There’s no doubt that Covid-19 has changed everything about how we work, live and play.
And one of the biggest trends to come out of the pandemic has been the re-emergence of the family road trip and the camping holiday! With overseas travel off-limits for the time being, and lots more people having the freedom to work remotely, many couples and families are taking the chance to explore our own backyard.
The great outdoors
Having a caravan, or a trailer and a tent is a great way to get around, giving you the flexibility to stop where you want to, and for however long you want to. And if you have kids, it’s a fantastic way to just immerse them in the great outdoors.
Caravan parks and Camping grounds around Australia are open (with the exception of Victoria) and many of them offer fantastic facilities including pools, waterslides, mini-golf and extensive play spaces to keep the kids busy.
But, before you go, it’s important to know that both your car, and your trailer or van, are in good order for the trip.
Vehicle and van checks before you go
Before you go, ensure that you have:
- Current roadworthy certificates.
- Properly inflated tyres and tyres fit for the road.
- Working wheel-bearings, suspension and brakes work.
- Working lights.
- Safety chains that are compliant with Australian Safety Standards and have secure connections.
We can also provide a full service which will include other checks such as oil, water, brake fluid, and the car battery, to name a few. There are serious penalties if, for example, you are stopped by Police and they discover that your lights aren’t working properly, or your towing connections aren’t standard. Worse, though, it could cause an accident, and nobody wants that.
Research before you go
One great way to get prepared for a camping holiday is to look online. There are loads of sites where regular campers post advice and information and their own experiences which can be useful for newbies. Caravan Park Associations, the NRMA and the Transport NSW site where you can brush up on the towing road rules, are also excellent resources.
The benefits of a towing course
It’s worthwhile considering doing a towing course before you go, if it’s your first time, or even just your first time with a new car or van. This can help build your confidence, especially for the tight corners, maneuvering and reversing that can be required to get into your spot in some caravan parks.
A towing course or at least a pre-run or two before you go can also help you iron out any bugs – like ensuring that your electrical connections are working properly or give you a chance to decide if you might need additional mirrors to see the full length of your vehicle.
Towing has road rules and regulations
It’s important to remember that your vehicle must be able to tow your load. Vehicle manufacturers usually indicate in the owner’s manuals the maximum weight and other features of trailers appropriate for the vehicle. These limits should not be exceeded. Some vehicles may need structural reinforcement and/or special suspension and transmission options and load-distributing devices to be able to tow heavier trailers.
A properly designed and ﬁtted towbar is essential and the rated capacity of the towbar and coupling should not be exceeded.
- Maximum rated capacity
- Make and model of the vehicle it is intended for or the manufacturer’s part number
- Manufacturer’s name or trademark.
- This is compulsory for vehicles built after 1 January 1992. The exception is where the towbar is a permanent part of the vehicle.
Load equalisers can be used when towing large caravans, these are for the purpose of:
- Helping the vehicle retain normal suspension height and effective steering control
- Transferring some of the weight from the towbar to the front and rear suspension of the vehicle. But it’s critical that you check with the towbar manufacturer before using a load equaliser.
Road safety is paramount
Remember too – that no one (not even the family pet!) is permitted in the caravan while you’re towing it on the road.
It sounds like a lot of preparation, but safety is paramount – not just for you and your family, but other road users as well. But once you’ve mastered all the technicalities of your vehicle and your van, and ensured that they are mechanically sound, then you’re free to enjoy yourself knowing that your vehicles are roadworthy and prepared for the adventure.
Pre-purchase checks on caravans and cars
Don’t forget too, that if you are considering buying a second hand vehicle, make sure you get a pre-sale check before you buy.