Accidents can happen but

Mar 14, 2005
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On returning to North Wales on Monday night I passed a caravan that was parked upside down on top of an hedge about 6 foot off the ground. How did it get here ? A few miles further along the A55 a Swift Challenger had just been moved on to a low loader, the 4x4 that was towing it still in the carriageway. ( There was an 8 mile que behind, someone did their bit to help Caravan PR )As the latter was going down hill, was this speed, bad loading, incorrect weight ratio or just bad luck ?

Has anyone learnt from their mistakes and can they pass on any tips.

I for one had a blow out which was caused by a tyre failing despite reassurances that it was fine when the van was serviced. The moral was, ignore thrift and change your tyres within 4 years. The reason the dealer didn't change them was because he didn't sell tyres, but I didn't realise this until after the event.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Difficult to say in retrospect what was the actually root cause of the accidents that you saw, Dave. It could have been any one of the reasons that you listed. What is certain, however, is that the driver didn't react quickly enough at the first signs of instability or reacted incorrectly. A caravan will not flip over suddenly but will sway probably 3 or 4 times from side to side with ever increasing violence until the worst happens. It's therefore important to always be vigilant and recognise the first signs of unusual 'nervousness' and prevent it from developing further. In case of an unfavourable weight ratio there will be early tell-tale signs of the 'tail wagging the dog' through the seat of one's pants. In more favourable cases where the caravan can't throw the car about as much, you have to rely on the information you get through the rear view mirror. In other words, it should be used not only to constantly check following traffic but also what the caravan is doing, especially in critical situations such as downhill overtaking manoeuvres.

Speaking from experience, I have a fairly heavy 4x4 which is relatively insensitive to caravan instability. Once, while overtaking, I was watching the traffic ahead of me without glancing through the mirror. By the time I did, the caravan was swaying to a extent that it was already using up 2 lanes of motorway. Fortunately, I was able to catch it again but the shock remained in my bones for long after the incident. From that time on, I resolved to make even more use of the rear view mirror. Besides, for additional peace of mind, I had an electronic stabiliser fitted in addition to the AlKo.
 
May 21, 2008
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Like you I have had a blowout with my van, but because it is a twin axle with self leveling suspension, I could not feel a thing and only noticed when the tyre started to smoke badly. I have also had a lucky escape, after returning from Edinburgh (550 miles)to find a blistered tyre with it's tredabout to seperate.

As Lutz say's you need to pay more attention to how the van is behaving behind you when towing and ease up when twitching starts. Also loading the van with heavey items on the floor and over the axle helps. the amount of times I see cars towing badly loaded vans is incredable. I often have people say to me that they have back ache from the van snatching the car or swaying and want to throw the towel in. When I ask them how much nose weight they have on the hitch, they look completely clooless and haven't any idea what I'm on about.

I have tried towing vans with light/excessively heavey nose loads and believe me this is often the prime cause of most cases of loss of control of the outfit.

The old saying of the 4P's comes to mind.

Poor planning = Poor Perfomance.

I have had to do an emergencey stop at 60mph with the van on the back, when a couple of "boy racers in mid life crisis" cut me up on the North Devon link and then they stopped quickly as there was a que of traffic in front of them due to road works. By quickly planning my escape route and keeping cool when the wheels locked up. Releaseing my foot off the brakes and re applying them, and steering gently to the left having checked my mirrors for traffic behind, I was able to pull up along side the car in front, much to his shock as he thought I'd got him for a grill badge. I did then explain to him and his mate who he was racing, that had if they had not done what they did I'd of stopped a good 25feet away from the original traffic and that they had taken up my braking room by their stupid actions.

One of the most critical things people can do to save all the heart ache of accidents is to plan ahead, think of what could happen, pay attention to how the van is towing and be prepared to take your time instead of rushing.

A well serviced and loaded van together with a car in the same condition, plus a ten minuit safety check of tyres lights and general condition (does it look over loaded or nose heavey) will save lives.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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I trashed my caravan, damaged a crash barrier and towcar. Got into a snake and did everything wrong. The fact that I breaked undoubtedly contributed to the damage, in this case. I now practice doing the right thing. If the 'van so much as twitches, I take my foot off the accelerator. Hopefully if it ever happens again I'll automatically take my foot of the gas. As a footnote, my van and car matched OK and I must be the only person that measures nose weight every trip. Snakes just happen sometimes
 
Mar 14, 2005
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I trashed my caravan, damaged a crash barrier and towcar. Got into a snake and did everything wrong. The fact that I breaked undoubtedly contributed to the damage, in this case. I now practice doing the right thing. If the 'van so much as twitches, I take my foot off the accelerator. Hopefully if it ever happens again I'll automatically take my foot of the gas. As a footnote, my van and car matched OK and I must be the only person that measures nose weight every trip. Snakes just happen sometimes
No your not the only person that weights the nose weight every trip so do we I won't tow it until it's done, better safe than sorry, we had a bad experience hopefully never again.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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I trashed my caravan, damaged a crash barrier and towcar. Got into a snake and did everything wrong. The fact that I breaked undoubtedly contributed to the damage, in this case. I now practice doing the right thing. If the 'van so much as twitches, I take my foot off the accelerator. Hopefully if it ever happens again I'll automatically take my foot of the gas. As a footnote, my van and car matched OK and I must be the only person that measures nose weight every trip. Snakes just happen sometimes
I also check the nose weight before each journey, even though I load the same each time. My outfit is a good match at 80% and thankfully I have not had any serious issues. However, when I started caravanning 18 months ago, I did my homework and read up as much as possible. Most good advice suggested that the nose weight should be checked - therefore, that's what I do! In my opinion it is better to know for sure rather than just assume. When I tow, I can rest assured that I have done all of the things which aid stabillity of the outfit.

PS - A nose weight gauge isn't expensive and it really doesn't take long to check.
 

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