Tag Archives: Holidays

Do I need a Weight Distribution Hitch Kit for my Caravan?

Do I need a Weight Distribution Hitch Kit for my Caravan?

A Weight Distribution Hitch Kit (WDH) commonly referred to as an ANTI SWAY BAR is a device designed to transfer weight evenly across all wheels of the motor vehicle and trailer. The WDH transfers weight from the Towball evenly across the Towing vehicle. The aim of this is to level out and evenly distribute weight across the car and the Trailer to reduce Trailer sway.

  • WITHOUT WEIGHT DISTRIBUTION FITTED

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Because adding the additional weight of a trailer to a vehicle will change the dynamics of the vehicles steering and braking, most vehicle manufactures recommend the use of a weight distribution hitch and some even make it a requirement once the trailer exceeds a specified weight.

  • WITH WEIGHT DISTRIBUTION FITTED

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The WDH kits come in many capacities. There are light weight kits, which consist of two bars or four bars and three heavy duty versions which consist of two thick bars and usually an adjustable ball mount,
These kits are categorized according to their Tow ball Capacity.

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How do I know which kit is suitable for my Trailer/Caravan?

The 2 key questions to be asked here are:

  1. Does the Trailer push the rear of the towing vehicle down at all?
  2. What is the actual ball load at the Trailer Coupling? (Note -This is not the figure used on the compliance plate that states the Ball weight of the Trailer off the production line)

To get an accurate measurement of the Trailer Ball Load you will need to have the Trailer fully loaded to your needs. You will then need a set of Ball Weight Scales, available from most auto accessory stores. Or you can take your trailer to a public weigh bridge.

You can determine which WDH kit is right for you by using the following table.

A Ball Load of WDH Kit
1kg to 80kg No kit required
80kg to 100kg Light Weight 2 Bar kit
100 to 130kg Light Weight 4 Bar kit
120 to 270kg Heavy Duty 600lb (272kg) kit
250 to 350kg Heavy Duty 800lb (363kg) kit
330 to 450kg Heavy Duty 1000lb (454kg) kit
(Larger Towball required)

Back to Basics for Towing

We all like to get away at holiday time and grab the boat or the caravan to enjoy a trip, but when was the last time you had your Towbar or your Wiring system checked?  Every couple of years it is a good idea to have your trailer, towbar & vehicle inspected by an authorised technician.  This could be as easy as booking it in at your preferred dealership/mechanic or having a mobile safety inspection visit your place.

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The last thing we need when we are on holidays is to have a problem with our Towbar or the wiring.  Over time the connections can wear on the wiring pickup points, so it is advisable to test the trailer wiring on your towing vehicle before you hook up the boat or van.  This can be carried out by you with a simple test kit (available here) or easily checked by your mechanic.

Once your vehicle has been checked, take a look at the trailer and make sure it’s up to scratch.  They often get neglected and spend most of their life in the weather.  Have you nearly rear-ended a trailer being towed with non-working brake lights?  Pretty dangerous, right!  What about those poor souls on the side of the highway with the trailer missing a wheel?  Not ideal.  Get it checked out by your mechanic to make sure it’s safe to use.

NOW THAT YOU’RE READY TO TOW, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A FOCUS ON SAFETY:

    Do I have the right towbar for what I am towing?

Always check the towing capacity for your vehicle. Make sure the load you are pulling does not exceed this and make sure your towbar & ball is rated for the specified load.

    Do I need to adjust my driving skills now that I have a caravan or trailer on the back?

Now that you’re towing, your vehicle is heavier and will take further to stop.  Make sure you leave enough distance between you and the car in front so you can slow down in time.  You will also need to be more considerate of other vehicles now that your vehicle is longer.  Changing lanes should be done with plenty of warning and only when safe.  Reversing should be carried out with an extra set of eyes, preferably outside the vehicle.

    How should the Towing Mirrors be positioned?

Clip on extension mirrors should be set to see down the outside of the van, the cars mirrors should be set to see the caravan’s wheels. This way you can make sure your van is staying in your lane.

planning-travel-map ALWAYS PLAN AHEAD:

Is your GPS up to date?
Have you planned your rest stops?
Do you know how far you will travel in a day?
Can you access money and fuel easily on your journey?