Caravanning is a popular, quintessential Australian pastime. Most motorists understand and appreciate the importance of safety, but for those of us who tow caravans, there are a number of additional safety considerations to remember so as to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.
Before every caravanning holiday, it’s vital that you check both your car and caravan to ensure that they are both safe and well maintained. There are a multitude of items that should always be checked when planning your departure, so creating a checklist can make this easier and save you time before each trip, while simultaneously ensuring you don’t forget anything.
As the vehicle that is towing your caravan, it makes sense for your car to be in peak operating condition and display no obvious safety issues.
- Mirrors – These should be set up accordingly, taking into account the caravan, and also completely clean and functional;
- Fan belt – This should be tight and showing no signs of degradation;
- Coolant – Ensure you have sufficient coolant in the engine;
- Oil – Check all the oil levels and take additional supplies (engine and transmission);
- Petrol – Ensure you have a full tank of fuel;
- Tyres – Check your tyre pressures and also for any signs of wear. Don’t forget to also check the spare tyre;
- Lights – All lights should be working, including indicators, brakes, headlights, and interior lights;
- Tools – Check that you have the necessary toolkit in your vehicle in case of emergency or flat tyre.
Ensuring that your caravan is safe, appropriately secured, and in peak condition will give you the confidence for your trip, and keep your family out of harm’s way.
- Windows – All windows and hatches should be closed and secure;
- Fire extinguisher – Ensure you have a fully functional fire extinguisher on board, and check that it is not expired;
- Gas bottle – Your gas supply should be turned off and fastened securely;
- Tyres and wheels – Wheel nuts, tyre pressures, and wear should all be checked. Remember that tyre pressures are usually increased when towing;
- Cupboards and doors – These should be closed and secured accordingly for travel;
- Brakes – Check that your brakes are connected and working correctly, including the handbrake;
- Fridges and appliances – Check that appliances are working and ensure their doors are sealed and secured with no loose items;
- Electrical supply – Check that your electrics on board are all working;
- Safety chains – The chains and connectors should all be in good condition and fastened securely to your vehicle;
- Lights – Check that all exterior and interior lights are working;
- Toilet – Ensure that the toilet works and that you have sufficient chemicals on board;
- Tools – Check that you have the relevant toolkit on board.
These items relate to the pre-trip inspections of your car and caravan. Spending the necessary time to ensure that both your vehicle and towed caravan are in a safe condition will ensure that you do not run into any problems while on the road.
When driving, safe driving practices are paramount in ensuring you keep yourself and your family safe when towing a caravan. Prior to, and during, your trip you should stay abreast of weather conditions for your destination and route to ensure that you’re well equipped to handle any adverse weather conditions.
Checking this list at each stopping point will help ensure that your caravan and car are still running optimally throughout your trip. It’s also recommended that you have the appropriate roadside assistance memberships and insurance in place to cover both your vehicle and caravan, as unforeseen circumstances cannot be avoided despite any number of checks.