Problem Unhitching Your Caravan?

Hitching and unhitching caravans can seem daunting to new caravanners. Even if towing the van is something you feel comfortable about, everyone takes a deep gulp of air when it’s their first time hitching up their caravan.

Most caravans have a hitch, crank wheel, latch and lock, breakaway cable, handbrake and electric hook up at the front of the van. Before you hitch your van, the first time, make sure you know these parts back to front, it will prevent any loss of confidence.

After a few goes it’s like many other things and you wonder what the fuss was all about.

Assuming you have hitched your caravan correctly, I’m just going to list the unhitching procedure before we get into any problems you might face unhitching your van.

  • Engage the handbrake
  • Lower the jockey wheel
  • Chock the wheels
  • After disconnecting the towing electrics, ensure you stow them safely away, to avoid damage
  • Release stabiliser by raising the front of the caravan on the jockey wheel and releasing the coupling clear of the hitch ball.
  • Disconnect the breakaway cable and stow carefully
  • Move car away from the caravan
  • Lower corner steadies and level caravan

Problems With Unhitching A Caravan

Problem One

So what problems might you encounter when you come to unhitch your caravan? For example, you go to unhitch and the tow ball won’t disconnect. In fact, the towing vehicle goes up in the air with the towing ball.

You could try this and see if it works for you. Before reversing your caravan onto your pitch, release the stabiliser. Reverse back and then pull forward a little to relax the hitch damper. Or apply the caravan handbrake, drive the car forward slowly to stretch the coupling, then try to disconnect. 

If those two don’t have the desired effect, lower the jockey wheel to raise the car a few inches, this works better if you have a hatchback. Sit down hard on the back of the car. Your extra weight forcing the car down should release the towbar. When trying this, don’t forget to apply the caravan handbrake first.

Problem Two

What’s the answer if you encounter this problem? The hitch is not releasing and is lifting the car up on its suspension. When it comes unhitched, the caravan gives a big lurch either left or to the right. Similar to a spring being released.

This problem may happen because you have some slight sideways turn, either left or right, on the van’s wheels. Setting up some sideways tension. When the tow bar comes free of the hitch, it lurches in the wheel’s direction. Always make sure your wheels are straight ahead before you unhitch. And never remove the safety chains until everything has settled down.


Those seem to be the main two issues experienced by caravan owners when they come to unhitch their vans. Don’t worry about seeking advice when you get to your campsite. There is always plenty of advice available. The significant thing about caravanning is the camaraderie you will experience.


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