Towing a Caravan: Advice, Tips & Towcar Matching Guide

Gary White   Author: Gary White


Are you thinking of buying a caravan? A trailer hitch on the car alone is not enough to be able to tow it. A suitable towing vehicle needs more. Here you can find out everything about the vertical load, engine and wheelbase to help you find the best cars to tow a caravan.

Here I give you information on the most important properties that your towing vehicle must have in order to be able to tow a caravan.

Caravan Tow Car Matching

The trailer load, also known as the towing load, is the load that can be attached to the towing vehicle. This value refers solely to the vehicle, not to the trailer hitch. In the case of trailers, it is not the empty weight of the trailer that is used, but the total weight including the load. The higher the permissible trailer load of the towing vehicle, the heavier your caravan can be. The ADAC recommends choosing a caravan so that its permissible total mass remains around 200 kg below the maximum permissible load of the towing vehicle.

Whether a trailer hitch can be retrofitted to a vehicle depends largely on the maximum trailer load. You can find this value in the vehicle registration document or by browing this site.

Trailer hitch: rigid, detachable, pivoting

Thanks to a trailer hitch, almost any car can tow a caravan. There are three types of trailer hitch. First of all: All trailers can be towed equally well with the various trailer hitches. So the difference is not in their payload or functionality, but only in their technology and mounting method.

- With a rigid trailer hitch, the ball rod is permanently connected to the vehicle and cannot be removed after installation.

- A detachable towbar is particularly useful for those who only occasionally tow trailers.

- The swiveling towbar is a hybrid between a fixed and a detachable towbar: it remains permanently mounted on the vehicle but can be hidden by swiveling.

Front, Rear or 4x4 All-wheel drive?

Front- wheel drive vehicles are not necessarily suitable as towing vehicles. Because of the support load of the trailer, the force on the front axle can no longer act as usual. The front-wheel drive works better with anti-slip regulation (ASR).

A rear-wheel drive works more reliably when towing, but can be problematic on slippery roads in winter if the front breaks out. Four-wheel drive vehicles are best suited as towing vehicles as they provide good traction even when heavily loaded. Not only off-road vehicles are equipped with four-wheel drive these days, there are now also many four-wheel drive limousines and vans, such as the Ford Galaxy or the VW Sharan.

Condition of the tires

When it comes to tires, the wider the safer. That is why a towing vehicle needs tires that are as wide as possible. This increases driving stability and the contact surface, which improves cornering behavior and traction.

Transmission: automatic or manual?

If the car is mainly used as a towing vehicle, the transmission plays an important role. Many drivers prefer an automatic transmission to a manual transmission. This is mainly due to convenience. Because starting off on a hill or driving in the city center are much more comfortable with an automatic transmission. But another point is also important when towing a caravan: a high level of shifting comfort without any noticeable interruption in traction. So that the towing vehicle does not have to accelerate excessively after each shift, an automatic converter , often also called a torque converter, is recommended. It works almost wear-free, but the fuel consumption is higher in vehicles with a torque converter.

Engine: diesel or petrol?

When choosing a towing vehicle, performance plays an important role. So pay attention to a high kW and PS value .

At first glance, a towing vehicle with 1,800 kilograms and 104 hp can easily tow a caravan with a gross vehicle weight of 1,500 kilograms.

But performance shouldn't be the only criterion you use. A high torque (specified in Newton meters) is more important than high peak power (kW and hp), especially when driving with a trailer.

The torque is crucial for the thrust of the engine . This is the main reason why agricultural machinery and heavy trucks use diesel engines. Because these engines are designed for pulling loads. Gasoline engines can also do this, but require more horsepower and therefore more fuel for a similar performance.

There are several reasons for a diesel vehicle when it comes to towing vehicles: even with the same cubic capacity, the diesel engine has a higher torque than a petrol engine. However, diesel engines already achieve this at low speeds and are therefore more fuel-efficient than petrol engines. In addition, diesel-powered vehicles are equipped with a turbocharger to compensate for the poorer engine performance due to the design.

Wheelbase: short or long?

The wheelbase describes how far apart the front and rear axles of the vehicle or trailer are.

A short wheelbase results in greater maneuverability of the vehicle, which has a positive effect on off-road mobility. A long wheelbase improves driving stability and comfort. The larger the wheelbase, the safer the combination is on the road. Compact small cars show less driving stability with a trailer than large station wagons, limousines or vans.

Conclusion: Summary of Caravan Tow Car Features

If you have the opportunity to put together the perfect towing vehicle, you can think about the following features:

• as high a trailer load as possible
• all wheel drive
• safety-related assistance systems
• wide tires
• Automatic transmission, if possible with torque converter
• Diesel engine with lots of horsepower and high torque
• as large a wheelbase as possible
• as high a support load as possible
• large payload

How to tow a caravan safely?

Towing a caravan or trailer can be a safe and enjoyable experience if you follow proper safety guidelines and techniques. Here are some tips for towing a caravan safely:

1) Make sure your vehicle is properly equipped and rated to tow a caravan. Check your owner's manual or consult with a mechanic to determine the maximum towing capacity of your vehicle.

2) Use a hitch and trailer coupling that are appropriate for the size and weight of your caravan. Make sure they are properly installed and secured.

3) Use the correct towing mirrors and check them frequently while driving to ensure you have a clear view of what is behind and to the sides of the caravan.

4) Secure the caravan to the tow vehicle with chains or straps and check that they are tightened properly before starting your journey.

5) Keep a safe distance from other vehicles and allow extra space for braking. The stopping distance for a vehicle towing a caravan is much longer than for a vehicle without a trailer.

6) Use lower gears when going up hills to help maintain control and reduce the risk of overheating the engine.

7) Follow the speed limits for towing a caravan, which are generally lower than the speed limit for regular vehicles.

8) Use hand signals to communicate with other drivers when changing lanes or turning.

By following these tips and using common sense, you can tow a caravan safely and enjoy your journey.

Towing Capacity UK

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the towing weights provided on this website are accurate, we always recommend checking the vehicle log book (V5) for the official towing capacity. We accept no responsibility if the towing weights provided on this website are incorrect. | Privacy Policy | About Us

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