A correctly connected tow vehicle and caravan will make sure you have a stress free journey as well as minimising the risk of any towing related incidents, such as detachments.
We’ve seen an increase in caravan detachments over recent years, which can be avoided if you’re hitched up correctly and by making sure the breakaway cable is correctly fitted.
Here’s our 14 step guide and video on how to carry out the perfect hitch and correctly connect your caravan to your towing vehicle.
Steps to hitching up
1. Remove all security items, such as your hitchlock, wheel clamps, axle wheel locks or any other locks you have on the caravan
2. Make sure the caravan hand brake is fully on and if on a slope or uneven ground chock the wheels of the caravan too.
3. Raise all the corner steadies on the caravan and raise the nose of the caravan by winding the jockey wheel down.
4. Now it’s time to reverse the car towards the caravan. It’s useful to have some help here. But if you are working solo, and you have a motor mover, use this to pull the caravan forward towards the car. Remember if you are using a motor mover to disengage it from the caravan wheels once you have done using it.
5. With the tow ball now beneath the hitch of the caravan it’s time to start connecting the car to the caravan. Start by connecting the breakaway cable – it’s a legal requirement to have a breakaway cable fitted to your caravanning outfit. In this video, Leisure Vehicles Officer Tim Booth goes through everything you need to know about caravan breakaway cables for safe towing.
Your tow bar should have a dedicated connection for the breakaway cable.
If not, you can have one added on to your car. Just speak to your local caravan or car dealer for more information.
An acceptable method of connecting the breakaway cable is to loop the cable around the neck of the tow bar, beneath the coupling head, and clipped back on itself.
Make sure the cable doesn’t get entangled with the electrical cable or any external stabiliser and that it’s not dragging on the ground when driving. Be sure to replace a damaged breakaway cable with the relevant manufacturer’s spare.
6. Now open the hitch handle and lower the nose of the caravan onto the tow ball until you feel the caravan connect and you see a green indicator on the hitch to let you know the caravan is connected.
7. At this point it’s vitally important to check the caravan is connected. You can do this by winding the jockey wheel down so the nose of the caravan is being lifted. The back of the towing vehicle should be lifted, and no indication that the towbar has detached from the caravan hitch.
8. Once happy wind the caravan back down and stow away the jockey wheel by winding it up and locking it in place. Make sure the jockey wheel clamp and jockey wheel winder are both tight.
9. Connect the electrics from the caravan to the car. If you have an older caravan you might have two plugs.
On newer style plugs you’ll need to insert and twist the plug to make sure it’s connected correctly. Check the electric cables are not loose on the floor, so they can’t get damaged. If they are loose, you can tie them up with some bungee cords.
10. Next, engage the stabiliser (if you have one) and with the car handbrake fully applied, release the caravan handbrake.
11. Moving away from the hitch it’s now time to check the lights are working on the towing vehicle and the caravan. Be thorough here by checking that the right lights come on when pressing the brake pedal, for example. So, starting with the brakes, ask someone to shout what lights they see when you press the brake pedal. Move onto the hazard warning lights, then the left and right indicators. Switch on the side lights, and check the rear fog lights, and reversing light (if you have one) are all working correctly. It’s also important to check the marker lights on the caravan, and make sure the lights are still functioning on the tow car too.
12. Once you’re sure all lights on your outfit are working, it’s time to check all the lockers are closed and locked, and that all windows and service flaps are securely shut and that the gas supply is turned off. Finally lock the caravan door.
13. Do a final walk around and last re-check of the hitch and breakaway cable to check that everything is in place.
14. Pull forward and check the ground for any items. If you’ve used chocks, don’t forget to collect them, and then you’re good to go.
Over to you…
Got any more tips on hitching up your caravan? Feel free to share in the comments box below. Happy caravanning!