Correctly hitching your caravan should be a priority for your next road trip, so below we’ve put together a list from our experience on the road with Apollo.
1. Weigh your Tow Ball Mass
Loading heavy equipment into your caravan’s front boot can significantly increase the tow ball mass, which is something you do NOT want to do as this can throw out the balance of the van and make your tow vehicle drop down on its rear suspension. So to avoid this, it’s always best to independently weigh the tow ball mass of your van with a portable set of ball weight scales, or time to time at a public weighbridge.
2. Avoid Uneven Ground
When reversing your vehicle to hitch your caravan, sometimes this has to be done on uneven ground, so its important to remember this must only be on a small angle as the coupling tongue can become jammed against the tow ball head and almost always won’t release. Be sure to avoid sharp angles and uneven ground – otherwise, you can slowly maneuver it onto level ground with the van hitched up and carefully try to lock the coupling in.
3. Invest in a Rear-View Camera
If you’re investing in a new tow vehicle, having a rear-view camera will be your new best friend. Most vehicles come with these cameras as standard, but if not there are many affordable aftermarket options out there. Buying one with as wide an angle as possible is recommended, though it would be even better if it came with a centre line or hitch up specific setting to help you line up the coupling with the tow ball!
4. Keep Your Cables Tidy
Most caravans these days have too much cable length rather than not enough when connecting to the tow vehicle, which isn’t always a bad thing, but if you do find you’ve got too much to deal with, try looping it through the coupling handle. If not, grab yourself a 12-pin connector, loop up the excess and cable-tie it to the A-frame.
5. Don’t Remove Your Chains until Last
A caravan handbrake is not quite as effective as a car handbrake, so even when the van’s brakes and the cable for the handbrake are adjusted properly, you should never rely on the handbrake alone. The easiest way to make sure your caravan is secure is to leave taking off the safety chains until the coupling is raised off the tow ball and the wheels are chocked.