Ready, Set, Tow!

Posted by Motorama in Motoring Tips

So you’ve got the car, you’ve got your boat, trailer or caravan and you’re ready to go.

From large yachts, camper trailers to 20-foot+ caravans, the amount of things you can hook up to the back of your car is endless.

But before you set off to buy the biggest and best boat or caravan – ask yourself (and your salesperson) a few questions so you can find the perfect fit for your lifestyle.

Do I need electric brakes?

Any caravans or trailers over 750kg are fitted with an independent braking system on at least one axle. Caravans and trailers with a gross trailer mass over 2000kg also have to have a breakaway system that can fully apply trailer brakes in case it comes away from your car suddenly. You can tow anything under 750kg unbraked (provided your car can tow.)

Electric brakes need a controller unit fitted in the cabin in front of the driver in the towing vehicle, which allows you change the amount of braking force so that your trailer or caravan stops as smoothly as your vehicle.

There are a number of electric brake controllers on the market, the best models should be unobtrusive as well as brightly lit so it’s easy to read at a glance making them safe options for a driver already focusing on keeping two moving objects stable on the road.

Does the vehicle need a suspension upgrade?

Some cars are designed for a little more comfort when not towing and benefit greatly from having rear air bag suspension added. They can be inflated when towing and then deflated for regular driving.​

Will I benefit from load levellers?

Load levelling kits or weight distribution kits as they are sometimes known, are essentially ‘life savers’. It is always best to have these installed on your vehicle and fitted correctly by the professionals at your caravan/boat/float supplier before you take delivery.

Load levelling will help to distribute the weight of caravan or trailers and can help to stabilise a vehicle that may have its front lifted by a heavy down load on the back. This helps the cars steering, traction and braking by spreading the weight across all the wheels.​

Will I get Anderson plug/s fitted?

Anderson plugs are versatile connectors that attach to your cars battery, thanks to their genderless nature (they can take male or female power connections.)

Anderson plugs serve many purposes and on my vehicle, for example one may charge the battery in the van while the other powers the van’s fridge while travelling. Other uses include a portable fridge in the vehicle as well as being used to power electric winches on boat trailers. 

Having an Anderson plug to charge the battery in your van also provides an easy to attach plug for a solar panel.

What restrictions are there on the rear door/tailgate of my vehicle?

Some barn door-style rear doors are not able to be opened when a trailer is attached via an A-frame connection – others that have a split tailgate section or open upwards may provide more convenient access if the vehicle is used regularly for towing. 

The majority of dual cab utes have tailgates that are not impeded by tow hitches, but you can you can also choose to have different styles of hitches to help relieve the issue.

Do we have a “Marriage Saver” fitted?

The Couple-Mate is a must have accessory for every tow vehicle. Affectionately nicknamed the ‘Marriage Saver,’ it is designed to guide the trailer hitch directly over the ball without any physical assistance and prevents arguments over direction provided by any passengers or bystanders. 

This will help any driver to hitch the trailer in case an experienced tow driver isn’t available.

Do you need a rear camera or just tow mirrors?

With a rear camera on your car and a marriage saver fitted, hitching the vehicle single-handedly is a breeze. Test the camera in all conditions (i.e. in rain or at night) to get yourself acquainted with the system.

You can fit a reversing camera to your caravan to see any hazards once you’re hitched, but generally a good set of tow mirrors will be enough to keep an eye on what’s happening around the back of a towed load.

Should you fit a two-way radio?

If you tow on a regular basis, a two-way radio can help you out.

With a UHF radio fitted to the vehicle and the passenger can get out and operate a handheld radio to guide the driver calmly into tight spaces when it comes time to park.

A radio can also help when travelling on roads where trucks travel as well, as they can communicate to you if they’re planning to pass on the road, so it’s as safe as possible for you.

What else do you want to take?

Do you want to travel with bikes, kayaks, paddleboards, surfboards, small boats and trailers? Make sure you consider these when selecting your vehicle and more importantly accessories. You may benefit from having a lower vehicle to make it easy to load the toys on and off the roof. Bike racks fitted to the rear of the van have been developed in recent years to be super efficient and secure.

Remember your number plate must be visible at all times, so if any storage options on the back of your caravan or trailer obscures the license plate, you may have to buy a small auxiliary plate to hang on the back of the stored items.

Make sure to plan how your adding things to your towed load by storing things properly, as this will decrease the risk of your vehicle being influenced by any sway or movement from a heavy down load made heavier with all your holiday gear in the back.

Motorama has a complete range of vehicles, whether you’re towing green waste to the tip or getting ready for the adventure of a lifetime with your caravan or boat. And make sure you talk to our expert service technicians as well to check up on your brakes, tyres and everything under the hood before you get towing!

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(Landcruiser Image Credits: Glen Gall,