Get ahead with the experts; CARAVANNING.
Q. I have never towed before. What is your advice to beginners?
Towing is not a difficult skill to acquire and can be picked up quite quickly through practice on your own.
However, like many new activities, you will probably learn more quickly with some expert tuition, so book yourself onto one of The Club's Practical Caravanning Courses, which are held at various locations countrywide.
They are designed for participants who are contemplating towing for the first time, or who have very little practical experience. Non-members are also welcome. For further information, call 01342 336808.
Q. What does The Club recommend as a safe outfit weight ratio for towing a caravan?
The principle must be to have the heaviest possible towcar for a given caravan.
Otherwise, the chances of a swaying trailer becoming uncontrollable and snaking are very real. Aim for a towed load that is 85% of the car's kerb weight (KW).
The nearer the caravan laden weight approaches the one-to-one ratio, the more careful the driver must be.
Remember that the towed weight is the actual laden weight (ALW) that the car is asked to pull (ie empty weight of caravan, plus what you add), and not the theoretical maximum authorised (MAW)' or, from 1999 production models, maximum technically permissible laden mass (MTPLM).
Q. What is noseweight, and how is it important?
Car manufacturers quote a maximum permitted noseweight for each car model, which is the maximum caravan hitch weight permitted on the car towball.
It is important that this is not exceeded. However, it is equally important for stability that the caravan noseweight is heavy enough, and it is recommended that the optimum for stability of the outfit when towing is generally found to be approximately 7% of the caravan's ALW (generally between 50 and 90kg).
You can appreciate that those car manufacturers quoting a maximum noseweight of 50kg or less will restrict the choice of caravan quite considerably.
Caravan manufacturers often quote a noseweight limit too' check this is compatible with the 7% recommendation.
Q. How often should the tyres on my caravan be changed?
Preferably, replace any tyre more than five years old, but never exceed seven. They will have significantly deteriorated by then, whatever the tread depth.
Tyres which require higher pressures (say 50psi and above) may be more susceptible to impact, cutting or penetration damage, and it's recommended that such tyres are inspected more frequently. As higher pressure tyres carry higher loads, they are working harder and hence their life expectancy may also be shorter (say three to four years).
Q. Do I need a warning device in the car indicating that the direction indicator system is functioning correctly when towing a caravan?
Yes. It is a legal requirement that a warning device in the car must inform the driver, by means of a visible or audible signal, that the system is functioning correctly.
Some new vehicles have a different system, which does not show that the indicators are working correctly, but only that they are not. Either is acceptable.
Q. Does it matter what type of chemical fluid I use in my portable toilet?
Yes. It is important to be aware that certain types of chemical fluid can interfere with sewage purifying processes.
Coal tar/phenol fluids and the caustic-based fluids tend to negate the sewage purifying bacteria, whereas the formaldehyde type of fluid generally does not.
To avoid problems with the water authorities, The Club specifies that only formaldehyde based fluids may be used on Club sites' these are usually blue in colour.
Q. What is the best type of TV aerial for my caravan?
If there may be a problem with reception, then an aerial with good directivity should be chosen. Properly aligned, this gives the best performance.
If the signal is strong and not subject to interference, then an omnidirectional aerial might provide satisfactory reception.
The latter is ideal if you are constantly on the move, particularly in boats or if the children watch the TV in the back of the motorcaravan.
It is also more suited to those who want to arrive on site and forget about aerial positioning.
The Caravan Club can provide you with plenty of advice to ensure your holiday trip runs smoothly, from start to finish