t want it to accidentally activate.
Couple the hitch ball according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Hitches vary, so check the instructions for your specific setup and if there are any visual or audible indicators, check them.
Check the coupling again, then make sure the jockey wheel is fully retracted and stowed as high as possible.
Connect the electricity of the caravan to the output of the hitch then check that all lights are working. Also check the condition of the van’s tires, brakes and license plate before setting off. Road checks carried out by the DVSA revealed that one in six caravans had a dangerous defect.
Speed ââlimits and other laws for caravans
Vehicles towing a caravan or other trailer are subject to stricter speed limits than regular cars. On a freeway or two-lane road the speed is 60 mph, on single carriageways it is 50 mph. 30 mph remains in built-up areas.
You should also know that caravans are not allowed in the outer lane of highways.
You should be able to see clearly on both sides of your caravan and four meters on each side at a distance of 20 meters behind the caravan. This means you will need to install extension tow mirrors or else you could be fined Â£ 1,000, three points on your license and risk voiding your insurance in the event of an accident.
It is also a legal requirement for vehicle registration plates to be visible on your caravan or trailer, and these must be illuminated at night.