Whether you are buying brand new, pre-owned or building your individual, educating yourself on the basics of caravanning will take the guess figure out of acquiring the right caravan to suit your needs.
Safety of yourself, your occupants and other people on the road whilst travelling is the reason to arm yourself with all the correct information before investing in a caravan. Knowing a few simple tips can also save you 1000s of dollars worth of upgrades or even modifications down the track.
1) What’s your Tow Vehicle Capability?
It’s not uncommon to your standard family car to get considered under rated, unsafe or even illegal to tow the new caravan you want to purchase. Knowing your tow car or truck capacity or tow rating will allow you to decide what fully loaded weight caravan you’ll be able to safely and legally tow line.
When you know the tow vehicle rating/capacity, think very carefully against about investing in a caravan very close for a maximum allowable towing weight rating as there are a variety of variables that can easily overload you or also de-rate/reduce the specified tow line vehicle rating, this can unintentionally put you into the ‘illegal and unsafe’ zone.
The ATM (Aggregate Trailer Mass) would be the total weight in kilograms of the fully loaded caravan. The ideal ATM of a caravan is defined by the caravan manufacturer and it is stamped on your caravans recognition plate. To be safe ensure that your cars tow rating is a least rated more compared to ATM of your caravan.
Think of the extra possible weight (luggage, fuel, camping products, caravan accessories, bike racks and application boxes etc) thrown into or mounted on your caravan whilst visiting, this could add as much as hundreds of kilos and has to be considered to comply with all the maximum ATM (Aggregate Trailer Mass) of your caravan and maximum GCM (Gross Merged Mass) rating.
The GCM (Gross Combined Mass) come in the tow vehicles features handbook. This is the utmost total weight of your car and caravan combined and it is set by the car or truck manufacturer.
Any extra weight applied to your stock standard auto (roof racks, camping products, boot luggage, extra spare tyres and even passengers) is added towards overall GCM which could possibly reduce the tow ranking, be sure to check your vehicle specifications. As a general general guideline, the heavier you create your tow vehicle the less you’ll be able to legally tow. Exceeding the ATM or GCM might make towing unsafe and avoid insurance and manufacturer’s warrantee.
One last little matter to make it somewhat more confusing but is additionally important. GVM is the Gross Vehicle Mass of your tow vehicle, this weight rating likewise cannot be exceeded first of all and would be aware of check before even taking a look at your GCM for protection, insurance and warranty good reasons – check the manufacturer’s features.
2) What is the Tow Ball Mass and also Tow Ball Weight Standing?
Tow Ball Mass would be the physical downward weight your caravan puts on your tow ball when hooked up. As a general general guideline for safe towing, the very least 10% of your overall caravan weight (ATM) must be on your tow basketball. (Unless otherwise specified by means of manufacturer)
Correctly distributing your caravan weight allows for safe towing. Having less than 10% of your caravans ATM while tow ball mass would be the major cause of unmanageable caravan swaying.
Common causes of inadequate tow ball mass are merely by loading too much gear/weight driving your caravan and mismatched elevation between car and caravan for the hitch point, both of which bring about your caravan to experience ‘nose up’ increasing to be able to sway uncontrollably.
Tow Ball Weight is the term for the horizontal pull rating of your tow ball. Make sure you check the tow ball weight rating of your tow ball that has already been fitted to your car or truck, this is not always rated to fit your vehicles maximum towing capability. For Example: 2. 5 tonne rated tow balls are commonly fitted to 3. 5 tonne rated vehicles – be sure to check.
3) What Terrain are you taking your caravan over?
Knowing what terrain you may be driving on will decide the suspension setup. You basically hold the choice of On-Road or even Off-Road type suspension having all single axle caravans. Tandem axle caravans offer On-Road, Partial Off-Road and Off-Road type suspension.
Generally means non-independent and non-load sharing that’s OK for a smooth ride on sealed bitumen highways. Great for touring the primary ‘on the map’ places of Australia where Caravan Park hopping would be the plan of attack to your trip. The most economical suspension but the capabilities are limited. Do not make an effort to take an On-Road setup Off-Road – they are simply not designed to address the varying and typically corrugated Off-Road conditions. If your caravan has standard On-Road suspension from factory, then chances will be the rest of your caravan might also not be designed or even structurally sound enough to address these conditions either. (Corrugated roads are any killer for On-Road build caravans with this suspension a result of the minimal resistance to vibrations and also uncontrollable swaying)
A widespread example of On-Road, non-independent, non-load sharing would be the traditional Beam Axle suspension.
For tandem axles solely that generally have possibly load sharing or impartial capabilities, but not each. It is important to spot what capabilities your Semi Off-Road suspension is designed for. Independent acting suspension will be what helps your caravan track behind you, minimising the particular uncontrollable swaying and vibration, in particular on corrugated roads. Load sharing suspension helps to spread the load evenly between the tandem axles when manoeuvring over larger dips and humps which helps prevent suspension component failure due to overloading. (Common caravan park speed bumps can temporarily overload one axle during a period without load sharing capabilities).
Fully independent and fill sharing suspension is what on earth is classed as Off-Road suspension. Independent means your caravan will certainly track better through corrugations although minimising vibrations. Load giving enables your caravan in order to safe and effectively manoeuvre over large dips and humps similar to speed bumps without overloading the axles.
Shock absorbers can be fitted to nearly all suspension types to help cushion the impact of sharp dips and bumps which also helps to track your caravan and also minimise vibrations (Simplicity suspension might not need shock absorbers a result of the reverse spring, independent and also load sharing design). The addition of shock absorbers may help improve the overall performance of your suspension, but only to the conditions your suspension is capable of, or designed for to start with. Adding new or beefing in the existing shock absorbers will certainly improve, but generally will not let you take your On-Road suspension Off-Road.
4) No cost Camping or Powered Caravan Playground Sites?
Knowing whether you are free camping or getting the convenience of a centric caravan park site or even both, will determine the formulate and configuration of the caravan.
Powered Caravan Playground Sites
This option gives you one of the most variety of choice with deciding on a caravan as you don’t necessarily have to be self-sufficient. Toilets, showers, laundry facilities, electricity, BBQ’s, world wide web, TV reception and running water can all be provided depending on the caravan park. The most basic of caravan setups can still provide a great holiday providing the particular daily caravan park site fees fit affordable.
The longer you travel the harder savings and freedom you receive with free camping since you are not spending your money on caravan park site fees. The catch is you have to be correctly setup to enjoy the same conveniences of the caravan park which may appear at a considerable preliminary expense.
More thought and consideration is required of your caravan layout to add the space for use and storage of the utilities and appliances.
Items to consider:
Electricity will require the provision for residential solar panels and batteries fitted and/or possibly a generator dependent upon your requirements. Toilet, shower and kitchen requires water tanks and pumping systems installed. A Satellite for TV reception and also a BBQ, grill or stove/oven with regard to cooking, not to mention the appliance and dryer for the full free camping setup.
Of course many of these things can already be installed when purchasing the caravan, it’s just a matter of exercising what things are considered important to your household and having the correct information to make an informed choice any time buying your caravan.
5) Size of your Caravan
There are lots of things to consider when determining the length of your caravan.
• Size/capacity of tow vehicle.
• Number of men and women to sleep.
• The desire for space invading utilities: shower, toilet, kitchen etc.
• The desire for space invading appliances: TV SET, washing machine, microwave for example.
• The height of caravan for storage in a home garage.
• Fuel economy normally – the smaller, reduce and lighter your caravan, the better for your towing car or truck fuel economy.
• Ease of towing.
• General living advantage.
• Storage requirements.
• Quality of construction and its particular weight.
Generally when choosing the length of a caravan, there is actually always a compromise. It is advisable to work out what you can’t change or manage (like the minimum quantity of beds or the maximum height to suit in garage) as it’ll quickly form a system to base your judgements.
By writing down your ‘necessities’ as well as your ‘nice to haves’ you may be surprised how narrow the option of caravans becomes the particular further down the list you receive.
6) Materials & Construction of Caravan
Depending with your needs and budget, the materials and construction of your caravan can vary significantly in quality and selling price. There is always going becoming a caravan that is greater and better, but the trick is to discover the caravan that is built and created to an acceptable standard with the objective you intend.
Once you have worked out where you want to take your caravan, you’ll be able to confidently match the engineering requirements geared to. There are always new products and technology being introduced from the manufacturing of caravans (especially wall structure, ceiling and floor materials) which often all have their benefits and drawbacks. It is a good plan to familiarise yourself with what has been thoroughly tested over the years to help compare with new technology that could be considered suitable for your needs.
A few simple ideas
• Wood frame vs aluminum frame – Wood framework caravans are popular when they are generally cheaper to create and repair, but commonly lack strength, are at risk from wood rot and are slightly heavier in comparison to aluminium framed caravans.
• Composite screen, fiberglass, sandwich board, foam infill and also other similar type wall development – These wall development techniques definitely all have their particular advantages, generally (but not really always) strength, reliability, padding and weather proof features. The disadvantage is it is generally more expensive to purchase and repair these materials and can be heavier than the cheaper more prevalent alternatives.
• Aluminium cladding – Is used together with wood or aluminium framework caravans and is the commonest type of cladding as a result of availability, ease of setting up and repair, and the relatively low priced of material, but are inclined to dents and scratches.
• Chassis construction – A fantastic solid engineered chassis can be a critical component for any caravan, but with a compelling construction comes added weight. Hot Dip Galvanising may help preserve the structural integrity from the longer term by avoiding rust.
• Suspension – Match the terrain you want to travel (Bitumen, corrugated dirt or full Off-Road) with all the capability of the suspension, easy as that.
7) Study reviews of similar auto and caravan setups
It pays to read any comments or opinions by caravan owners having similar setups. There are generally always both positive and also negative reviews, tips and tricks that may give you that extra inside information that may persuade you to obtain confidently or sometimes moreover not to buy, helping you save time and money.
8) Condition of Caravan
Unless you are buying brand new, it is a good idea to get a in depth pre purchase inspection from a local caravan service/repair centre. This will give you advisable of the condition from the caravan and possibly save you 1000s of dollars down the track. Ceremony get professional hitching, towing and also combined car and caravan suggestions.
There are a lots of pit falls to keep clear of, here is a listing of common things to check:
• Make sure it isn’t stolen – View the particular registration papers, validate the owner and compare the (VIN) variety matches documentation.
• Any signs of normal water leaks or damage must be professionally inspected for solid wood rot.
• Rust and other structural damage can be a definite red flag.
• Inspect the general condition from the caravan for its age to be a guide to how it is treated. If it’s very nice condition for the age group or price, inspect the chance of the caravan staying superficially repaired and exclude any further structural injury.
Don’t be left crimson faced (or worse) if something was to look wrong whilst towing the newly acquired caravan. Get insurance when you tow the caravan away to shield yourself from those inevitable outcomes we call ‘accidents’.
Remember that the insurance insurance plan won’t be worth the particular paper it’s written on when the legal requirements regarding caravan hitching and towing are not adhered to – check the manufacturer’s specifications with your car and caravan before towing.
Read your insurance plan, ‘full comprehensive accident cover’ and also ‘manufacturing fault cover’ are generally 2 different things – make sure you are covered for each, especially when water damage due to improper sealing is anxious.
10) Regular Maintenance
Visit your neighborhood caravan and service restore centre before venturing in those weekends away or even touring holidays. The professionals are there to ensure your car and caravan will be correctly setup, functioning properly and throughout road worthy condition ensuring a safe journey for your household.