Inside the caravan
Holidays and travelling can be fun although you need to be aware of the dangers of towing caravans. I hope this article will show you how to stay safe and enjoy your holiday. We all get so excited at the concept of getting away on the holiday of a lifetime and forget the most important things like buying the right caravan.
There are so many beautiful caravans on the market and knowing what will suit your family is important. If it is for two people you will not want bunks as they take up room. Will you be camping out? If so then you may want a shower and toilet.
Look at the many designs or better still rent a caravan for a week and see what you need or can do without. The bigger the van the heavier it is and costs more fuel to tow. Should you buy new or second hand? Once you walk out with a new van it will drop ten to twenty thousand dollars. So keep that in mind.
Moveable parts will move unless held firmly
Even though you buy an off Road Caravan you still need to be careful. The one shown in the picture has sliding doors that come off their tracks on some normal bitumen roads. We have repaired and added more locks to hold them in place.
Ours has a round shower. I would not buy one with these again as the rails holding the doors come off, this happened twice and replaced the second time ours penetrated the shower floor. The warranty was not much good because as they said we repaired it. So why do they need to redo it. Let's face it when you are miles from a town and you buy a van so you can have a shower, wouldn't you do a quick fix repair to still have showers. Evidently they did not see it that way.
My advice is to talk to other travelers. This way you will learn the good and bad things to watch out for when buying your next caravan. The price makes no difference it is the service the company gives you and the way the van is built that is important. All vans have their problems. We have seen problems from the best to the worst.
Upkeep and Running repairs
Just because you bought the best van does not guarantee no ongoing maintenance.
Wheel bearing need greasing. Check for wear and tear on your tyres and springs. Everything needs maintenance of some sort. We have seen and hear many caravans on the road that I am sure have never seen one bit of maintenance. In many cases they are the onces stuck on the side of the road with a wheel missing or broken springs. So do as much as you can to avoid this problem before hand.
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Before buying a caravan, check and make sure your vehicle is powerful enough to tow it. Do not rely on the salesman to advise you as they inadvertently lead you astray.
Even if your vehicle can legally tow the caravan you are intending to buy you still want to compare the size of the van to your car. Be realistic! If you need to stop in a hurry when descending a hill – would your vehicle be able to stop it.
I would love a dollar for every time I have seen people towing huge caravans with very small cars. Yes legally the power of the car will tow it, but you would not want to be them if they want to stop in a hurry. How much do you value your life? That is what you need to ask yourself.
Legal load weights- Overloaded means no insurance
How many times have you seen boats on roof racks with heaps of gear tucked in underneath? I bet they would be overloaded.
Gas and water is not lite. You would be amazed how much weight you can stuff into those kitchen cupboards. It does not look much when you put bits and pieces in but if you weighed everything, the caravan could be overweight.
If your car and caravan is overweight – then your insurance company will not pay out in the case of an accident.
A spot messenger could save your life
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Vehicle should be level with Caravan
How many times have you see caravans being towed down the road with the back hanging down. Or the boot of the car is overloaded so the drawbar of the caravan allows the chains to drag on the ground.
Tow hitch security
When you unhitch your van make sure you always insert a security lock on your caravan. This will prevent your van from being stolen when left at home or at camp site. No they cannot cut these ones off as they are inside the hitch.
Before you leave home - look at your car and caravan and make sure they are level. If not you may need to adjust the height of your tow hitch or check the way you have spread the weight inside the caravan. You do not want all the weight at the back nor all at the front.
Because the road signs say 110kph does not mean you can drive at that speed when towing a van. Learn the speed rules for towing. Speed limits vary from town to town so be aware of that.
Semi trailers are bigger than you especially up north where they have 4 trailers behind their rig. You are on holiday but the trucks have to stick to a schedule so give them right of way.
It is a good idea to have a radio in your car so that when the road is clear you can call up the truck and say “I will back off when the road is clear”. Courtesy goes a long way to enjoying your holiday.
Also remember if you do pass a semi trailer make sure you allow enough room before pulling in front of the truck as he is heavier than you and needs more room to stop.
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Size and height of Caravan
The caravans are getting bigger than ever and so are the damages. Many damages are caused because we forget when driving just how high the caravan behind us really is.
Even when parking along a street curb you can do damage if you are not prepared. We nearly hit a branch of a protruding tree. We stopped just in time before hitting a low hanging branch hidden by the overhanging leaves.
When driving into a campsite many people find they can drive in but then realise that the way out is smaller and if they cannot reverse easily they can be in a spot of trouble.
We got caught ourselves when driving into a lovely campsite in Queensland. What looked like a drive in and drive out turned out to be a dead end. The trees had grown bigger since the track was first made. Luckily for us a council worker arrived in the nick of time and acquired permission to cut a small dead tree to give us room to manoeuvre out of there.
Never ever camp under large trees. In Australia we have what we nick name widow maker trees. Named because with the change of weather these trees will just break and drop large branches without warning.
A car was parked in that spot in my neighbors back yard the day before. How lucky were they.
Make these checks before leaving site
Check List for inside caravan:
- Make sure all the cupboard doors and drawers in caravan are locked.
- Hatches closed and lights all turned off
- Windows all locked
- Remove loose items on bench tops
- Turn of gas to appliances and put fridge onto DC
Check list for outside caravan:
- Put foot step inside
- Make sure you lock caravan door and remove keys
- Remove power lead and turn off gas bottle if outside
- Walk around the van and check everything
- Check that indicator lights all work on caravan
- Before you drive away, take a look around in case you forgot something
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Road and Traffic Dangers
Allow for the various conditions of the road. Some country and city roads are terrible. Many have bad potholes and gouges in the side edges. Therefore slow down and drive to the conditions especially when it is raining and the roads are wet. Also be careful when there are road works, or you could damage your own van or vehicle.
A small car caused us to go off the main road onto the gouged edge and we broke a spring in the van. There was no need for him to come over our side.
Beware of Kangaroos and stock crossing the road. Stay far enough back from the vehicle in front to avoid hitting things that may have dropped off a vehicle or truck tire tread that may be on the road.
Use caution and think with your head at all times. Slow down, another five minutes could mean a more enjoyable and safe trip for the whole family.