Know the facts before you tow

When it comes to towing, it’s not only important that you choose the right kit, but also that you are aware of how to tow safely.

caravan towing Right Connections UK Ltd

It’s important to know your maximum towing capacity. The heavier the load, the greater the effect on vehicle stability and braking distances. Exceeding this limit can lead to loss of control.

When towing a broken down vehicle, for example, it is important that you drive slowly and brake gently, avoiding any sudden movements which might cause the tow rope to snap.

Something else to bear in mind is the effect that towing can have on a vehicle. When towing a caravan or trailer, the load can quickly become unstable, particularly if something unexpected, like an animal crossing the road ahead, causes you to swerve, or you are hit by high winds. It can often lead to snaking, where the caravan or trailer begins to move wildly from side to side behind the tow vehicle, and if you’re not careful you could end up in a jack-knife situation.

This is why it’s important to know your maximum towing capacity. The heavier the load, the greater the effect on vehicle stability and braking distances. Exceeding this limit can lead to loss of control. Most modern vehicles now come equipped with Electronic Stability Control (ESC). ESC functions when it senses that a “fish-tale” or “snaking” movement is occurring. Once a threshold has been reached, then ESC will take over the braking of your vehicle’s wheels (and a reduction in engine power) until the situation is under control again.

Which kit?iStock_000007773993XSmall

Trying to decide what type of towbar to have often leads to other questions, such as:

  • Do I need fixed or detachable?
  • Do I need Flange type or Swan neck?
  • Will my bike carrier fit? And so on.

Don’t forget to think about the following:

  • Vehicle specific (sometimes called dedicated) towing electrics

As the name suggests, vehicle specific towing electrics will be designed to fit specifically to your vehicle model. The existing electrical connectors on your vehicle are used to install the electrical kit, giving you a safe system, with safe electrical connections

  • What about any trailer stabilisation programmes on my vehicle?

On most modern vehicles, specific electrical kits will include wires that will connect to your vehicle’s relevant module/unit, which controls information relevant to the Trailer Electronic Stabilisation Programme (T-ESP). T-ESP is an extension of the ESC function on your vehicle (sometimes called another name by various manufacturers).

By having vehicle specific electrics fitted, your vehicle will enable T-ESP to function correctly. This means that the braking values to individual wheels will be altered to take into account the movements of your caravan or trailer. It also means that the other safety features on your car, such as adaptive cruise, automatic handbrakes, self-park, will function fully and correctly. Installing dedicated, vehicle specific towing electronics won’t invalidate your vehicle’s warranty.

If you choose non-vehicle specific electrics, sometimes referred to as “by-pass” or “universal”, then your vehicle will be “blind” to whatever you are towing.  This means that ESC will not extend out to T-ESP, and some of the other safety features may not work correctly. It might invalidate your vehicle’s warranty.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Matt Davies, on behalf of Right Connections UK Ltd

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