Head for the hills: how to tow a caravan

The RAC and the Camping and Caravanning Club have teamed up to help advise you of the safest and easiest ways of towing ready for your next trip. We hope you find this useful whether you’re a beginner or a more experienced camper

Part one – before you set off:

Preparing your car and caravan, trailer or trailer tent before you set off is key to making your journey as safe and hassle-free as possible.

  • Choose the right car (weight ratio) and make sure nose weight is within car and caravan limits
  • Check that both your car and unit tyres have the legal tread depth and are suitable to carry the load
  • Fit towing mirrors to your car

Final checks: 

  • Make sure windows and roof vents are securely closed
  • Make sure gas cylinder valves are turned off
  • Engage coupling head on the car towball
  • Make sure steadies and jockey wheel are raised and secured
  • Make sure you have a numberplate visible (on both your car and unit) as well as red reflecting trailer triangles
  • Make sure breakaway cable/secondary cable is attached correctly
  • Release handbrake and check road lights working correctly – these are operated via the towcar and a connected through a seven-pin or 13-pin socket

Before you set off, make sure that you’ve got appropriate breakdown cover

Arrival is RAC’s breakdown and recovery scheme developed exclusively for members of The Camping and Caravanning Club. It includes all the benefits of standard RAC breakdown cover plus specialist cover for your caravan, motorhome, trailer or tent.

Join Arrival Breakdown Cover

Part two – towing on the road:

Towing a caravan is simple, provided you think about a few important things…

First things first…

Be aware that if you passed your test before 1 January 1997, you will automatically have a BE category entitlement. This means you can drive car and caravan combinations up to 8250kg.

If you passed your test since then, your licence will have categories B and B1, which means the combined maximum weight of the car and caravan cannot be more than 3500kg.

CORNERS: When taking a corner or roundabout, the caravan will not follow the direct path of the car. To accommodate the extra length and avoid breaching the kerb line, you will need to take a wider path.

SPEED: You may drive up to 60mph on motorways and dual carriageways. On all other roads the speed limit is 50mph unless lower limits are in force.

BRAKING: The extra weight will make accelerating tougher on the car, meaning that, when towing, it will take you an average of 20 per cent more distance to stop. Avoid violent braking.

INSTABILITY: Reasons include bad loading, inadequate nose weight, excessive speed or incorrect tyre pressures, air turbulence, wind and potholes etc.

TIREDNESS: If you are planning a long journey make sure you plan some breaks. Government advice is to take a 20 minute break every two hours.