Whether you’re towing a trailer or a caravan, it’s always a good idea to refresh the knowledge, or perhaps set you up if you’re new to towing.
Roothy’s pick for the perfect towing vehicle is the Isuzu D-Max and with its 3.5-tonne towing capacity is more than capable of pulling the biggest of caravans.
THE NUMBERS ARE IMPORTANT
“The numbers are important,” said Roothy. “You’ll find them on plates around the van or trailer and on your vehicle’s tow bar.”
You need to ensure you know the capacity of your vehicle, the weight of what you’re towing, and also how many kilos your trailer or van will take on top of that.
A LITTLE EXTRA HELP
When it comes time to hook your trailer up, a rear vision camera can be a great help.
“The Isuzu has got an absolute winner,” Roothy said. “The D-Max is probably the best of the lot because you can see the tow ball.”
THE HOOK UP
If you’re hooking up a van, ensure the hand brake is on.
Most vans will have two chains and Roothy’s tip is to cross them over to form a bit of a cradle in case the van does drop. Of course, this is very unlikely to happen as long as you’ve got the right tow bar.
Once again you should find all the tow bar information on the plate affixed to it. The important information here is the Down Load weight.
“We call that ball weight and essentially that’s the weight that the front of the caravan is pushing down on the back of the vehicle.” Roothy said. “It’s absolutely crucial and the reason is because that affects every part of the towing sequence.”
“Most of the issues with towing vans are from getting the ball weight wrong,” he said. “And then it’s about loading the van properly.”
“You want the heavy things close to the axels and down low. The whole idea is to keep the centre of gravity down low. Put the light things up top in the cupboards.”
POST HOOK-UP CHECKS
Once hooked up, you, of course, need to do all the relevant checks. Check the brake and indicator lights are working.
Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to take the handbrake off.
The last thing you’ll want to do, and probably the most crucial for safety is to fit your towing mirrors. They’re a legal requirement in some states, but as Roothy says “they’re a common-sense requirement.”
You really need to be able to see what’s behind you, especially when you’re going to be moving a lot slower than usual. As a starting point, you should be able the see the same reflection in both mirrors.
AND WE’RE OFF
Once you’re off there are a few towing tips you need to remember here too. First off, don’t forget to take the corners a bit wider than you normally would.
Also, you’re weighing a lot more than you normally would be so your brakes are going to be working harder and your gears are going to be working harder.
The Isuzu is a fantastic tow vehicle for a whole lot of reasons. It’s got the most torque, and it’s got the biggest engine in its class.
It’s also got a 6-speed automatic which pretty much predicts when you need to change gears, it’ll do it for you.
“One of the things I’ve found is that it’s really good to use the manual on the automatic side of the gear selection,” Roothy said. “You use it when you’re heading down hills. Just drop it down a gear or two, let the engine take care of things instead of riding the brakes. That way you’re not going to overheat anything.”
The Isuzu High Ride models have a sway control system in the rear end which is really useful for towing caravans.
“But at the end of the day this is a really fabulous platform to go exploring the country,” Roothy said. “You’ve got your comfort in the back, comfort in the front and all the capacity in the world. This is beautiful.”