Frequently asked questions
If you need an answer from the Club there are several ways to find it.
Use our search to find an answer to your question.
If your question is technical we would recommend you visit our Help and Advice section where you will find a range of Data Sheets.
If you cannot find the answer to your question within this area, you can use our online enquiry form.
Technical - Miscellaneous Towing
If your trailer is unbraked then you will need a secondary coupling, which usually comes in the form of a stout cable or chain connecting the trailer hitch to the tow bracket. It is designed to keep the trailer attached to the towing vehicle if the primary coupling fails. The length of cable or chain shall be such as to prevent the trailer hitch from dropping onto the road.
Trailers over 750kg must be fitted with brakes and these trailers must be fitted with a breakaway cable. In the event of the main coupling failing, the breakaway cable will apply the trailer brakes and then snap off.
Regulations say that you should have mirrors to provide an adequate view to the rear and along both sides of your trailer. With a small low camping trailer, there is a good chance that you will still have the required adequate visibility. However, with most caravans the view through your normal car mirrors is obstructed and hence you will need to fit additional exterior mirrors.
The mirrors should be "e-marked" to show that they meet European standards. Don’t forget that the regulations state that your mirrors must not extend beyond your car or trailer by more than 200mm (250mm for cars registered after 26 January 2007), hence once you are back to driving solo the extension mirrors need to be removed.
The simplest and legally acceptable way is to loop the cable around the towball and clip it back on itself. This is the advice from Al- Ko, manufacturer of chassis for some 85 per cent of the the UKs caravan production.
However, many drivers who tow prefer to have the protection of a connection direct to the tow bracket, arguing that if the primary coupling fails because of towball failure, then the connection is lost and the breakaway cable cannot function. In order to achieve this form of coupling you need a suitable attachment point on the tow bracket and a cable of sufficient length to reach this point without pulling on the handbrake when turning corners.
You should never use the full length of cable to clip onto the towing bracket, unless you have a specially designed clip that is strong enough for a direct attachment. The clip on most breakaway cables is too weak for direct attachment and must only be used by by looping back on itself. For further information see: Breakaway Cable Advice.
There is no easy answer to this. When caravans were lightweight (less than 1,000kg) and the many cars had a noseweight of 75kg, this was not a problem. A 1,275kg caravan is now thought lightweight, but it gives an 85 per cent match with a diesel Mondeo. The ideal seven per cent noseweight of 89kg exceeds the Mondeo’s 75kg limit. This overloads the car, making it illegal and could void the driver’s insurance.
In practice it has been found that the typical outfit indicated above with a noseweight limited to the Mondeo’s 75kg will be stable, given the caravan loading is distributed well and the overall weight is not exceeding the 85 per cent limit.
At some point when reducing the noseweight below the ideal, a situation will come when the effect of the lower weight will show up and the outfit will not feel stable, particularly at the higher end of legal towing speeds. If you also ignore any other stability factors, such as loading, the noseweight will become even more crucial.
Some caravans have nose weights of 75kg before they are even loaded. Once forward lockers are full of gas cylinders and the battery installed it is not unknown for the caravan hitchweight to be 90kg or more. Sometimes this hitchweight can be reduced to 75kg or less by positioning a heavy awning a short distance behind the caravan axle. However, to counterbalance a high noseweight by putting a heavy weight at the very rear of a caravan (back-loading) is inadvisable. Not only will your noseweight be less than ideal, but you have also created a dumb-bell effect, which will encourage your caravan to swing.
So when matching car and caravan, don’t compromise on the car’s towing limit or legal limits. Aim to meet the recommended 85 per cent weight ratio, but accept there may be a slight compromise to the seven per cent noseweight. Check your car noseweight limit is reasonably close to the ideal caravan noseweight and that you can easily balance the actual caravan noseweight within the car limit without excessive back-loading.
The majority of detachment incidences occur within a short time of setting off and are believed to be due to a failure to complete some part of the hitching up procedure correctly. Whilst another person can sometimes help, do try and ensure that you are not distracted whilst completing the hitching up tasks. A checklist of what needs to be done for coupling up is given on the advice sheet produced by the National Caravan Council in conjunction with the Club Coupling Advice Sheet.
Finally, don’t forget to check that all your trailer lights are working correctly once the coupling is completed.
FAQ by service