Advice for a first-time tower?

Aug 26, 2020
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Hi all,

My wife and I are due to collect our first caravan from the dealer on Saturday. I'm a confident and competent driver with 33 years' experience in a range of vehicles including large vans, but this will be the first time I've ever towed anything. I was just wondering whether anyone has any "top tips" to offer to a first-time tower, beyond the usual/obvious things like taking it steady, taking bends and corners wider than you normally would, etc.?

Thanks in advance :)
 
Jan 31, 2018
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Check tyre pressures, car need to be higher usually, make sure the nose weight of the caravan matches the car and you can see well out of the towing mirrors. And enjoy it!
 
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Aug 26, 2020
31
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Check tyre pressures, car need to be higher usually, make sure the nose weight of the caravan matches the car and you can see well out of the towing mirrors. And enjoy it!
Thanks. I plan to go and check tyre pressures tomorrow. Nose weight is already on my list of things to check, though I'm pretty sure it will be on the dealer's list too: they've told us to allow two hours for our collection as their handover is very thorough, especially for those new to caravanning!
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Check the noseweight before leaving dealers and set to cars specified noseweight. You might need some goodly weights with you to balance it correctly. I have use water containers. And set car tyres for towing. Drive steadily especially down hill where crosswinds might affect stability. Just take it easy on the drive home and get the feel of the outfit.
The two Clubs have lots of good help sheets on their websites. Worth spending time reading some.
Unless your van has a very good payload it’s incredibly easy to overload it. A second gas bottle, mover and battery could easily take 70 kg from payload. Many take the vans to a weighbridge when they are loaded to check that their self weighing excercise is correct. Any extras out on by previous owners or optional extras from new take up payload. Ie solar panels.
Good luck in you new hobby.
 
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Reactions: robg
Aug 26, 2020
31
11
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Check the noseweight before leaving dealers and set to cars specified noseweight. You might need some goodly weights with you to balance it correctly. I have use water containers. And set car tyres for towing. Drive steadily especially down hill where crosswinds might affect stability. Just take it easy on the drive home and get the feel of the outfit.
The two Clubs have lots of good help sheets on their websites. Worth spending time reading some.
Unless your van has a very good payload it’s incredibly easy to overload it. A second gas bottle, mover and battery could easily take 70 kg from payload. Many take the vans to a weighbridge when they are loaded to check that their self weighing excercise is correct. Any extras out on by previous owners or optional extras from new take up payload. Ie solar panels.
Good luck in you new hobby.
Thanks for the advice :)
 
Jul 30, 2007
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Good luck Rob with your caravan.
You say youve had lots of experience with driving.....do you have the "B+E" on your licence?
 
Nov 16, 2015
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Hello, I find that the dreaded Car transporters are the HGV's that create the most turbulance, that can throw you all over the place, inside lanes on Motorways and heavily used dual carrigeways have road ruts the width of HGV's the caravan being slightly wider that the car gets into these and can cause the van to wander in and out of these.
Good luck and enjoy your new hobby.
 
Last edited:
Aug 26, 2020
31
11
35
Hello, I find that the dreaded Car transporters are the HGV's that create the most turbulance, that can throw you all over the place, inside lanes on Motorways and heavily used dual carrigeways have road ruts the width of HGV's the caravan being slightly wider that the car gets into these and can cause the van to wander in and out of these.
Good luck and enjoy your new hobby.
Good thing to be aware of, thanks.
 
Jun 16, 2010
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Go and find a nice empty supermarket car park to practice reversing in, preferably very early or late on a Sunday.

Don't make the time that you have to reverse back up a narrow country lane, be the first time !
 
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Feb 23, 2018
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If you have an Alko AKS Stabiliser hitch on your caravan, remove any paint from your towball. [I used a fine wet/dry paper with tape around the detachable towball's 'shaft' to avoid accidental scratching. ] also clean the towball with brake cleaner before towing. (I also have to clean the hitch head pre-tow to avoid a squeaking/grinding noise).

Hitching: Make sure you wind the jockey wheel down to lift the back of your car to confirm a solid connection.

Towing mirrors! Make sure you have some.

When towing your suddenly a long as a truck and slow & unwieldy. Don't take chances. Wait for the right time to pull away at junctions/roundabouts. That's what you have to do on a B+E test.
 
Jan 31, 2018
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Make sure the electrical connection to the car has some free play but won't trail on the ground. Been there done that.
 
May 7, 2012
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Your original post looks sensible and those are the three main things when starting out.
I do understand Jezzers B's point. We have a lot of cable on our caravan and to be safe run it over the A frame to the plug. Only do this though if there is a lot of excess cable. I would also get the little plastic plug adjuster to help if the pins get out of alignment if you have a 13 pin one.. They cost next to nothing and save a lot of hassle if you get the problem.
You should get a hand over when collecting the caravan. You normally forget half of what you are told, so video the relevant bits to come back to later.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Your original post looks sensible and those are the three main things when starting out.
I do understand Jezzers B's point. We have a lot of cable on our caravan and to be safe run it over the A frame to the plug. Only do this though if there is a lot of excess cable. I would also get the little plastic plug adjuster to help if the pins get out of alignment if you have a 13 pin one.. They cost next to nothing and save a lot of hassle if you get the problem.
You should get a hand over when collecting the caravan. You normally forget half of what you are told, so video the relevant bits to come back to later.
Green 13 pin adjuster.

https://www.caravanaccessoryshop.co.uk/product/13-pin-alignment-tool/3522
 
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Mar 14, 2005
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Go and find a nice empty supermarket car park to practice reversing in, preferably very early or late on a Sunday.

Don't make the time that you have to reverse back up a narrow country lane, be the first time !
Don't forget that some supermarket car parks have height restriction barriers. Watch out
 
Aug 26, 2020
31
11
35
Go and find a nice empty supermarket car park to practice reversing in, preferably very early or late on a Sunday.

Don't make the time that you have to reverse back up a narrow country lane, be the first time !
I certainly shan't be planning to go near any country lanes any time soon. Shall have to think about where I might find a large empty car park.
 
Aug 26, 2020
31
11
35
If you have an Alko AKS Stabiliser hitch on your caravan, remove any paint from your towball. [I used a fine wet/dry paper with tape around the detachable towball's 'shaft' to avoid accidental scratching. ] also clean the towball with brake cleaner before towing. (I also have to clean the hitch head pre-tow to avoid a squeaking/grinding noise).
In all honesty I can't tell whether the towball has paint on it or not. We bought the car with the towball already fitted, and it's clearly been used before. Shall have to get the dealer to have a look at this for me.

Hitching: Make sure you wind the jockey wheel down to lift the back of your car to confirm a solid connection.
Good advice, thanks.

Towing mirrors! Make sure you have some.
Yes, picking these up from the dealer too.

When towing your suddenly a long as a truck and slow & unwieldy. Don't take chances. Wait for the right time to pull away at junctions/roundabouts. That's what you have to do on a B+E test.
I plan to be ultra-careful.
 

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