Whether you’re someone packing up the kids for an outback holiday to show them just how beautiful their sunburnt country is, or it’s your turn to join the grey-brigade, you both have one thing in common.
On an Australian road-trip, safety is your number one priority.
This sentiment is especially true if you’re wanting to tow a caravan or trailer. But how do I tow a caravan in Australia? How do you prepare a caravan for towing?
It’s not that hard, you just have to study up the best ways to tow! So get the beers, throw the boogie-boards into the car, and slap your “UHF Jane and Greg” sign on the back, but before you do, make sure you know these 5 safety tips to towing your caravan around on Australian roads.
The Best Cars For Towing Caravans
So, what’s the best towing vehicle? It’s hard to say because there are a lot of different vehicles that are suited to a lot of different purposes. Most people will claim a car is the best just because it’s their personal favourite. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best.
When towing, you usually want to make sure that your vehicle:
- Has enough power to tow
- Has a high rating suspension to make it safe to tow
- Has appropriate brakes to slow down your load
If you want to find out if your vehicle has what it takes, or to give it a few mods to make it viable, see a 4WD specialist. For an idea on what the best tow vehicles Australia are for your off-road holiday, check out this 4X4 vehicle guide.
Best Tyres For Towing A Caravan
When it comes to towing, you’re going to want to find a good quality all terrain tyre. An all terrain tyre won’t be able to go as fast as a high terrain tyre, but it will give you a good mix between highway comfort with your trailer and off-road traction.
Additionally, the legal speed you are allowed to go with a trailer is less than the speed of an all terrain tyre, so the lowered speed versus a high terrain tyre is no issue if you are towing.
For any help fitting tyre to your vehicle, book your car into a 4X4 shop.
Before You Hit-The-Road
Before you go anywhere, you need to make sure your car is up for the challenge of lugging a metal box cross country. So, check with a professional, and make sure you:
Get Your Car Serviced
This might seem like a no brainer, but it’s something a lot of people think that they can skip. Better safe than sorry, and get your car serviced.
Check Your Suspension
Your suspension can age and your suspension has a weight limit. Get it serviced or put in a new one before you go on your holiday.
What Is Your Down-load?
Do you know what your download rating is? It’s how much your car can carry on the towball. Check what yours is and make sure the caravan doesn’t exceed it.
Fill Up Your Tyres With Air
It should be common practice before every long drive. As you start your trip, swing past the nearest petrol station, get yourself a fresh tank of gas, and fill up your tyres to their optimal air pressure.
Check Your Tow Lights
Quickly before you leave check all the tow lights on your trailer are working. This includes; breaks, indicators, headlights, and reverse lights.
Make Sure The Wheel Bearings Are Solid
Caravans don’t move all the time like a car, so the wheels are more likely to seize up. The bearings are meant to be checked every 12 months.
Make Sure Your Caravan Is Connected
Before you drive off, check that the caravan is definitely connected to your car in all the points that it needs to be.
5 Safety Tips For Towing A Caravan In Australia
The best way to make sure your holiday will be an absolute success is to make sure that you’re doing it safely. That being said, here are 5 tips on how to tow safe with your caravan:
- Do Not Overload Your Caravan
The heavier your load is, the more unstable it can become and the longer it takes for you to slow down in an emergency. If you go over what your car is legally allowed to carry, it isn’t just illegal, it puts lives at risk.
The weight isn’t calculated off the raw weight of your caravan, it is measured from when it is fully loaded. So don’t think your caravan’s limit is determined by how much physical room is inside it.
- Give Other Vehicles Reasonable Space
If you are towing a caravan and the combined length with your car is over 7.5 metres, you have to legally keep 200 metres behind any similar long vehicle on all one lane roads outside built-up areas, unless overtaking. This is because these vehicles are far less responsive than cars without trailers.
Also keep in mind how you will park in built-up areas. You aren’t going to be able to quickly nip into the shops like you would if you didn’t have a caravan.
- Balance The Caravan
When you pack your caravan, it is very important to make sure the weight is distributed evenly. This helps to keep the caravan steady on the road. An unbalanced caravan can swerve and is extremely dangerous.
A good practice is to pack in all of your heavy items first and low to the ground, evenly on both sides. If you can, make sure you fill up your car first. Make sure all heavy items are secure and aren’t going to move about when you’re travelling.
- Drive At A Safe Speed
Probably the most obvious, but also most important thing on this list. You absolutely must drive at a safe speed. Safe speed doesn’t mean the speed limit (100kmh when towing). Safe speed means driving to the conditions of the road.
If there is a cross-wind, build-up of cars, or it is raining, you need to take into account that it is going to be more difficult to control your vehicle. You might feel fine going in a straight line, but you must try to imagine if the speed you are travelling will be safe in an emergency situation.
Driving slower, even if only by 10kmh, will also save buckets, upon buckets worth of petrol. So relax, smell the flowers, and take it slow!
- Approach Turns With A Wide Berth
Your turning circle with a trailer will be smaller. So when you approach a turn, remember that a caravan will cut off your corner. Also, doing a sharp turn with a caravan, if you don’t wash off enough speed, is a high risk situation to roll your vehicle.
Take a nice, wide berth when going around a corner with a caravan, and make sure you slow down enough.
How To Reverse A Caravan
When reversing a trailer, the key is to keep the angles as smooth and straight as possible. If you turn too sharp, you will jacknife that trailer. To start off, you need to turn the opposite direction of where you want your car to go, this will set the caravan in its proper direction. Once the caravan is on its proper path, gently correct your car’s angle and reverse it into position.
Remember; as long as you aren’t moving you can’t cause any damage. So take it slowly, and if you think you’re going to hit something, stop, drive forward, and have another go.
Do You Want More Accessories For Your Car, Caravan, And Off-Road Holiday?
If you want the most reliable and trustworthy help with your 4WD in Perth, look no further than Total 4×4.
Don’t start your 4WDing experience with all the wrong gear, that is only going to make you “think why do people buy off-road vehicles?!” Use a professional, get the help you need, and enjoy your holiday!
Total 4×4 is the one-stop shop for all truck, passenger and 4WD accessories with over 30 years of experience in both residential and commercial. Our extensive range of retractable 4WD awnings in Perth and 4WD accessories will definitely get you ready for that holiday. We have the products, we have the installers, come give us a visit!