Towing a caravan can be hard as you have to keep your speed steady and watch for adverse weather conditions. All these elements can cause your caravan to bounce, snake and even tip.
Knowing when it is too windy to tow a caravan can be based solely on the wind speeds. Speeds between 25-30 miles per hour are harder to drive through and only advised for confident drivers. Any winds over 31 miles per hour should be avoided as these are the most dangerous.
With this in mind we have put together this helpful article to help you know when it is safe to tow a caravan in windy conditions, how best to prepare both your tow vehicle and caravan along with what you should do if you cannot tow your caravan due to high winds.
How To Check The Wind Prior To Your Trip
Checking the wind before hitching up your caravan will ensure you know what you are about to drive into. Being informed will give you peace of mind and make your trip run much smoother, safer, and more efficiently. You should first check your local weather report using a reliable online service. You will want to find the most technical service you can, to check wind speed, gust, and wind direction.
I personally use a handy application called windfinder. You will find this on your phone’s app store. I love this app because you can access wind maps, charts, and predictions for several days ahead.
As well as checking your local weather you will need to check the conditions on the route you will be taking. If you are heading on a tour or driving to a campsite that is many miles away, conditions can vary drastically. This is another reason I enjoy the windfinder app because not only can I check my route before I leave, but I can also check it while sipping coffee at a service stop mid-journey.
How To Ensure Your Caravan Is Safely Hitched
Making sure your caravan is correctly hitched before any trip is extremely important to caravanning safely. An incorrectly hitched caravan can lead to disaster in perfect weather conditions, so you can only imagine what a catastrophe it could cause in poor conditions. Hitching (or coupling) your caravan to your tow vehicle is simple and easy as long as you follow a straightforward procedure.
Using this same routine every time you hitch your caravan up to your vehicle will ensure you never make any mistakes.
Follow the 6 simple steps below to make sure you are hitching up perfectly every time and remember to double-check everything even if your certain everything is fine.
- First, you need to position both your vehicle and caravan. Crank your caravan up on the jockey wheel and make sure there is enough room to back the tow ball underneath. Back your car up as close and as accurately as you can, don’t worry if you are a little bit off, you can always move the caravan by hand. If you need to reposition the caravan, make sure you can either manage by yourself on flat ground, have someone to help, or are using a motor mover.
- Once you are all lined up you need to drop the jockey wheel, so the hitch falls over the tow ball. At this stage, if your caravan has a break-away cable you should connect it. Make sure there is enough slack in this cable even under tight maneuver when driving.
- Once you have connected the break-away cable (if applicable) you will need to connect the coupling to the tow ball. How you do this can vary depending on the age and make of your caravan but generally, you will have a lever that is pulled as the coupling is lowered over the tow ball. Once in place, the lever is released, and the lock is engaged. You should hear a click when the coupling is locked however with some older trailers you may not hear this.
- Double-check your coupling! Make sure levers/ handles are in their locked position and the coupling is securely connected to your vehicle’s tow ball.
- Stow away your jockey wheel so it is completely clear of the ground. Fully wind the wheel up and then loosen the clamp on the A-frame to lift the stem and wheel as high as possible off the ground. Make sure the clamp is fully tightened.
- Finally, connect up all of your electrics and check that they are working. Ask someone to check your rear brake, indicator, and stoplights to ensure they are working before hitting the road. Double-check everything again and then you are ready to go!
Does The Wind Affect Whether Or Not You Should Tow?
The wind is a huge factor that will ultimately determine whether it is safe to tow your caravan or not. Heading out in strong winds can be fatal because your caravan has the potential to pull you off the road in a strong side wind. If you are ever concerned about the wind and do not feel comfortable driving in the conditions you are met with, it is probably best to stay put! Of course, sometimes it is difficult to stay put if you are due to leave your campsite and have no choice to tow.
If the winds are gale force, then the campsite owner will probably advise you not to tow anyway but if they are particularly high but not seen as gale force, then you may have to leave. If this is the case, you must prepare yourself, your car, and your caravan for the journey. Although in this situation you are probably heading toward home, you should fill up your clean and grey water tanks.
This may sound stupid at first but the extra weight so low down in the caravan gives your trailer a lower center of gravity, making it much more stable and resistant to rolling on the road. You should also place any large or heavy items on the floor of your caravan to help further.
Make sure your towing vehicle is fully fuelled up and ready to drive the distance ahead of you. Keep high-vis jackets and provisions in the car just in case you have to stop because it is too dangerous to continue. Make sure you keep your speed down and err on the side of caution as you are driving.
If a strong side wind does hit your caravan while on the road, make sure you do not overcompensate with steering or sharp braking as this could encourage snaking or worse, toppling. During a side wind slowly ease off the gas and continue straight with both hands firmly on the wheel, if it is too much, pull over to the side of the road with your hazard lights on.
So, how much wind is too much wind? Generally speaking, winds of under 24 miles per hour are completely safe to tow your caravan through normally. Winds of 25 – 30 miles per hour can be driven in if you are confident with towing however you should drop your speed and be cautious on your travels. Winds of over 31 miles per hour should be completely avoided as driving in these conditions is a safety risk to you and the other road users around you.
It is not uncommon for sudden gale-force gusts to put commercial moving vans and even lorries on their sides, so it is extremely important that you do not risk driving in winds that are too strong or wind that you are not confident in. If a lorry can’t stay upright, then your 4 berth tourer has no chance!
When Should You Not Tow A Caravan?
There are a few conditions where towing a caravan is far too risky. It is important to be able to identify these conditions and realize when you should leave the caravan parked up or stop towing if you are already on the road.
As mentioned throughout this article, the wind is one of the most dangerous conditions to drive in with your caravan in tow. Knowing whether it is too windy to tow or not is vital to your safety and the safety of other road users, so be responsible and assess the situation to act accordingly. Whether the conditions are too windy to tow ultimately comes down to the individual that is towing and the caravan itself.
However, most caravans are not particularly aerodynamic and no matter what you are towing with, you can get caught out by a side wind hitting the large flat “sails” that are the sidewalls of your home on wheels.
As mentioned earlier, you should be cautious and reduce your speed during winds of 25 – 30 miles per hour and avoid towing at all costs during winds of over 31 miles per hour. It is not only the wind that you should avoid towing in either. Although we won’t be going into huge amounts of detail about other dangerous towing conditions there is one that is worth mentioning.
Depending on where you live in the world, the winters can bring some incredibly troublesome weather to caravaners. The snow and ice are the biggest safety concern during the winter, and it is a threat to normal cars let alone cars in tow. Unless you are kitted out with winter tires on both tow vehicle and caravan and have snow chains for particularly bad roads, you should not attempt to drive in the snow.
It doesn’t take much for you to lose control of a vehicle in severe winter conditions especially if you are towing a single axle caravan. If you find yourself trapped in a snowstorm unprepared, your best bet is to leave your caravan on your pitch and drive home or stay put. This isn’t to say you can’t use your caravan during the winter, but you have to be responsible and kit your rig out ready for the conditions.
What Should You Do If It Becomes Too Windy During Your Drive With Your Caravan?
If you find yourself fighting the wind while out on the road, then you will have to make an important decision. This decision is whether to stop and wait for the wind to calm down or carry on your journey if it is safe enough to do so. You should assess the factors at hand and if you feel like it is unsafe to continue driving you should find somewhere to pull over and rest until the wind dies down and it is safe to continue on.
If you find yourself getting blown around by dangerous winds, slow down gently and continue on the road you are on at a much slower pace. Find somewhere to park up on your GPS, this may be on the same road or off on a side road somewhere. Only pull over onto the side of a main road if it is an absolute emergency. Once you have found a place to stop for a while you should check your wind application or local weather to find out if and when it is safe to move on.