When you buy a caravan you must ensure that your car is going to able to tow it. It is important to get a good towbar fitted and then pay much more attention to the wear and tear on your tyres and brakes as they having an increased load to deal with when towing a caravan. The suspension should also be checked so that your ride is going to be a comfortable one. This will become more important if you regularly go away and tour with your caravan. Your caravan will require annual servicing just like your car to make sure it is safe to tow.
Towbars for caravans can either be fitted professionally or by a competent enthusiast. If fitting the towbar yourself make sure that you purchase the correct towbar not only for the make and model, but also dependent on whether you have an estate, hatchback or saloon car.
Professional towbar fitters will either work from a garage or there are now many mobile mechanics around the UK who come to you and fit the towbar at your home. There are a variety of types of towbar from single electrics (for trailers), twin electrics (for caravans mainly) and now detachable towball kits meaning you can remove the towbar when not in use.
Note that some cars are not suitable for towing. If a car manufacturer declares that a particular make of car is not suitable for towing it will not have any specified towing capacity and no specified mounting points, e.g. the Ford Ka. If such a vehicle, registered on or after 1st Augst 1998, is fitted with a towbar you could make yourself liable to prosecution.
Towsure have a range of towbars available that can be veiwed on their website www.towsure.com.
There are various guidelines for safely towing a trailer. For further advice and towing hints please check out the National Trailer and Towing Association website at www.ntta.co.uk. They have a list of members for you to search if you are having trouble finding a fitter in your area.
Tyres, Brakes and Suspension
When towing a caravan it is very important to check the condition of the tyres and their pressures before your trip. Extra stress will be applied to them so they need to be in good condition. It is also worth checking that the wheel nuts are secure. Make sure that your brakes are inspected regularly when you take your car and caravan for their routine servicing.
Your suspension should be checked to make sure that when you are towing a caravan your vehicle should be level or slightly nose down. This way you have got the appropriate grip on the road especially where your steering is concerned. If it is nose up, your car will not have enough traction on the road at the front of the car, and this could be dangerous.
Other points around your car and caravan that are worth checking to see that they are in good condition and operate properly are the breakaway cable, the electrics and mirrors.