Before you hitch up
1. Each caravan can be different always check the manufacturers guide if applicable and don’t be afraid to ask for a bit of help first time round, we will always talk you through the first time.
2. If your caravan has a stabilising hitch ensure the towing vehicle tow ball is clean and grease free (sometimes new tow balls have a powder paint covering this should be removed with a fine sand paper). If it’s an ALKO tow hitch ensure you have a compatible tow ball (A few tow balls do not allow enough room for the coupled hitched head when turning).
3. Make sure the gas cylinders are turned off and disconnected.
4. Ensure all the cupboards, doors and windows are shut and secured. Roof lights are often forgotten (and often seen on the side of the road), make sure these are closed particularly if the roof light is above an extractor fan. Cooker hob covers must in the down or travel position ( these are often also forgotten and can smash whilst in transit.
5. TV ariels should be in the down position and facing correct direction (often the forward direction denoted by a red dot on the shaft of the aerial internally).
6. All loads put away so they will not move around whilst being towed. Ensure the caravan is loaded so that the nose weight of the caravan is within the manufacturers guideline range.
7. The caravan should be loaded as a rule of thumb with heaviest items on the floor over the axle and just forward of the axle.
8. Make sure all water carriers are empty, including the toilet. Onboard water tanks should also be emptied. And toilet cassettes must be emptied.
9. Microwave plates must be taken out of the microwave and stored somewhere they cannot rattle around. This is true for all loose items in the caravan, make sure they cannot rattle around.
10. Lock the caravan door, check all locker doors and all outlet covers are secured (we often see outlet covers flapping whilst the caravan is being towed).
11. Check tyre pressure (the correct tyre pressure is often on a plate beside the door or in the caravans manual) to ensure you are road safe.
Getting ready to hitch
12. Whilst the caravan is not connected to the towing vehicle make sure the caravan’s handbrake is on and chocks are in place. Raise corner steadies.
13. Using the jockey wheel raise the hitch so it is slightly higher than towing vehicles tow ball.
14. A very useful piece of kit and good investment is a pair of walkie talkies allowing clear and simple communication between the driver and the person spotting for you.
15. Reverse tow vehicle into place, lining up hitch and tow ball (the spotter can guide the driver). Put the tow vehicles handbrake on.
16. Hook up the breakaway cable to the tow ball (or preferable to a designated hook up eye) . This should be the first thing attached when hitching and the last thing removed when unhitching. The breakaway cable will activate the caravans handbrake should for any reason the vehicles get separated.
17. Lower the hitch using the jockey wheel until it clicks into place. You may have to release the caravans handbrake before doing this depending on how close you got the tow ball to the hitch if you do be sure to put the handbrake back on until you are ready to tow.
18. Double check that the tow ball is secure, you can do this by winding the jockey wheel back down, the towing vehicle will raise up at the back with the caravan. ALKO hitches have a green button that shows when the tow ball is securely in place.
19. Engage the stabiliser if the caravan has one.
20. Wind up the jockey wheel to travel position locking it in place.
21. Connect the electrics up making sure the cable isn’t too tight or hangs to low, you want to be able to turn without it pulling the cable out but also need to make sure it’s not dragging.
22. If your caravan has ATC (or similar) you should hear it engage and see the led light turn green.
23. Check all electrics and lights are working. It useful if the spotter goes to the rear of the caravan with the walkie talkie and all the lights are tested in sequence.
24. Release the handbrake.
25. Ensure the car is straight with the caravan and fix in place your towing mirrors, adjust to give optimal view. Please note towing mirrors are a legal requirement.
26. Pull forward off the pitch stop, collect levelling ramps and check nothing has been left behind.
27. Please ensure your onward journey has been well planned and do not rely on sat nav (especially in Cornwall).
28. Off you go