Learn to Tow (on road)

Introduction to Learn to Tow (on road)
Unhitching and Hitching Your Trailer
Pre-Departure Checks
Tyres, Tyre Pressures and Breakdowns

Checking the Combination

While it is very useful to have a checklist, what I have learned as a flying instructor and pilot is that checklists should be used as a secondary device. Checklists tend to focus your attention on specific items, distracting you form the big picture or items that may not be on your checklist.

For this reason, during our practical course, we teach you an approach that helps to ensure you look at the big picture and don’t get distracted by detail.

The below lists are not meant to be exhaustive- just a place to start. You should use these as the foundation for your own checklist. We take no responsibility for any incidents arising form the use of these checklist. Make your own and come to our practical session to learn why a checklist is a secondary safety device.

Pre-departure Checks of the Combination

Check that:

  • The coupling is secured to tow vehicle.
  • The safety chains are in good condition and properly secured to both drawbar and tow vehicle.
  • Brake Away cables (if fitted) are connected from your van to the designated anchor point on your tow vehicle.
  • The handbrake engages and releases cleanly (and remains released before you set off).
  • The tow bar wiring insulation is in good shape and that the plug and socket are free from dirt before connecting.
  • Any additional power supply plugs between the tow vehicle and your van are clean and connected.
  • The lights work (brakes, indicators, reverse, parking lights, side lights, and number plate). You’ll need someone else to be your eyes for this.
  • The tyres are in good condition and pumped to correct pressure.
  • All wheel nuts present and tightened.
  • The battery is in good condition and charging.
  • The brakes engage and release (run it around the block before leaving).
  • Your jockey wheel is there, either raised and secured or stowed away.
  • Your spare tyre is there and pumped up.
  • Your caravan’s corner stabilisers work and are fully raised.
  • The water tank is full.
  • The gas bottles are full, turned off and secured.
  • Any other tools, accessories, awnings and aerials are secured.
  • The 240V mains is disconnected.

Checks of The Caravan Interior

The idea here is to secure everything that can break, cause damage or make a mess.

Check that:

  • The fire extinguisher is present, in good condition and not expired.
  • The fridge door is secured.
  • The fridge has adequate ventilation.
  • Cupboards, drawers and doors are closed and secured.
  • Your payload (items stored inside the caravan) does not exceed the maximum recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Food, drinks and odds and ends are packed away.
  • TV and microwave plate are stowed
  • Any open windows are closed in case you hit rain or dust.
  • Both 240V and 12V electrics work.
  • The gas and electrics are turned off.
  • Interior lights work.
  • You have spare light bulbs and tubes.
  • Water pumps and drains are clear and flow freely.
  • The toilet operates.
  • The toilet cassette is emptied.
  • You have toilet chemicals.

Make sure you pack a toolbox with tools for the car and caravan. Also include:

  • Jack
  • Wheel brace
  • Wheel chocks
  • Tyre blocks
  • Jack plate

Testing Trailer Lights

We recommend that you test your trailer lights, not by turning each individual set of lights on and then off, each in turn, but by continually adding more lights in sequence. This puts the maximum possible electrical load on the system. The failure point is often a poor electrical earth, and loading the system like this, will reveal the poor earth, usually by a fuse failing.