Chances are you are hitching your caravan to the car or 4 wheel drive you already own. Or, if you’ve won the lottery or organised your finances very well, you may be in the very fortunate position of being able to purchase your caravan and tow vehicle at the same time. Whichever is your situation, you need to think about what kind of trips you will be taking, and what is required of your vehicle in order to get your caravan where you need to safely and smoothly.
The perfect towing partnership for you will be a situation where you understand and meet all the legal requirements in regard to weights, and you have a car you enjoy driving that can pull the load of your caravan without labouring or being difficult to manoeuvre. You obviously also want the right caravan for your needs, depending on what your priorities are (comfort, space, mod cons- the choices are endless).
If you are planning on hitching your caravan to the vehicle you already own, you’ll need to check your car’s tow limits, to make sure you’re not overloading it with your new caravan. Similarly, if you’re in the market for both caravan and vehicle, you’ll need to make sure the tow weights match up so you’re within the weight limits.
There are a number of things to consider when you’re matching caravan towing vehicles to caravans. Take a systematic approach, making sure you inform yourself by gathering all the essential information. Making an educated purchase will protect your vehicle, your caravan and of course the precious cargo it will contain.
Here are some questions to ask when deciding on the right caravan towing vehicle:
1. What is the maximum tow weight of the car?
Check your manual if you own the car already, or the manufacturer’s website (or a dealer) if you’re purchasing a new car to find out how much weight the car can safely tow.
Remember, the weight you can tow is limited by the weight your towball can safely hold (which may be lower than your car’s maximum tow weight). A tow bar should have overall capacity and download capacity, neither of which should be exceeded. A towball will have a stamped rating.
Weight distribution hitches might be necessary if the car manufacturer recommends it. Your caravan might have a heavy towball download, in which case you’ll need a weight distribution hitch.
Check your manual or the manufacturer website for the rear axle load for your car. Overloading the rear axel by overloading your caravan is illegal.
2. Does transmission make a difference when towing?
It might. If your caravan towing vehicle has automatic transmission there’s a chance you may need an additional transmission cooler to avoid overheating while towing.
3. Can any car be a caravan towing vehicle?
If you’ve done your research on vehicle and towbar ratings and weights and you know they marry up, a good rule of thumb is that four-cylinder cars with 2 Litre engines or more are better suited for towing caravans that weigh around 1000-1200kgs.
If you have or are looking at purchasing a medium to large 4WD, these are generally well suited for caravans up to 2500kg.
It’s essential when deciding what caravan towing vehicle to match to your caravan, make sure the car’s towing capacity exceeds the caravan’s ATM (aggregate towing mass).
You can’t assume that all vehicles will be able to tow all caravans- unfortunately towing is a little more complex than that and requires a bit more research. But it’s easy to decide on the right caravan towing vehicle for your needs once you have all the relevant information and understand the legal requirements. Ultimately you need a vehicle that will be up to the job of towing your caravan while providing a smooth, comfortable and easy drive for yourself or the driver. Marry that with a caravan that will house you and your loved ones safely and comfortably, and you are all set up to head out on your first big caravan adventure.