If you are a complete newbie to caravanning and owning touring vehicles, you may have noticed through your online searches repeated mention of the words ‘caravan stabilisers’ and wondered what they were and why you would even have to stabilise your caravan before you tow it.
Generally speaking it is not essential, because the stability of your touring caravan is determined by choosing a suitably matched caravan that will work well with your car. Stability is also ensured when you load your caravan correctly, avoiding overloading it and not spreading the load across the vehicle.
There is always some snaking, when touring caravans, which is, for the most part, safe and harmless. However, it becomes a problem if your caravan starts to snake due to overtaking larger vehicles, unexpected gusts of wind or potholes on the road.
To compensate and provide stability from these occurrences, there are mechanisms known as stabilisers.
What Stabilisers Are Not Used For
As noted, you need to first choose a caravan that suitably matches your car and vice versa. That is the first key to ensuring that you will have a successful, smooth and safe towing experience. Furthermore, you need to look after your caravan and avoid overloading it or loading it in an unbalanced way.
A stabiliser is not designed to compensate for these kinds of mistakes. We can’t stress that enough. It is meant to provide stability against unexpected occurrences on the road, as outlined earlier.
To understand the role a caravan stabiliser plays in giving you stability, you need to understand the two forms of unwanted movement that cause instability.
The two forms of unwanted movement that you can experience when towing a caravan are:
- Yaw – This is a side to side movement, most commonly caused by gusts of wind hitting into your caravan.
- Pitching – In contrast to yawing, pitching is a vertical or up and down movement. This is generally caused by hitting either a pothole or drop in the road, leading to a (usually) momentary feeling of instability and discomfort.
Not only are both forms of unwanted movement likely to distress a newer caravanner, if you do not do anything to rectify them they can become a more serious problem and can even lead to an accident.
Different Kinds Of Caravan Stabilisers
Fortunately, there are solutions to the problem of unwanted movement that can help increase the level of stability you have when towing your caravan. There are actually three different kinds –
- Stabiliser mounted onto the tow ball
- Blade-style stabiliser
- Active stability braking system
Although choosing either of these will give you a degree of increased stability when you are towing a caravan; it is wise to be aware of the pros and cons of each. We will briefly discuss these below.
Stabiliser Mounted Onto The Tow Ball
- Uses a dry, clean towing ball
- Critical speed increase
- Don’t have to store anything
- Probably the easiest kind of stabiliser to install and use
- It could be less effective than the blade-style stabiliser
- Requires a special lock for the hitch
- Not as reasonably priced as a blade-style stabiliser
- Easy to switch for use with one caravan to another
- Easy to maintain and service
- Controls both yaw and pitching movement
- More reasonably priced than the other options
- Needs to be fitted each and every caravan trip
- May need to modify the a-frame fairing to make it fit
- Uses a greased tow ball
Active Stability Braking System
- Does not require any maintenance when it is being used
- Won’t be forgotten before you go on a trip
- Arguably the most effective stabiliser
- Needs a special fitting before it can be used
- The most costly of all three options
Whichever stabiliser you choose for your caravan, will depend on your available budget, your caravan and car and own personal preference. Hopefully, the above information has shown the importance of using some form of stabiliser though and has helped you to determine which may suit your touring caravan set-up more.
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