VIDEO: Tips to prevent caravan snaking and how to deal with it

Published in Caravan Guard News, Caravanning Top Tips, Videos on   - 24 Comments

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  1. Debi says:

    I had a snaking caravan following a caravan tyre blowout, whilst towing along a French motorway.
    Double whammy !
    Fortunately my boys and I were all ok as I managed to bring the unit to a slow and safe stop..BUT…
    Ever tried to remove a spare tyre from its cradle on a French motorway ….. it pulls out into the “ fast” lane ….. not the hard shoulder , as they drive on the right in France.
    Lesson learnt ! …… Remove caravan spare tyre and store in the vehicle, on all future foreign towing travels, from that episode onwards. (Incidentally all the caravan tyres were new for that trip. )
    Oh, and on a motorway a warning triangle gets thrown skywards, when passed by any vehicles travelling at speed. Another valuable lesson.

  2. Mike Smith says:

    How do you correct snaking when driving an automatic car

    Many thanks

  3. John Malcolm Wilson says:

    If you go to caravan “Differential Stability” in google you will find a post from me to this site on the subject

  4. Laura says:

    My caravan started snaking when a HGV passed fast and close, I steered straight, slowed gently and got it back under control. My scariest experience was as a motorcyclist with a trailer, when I was taking it empty to collect a load of firewood, on the motorway. If you think snaking is bad when your tow vehicle gas 4 wheels, try it with 2! Or better, don’t. I steadily deceased speed and got it back, was amazed I wasn’t dead, dry mouth, feeling sick; continued to the forest, filled up and came back on minor roads then never used the bike/trailer combo again.

  5. Gerald Freshwater says:

    Held up for an hour by an overturned caravan today, near Oxford. It looked almost intact, and the towing vehicle little worse, but it seemed a big van for a medium sized saloon. Must have been a terrifying experience! We find that having a car/van weight ration of 2:1, correct loading and ‘trailer sway control’ built into the car’s computer mean no problems even towing in heavy motorway traffic. The technology helps a lot, but the weights are the thing; we almost never had difficulty even before stability control, AlKo hitches, etc, had been invented, by following that mantra.

  6. Jack COOK says:

    Really good article but I think you just need to be careful about Frank’s step 3 of going down the gears to reduce the road speed. Going down the gears in a manual entails clutch down hand off steering wheel to interact with the gear lever. All of these actions reduce the control of the handling of the car where the emphasis should be on steering with natural deceleration (in the gear you are in) to allow the car to regain control. If going down hill it may be necessary to use the brake BUT this must be done with the greatest of control (not easy in this situation) and it is what I call “Eggshell” braking. Imagine there is an egg between your foot and the brake pedal and you use the brake “without” breaking the egg. As the car regains control (hopefully with fingers crossed) then it would be wise to do a “down gear” change to a suitable gear to allow yourself to regain composure and if necessary pull over to do some caravan checks. Happy tugging everyone and stay safe out there. 🙂

  7. James says:

    We had a snaking van last week on M5. LGV passed on inside which started the snake. It was quite scary, especially for the kids in the back! I kept straight line and took foot off accelerator. Snake eventually stopped after about 50 long metres! Load was fine, tyre pressures ok, rest of journey was very tentative to Somerset.

  8. iain macdonald says:

    Good video, picked up some really good hints how to get out of the snaking. hope I never have to use them, but better knowing how than not knowing.

  9. Rob Hayes says:

    Most importantly is drive within your capabilities, go at the speed that doesn’t take you out of your comfort zone, not over the speed limit ad if you have to readjust to keep you within the limits, we all do it.

  10. Kenneth Ward says:

    I like these tips to hopefully save problems, and save insurance claims.

  11. Lee Beevor-Reid says:

    The easiest and by far the best way to prevent snaking is not to go too fast to start with and take weather conditions i.e.. rain, wind, into account.

  12. J forshaw says:

    I have towed caravans all over Europe and in the U.K. As a job and there is defiantly one golden rule ,never go above 60 mph. Firstly it’s the law and secondly you will be surprised how much the stability of your caravan changes when you go faster than that especially if you get a change in the road surface or a large van or bus comes passed you on either side. No if your unit is loaded correctly ,you have a correct vehicle caravan weight ratio and both have the correct safety towing mechanical issues especially tyres and torques then given that you are not driving in the mother of all rain, thunder and gale storms sensible towing speeds is really all it takes to avoid almost all snaking issues.

  13. Ian Sherwood says:

    I have been towing a caravan for over 40 years and the anti-snaking devices are much more advanced nowadays. However, cars and caravans tend to be much heavier too and the principles when overtaking are the same. I tend to tow at 60mph on motorways in 6th gear but when overtaking drop a gear. This not only gives you the power to drive through an LGV’s “bow wave” but if any instability is felt, by backing off the gas this should usually bring the outfit back into line. Most importantly, only overtake going uphill or on the level. When going downhill you never know whether or not the vehicle being overtaken is going to accelerate or not and it is under such conditions that a catastrophic event is much more likely.

  14. Norman says:

    Slow down when going down hills,and keep close to hard shoulder when you see a wagon about to overtake and you won’t have any problems.

  15. Gerry says:

    Another factor is the ratio of car weight to caravan weight. If your gross caravan weight is above about 85% of your car it becomes noticeably less stable. I have recently purchased a large 4×4 to replace my Audi A4 as a tow car and the improvement in stability is very noticeable.

  16. RichardsonGordon says:

    Far too complicated preamble.
    Instruction should be steer straight slow down.
    Lose the long words. Keep it simple.

  17. Andrew says:

    Excellent article and some very useful tips. We have an Al-ko ATC fitted to our caravan and I would certainly recommend having one fitted. I did get into a snake some years ago and this was caused by a coach passing too fast and too close when they overtook (my estimate was about 90mph for the coach)and it appeared to lift the caravan as it passed and when the caravan ‘landed’ it snaked violently and luckily it happened very quickly and I did not panic and was quite relaxed and as we were going downhill it probably took longer to get under control. Once under control we carried on to the next service station and checked the loads and they were as I had packed them. This was purely the coach going too fast and too close……. Thankfully they don’t drive coaches like that these days, I’m glad to say.

  18. Derek Hounsell says:

    I put luv drivers.but should have been LGV drivers.!!

  19. Derek Hounsell says:

    Never put too much weight or any at the back of caravan.always put heavey stuff over middle axel.and always do not exceed 60 mph on motor ways especially when overtaking luv.the reason why luv lorries Jack-knifing is they have there load on the tail end of the trailer or a blowout on the tyres.!!

  20. Dave says:

    Very informative but I just hope I never have to apply the guidance in a real situation. I will focus on the prevention advice.

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