Driving with a caravan in winter

There's no denying that driving with a caravan requires better skills and higher concentration than when driving only a car. The easiest way to see this, is when driving on slippery surfaces.

In extreme situations it’s easy to lose control over the caravan. However, to minimize the risk, it’s worth spending some time and energy to properly prepare the caravan, so it will be stable.

Before you set off

Correct tire pressure is a crucial thing- if you will follow the manufacturer's instructions, the entire set will be stable when driving.

A more controversial issue are the brakes. Typical overrunning brake mounted in caravans, usually don’t work very well with car’s ABS. As a result, the effective ABS braking can lead to locking of the caravan’s wheels. The solution may be to adjust the brakes on the caravan in such way, so they react much weaker than normally. However, you can do this only when you’re sure that you’ll drive on snowy or icy roads.

The loading will also strongly affect caravan’s behavior. Firstly, you should never exceed the maximum permissible load. Second, the load should be arranged evenly and the heaviest items placed low and as close to the center of the trailer as possible.

All equipment and luggage should be protected so they don’t move around when turning or when you suddenly stop.

Driving on slippery roads

Driving with a caravan, you should never "go crazy" on the road. When overtaking a lorry or driving next to a forest, and the trees suddenly end you will immediately feel how a gust of wind pushes your caravan aside. In order to avoid unpleasant surprises you have to drive at a safe speed. This rules become even more important in winter.

You should keep the speed at which the caravan is stable, ie. it doesn’t pulsate. Even better, if you drive a little slower than it’s possible, even if it means driving at 30km/h in the mountains. Remember that stable caravan is a priority if you want to reach your destination safely.

If the trailer starts to sway, you can react in two ways. The first is a delicate braking. It may happen that it will only make things worse. The second way is to wait for unstable caravan to set precisely with the axis of the car. At this point you have to slightly step on the gas, which should stabilize the whole set. This is why you should drive at a reasonable speed. When the caravan is stable again, you should return to an earlier, slower speed.

When driving a car with ABS, in emergency situations you should brake by pressing the brake pedal to the floor. Because the wheels of the caravan can then be blocked, sometimes it’s better to turn the ABS off and try a cadence braking. Calmly and repeatedly applying and releasing the brake pedal will make the entire set to slow down steadily. Of course, you shouldn’t try this if the ABS is activated.

It’s best to avoid mountain roads during winter. However, if you cannot choose different route, bring chains and a bag of gravel to sprinkle the road at the steepest parts. Going uphill will often require driving in first gear.