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.
The MD 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 license 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.
Also read: Here’s what to do if you’re involved in a car accident over the holidays