10 tips to become a master at towing

Before the holiday season begins, prepare your caravan or trailer

Reuben Van Niekerk
towing tips
trailer tips
towing a trailer

Before you set out on your camping holiday, make sure you check the condition of your trailer or caravan in the interests of getting to your destination safely and without risk of a breakdown.


10 tips to consider:

1. Tyres should be properly inspected.

Age and sun damage as well as road wear will have affected their condition and they should be checked for cracks, bulges or depressions. If you spot any damage, it’s probably time for a new set. And if your rig has a spare, make sure that it, too, is in good condition and pumped to the correct pressure.


2. Avoid using tyres that are more than five years old.

A general rule of thumb, even if they don’t appear to be showing many signs of wear or damage. Remember, a set of tyres that is new or in near-new condition will contribute towards better towing stability and improved fuel economy.


3. Make sure wheel nuts are tight.

And that wheel bearings are properly lubricated and turning freely and that the hitch between the tow vehicle and caravan or trailer is secure. Check electrical connections for rust, wear or damage and have them replaced if necessary.


4. Test to see if all lights are working.

Including brake lights and indicators. Make sure that you have a supply of replacement globes in your spares kit. Ensure that you have the correct tools include jack and wheel spanner to replace the tyre of the trailer, in the event of a puncture.


5. Handbrakes will require inspection too.

If caravans or trailers have been standing for long periods, their handbrake mechanisms will probably need lubrication. And while you’ve got the grease or oil handy, lubricate jockey wheels, hinges and locks, screw drives and any other metal components that move.


6. Ensure that you have the correct drivers licence for the type of rig you will be towing.

A normal Class B licence only allows for the towing of trailers under 750kg. The towing of larger trailers and caravans will require you to at least be in possession of and EB code licence. Also ensure that the licence disc of the trailer, which needs to be renewed every year, is valid.


7. Check the caravan’s battery.

It should have been removed after your last trip, but test its charge to make sure that it is working properly. If in doubt, have it inspected by an expert, try a certified Motus dealer.


8. Check the caravan’s fittings.

It’s easy to assume that because a caravan has been properly stored over the winter months, everything will be perfect when you remove its cover. But you may have overlooked something before it went into hibernation – inspect awnings and plastics fittings for tears or cracks, and make sure interior fixtures are properly secured.


9. Check the caravan’s seals.

Seals on a trailer’s lid or those on a caravan’s doors, windows and pop-top roofs should be inspected for leaks. Generally speaking, the older the seal, the more likely it is to need replacing since it is likely to have deteriorated if it has been subject to periods of hot, dry or dusty conditions.


10. Gas-operated appliances will also need to be inspected.

Check that the caravan’s oven, including hob rings, works and that the fridge functions.


Pro tips for towing:

  • Give your caravan or trailer a proper wash and shine. Even if they were polished before they were laid up, it’s still worth giving them another onceover before the season begins.


  • And, when you are finally ready to hit the road, make sure that your luggage is correctly packed inside the caravan or trailer to reduce the risk of weaving, yawing or snaking.


  • Ensure that the weight of the cargo is distributed evenly, with the load’s centre of gravity located about 10cm to 20cm in front of the trailer or caravan’s wheels. Additionally, all items should be secured with tie downs to prevent them moving while on the road.


  • The mirrors of your car will need to be adjusted so that you can see the trailer too. If you are towing a small trailer behind a large vehicle a good idea is to fit it with a flag to ensure easier visibility.


  • One of the key things to remember when towing a trailer or caravan is that you need to allow more time and room for everything. Make sure you allow a gap of at least four seconds to the vehicle in front, anticipate junctions and stops to allow you time to brake early. Also, give yourself extra room for turning and maneuvering.