A GUIDE TO SAFE AND LEGAL TOWING  

Caravan Tyres



Tyres are the only parts of the caravan which are in contact with the road. Safety in acceleration, braking, steering and cornering all depend on a relatively small area of road contact. It is therefore of paramount importance that tyres should be maintained in good condition at all times and that when the time comes to change them the correct replacements are fitted. The original tyres for a caravan are determined by joint consultation between the caravan and tyre manufacturers and take into account all aspects of operation. It is recommended that changes in tyre size or type should not be undertaken without seeking advice from the caravan or tyre manufacturers, as the effect on caravan handling, safety and clearances must be taken into account. In some other European countries it is illegal to use replacements which differ in certain respects (e.g. size, load, and speed rating) from the tyre fitted originally by the vehicle manufacturer.

Caravan Tyres and Your Safety

Don’t Forget Your Caravan/ Trailer Tent Tyres

Safe driving when towing a caravan or trailer tent is very important and one major factor that is frequently overlooked, is the tyres. Look after your tyres properly and you will improve the safety and behaviour of your car and caravan or trailer tent. This leaflet has been produced by the UK tyre industry to help you to do this.

Check the Pressures
Whatever tyres are fitted to the towing car and caravan or trailer tent, it is essential to the safety and stability of the combination that all tyres are correctly inflated for the applied loading. This is a golden rule of motoring and of caravanning in particular. Under or over inflated tyres can not only adversely affect the handling, but can also lead to dangerous tyre failure.

Pressures should be checked and adjusted prior to any journey when the tyres are cold – not during or after a run when they will be higher. Never reduce pressures when the tyres are warm, as they could be too low when they cool down. After pressure checking ensure the valve is not leaking and the valve cap is fitted.

The correct inflation pressure for your car tyres will be found in the car handbook and in some cases on a placard displayed on the vehicle. In the absence of special towing recommendations, in order to improve handling and accommodate the additional load on the hitch, the rear tyres should be set at the “fully laden” pressure. Where full load pressure does not differ from that for normal driving the rear tyre pressure should be increased by 4 to 7 psi (0.3 to 0.5 bar).

Inflation pressures appropriate to the actual load imposed on the caravan/trailer tent tyres will be found in the load and pressure tables further on.

Tyres not inflated to the correct pressure wear out more quickly. So in the long run, keeping them at the right pressure could save you money.

Special conditions apply to Self Supporting Run Flat Tyres (SST) where they are fitted to the towing vehicle. Guidelines for tyre pressures and conditions of operating in a run flat condition are given in the vehicle manufacturer’s handbook or on the check Tyre pressure page at checkthatcar.com

Fit the Right Tyres
As with all road vehicles, it is essential that tyres of the correct specification be fitted. It is always advisable to have the sameconstruction of tyres on all wheels. Only tyres of equal size and service description (Load Index / Speed Symbol) and identical wheels should be fitted across an axle and carried as a spare. Tyre pressures across an axle should be equal.

Older caravans may be equipped with cross-ply tyres that are no longer available and when a change is required radial ply tyres will have to be fitted. If a caravan is converted from cross-ply to tubeless radial tyres, the latter must only be fitted to safety type rims, i.e. those with a hump or flat ledge on the outer bead seat. Many older caravans have nonsafety rims and the previous recommendation has been to fit tubes with radial ply tyres. BEFORE DOING SO THE TYRE MANUFACTURER MUST BE CONSULTED, as not all radial ply tyres are suitable for use withtubes.

If travelling abroad during the winter season, some countries stipulate appropriate winter tyres are fitted to the vehicle. Even if the country being visited does not make such a legal requirement it is always a good practice to fit tyres that are appropriate for the road / weather conditions – consult the tyre manufacturer.

Caravans in the main are fitted with car type tyres and in former times it had been a practice to allow a bonus load to be applied to the maximum permitted tyre load, but subject to a significantspeed reduction. Because caravans have become better equipped and hence heavier and also maximum permitted speeds have increased both in Great Britain and abroad, caravan manufacturers are generally fitting larger capacity tyres and eliminate the unpopular and often abused practice of utilising bonus loads.

It is essential the combined tyre load capacity is sufficient for the maximum weight (MTPLM) of the caravan, but as an extra safeguard it is strongly recommended the MTPLM does not exceed 90% of the tyre’s load capacity.

Watch Your Speed
In Great Britain, cars, car derived vans and 4 x 4 vehicles towing caravans/trailer tents are restricted to a maximum of 60 mph (96 km/h) on dual carriageways and motorways. The limit is 50 mph (80 km/h) on other roads unless indicated otherwise.

Other countries may have different speed limits or regulations and drivers should ensure compliance with these when towing abroad

General Recommendations
For general recommendations about towing caravans users are recommended to obtain a copy of ‘The Caravan Towing Guide’ from the National Caravan Council (telephone 01252 318 251).

Spare Tyre/Wheel
It is strongly recommended that a compatible spare wheel/tyre assembly be carried for the caravan. As caravan tyres and wheels are rarely the same as those on the towing vehicle, you must not attempt to use the spare tyre/wheel assembly from the towing vehicle on the caravan if you should have a puncture. Ensure the spare wheel is the correct specification, i.e. strength and dimensions.

Minimum Tread Depth
To ensure compliance with regulations throughout Europe a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm across the full tread width is strongly recommended. However in the interests of safety it is advisable to replace tyres well before they reach this legal limit.

Puncture Sealants
The use of a pre-puncture sealant is not recommended; however it is recognised that a post-puncture sealant may well serve a useful function if used to move a stranded vehicle to a safe location. British Standard (BSAU 159) does not recognise the application of a puncture sealant as a permanent repair method. Any tyre that has sustained a puncture and run even for a limited distance in a deflating or deflated condition, will have suffered internal damage.

Noseweight
The Caravan Towing Guide recommends that the noseweight should be varied to find the optimum for towing dependent upon the actual laden weight of the caravan/trailer tent. Experience and research has shown that the noseweight should be approximately 7% of the actual laden weight for optimum stability. However, this may be restricted by the towing vehicle manufacturer’s limit and the caravan’s hitch limit.

If there is insufficient weight on the hitch the caravan/trailer tent may yaw (snake) leading to possible instability.

Tyre Care
Check your tyres regularly but particularly when the caravan has not been used for some time. Vehicles such as caravans or trailer tents, which are not used normally during winter, should be thoroughly inspected prior to re-use during the summer months. Look particularly for any sign of age deterioration in the tyres such as sidewall cracking and carcass deformation. Tyres on a stationary vehicle, particularly if parked in coastal areas, always age more quickly than those in regular and frequent use. If your caravan/trailer tent is going to stand for any length of time, it is wise to cover the tyres and to shield them from direct sunlight and if possible to jack the weight off the tyres. If in doubt about the condition of your tyres, have them checked immediately by a tyre specialist. Because tyres deteriorate with age, the leisure vehicle organisations recommend that irrespective of the remaining tread pattern depth, tyres should be replaced preferably when they reach five years old but to never use tyres which are more than seven years old.

Do Not Overload
It is dangerous to overload tyres at any time. The police may take action against drivers when their caravan is excessively loaded or has a badly distributed load. A poorly distributed load can cause overloading of one or more wheels even when the maximum permissible total load is not exceeded. It is important to spread the load evenly around the vehicle and as low as possible, thus the stability of the car and caravan combination will not be impaired. Failure to adhere to this rule will invite tyre problems and possible tyre failure. It is advisable to ensure the total caravan operating weight is below the specified maximum limit and a margin of 10% will partly compensate for some unequal load distribution.To ensure a safely loaded vehicle make use of Public Weighbridges


More Helpful Caravan Tyre Information

Caravan Axle Load and Inflation Pressure Tables
Tyre Sidewall Markings

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