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The Carasel Guide to Buying a Caravan Towbar

Posted by Bob Newman on Oct 10, 2014 - 0 Comments

Get your towbar on and get off the grid.

Get your towbar on and get off the grid.

 

Sydney’s Savvy Shoppers

Buying a towbar isn’t rocket science but for the tow-uninitiated it can end up being a bit of a task, what with all the jargon and prior knowledge required before you even begin installation. Carasel Towbars are here to make light work of your next towbar buying experience – read on to learn how to select the correct caravan towbar for your needs, how to figure out your caravan’s tow ball weight by using your bathroom scales, and other common problems explained.

 

How to select the right caravan towbar for your needs

To ensure you get the safest and most reliable caravan towbar for your vehicle and your traveling needs, follow Carasel’s simple steps outlined here:

  • Firstly, identify the Aggregate Trailer Mass (ATM) of your caravan. The ATM is the total mass of the van and whatever is added as payload, for example water, fuel, food and luggage. The ATM is specified by your caravan’s manufacturer, or you can work out the ATM of your own vehicle by checking this handy formula here.
  • Identify the tow ball weight of your fully loaded caravan, which is the weight on the back of your car or on the jockey wheel if the caravan is uncoupled. Our instructions for this are further on in this guide. The tow ball weight is generally around 10 per cent of the ATM. However, an accurate measurement is recommended – take your vehicle and caravan to your district’s nearest weighbridge.
  • Once you’ve figured out your caravan’s ATM and tow ball weight, have a browse of your favourite towbar manufacturer and use these figures to analyse which options will suit your vehicle best. Make sure to search for ratings for any towbar you consider as well. Browsing and participating in car and caravan enthusiast forums may help with coming to an educated decision as well.
  • Once you’ve decided on a towbar, you may also need to consider purchasing a hitch receiver to accommodate your caravan. Important note: Where the tow ball weight exceeds 125kg, it is recommended that you fit a hitch receiver, which will allow the use of a heavy-duty weight-distributing hitch.

 

How do I figure out my caravan’s tow ball weight (using bathroom scales)?

To work out your caravan’s tow ball weight at home, you will need a set of bathroom scales, a brick or paver that is the same thickness as you scales, a piece of pipe and a strong plank that is at least 120cm across.

  1. Place the scales and the brick/paver 90cm apart.
  2. Place a piece of pipe on top of both of the scales and the brick, then rest the plank across them.
  3. Zero the scales
  4. Rest the jockey wheel on the plank 30cm from the brick as shown here
  5. Multiply the scale reading by 3 to get the correct caravan tow ball weight.

You must ensure that the caravan is level. Ideally, it would be fully loaded with water in the tank(s) to get a more realistic tow ball weight.

 

How do you know when it’s time to replace your towbar?

If you’re an avid traveler, your towbar may need to be replaced every few years after some wear and tear. But how do you know when it’s time to move onto bigger and better things?

There are two main signs to look out for:

  • Pins: There are plenty of them, on both your towbar and the hook-up for your caravan or trailer. You’ll need to look closely at each one and be on the lookout for signs that they’re getting worn out.
  • Bolts: Towbars are slightly flexible thanks to the bolts on it. In order to make good use out of a towbar it will need to be flexible, otherwise the first bump you hit or corner you go around will see the whole thing snapping off or breaking apart. Check to ensure that all of the towbar’s bolts are in the right spot and screwed in properly. To make sure that the bolts aren’t too loose or too tight, try and get the towbar running through a full range of motion.

Checking a towbar is fairly light work, but if you don’t do it regularly and they are in fact worn out and you haven’t replaced it, things can quickly take a turn for the worse. To ensure the longevity of your towbar, keep it clean of dust and grime. In addition to this, don’t overstress the towbar by towing weights that it wasn’t made for.

 

Other Towbar Tips

Know your towing vehicle’s limits: Even after carefully deliberating over the right kind of towbar for you, there is still a possibility of unsafely towing too much because you weren’t aware of what the weight limit is for your vehicle. Check your vehicle’s manual and see if there’s anything about tow ratings. If you can’t find anything, get in contact with the dealer you purchased the vehicle from or look it up online.

Prevent swaying or fishtailing: Even the most experienced trailer or caravan travelers may encounter swaying or fishtailing when driving. Swaying/fishtailing is when the trailer begins to move from side to side, regardless of how you are driving, and is one of the biggest contributors to towing-related accidents. To avoid swaying, assess your load before you start traveling. If the back end of the trailer is sagging, simply make use of a weight-distributing hitch on your towbar to ensure that your trailer and its load stays level.

What does the mini-hitch do? It’s a hitch for very low towing weights (so not a caravan) usually for anything with a ball weight of up to 82kg – the ball weight is the downward weight placed on the vehicle’s tow ball from the coupling of the trailer.

This blog was posted in Towbars

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