How To Hook Up A Caravan

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People who are new to Caravan sometimes have questions that they are embarrassed to act such as how to hook up a Caravan.

It’s because these things are seemingly very basic, so this sort of question can be embarrassing to ask. 

 However, these things are really important to get right, so I will take you through all the steps that you will need in order to safely hook up your caravan.

I often provide a table of contents so that you can go strait to the section of interest. However in this article it is important to follow the steps in order to avoid problems later.

First secure items from moving inside the caravan.

Secure items when you hook up your caravan before towing

The first thing to do before you consider hooking up your Caravan and towing it behind your car, is to secure items inside your caravan so that they don’t move on your journey.  items flying around inside your caravan call cause lots of expensive damage.

Remove wheel clamps

before you hook ups your caravan remove wheel clamp before you tow

Next before we get too carried away, is important to remove wheel clamps.    this seems obvious however, as a newbie once your head is full of complicated task of hooking up your caravan, it is very easy overlook this step.  If you do, you could cause a significant amount of damage.  

Setting up the hitch

Now it’s time to set up the hitch. This is the part front of the caravan that will be connected to the car.  

Remove the hitch cover

It’s a good idea to have the front hitch covered when the caravan is not in use to protect it from the elements.  So the first job is to remove the front cover.  This is usually done by unclipping a plastic clip underneath and simply lifting it away. 

Remove the hitch lock and any other security device

In addition to the wheel clamp that you may have removed earlier you may have a security device on the hitch.  Again remove this now an it is one less thing to consider later.

At this point you can ‘cock the hitch’.  This simply means lifting the handle so that when you lower the caravan onto the car later it it already primed.

Remove caravan electrics lead

when you hook up a caravan remove power lead before towing away

If your caravan has been plugged in at home, charging the battery, then you should now remove the electric power lead.

Lower the jockey wheel and lift the corner steadies 

This next step seems obvious – lowering the jocky wheel.  However if you don’t get this part right then you may find later that the caravan won’t lift high enough to get it onto the tow bar. 

 I was contacted by one reader who overwound the jocky wheel because it was set up badly, causing the jocky wheel to come off its own thread and collapse, leaving his new caravan with its nose on the ground in the middle of his cal de sac, overnight!

So us the side handle next to the jocky wheel to lower the whole jocky wheel until the rim of the wheel is about seven inches off the ground.  Only then shroud you turn the handle on top to wind the wheel down to the ground.  When it touches the ground, stop winding or you will effectively be pushing the rear corner steadies / legs into the ground.

Before you lift the corner steadies / legs, consider that when you do the caravan will be free to move.  Make sure that the hand break is on or the motor mover is engaged onto the wheels.

You can now lift the corner steadies.  This is done with a winding tool or drill attachment for those who don’t want the effort of winding.  If you do use the drill method then be careful that your drill doesn’t snatch your wrist when the winding is complete. 

The next part of the opposition I have split into two different methods.  Method one is for those who are lucky enough to have a motor mover.  If you don’t have one, then go to method 2.

Method 1 with a motor mover

Use the motor mover and Maneuver the caravan into place about a meter behind the towing vehicle.

Keep the motor mover engaged for now.

Remove the tow bar cover from the tow bar.Don’t consider doing this too early, particularly in rain as you don’t want the tow bar to get too wet.

Now check the nose weight weight.

Instruction to check the nose weight vary depending on the method that you use.You can find a useful article on how to check nose weight weight here.

Drive the caravan forward using the motor mover until the hitch on the caravan is over the tow ball. Wind the handle until the hitch rests with the tow ball inside of the hitch.You should hear a clunk as the primed hitch engages with the tow ball.

Raise the jocky wheel

You can now raise the jocky wheel.Do this by turning the handle until the jocky wheel is completely retracted.Next release the side handle and lift the entire jocky wheel until the wheel is stowed away back under the frame cowling.

Release the motor mover

Now that the caravan is safely attached to the towing vehicle, you can retract the motor mover.The caravan may move slightly as you do this.

Method 2 without a motor mover

You have two options of you don’t have a motor mover.

Pull the caravan by hand 

Or 

Reverse the car to the caravan

Pulling the caravan by hand can be dangerous, so make sure that you are able to re-apply the hand brake if you loose control of the caravan.

If you choose to reverse the car up to the caravan with the caravan in situ, then there is one other thing to consider.

If the caravan is on a driveway or on a pitch that is at a different level to the car, as you reverse up to the caravan the towbar will be too low for the caravan (if the car is higher) or too high is the caravan is lower (see the diagram)

Another thing to consider is that if the caravan is tight against a wall, fence or anything other obstacle, then you will only be able to pull the caravan directly forward until you are clear of that obstacle.  If you turn too early then the back of the caravan will hit the wall.

One the caravan is in a suitable spot then apply the hand brake on the caravan and reverse the car up to the caravan, stopping short about a meter away.

Now check the nose weight weight.

The best way to check the nose weight will vary depending on the method that you use.  You can find a useful article on how to check the caravan nose weight weight here.

Lower the caravan onto the tow ball. You should hear a clunk

You should now release the hand brake. Be aware that the caravan my move a couple of inches when you release the hand brake. 

Raise the jocky wheel – Raise the Rocky wheel by turning the handle until the Rocky wheel is completely retracted. 

To retract completely the jocky wheel will need to line up with the slots on each side of the shaft ok if the Rocky wheel. 

Finally release the side handle and lift the whole Rocky wheel. Turn the shaft so that the wheel can find it’s way right up inside the A-frame. Tighten the side handle to secure.

Next plug in the electric making sure that the power lead doesn’t obstruct the hand brake or drag on the ground.  Ensure that there is enough cable to true left and right. 

You may now replace your tow hitch lock, to secure the caravan onto the car. If you have, (particularly if your vehicle is facing down a hill) pull the car forward onto flat ground. 

Likewise is you have an Alko ATC and the light is flashing green pulling forward a get feet may rectify this.

Do your final checks before pulling away. I recommend the caravan feature walk around.

Now you are ready to tow.

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Phone 01384 660150

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