Experiencing bouncing when towing a caravan is common and is not unusual. It is better to understand what may cause this and how to prevent it before you set off on your journey.
Bouncing when towing a caravan happens for a number of reasons. This can be the speed at which you are travelling or the caravan is too heavy. There are a number of ways in which you can resolve this issue from using stabilizers and adjusting the weight distribution of the caravan.
Bouncing when towing a caravan is normal and happens more often than you think, it can also be caused by natural causes such as wind and rain. Knowing what to do when this happens is highly important for your own safety and for safety of others on the road.
Is Bouncing When Towing a Caravan Normal?
If you’re new to towing a caravan, you might experience regular bouncing of the caravan. This phenomenon is more likely to occur if you never had access to the appropriate tips for the activity. Expert caravan towers shouldn’t experience occurrences of bouncing, at least not more than they can handle.
Some exceptions to this are when you’re riding on a bumpy road. In such instances, it’s possible for bouncing to occur which is usually not your fault. Generally, your caravan should not bounce much if you have taken to all the precautions and checks we will outline later in this article.
Regardless there are two motions of a caravan people often associate with bouncing, especially if you’re a newcomer just learning the ropes.
Snaking is when your caravan moves from side to side similar to the movement of a snake. This can escalate quickly especially when the driver loses control. It may cause the caravan to tip over – carrying the car along in the process.
Your caravan pitches when the front moves up and down or bounces on the tow ball. This could also make the back end of your vehicle to be pulled around. Pitching is the movement that is closely more associated with the bouncing motion and is what people most refer to when it comes to bouncing.
Reasons Why a Caravan Bounces
There can be numerous reasons why a caravan bounces such as:
- Air turbulence from a passing vehicle or natural causes.
- Improper matching of tow car and caravan
- Unsteady driving
- Wrongly loaded caravan
- Rough/Bumpy roads
How to Prevent a Caravan Bouncing When Towing
Follow these guidelines while preparing to tow your caravan to avoid any form of abnormal movement. They are the most assured way to reduce bouncing in your caravan while towing.
1.Make sure your car and caravan are matched to load your unit properly. You can check online data sheets to learn how to do this properly.
2. Fit Tyron bands on your car or caravan wheels to prevent snaking in case there is a tire blow-out. It helps the driver regain control by allowing the tire to run flat.
3. Put all of the heaviest items in the tow car and light items in storage units. You can also strap items close to the floor of the caravan. Cargo bars also help to hold them in place and keep them from moving around.
4. Keep to all the speed limits on the road and take extra care while driving.
5. It is best to put a bike rack at the front of a caravan as it is less probable to affect lateral stability there. If you have to fit a bike rack at the back of the caravan, make sure it’s not too heavy.
6. Inspect the caravan and vehicle before taking off. Check the tires for any wear, inspect the coupling to make sure it’s secure, ensure all items are well-placed, and make sure the tire pressures are correct.
7. Try to always hitch up on a flat or even surface so that your caravan stays in a horizontal position when you couple it with the tow car.
8. Fix your extended towing mirrors as they are a requirement by law for you to tow caravans. They also allow you to see better with a view that could be as much as 4 meters out the side of the van and 20 meters backward.
9. There is no general limit to how fast you can drive, but to be on the safe side make sure you do not exceed 55 miles/hour.
10. Get the lightest possible version of any equipment you need. This is to reduce the weight of the caravan as much as possible.
11. Make sure to keep off a small or excessive nose weight. A heavyweight puts pressure on the caravan nose and therefore on the tow bar. You can use a set of bathroom scales and a broom handle or a purpose weight gauge to check the nose weight before you take off.
12. Ideally, the nose weight should be the lowest of the three nose weight numbers: the tow bar manufacturer, tow vehicle manufacturer, and the caravan chassis manufacturer.
There are special devices you can use as an addition to the above precautionary measures. Although these devices are great at reducing bouncing in vehicles, they shouldn’t be your first option. See them as go-to options or additional safety features that you can turn to if things still go wrong after you have followed the above guidelines.
Automatic Trailer Control Systems
These are electronic devices that work when the caravan starts moving abnormally. Automatic trailer control systems use sensors to monitor movement, and they activate the brakes so that the caravan can stabilize.
Stabilizers are devices that grip the tow ball and prevent any lateral movement of the caravan so it does not bounce. There are two main options to go for in selecting stabilizers:
1. Hitch Stabilizer
This will reduce any pitching or lateral movement while you tow, and offer a safer journey. It works with friction pads that will hold a clean tow ball anytime the clamp is low. In some other models, the friction pads will grip firmly to a grease-free tow ball to reduce the effects of any sudden movement.
If you want to equip a hitch stabilizer in your vehicle, you need to make sure there is no grease, oil, or paint on the tow ball. You also need to change the friction pads regularly when they are worn. You can tell that your pads are worn when you hear a groaning sound coming from the hitch head. Also, check that it is compatible with your chassis before purchasing one.
2. Blade Stabilizer
You use a blade stabilizer by attaching it to the A-frame of a caravan and clamp it with a bracket beside the tow ball. The friction pads in the turntable will reduce any side movements and keep the caravan stable. The friction pads will get worn off after extended use and you will need to replace them.
What to Do if Your Caravan Begins to Bounce During Your Trip?
If after following the guidelines above, you still notice bouncing or swaying while you are towing your caravan, follow the following steps:
1.Try to remain calm and desist from pressing the brake pedal. Lift your foot from the accelerator gently and only press the brake pedal if you’re at risk of hitting something.
2. Slow down until your speed is at least 10 miles per hour below the speed that you noticed the bouncing or sway.
3. Make sure your grip on the steering wheel is firm especially if the imbalance is caused by a large passing vehicle like a trailer. Hold the steering in a straight-ahead position as fast as you can.
4. Try to put your tow car and caravan in a position where other drivers cannot overtake you. This will reduce any risk of collateral damage although you need to be patient while doing this, especially on motorways.
5. Get to a safe zone where there are no longer any other drivers around you and the caravan has fallen back in position at the back of the towing vehicle.
6. Look for a place to park immediately you’re in a safe zone and alert other drivers with your hazard light.
7. Come down from the vehicle and check the caravan and tow car to ensure proper weight balance. You should also check the vehicles according to the guidelines above to preventing bouncing. This should help you identify what caused the bouncing or snaking in the first place.
8. If you need any additional help, you can contact your breakdown provider. However, if you can identify the problem and sort it out yourself make sure to get going immediately. It’s unsafe to stay longer than you need to.