You’re going on a trip with a caravan, but you don’t have too much experience in driving a set of vehicles? Here you can read what you should pay attention to!
Regardless of whether you intend to tow a camping caravan or cargo trailer with a passenger car, the principles are the same. First of all, you should check whether you can connect a particular caravan model to the car. And it's not just about technical issues, such as the tow hook, but also about the compliance with law.
Weight must be correct
In Poland, there’re rules stating that if a set of a car + caravan exceeds the total weight of 3.5 tons, is treated as a heavy goods vehicle, and therefore must have a ViaToll – a device charging and collecting fees for driving on Polish roads. You should know that ViaToll applies not only on highways and motorways, but also in many parts of national routes. A full list can be found here: http://www.viatoll.pl/en
It may happen, however, that although the set doesn’t exceed 3.5 tons, you still cannot use it. This will happen, if the towed caravan will have a higher maximum total weight, thanit’s allowed by the car manufacturer.
You can find an appropriate information in car’s registration certificate. The position O1 has an information about "the heaviest" caravan equipped with brakes that can be towed by a particular car. Position O2 refers to small caravans, especially cargo trailers without brakes. If the weight of the caravan you want to tow is higher – it’s better to let go. Firstly - you break the law, and secondly - you can damage the car.
A completely different driving
If everything is OK, prepare yourself to drive. Most important is to know that under certain conditions, the set of car + caravan will behave differently than the car alone.
First of all, achieving the same speed will take longer, because the load on the back will slow the car down a little bit. You should take into account particularly when overtaking - such maneuver will require much more time, and to perform it you’ll need much more space. When overtaking, look carefully in the mirror, but also watch, if there’s no vehicle coming from the opposite direction. Sometimes it's better to let go, and even withdraw, than to risk a collision.
Another important issue is braking. The weight of the caravan affects the braking distance and thus you’ll need more time and space to stop the entire set. It’s best to check in some safe place, how your caravan behaves during such a maneuver.
When you start, do it gently, so as not to burn the clutch. In general - delicacy and caution are the basic issues when towing a caravan. You also need to be careful when turning. You should slow down before entering into a tight corner, because if you try to beat it too fast, you risk being caught up on the roadside or hitting the sidewalk. You can even make the caravan to fall over!
Also, remember about the rules. In urban areas the maximum permissible speed for a car with caravan is the same, as without the caravan - 50 km/h. This can, somewhat, lull your vigilance. Meanwhile, all other roads (including motorways!) the maximum speed of the set amounts 80 km/h.