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Towing motoring tips

It’s the time of year for towing so here are our motoring tips! Summer is here and many of us will be heading off to the coast and lakes with our caravans and boats. Here are this week’s tips for sensible towing.

What weight are you towing?
 The first thing to establish is how much weight you’ll be towing. Small caravans can weigh below 750kg, but some big ones can weigh 2,500kg, so do your research. Don’t forget to add in the weight of any extra items you’re carrying, too. Find out how much your car can tow. You will be able to find out what the towing capacity of your car is on line as all manufacturers publish this information. That said, bear in mind, that it will be the maximum amount the car is physically able to pull and not necessarily what’s safe that’s quoted. Generally speaking it’s best to tow something that is 85% less than your cars weight. The lower the weight ratio between your car and what it is towing the better.

Is your caravan packed correctly?
Make sure that the weight distribution is even throughout the van. The heavier items should be placed closer to the floor and light items in overhead compartments for maximum balance.

Braked or unbraked?
There’s a big difference Manufacturers always quote ‘braked’ and ‘unbraked’ maximum loads. The braked figure refers to trailers and caravans that are hooked up to the car’s braking system and have their own brakes that are activated when you press the pedal. If what you’re towing doesn’t have its own brakes, it needs to weigh much less than this to be safe to tow.

Considering nose weight
If you’re towing a caravan, you’ll also need to establish its nose weight (in other words, the weight bearing down on the car’s towball), either by asking the manufacturer or by using a noseweight scale, then check that this comes in under your car’s towball limit.

Got a big caravan? You're going to need a full-size 4x4
What cars are best for towing heavy loads? Got something big to tow? If you need to transport a horse box, Sunseeker yacht or eight-berth caravan, you’re going to need something pretty serious to cope – and that means a full-size 4x4. We’re talking about cars like the Volkswagen Touareg and Land Rover Discovery, which can tow up to around 3.5 tonnes (braked).

What cars are best for towing medium loads?
If you need a practical everyday car that can also be pressed into towing a caravan or boat, a medium-sized 4x4 or estate car is ideal. That way you can avoid the typically very high running costs of a full-size 4x4. Examples of medium-sized 4x4s include the Audi Q5, Honda CR-V and Skoda Yeti. Many estate cars are well suited to towing, too, some of which – like the Skoda Superb – are available with 4x4.

What cars are best for towing lighter loads?
If you only have a small trailer or caravan to tow, you really don’t need a huge 4x4. Even medium-sized hatchbacks – like the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf – can do the job. The current Audi A3, for example, has maximum towing weights of up to 690kg / 1,800kg (unbraked/braked).

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Posted on 29th May 2014 at 11:39 AM

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