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Do you have to haul a large load this holiday? Here are some essential towing tips

2018-12-16 08:00
Car towing a caravan

Image: iStock

As the holiday season starts, many people are about to leave for a break with trailers and caravans in tow.

Effective towing requires additional skills as it affects acceleration, braking, and manoeuvrability. It can also have tragic consequences if a mistake is made.

READ: Got a caravan or a boat? Here are five great family tow cars to get you there

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.

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