Towing Thru Windy Conditions

Mar 14, 2005
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I will be new to caravaning and still doing my homework, assuming you keep to the 85% towing rule, should you get much problems with wind or even large vehicles passing you causing your caravan to be blown off the road or you loose control? Are stablisers realy good? Do they do the job to keep you steady? What experiences do you fellow caravaners have, this is still an issue which concerns my wife and I, since we will also have our 2 young children in the car. Any comments appreciated, Cheers!
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Provided you stick to the 85% guidelines, and load your car & van sensibly you should be ok. I'd avoid very high gale force winds though. When towing keep a regular eye on the mirrors, so that if a large coach or HGV wants to overtake on the M/Way, then pull over slightly to the left BEFORE it starts to pass you to reduce the effect of any bow-wave. Practice towing in calmish conditions, get your confidence up and you'll soon not notice the weather as you'll be enjoying yourself too much!
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Hi Andy,

Where possible I would stick to the 85% rule, but a stabiliser is additional peace of mind. It does assist in reducing the effect of snaking/movement but does not compensate for a bad load distribution in the van itself. The worst effects i have experienced is when following a car transporter, but if care is taken it is no worse than a strong crosswind.

Have a great time with the caravan
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Hi Andy

I started towing six years ago with young children and was nervous when picking up my first van. My advice is take your time, fit a stabiliser and practice without the kids on board! I picked up my van, practiced reversing on an industrial estate, went straight on the motorway at low speed (45-55mph), found a steep hill and towed it through a town. With a decent stabiliser and sensible caravan loading / speed you will travel quite safely, keep an eye on fast moving vans / buses on the A rds / motorways and move over to reduce buffeting.

Hope you and your family gain as much enjoyment from caravaning as we do.

Neil
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Hello Andy, Firstly a small point 85% is only a guideline not a rule, however it does make good sence to keep the trailer lighter than the tug. The weight ratio has little bearing on the effect that winds will have on the caravan, it will push just as hard regardless of the weight, what does make the difference is the way the caravan reacts with the car. A heavy car will be less disturbed by the lighter caravan. When ever you encounter strong winds it is always wise to drive slower, and of course heed any warnings by the authorities about winds and high sided vehicles. You are wise to be cautious but using good sence you should have plenty of enjoyment with your caravanning.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Andy, Nothing can beat a well set up and balanced outfit, this can be achieved by keeping to the recommended 85% rule, ensuring any heavy objects carried in the caravan are packed evenly and low down around the centre line of the caravan and that your caravan's nose weight is as heavy as is allowed for your car and caravan combination. It is important to check the nose weight only when you are ready to attach the car. Using a stabiliser can give you a false sense of security, a poorly set up and ill balanced combination will be controlled to some degree by the stabiliser but will fail you without warning when needed the most.

A well set up and balanced unit driven within it's capabilities does not require a stabiliser.

There may be occasions when you feel you have no alternative than to travel in windy conditions, on these occasions a stabiliser would be of little use, the danger of being flipped over (as are many commercial vehicles) would not be removed by using a stabiliser although it would give some minor improvement to controlling snaking, a better defensive action is to slow down which not only gives you more time to react but makes any loss of control less likely or severe.

If given a choice I feel it is far better to park up and sit out the wind for a day than risk your families lives.

John k
 
May 21, 2008
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Firstly andy, by towing within the 85% guideline is no guarantee of safer towing in windy conditions, you need to slow down and anticipate conditions. We tow a twenty foot twin axle van at 100% match behind our Laguna estate. We suffer the effects of side winds quite a bit and also the draft of lorries and coaches as they pass us on the motorway. One tip to help with that is to keep your eye on the rear view mirrors. As the lorry approaches to overtake position your vehicle close to the right side of your lane, then as he gets level with the rear of the van move to the left side of your lane, thus leaving the widest gap available to reduce the buffeting. All the time while doing this you must be aware of the traffic around you so that you don't cause the other drivers to become un-nereved by your action. Give it a try it is easier to do than the verbal explination suggests.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Andy

You have asked some interesting questions, some of which have been covered in past threads but the following comments may help. Firstly you are adopting a very sensible attitude regarding the 85% rule and that is your best insurance against problems when towing. Don't believe all these comments about "I tow perfectly OK with more than my kerbweight" as they may not have had an accident yet but they are definately more at risk than those who follow the guidance. The second most important issue is how you load your van. The basic rule is heavy items over the axle and low and only light stuff at the ends and high (top lockers for example). You also need to ensure that you tow with the maximum allowable noseweight for your car or van (whichever is lower) as this significantly helps stability. It also helps to make sure that you have have the car with a reasonble load in it. Towing a fully laden caravan with an empty car certainly doesn't help (unless the 'van is significantly lighter than the car).

Personally I would recommend using a stabiliser as I believe that if you get an unexpected event they are a big help in keeping things under control.

The other main recommendation would be to drive sensibly - instability in vans is always related to speed and the faster you go the more likely you are to have a problem. Don't crawl around at a snails pace but as you become expereinced at towing you will get used to the feel of the 'van on the back of the car and you will be able to tell when it starts to feel bad. Be aware of your surroundings and watch out for large vehicles and give them room (the worst for wind effect seem to be car transporters) You will also get a feel for loading as well. If when you go out the van feels different think whether you have moved anything inside or not put as much weight in the car.

My final recommendation would be to go on one of the courses run by the Caravan or Camping and Caravan clubs. They are an excellent investment and give you the time and facilities to learn about how a 'van works and tows in real life. You also get to practice manouvering in a safe environment and without your precious investment on the back. If you are not a member of either club I would also recommend joining. We are members of the Caravan Club and as well as getting access to a huge range of beautiful sites across the UK they also have a wide range of technical advice and literature about every aspect of caravanning (including loading etc etc).

My advice is go for it - you will all get so much from caravanning (especially the children) and so long as you drive sensibly and don't take risks (exactly the same as when not towing) you will have no problems - enjoy yourself and welcome to caravanning.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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In most normal weather conditions there should be few problems providining you stick to speed limits, load the van correctly, ensure nose wieght is correct, a tip for when towing on the motorway and you are being overtaken by large lorries and buses is to keep well to the left and give them as much space as you can. Would also reccomend you bo a towing course with either of the CC or C&CC as they will give lots of information. Hope this helps
 
Mar 14, 2005
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First piece of advice would be to get a good stabiliser fitted. There have been contributors to this board who have boasted that they have been towing for 50 years without one and never had a problem. Ignore them! They are either very lucky or very stupid. Alko seem to be the brand leader and have an excellent reputation. Both caravanning clubs will be able to send you technical leaflets concerning the whole field of stabilisers and, as a newcomer, you may find that the help available from both clubs would be a good investment. Next piece of advice is make sure your van is properly serviced and that the braking system, suspension and, most important of all, tyres, are all in tip-top condition. Final piece of advice, don't worry. If you tow in a hurricane in February you might experience problems, but for most of your journeys you will be absolutely fine. Of course passing lorries will give you a degree of buffeting but, if you are driving at a steady and sensible speed, no harm will come to you. Remember that even cars without caravans sometimes flip over. The reasons are usually the same; driving too fast, sudden or erratic manoeuvres, poor tyres and/or suspension and not paying full attention to the road. Happy driving.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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I towed a brand new Lunar two years ago, which i hired, without a stabiliser .......... very scarey! even tho I have a heavy car (Passat sport) I now have a new coachman (2004) with an alko stabiliser and have found it excellent. A well balanced caravan like the coachman helps, avoid caravans which have a lot of equipment (weight) to one side of the van or too much to the back of the van. Concerning wind, I have not experienced any problems, however do watch out for car transporters as they produce a lot of "dirty air" just back off from the accelerator and the rig stabilises.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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ok heres my advice weve been towing for 20 years now believe what i tell you wont go wrong i promise dont overload your caravan never go above 60mph the best stabalizers are the alco 2004 worth there money in gold ive tried them all the winterhoff is excellent too forget the bulldog etc etc et go nice and steady plan your journey and you will be fine remember heavier the car lighter the van the easier it is hope this helps you we have done thousands of miles in all types of weather hope this helps steve
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Andy, with a well matched and loaded outfit you will safely be able to tow through windy weather, I would however keep well away from the roads in gales like we have recently had in the north of England. The golden rule when driving on roads around larger vehicles is to keep your eye on your mirrors, when being overtaken by a HGV you will find that repositioning yourself slightly nearer the left of the road will minimise any buffeting.Stabilisers are an excellent piece of kit, I prefer the hitch stabilsers like the AKS or Winterhoff as they are extremely easy to use. Any concerns that you or your wife have will soon disappear after your first couple of outings, enjoy yourself. Richard
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Answers yes to most of your questions....Lorries do make your outfit unstable, stabilisers do work and they do help to keep you steady.

When being overtaken, move to the extreme left side of the lane you're in - that'll minimise buffeting. I've only towed once without a stabiliser - never again will I be without one. As to high winds - keep the speed down and predict any movement when passing exposed areas - breaks in the sheltering hedgerows etc.

Good luck.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Hi Andy

Stabilisers are a useful safety net when tiowing, There are several types available, the porpose of a stabiliser is to reduce the efects of snaking ie: side to side movement caused by large vehicles or gusts of wind.They are not designed to keep the outfit riged. I favor the Ball acting type.

If you go to Camping and caravan club web download data sheet9003.

Finaly if it is very strong wind try to aviod towing if possible, your van is very slab sided so will catch a lot of wind.

Happy camping

Jim
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Hi Andy. I know how you're feeling. It was just our luck to pick up our first caravan on 20th March last year from Lancashire, when you may recall we had storm force winds! Luckily we had booked in one night at a local site to see how things worked so didn't have to travel back down the motorway that day. There's no way I would have ventured any further in that wind. Even so, the divorce lawyers were almost needed because first we got lost (1 hour to do a 15 minute journey)- the navigaotor's fault you understand - we couldn't work the heating system, hadn't realsied the drain tap was still open on the water heater so no hot water and also we had forgotten to take off the outside cover so the gas wouldn't light for the water heater anyway! We remembered the portable telly, but guess what, we forgot the remote so we couldn't tune it in. As with most other replies, we too have kept within the 85% rule, a winterhoff stabiliser was already fitted at the dealers and to date all has been fine. We had our last weekend outing on 31st October, which was the sunniest and driest of the year and seriously we just can't wait for the first excursion of 2005. Our only regret now is that we didn't take up the hobby when our children were young. Take care and enjoy yourselves. JohnJ
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Cheers! people for your comments so far they have been great! just reassures us that towing can be quite safe, obviously i wouldnt venture out in real bad weather but you can never predict how the weather may turn as you travel. Thanks Again!
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Regular frictional stabilisers, whether of the ball or the blade type do not reduce the effects of a snake if it occurs but are designed to prevent snaking happening in the first place, i.e. they raise the threshold condition when a snake starts. However, one must be aware that, no matter how good or useful these stabilisers are, once the worst happens and the threshold is exceeded, they do little to alleviate the condition. That's why it's so important to reduce speed, especially in potentially hazardous situations such as coming out of a cutting into a section of road which is exposed to crosswinds, going downhill, being overtaken by a heavy goods vehicle, etc. Without appropriate action on the part of the driver, only an active electronic stabiliser system has the capability of actually stopping a snake once it occurs.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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I'll go along with all that's been said.I don't want to start all the arguements of fors v against 4x4s but I've been caravanning for around 40 years and since switching to a big 'anchor' a few years ago - Discovery - now (much better)- Mitsubishi Pajero - the feeling of security is lovely...especially with kids aboard.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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No reply mentions the fitting of shock absorbers.

When fitted they act as an anti-roll bar as they connect to the bottom of the suspension arm. Alko fit them as standard in the European market but British manufacturers don't fit them. I have fitted them to my 'van and it is more stable now on motorways and in the wind. It was interesting a few months ago when the trade magazines visited the Alko works and all reported on the stability testing not one mentioned the fitting of shock absorbers. Perhaps they didn't want to upset their manufacturer friends.
 

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