Caravan Safety

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Before taking to the road you should ensure that your car and trailer combination is correctly matched and equipped. In order to continue safely, regular servicing is essential - some checks need carrying out every trip and a caravan certainly needs a main service once a year.

Some checks are simple enough, but others may require a bit of mechanical knowledge. If in doubt, leave it to the experts.

Tow Bar

A correctly fitted and maintained towbar is vital for safety, as it is the only connection between car and trailer. Make sure that all the bolts are tightened to the recommended torque figure and that there is no cracking or rusting around the mounting points.

Brakes

Brake maintenance is best left to properly trained engineers, but it's worth keeping an eye on your brake mechanism and cables. If you have any doubts get them checked straight away.

Make sure the metal breakaway cable is in good condition. This cable is designed to pull on the caravan's brakes, snap and allow the car to run free of the braking caravan in the event that the caravan comes off the towbar. Always connect this to a separate mounting point and not the tow ball.

Suspension

Check the condition of the suspension for both the car and trailer, as it is important for safety as well as comfort. When your caravan is attached to your vehicle it should tow level or slightly nose down but never nose up. If you find that the car rear sags you may need some form of suspension aid. Get specialist advice on the type required for your car from your car dealer.

Tyres

Never mix cross ply tyres with radials on the same axle. Make sure you check the pressures and condition of the tyres before every trip - you will find correct pressures detailed in your handbook. Before setting out, check that the caravan wheel nuts are tight, ensure wheel trims are replaced securely and always carry a spare wheel.

Electrics

The road lights on your trailer are operated from the tow car through a 12N-type socket and plug. Check the caravan's indicators and lights are working in unison with the car each time you set off. A dashboard display or warning bleeper must be fitted inside the tow vehicle to show that the trailer's lights are working.

Mirrors

It is vital to have a good view of the road behind you and along the sides of your caravan. This will usually mean attaching additional towing mirrors to your vehicle's wing mirrors - make sure these are securely fixed and adjusted correctly.



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