Every weekend in the news it seems there is a caravan roll over or accident on our roads. Some (not all) of these accidents can be prevented with a better understanding of some simple towing tips and having the correct weight distribution throughout the caravan or even Al-ko ESC fitted if needed (this will be explained a bit later).
1. The first important tip is that it is always a good idea to have your van weighed – there are public weighbridges around that you can contact and they will let you weigh your van. Make sure when you go to do this the van is fully loaded (including full water tanks) – this way you will be fully aware of what your ATM actually is – not just what is printed on your plate. It may be that you are over your weights fully loaded and you may need to consider having an ATM upgrade done. This information is really handy when looking at towing issues as it can determine if the van is actually too heavy for your car – causing problems – or if it is something else. It is also a good idea to get a tow ball weight.
2. The second important item to understand is how weight distributed throughout your caravan can affect the way the caravan/car reacts in certain situations. We found this video online last year which clearly demonstrates this point:
Some thought / consideration needs to be given to this issue while packing your caravan.
Sometimes it is easy enough to think that you can carry extra water/bikes/fuel etc on the rear or a-frame of the caravan however sometimes this can cause all sorts of troubles. It is probably a good idea to get someone to check over your van before adding significant weight either end.
3. Weight distribution hitches can assist greatly in most towing issues (again each car and caravan setup is different) so if you are experiencing uncomfortable towing you should possibly look into this. Below is an illustration of before and after a weight distribution hitch is fitted.
4. If after trying all of these tips and the van is still swaying or not towing well another option for piece of mind is to fit Al-ko ESC system to your van (if it wasnt fitted as standard). The ESC system is an added safety system whereby if the van moves from side to side behind the van the caravan brakes are automatically applied to straighten it all back out. We have this on our own van and while it is a strange feeling to have it come on for the first time it makes us feel safe in the knowledge that if it ever got to a point where it was swaying from side to side this system would correct it.
Below is some more information on the Al-ko ESC unit and how it works.
We are certified installers of the Al-ko ESC units and at the moment Al-ko are offering a $100 fuel saver card for everyone who gets ESC fitted before the end of December. So if you were considering fitting ESC now is a great time to do it.
The above are just some generic tips that you should be aware of. As every caravan is different with weights/requirements etc this is just general information but if you want to speak to us further about your particular combination we would be happy to help.
Caravan Perfection team.