Keep your vehicle in tow
Love a coastal drive or weekend trip? Get emergency roadside assistance for your caravan with RACV Extra Care, and be covered for mishaps on the road.
Dreaming of a caravan adventure? These are 10 of the best vehicles to tow your wheels.
With hemisphere-hopping travel still firmly off the itinerary and interstate flights at the mercy of coronavirus outbreaks and border closures, Victorians are eyeing up the humble caravan as a safe bet for their next escape from home.
“There’s been a shift in people’s behaviour,” says CEO of the Caravan Industry Association of Australia, Stuart Lamont. “Having been cooped up for months, Australians are now turning their attention to travelling within their own backyard.”
Sales enquiries and foot traffic at caravan dealerships around the country have surged, according to the association, while Caravancampingsales.com.au reported an 80 per cent spike in their online editorial views in September, compared with a year earlier.
Packing up your gear, hitching a van to a car and heading off on the wide open road is an appealing proposition, but there’s a lot to think about. Once you’ve decided to spend your hard-earned on a caravan, you need to consider how you’re going to tow it. If your existing car isn’t capable of towing, you’ll need to invest in one that can.
So, do you buy the van or the car first? It’s a chicken-and-egg situation and the answer lies in doing your research. You need to work out what sort of caravan you want – and with so much choice around that can be tricky. You should research how you’re going to use your van too. Then you can shop for a vehicle that’s suitable to tow it.
Cost and fuel economy are factors to keep in mind when looking for a tow vehicle, but the three biggest considerations are:
These are critical points. If you buy a fancy van but the towbar can’t cope, or the combined weight is too much, you’ve wasted a lot of money. Not only can you be fined for exceeding the stated weights in Victoria, it can be extremely dangerous and can result in a crash.
Towing capacity is easy to find on car makers’ websites, but if you can’t find the towball weight and gross combination mass, call your local dealer for this information.
Some people make the mistake of buying a car with the correct towing capacity for their van, but then add accessories such as a bullbar, or a canopy or tray drawers for a dual-cab ute, which increases the weight to exceed the gross combination mass.
If you’ve never towed anything before and you lack confidence, ask a professional for help. Towing a three-tonne van can be daunting, especially if you’re new to it.
It’s a good idea to sign up for a towing course to build your skills – there are many offered throughout Victoria. It’s also important to make sure you know how to set up your van correctly. Even if you have the best tow vehicle in the world, it will be dangerous to tow if it’s not set up properly.