Reversing a caravan: The fundamentals

:
Caravan
13 May
2014

Left is right and right is left – reversing your caravan can be very tricky business.

To the uninitiated, reversing a caravan is one of the most intimidating parts of caravan towing. Often, the difficult part is having an audience. But with patience and concentration it won’t take you long to master it. We explain step-by-step how to reverse park your caravan from a position adjacent to a parking spot.

1. Use your passenger

If you have assistance, establish a clear set of visual and verbal signals so you’re both on the same page. Your assistant should stand on your blind side in a position where you can hear them.

2. Set up

Wind down your windows. Adjust your towing mirrors [Caravan towing equipment] to show both sides of the caravan when the vehicle is straight. Drive just past the parking spot so that the caravan axle is past the imaginary line of travel it will be taking.

3. Reverse from the right

Reverse parking usually begins with the vehicle at a right angle to the parking spot. Try to reverse from the right of the parking spot so that all the reversing takes place on the same side as the driver. This way the driver’s side window will afford a good view of how things are going at the rear of the caravan.

4. Left is right and right is left

Move your hands from the top/sides of the steering wheel to hold the bottom, so that moving your hands to your left now moves the caravan left. If you move the wheel to the right, the caravan moves to the right. That’s how we’ll refer to it here on.

5. Look where you’re going

Forget the rear view mirror. Aside from your assistant, you won’t see much in the left side mirror either, not until you’ve completed the 90-degree turn. Use your driver’s side mirror. Some may prefer to look out the window, as it can be more intuitive.

6. Ease it back

Shift into reverse. With your hands at the bottom of the wheel, turn right (turning the front wheels left) as you ease backward. If you have an assistant, they’ll be telling you to turn more or less. This turn will move the rear of the tow vehicle to the left, thus sending the caravan to your right.

7. Follow around the curve

Once you’ve established the right amount of turn, straighten your wheel to the point where the tow vehicle follows the caravan on the same arc. Briefly, the relationship between the tow vehicle and the caravan remains the same as they move on the same arc.

8. Straighten up

The caravan will eventually align with the parking spot. Straighten the wheels more until both caravan and tow vehicle are effectively 90-degrees to their starting position. Continue to reverse with minor adjustments where needed. If the caravan is turning too tightly, lock the wheel further in the direction of the curve to push the caravan tail to the left.

Finally, don’t worry if you need to pull out and correct – the principles don’t change, you’re probably just dealing with more shallow curve the second time around. You’ll also find that reversing a larger caravan is easier! The longer distance between the coupling and the axle means adjustments are less drastic.

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