Tips for towing a caravan in winter
Not everyone packs their caravan away for the winter. Some hearty souls keep caravanning all the year the round. But towing a caravan during the winter months does present challenges. Here’s some advice on staying safe while on your travels.
Check your vehicle
Whether you have a caravan or not, it’s a good idea to book your vehicle in for a winter service to ensure your car is safe to drive during the colder months. Ensure the windscreen washer bottle is full and contains anti-freeze; make sure the tread on your tyres in adequate for winter driving; check to see if all your lights work; and confirm the battery is working well.
Carry an emergency kit
Carry an emergency kit in case you breakdown or get caught in bad weather and snow. The RAC recommends an emergency kit should include items, such as an ice scraper and de-icer, a torch and spare batteries or a wind-up torch, warm clothes and blankets for you and all passengers, boots, a first aid kit, a set of jump start cables, food and a warm drink in a thermos, and a mobile phone charger.
Consider snow chains
If you will be towing a caravan in snowy conditions you should consider buying a set of snow chains for the tyres on your car, especially if you are planning to travel to Europe where they are a legal requirement in some countries. Snow chains help you dig into any snow you may have to pass over and give you more grip in bad driving conditions.
Listen to travel updates on the radio to find out whether there have been any road closures on your route. Avoid minor roads as they are less likely to have been gritted. Ensure you have a full tank of fuel in case you have to travel further than expected because of a diversion.
Know how to drive to the conditions
The normal rules of good driving and towing apply when taking to the road in winter and are more important to adhere to when the weather is bad.
Getting your weight distribution even in your caravan is crucial in winter as it is likely to be slippery and uneven weight in the van will only accentuate any snaking.
When driving in snow, ice, fog or hail reduce your speed; ensure you have good visibility; use dipped headlights or fog lights if necessary; and don’t drive to close to other vehicles, so don’t have to break too suddenly.
If your vehicle starts to skid – the best advice is to steer towards the skid and then straighten the wheel back up.
If the conditions are really bad or the visibility is making your journey unsafe, the best course of action is to pull over at next available service station or wherever it is possible to pull up and park safely, and sit out the worse of the weather.
Have a rescue plan
If you must set out in bad driving conditions have a rescue plan. Give friends and family your details such as your mobile number, car registration and the destination where you are heading. Work out an estimated time of arrival and agree that you will ring them when you get there. If they haven’t heard from you within five hours of the agreed time they can put a rescue plan into action.
Signing up with a specialist caravan and motorhome breakdown service might be a good idea.