Guide to towing a caravan or trailer

Whether you're towing a caravan, trailer or another car, there are safety checks you should make and rules you must stick to when you’re on the road. We’ve created a towing guide to help you before, during and after a journey including some driving tips.

We recommend that you always check your car’s manual for the manufacturer's towing advice as well as the caravan’s or trailer’s manual for their specifications and guidance on towing.

The government also provide advice for towing with a car including information about what you can tow based on when you passed your driving test.

 

Safety first

Before heading off, you should:

  • Make sure the contents (load) of your caravan or trailer are distributed evenly and it hasn’t been overloaded. The weight of the towed vehicle shouldn’t be more than 85% of your car's kerb weight (its total weight when it’s not loaded with either people or luggage).
  • Ensure the vehicle being towed is securely hitched to your car using a towball or pin and that the coupling height is correct.
  • Check the 7 or 13 core cable and plug and the breakaway cable or secondary coupling to make sure they’re not damaged and are correctly connected.
  • Test all tyre pressures including any spare wheels, check the tread depth is legal and there are no signs of damage. Your car’s manual will state if the tyre pressures and wheel nuts and bolts need to be adjusted for towing.
  • Check the rear lights are in working order. Ask someone to help you check the lights when you apply the brakes, flick on the indicators and switch on the number plate light. Take a look at your trailer or caravan’s mudguards to make sure they are secure.
  • Check all your mirrors. If you’re towing a caravan, you won’t be able to use your rear view mirror so you’ll need to invest in some extended side mirrors. You can get three points on your licence and be fined for towing without proper towing mirrors. Remember to remove them when you’re not towing – it’s illegal to drive with them if you don’t need them.
  • Display the same number plate on your trailer as on your towing car, which should be lit at night.

 

Just the two of us

On the road, you'll need to:

  • Brake earlier than you usually do and increase the space between your vehicles and other vehicles. Always keep within legal speed limits for towing (50mph on single carriageways or 60mph on dual carriageways).
  • The road type and weather conditions also need to be taken into consideration.
  • Be mindful that you’ll accelerate and be travelling slower than other vehicles. You should check your mirrors frequently because your visibility of everyone else on the road is reduced especially behind you. If you find traffic is building up behind you, pull over at a lay-by or other suitable place and let the other vehicles pass.
  • Be wary of the towed vehicle’s movements. If it starts to snake or swerve, ease off the accelerator and reduce speed gently. It could be an indication that you’re going too fast or something in the towed vehicle has shifted.
  • Avoid braking suddenly or moving too quickly in one direction. Reduce speed in plenty of time when approaching any hazard or take bend in the road wider than you normally do so you don’t clip the kerb.

 

You have reached your destination

When you’ve reached your destination, we recommend:

  • Finding a suitable place to park where you won’t be obstructing access for other road users.
  • Checking if you need to make adjustments to your trailer or caravan, especially after unloading, before setting off on another leg of your journey.

The RAC, our official breakdown provider, has created a useful caravan towing guide which includes advice on how to load a caravan and a handy what to pack checklist.

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