Craig Goulding, part of Subaru’s technical team, knows a thing or two about towing a caravan. He’s been doing it for 30 years and has probably visited every caravan site worth visiting in Britain. Most of the time he’s hitched up behind a Subaru, one of the most impressive pulling machines out there. While current government guidance prevents caravanning enthusiasts from getting out and about this springtime, here are some tips that you’ll be able to put to use later in the year.
There’s something magical about hitching up your caravan and exploring some of the most beautiful and spectacular sights in the British Isles. From the rugged highlands of Scotland to the hidden treasures of Cornwall, summertime is the best time to discover why Britain is called Great.
And yet towing a caravan can seem a little scary to some. Pulling a heavy object behind you certainly demands good concentration and control. This is where Subaru, with its Permanent Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, comes into its own. By constantly shifting power to the wheels that have the most traction, drivers benefit from exceptional road-holding and have the confidence, composure and stability to go anywhere with their caravan.
Two models, in particular, are ideal for the hard towing miles, both on the road and across grassy, sometimes muddy sites. Outback has an impressive towing capability of 2,000kg and Forester e-BOXER – Subaru’s self-charging hybrid SUV – has a towing capacity of 1,870kg (one of the best in its class).
Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive ensures better traction on slippery tarmac or when pulling away from a muddy pitch. Craig recounts two occasions where his Subaru has come to the rescue of fellow caravanners who have got completely stuck in the mud, despite having a larger car up front.
He tells us, “The real beauty of towing with a Subaru is that you just don’t have to think about it. It does the job whatever the weather, whatever the terrain. It’s about confidence and it gives you that in spades”.
So, you’ve got the right car in front. But how easy is it to attach a caravan, what are the top tips for a pleasurable trip and what must you look out for when towing?
First things first, check your driving licence to see if you’re eligible to tow a caravan. If you passed your test before the end of 1996, you can usually drive a car/caravan combination of up to 8,250 kg. If you gained your license after 1996, it’s 3,500 kg or less. If you’re unsure, you can check at www.GOV.uk.
Next, plan your route carefully. That narrow canal bridge you’ve always taken with inches to spare may prove impassable with a wider caravan hitched up behind. Craig is an avid user of Google Earth, but any trip to an unknown destination requires a little more pre-planning.
Attaching a caravan to your Subaru takes a bit of practice, but once you’ve mastered the process, it soon becomes second nature. A jockey wheel is used to lift the caravan onto the car’s tow ball and a breakaway cable is connected between the two, ensuring that the caravan comes to a halt should it become unhitched. The electrics are then attached and the handbrake is taken off. Everything is locked into place and you’re good to go.
On the road, you’ll need to give yourself a little more time and space for everything – braking, accelerating and cornering. Don’t exceed 50mph on single carriageways, 60mph on dual carriageways and remember, you’re not allowed to tow on the outside lane of a motorway.
Never carry passengers in the caravan when you’re towing it and remember that your number plate must show your car’s registration number. If traffic is building up behind you, pull over and let the other vehicles pass. All common sense, really.
Two things to look out for are ‘snaking’ and ‘pitching’. Snaking is when the lateral swaying movement of the caravan behind a car becomes excessive. Pitching occurs when the caravan’s front end moves up and down, pulling the rear of the car around like a seesaw. The best way to avoid both scenarios is to have a well-matched car and caravan, in terms of both weight and stance, and to load both carefully. Electronic and friction stabilisers can be useful here.
Once you’ve arrived at your site, unhooking your caravan is pretty much the same as hitching up, except in reverse. It’s important to remember to lock your caravan in place once you’ve unhitched it from your car.
If you’d like a little more guidance before hitting the road, professional towing tuition and courses are available. You’ll be taken through all the basic information you need from hitching your caravan up to your car to reversing.
Craig concludes, “Subaru is a cult car in caravanning circles. Raised ride height, Permanent Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive and sheer pulling power make our cars, especially the Outback and Forester e-BOXER, superior towing vehicles. When your next vacation comes along, the best place for your caravan is right behind a Subaru”.
Craig’s top recommendations to pitch up and visit in the UK
Rugged coastlines, quaint fishing villages and melting sunsets
Ancient forests, breath-taking mountains and glittering waters
Rolling, lush countryside and magical water meadows
The Lake District
Simplyan area of outstanding natural beauty
Beautiful scenery with magnificent views of Mount Snowdon
The Norfolk Broads
The mystical beauty of the rivers and great waterways
The Yorkshire Dales
Beautiful woodland, clear streams and majestic valleys
The Antrim Coast
Dramatic cliffs, stunning views and the Giant’s Causeway itself
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