Before we get started, this guide if only for people towing with an ALKO stabiliser equipped caravan. Which is most (but not all) modern caravans. (Check with your caravan dealer if unsure.)
Firstly, before you connect your caravan to the tow ball, make sure the tow ball is clean from rust, oil, grease, paint and any other form of contamination. It should be clean metal. This will allow the ALKO pads to grip the tow ball and work effectively.
If you’re using a detachable tow bar neck then you need to make sure you have engaged the neck correctly and that the indicator is showing GREEN.
The best way to connect the caravan hitch to the tow ball is reverse your vehicle up to the tow ball, or use your motor mover to move the caravan in place and then lower the caravan hitch to the correct position using the jockey wheel. Lift the tow hitch handle and check that the hitch is in position, now you can fasten the hitch and lower your ALKO stabiliser in place.
Your next task is to connect your tow bar electrics.
As it’s a modern caravan we will assume that you have had a dedicated 13 pin socket fitted to the vehicle. Line up the 13pin plug from the caravan and twist the plug in a clockwise direction. The plug should move into the socket and fasten in to position. At this point you will probably hear the ALKO stabiliser initialise on your caravan. Look on the front A frame of the caravan and you should see a green light that indicated that the ALKO stabiliser system is active.
The next thing you need to do is fasten the breakaway cable from the caravan to your vehicle.
The breakaway cable is there in case your caravan becomes unattached from the tow bar. It is very important and needs to be connected correctly. The correct way to attach the breakaway cable is to pass it through, or attach it to the breakaway cable connector on your tow bar. This is normally at the rear of the tow ball and is a ring of metal, or a cut away in the tow bar that is specifically designed to attach the cable to. Looping around your tow ball is not recommended, nor a safe way to connect the cable. (Should your tow ball fail (Incorrectly engaged detachable tow bar neck) then the cable will come off with the tow bar neck!
Once you have connected your caravan to your tow vehicle then you need to make sure the jockey wheel is lifted and out of the way, all of the caravan’s support legs are up and that all of the caravan’s windows / doors / storage / TV aerial / sky lights are closed and locked in to position.
If you have caravan movers, check they are in the travel position and not still in contact with the tyres.
Do a quick check of the lights on the caravan, indicators, brakes, side lights, for and reverse lights should be checked before moving off. Also, make sure you have attached your towing mirrors and they are adjusted correctly.
Lastly… Put the caravan handbrake in to the off position, you won’t get far without this being done.
Once you move off take things steady and relax. Your caravan will probably be slightly wider than your tow vehicle, so allow for plenty of room when passing things.
Accelerate smoothly and slow down steadily.
Make all manoeuvres smoothly and don’t take chances.
You need to drive slower than you normally would and to allow for extra distance when braking.
Take corners wider to allow for the extra width and length of the caravan.
If you’re on a motorway then the fastest speed you can do is 60mph. Any faster and you’re breaking the law and also could be seen as driving carelessly. You’re also not allowed in the third lane of a motorway.
Dual carriageways and your down to 50mph.
Providing you’re driving at an appropriate speed and smoothly then you shouldn’t experience snaking of the caravan. If the caravan does start to snake then the ALKO stabilisers should kick in and reduce this automatically. If you have a modern tow car then you might also have trailer stability control built in to the vehicle. This will realise what if happening and automatically stabilise the vehicle to get things back to normal. (This will only be active if you have a vehicle specific tow bar wiring loom installed. (Also known as dedicated tow bar electrics.) If you don’t have any stability control then, if your caravan starts to snake, you should lift take your foot of the accelorator and let the caravan and vehicle slow down slowly. Don’t accelerat, brake or turn until the caravan is back to its normal state.
The biggest tip of all… Take your time, relax and enjoy.
Team Ultimate Towbars