Basic Towing Tips
So, you’ve decided on buying a camper trailer and never towed before? Here are some tips to help you tow like a pro.
TAKE A TOWING COURSE
Doing a camper trailer towing course will go a long way in teaching you the best tips and tricks when it comes to towing. There are a few courses available, but we would suggest signing up for one that includes off-road towing education.
As you’ll be utilising your camper trailer and tow vehicle, it would be a good idea for both you and your partner taking part so you’re both as skilled as each other.
STAYING OUT OF TROUBLE
When packing the camper, keep the weight low, centred over the axle and spread evenly.
Reversing a camper trailer can be intimidating but doing it slowly and with small movements makes it easier to correct. Use your side mirrors and if someone is helping to guide you, make sure they know your left and right and communicate via a handheld UHF.
It takes longer to come to a complete stop when towing, up to double the distance when not towing.
Take care when overtaking and allow a bigger distance before cutting back into your lane.
When turning, take the corners wider as the camper wheels won’t follow the same path as your tow vehicle.
If your camper weighs over 750kgs, brakes must be fitted to the trailer. These days electric brakes are the most common. This operates by sending a current to the trailer brakes via a controller installed inside the vehicle when the brake pedal is pressed.
The brake bias can be adjusted manually on the brake controller by the driver, very handy when driving down a steep track, and in normal conditions, tuned so the 4WD and trailer slows with the same force on the brake pedal as when the camper isn’t connected.
SAND, MUD AND STEEP HILLS
Here are some tips on how best to cope with various conditions:
Sand: Reduce tyre pressures, turn your brake controller down low, stick to the wheel tracks and momentum is your friend.
Mud: Mud tyres help, reduce tyre pressures, conditions will dictate your speed and check the depth of bog holes before you drive them.
Steep hills: Take your time, choose your line, keep the camper straight, stick to the ruts and use your brake controller to assist in keeping it slow.
WHEELS AND TYRES
When purchasing a camper, make sure you get a tyre, rim size and stud pattern that match your 4WD. That way you can use the camper spare tyre on your vehicle and vice versa.
When reducing your 4WD tyre pressures do the same on your camper trailer. A good rule of thumb is anywhere between 17psi and 27psi will get you out of any pickle you may be in. When towing in the sand, you can down as low as 10psi on your camper to get out of trouble.
For more tips and tricks on towing a camper trailer from Hema Maps, check out the Go-To-Guide for Campers. It covers everything you need to know to hit the track with a trailer in tow.
To make driving and overtaking manoeuvres safer (for you and others) make sure you have a UHF radio and that you are constantly scanning channels 40, 15 & 10.
A recent outback trip including the Oodnadatta Track and Birdsville Track I was amazed at how many vehicles (especially caravaners) either don’t have a UHF radio or don’t have it turned on.
I was towing a camper trailer and when coming up behind slow moving caravans i always want to let the caravaner know that “I’m coming around”. Makes it a lot safer for everyone.