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Coupling up a caravan/trailer

This is quite easy if you follow and stick to a safe routine. It is so important to get this right as mistakes can be extremely costly and hazardous.

Further Help
Towing a caravan guideStopping distances when towing


Always work methodically and carefully. DO NOT rush and always double check everything to make sure of safety. Find a routine that works and covers everything and stick to it

2. Apply the handbrake and make sure that both the caravan and the towing vehicle are secure and solid and under control.

3. Always consider the health and safety of those around you

4. Check that the coupling is successful and secure. As the driver you are responsible for towing on a public highway and therefore any mishaps can and will be blamed on you.

5. Always make sure that you have read and understood any instructions. There should be no doubts. You should know exactly what your are doing before you tow a caravan/trailer on a public highway.

6. If possible get some extra help with coupling up. Its always easier and someone else can spot something that you have missed. And it's easier to be guided by a second party when reversing up to make the coupling.

Vehicle Positioning. Things will be easier if the coupling is higher than the tow ball before you attempt to connect them. Use the jockey wheel to adjust the height before you even start reversing your car to make connection.

8. Make sure that the connection is good as per the manufacturers instructions. Many feature a visual indicator which must be checked to ensure a safe connection. Some have an audible click or a second mechanism which must be checked.

9. When you have checked that the coupling is secure make sure that the jockey wheel is fully retracted. This is VERY IMPORTANT as if it is left down it can hit the road surface on a bump and break the coupling disconnecting your trailer/caravan.

10. Connect the electrics. Make sure that the plugs are firmly connected together and test the contact by turning on your side lights and making sure that the trailer/caravans side lights come on also. If you have a second person with you it is a good time to check all the lights. See our section on electrics

Connect the break away cable if there is one. Check the instructions or advice sheet if necessary.

12. Check the general condition of your caravan/trailer. Make sure that the tyres are good and the the trailer/caravan sits level. Incorrect positioning of luggage etc can upset the correct ride of the trailer/caravan which will in turn upset the handling of the vehicles.

Check list
1. Is the Hitch fully down over the tow ball?
2. Is the hitch lever fully closed?
3. Are the visual indicator (If fitted) showing the right colour?
4. Wind down the jockey wheel fully to raise the back of the car to make sure that the coupling does not disconnect (Make sure you return the jockey wheel to its full upright position
5. Is the breakaway cable connected properly?
6. Is the stabilizer (if fitted) correctly attached with any stabilizing mechanism engaged and any visual indicator displaying a correct operation.
7. Is the jockey wheel fully retracted or stowed correctly?
8. Are the electrics attached properly?
9. Make all checks twice!!

Video help with connecting trailers/caravans