Brian Joss – As a holiday season starts, many people are about to leave for a break with trailers and caravans in tow. Yet, effective towing does require additional skills as it affects acceleration, braking and manoeuvrability. It can also have tragic consequences if a mistake is made.
Managing director of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, who is known for his towing feats, provides a number of tips to follow if you are towing over the holiday period:
Ensure you have the correct driving licence for what you want to tow.
If you have never towed before, training is highly recommended. Otherwise, get a feel for how the wheels handle accelerating and braking in an empty car park.
Ensure the trailer is roadworthy. If trailers stand for some time, tyres can deteriorate.
The different weight requirements and distribution is most important, especially the gross and tow bar weight.
Incorrect weight can cause sway. Obtain stability by distributing the weigh evenly.
Cross safety chains under the hitch in an ‘X’ shape. If the trailer or caravan unhitches it may drop onto these chains, maximising control and minimising danger.
Empty caravan water tanks before leaving and refill them upon arrival.
Additionally, fresh water is a must.
Ensure bearings are well-greased especially in boat trailers and particularly if you live on the coast.
Check all lights before leaving.
Every time you stop for a break, check the trailer or caravan for problems.
Allow for extra time to get to your destination.
Remember everything takes longer when towing: speeding up, slowing down and overtaking, thus increase your spaces and be aware of faster vehicles.
Moderate speeds reduce sway and give greater control.
Fast speeds increase wind resistance, increase fuel consumption and put extra strain on the vehicle and trailer.
Check tyre pressure before and throughout the journey.
If the trailer starts to sway, gradually slow down until everything is back in line. Do not steer out of a sway.
If your trailer continues to sway, determine what is causing the issue. You may need to reload or you may need to redistribute the weight.
Slamming on brakes can cause jack-knifing.
CAPTION: Caravans: getting there safely. Picture: Djordje Petrovic