TIPS FOR TOWING A CARAVAN IN THE RAIN
Wet weather presents its own safety hazards for any vehicle on the road, but doubly so if you’re towing a caravan.Always check weather conditions and, if possible, delay your trip if heavy rain and lashing winds are forecast. However, if you’re already on the road when the rain starts, here are some tips to keep you and your vehicle safe in the wet.
CHECK YOUR VEHICLE
Ensure the tyres on your vehicle and your caravan have plenty of tread and are correctly inflated. Check the braking systems on both vehicles, and make sure your wiper blades are in good condition. Make sure headlights, tail lights and brake lights are all working and that everything is closed properly and securely on the caravan to stop water getting in.
Tyres – In regards to safety, your tyres are the most important consideration. Your tyres should have plenty of deep tread, especially in wet conditions as the sole purpose of tyre tread is to remove water from the road so tyre itself has contact with road surface. Also, make sure tyres are inflated to recommended pressure for maximum grip.
Brakes – You will be relying on your brakes a lot more during wet weather so ensure they are in good working order before you set out on your journey.
Taillight – In dreary conditions when visibility is limited, clean, bright and working taillight are crucial. Repair or replace them if necessary.
Wipers – Your windscreen wipers are likely to be working overtime so check they’re in good condition. Replace wiper blades are an inexpensive precaution that can make a big difference.
GIVE YOURSELF ENOUGH TIME
When the rain starts, slow down and give yourself plenty of time to get where you’re going. Be mindful of other road users whose driving skills and impatience could impact you, and if conditions get really bad, it’s best to pull over and wait it out. When strong winds accompany the rain, it becomes even more dangerous to stay on the road as the risk of caravan sway increases.
Don’t rush – Leave yourself plenty of time to get to your destination, as rushing on wet roads is often the cause of accidents.
Brake early – When you’re towing heavy caravans, it can take longer to brake, especially in the wet. Allow longer stopping distances and braka early and gently.
Avoid puddles – Where possible drive around or straddle them as it’s impossible to know how deep the hole is. Don’t drive through floodwaters either as caravans can easily be swept off roads.
Pull over – If conditions are bad, the best course of action is pull over somewhere safe and wait until the worse has passed.
ALLOW MORE SPACE FOR BRAKES
Wet, oily roads can be a nightmare if you have to brake suddenly, and the added weight of your caravan makes stopping even harder. Allow more space between vehicles and reduce speed to compensate for lack of traction and increased stopping times. Brake gently and a little sooner than you would when driving in dry weather. Avoid large pools of water on the road wherever possible, and reduce your speed even more and brake gently when driving through puddles to decrease the chances of aquaplaning.
ALLOW FOR LESS VISIBILITYRainy weather reduces your visibility on the road so you can’t clearly see other vehicles and they can’t see you. Always have your headlights on low beam in the wet so you can be seen, and be extra vigilant and cautious.
AT THE CAMPSITE
If you’re free camping, don’t camp in or close to waterways. Flash floods can occur without notice, turning your campsite into a raging torrent.
Consider your entry and exit to a campsite. A dry dirt road can turn into a sloppy quagmire after overnight rain making your passage out potentially impossible.
If you do get stuck in muddy conditions, lower tyre pressures down to 20psi on both the tow vehicle and the caravan. This may provide sufficient traction to enable you to drive out to dry land.
AT THE CARAVAN PARK
Ask for a site with a concrete slab. No one wants to bring mud and dirt into their van every time they go outside.
If you’re putting your awning out, keep one end lower than the other to prevent water pooling and damaging the awning. If you have awning rafters, put these out as well.
If using your stabilising legs, place a piece of wood under the pads to prevent the legs from sinking into the wet ground. Also have a look at your jockey wheel.
Keep an eye on the weather forecast, particularly the predicted wind gusts. Anything over 25km/h can damage a rollout awning. If you know thunderstorms are coming, probably a good idea to retract the awning away.
If your site is on an angle, and you’ve a warning, be wary of a flood rush that could run through your awning or annexe area, and have a look at what gear you have stored there.
When packing up, be very careful about handling wet power cords. If possible, turn off the power at the supply point before disconnecting the cables.