Driving a tow vehicle/caravan combination is different from driving just a car — there are added safety concerns the driver needs to be aware of. Read on to find out which market-leading safety products we recommend fitting to your rig.
Being able to tow your rig safely and remaining in control in an emergency situation is one of the key concerns of any caravanner. The most obvious way to do this is to buy an expensive unit with all the safety bells and whistles. Another way is to purchase specialised aftermarket safety products to fit your unit with. The latter, although seeming more complicated, allows you to customise your van more and pick products that are not confined to the caravan manufacturer’s choices. To do the latter, you’ll first need to choose between a plethora of products found both in-store and online. Considering there are so many different brands and price points to choose from, we’ve tried to make your life a little easier by presenting five of our favourite safety accessories — that you should consider installing if safer towing is what you’re after.
AL-KO Tow Assist
Let’s be honest, handling a big tow vehicle and caravan configuration is not the same as handling a regular car. Luckily, nowadays there is advanced technology which makes the whole process easier and safer. AL-KO’s Tow Assist is a world-first in safety technology. AL-KO collaborated with the prestigious Dexter and Bosch brands to bring this vital safety technology to life. The system combines anti-lock braking, sway mitigation and evasive action control to protect you in a wider range of driving situations. Utilising individual wheel speed sensors allows the nervous system to communicate with the intelligent system, providing individual wheel control. By being able to control each wheel individually, you have greater control of your vehicle, hence being able to tow more comfortably and confidently.
Fitting an Emergency Stability Control (ESC) system to your caravan can give you peace of mind that you’ve done everything you can possibly do to make sure you and your passengers are safe. Ultimately, assisted braking could end up saving your life, and choosing the best system on the market should be a no-brainer. AL-KO’s ESC system simultaneously applies the brakes to all wheels and wipes off speed in critical situations.
This is a sophisticated electronic brake actuation system that automatically responds to the driving behaviour of the caravan by monitoring for any dangerous lateral movements and taking preventative action immediately. As it was the first of its kind to come onto the Australian market, its likeness has been mimicked by many systems, yet after a decade it remains a very strong choice for new purchases and retro fitment. It’s engineered, developed and still built in Australia, using the best quality products to ensure every journey you take is safer and more pleasurable.
DEXTER Sway Control
If you have towed a caravan in windy conditions, chances are you know the scary feeling of the wind catching hold of your rig and moving you about. These days technology exists that can prevent your caravan from swaying and mitigate that feeling no caravanner wants to have. Dexter Sway Control is an incredible safety product designed to detect trailer sway and dampen it. The Sway Control system works by continuously monitoring trailer yaw (side-to-side movement). It does this by measuring the angle, travel distance and speed of the lateral motion of the trailer (and other parameters) and uses this information to quickly intervene with the application of independent left or right-side trailer brakes. As a driving situation advances, continuous monitoring provides advancing intervention to match the situation until it’s brought under control.
Ultimately, towing a heavy caravan does decrease braking ability, meaning you need to be present and prepared whenever you hit the brakes in your tow vehicle. And, importantly, leave much more room in front of you than you would when braking in a regular vehicle. If you get caught in conversation or another vehicle presents you with a dangerous situation, you’ll want to have AL-KO’s iQ7 Electronic Air/Hydraulic Brake Booster on board.
Developed in Australia for marine and touring applications, the iQ7 works by storing compressed air within a pressure chamber, allowing immediate brake application the instant it is required. Unfortunately, a common downfall of some earlier electro-hydraulic brake actuators was time lag or delayed response time. This is due to the delay in receiving a signal from the controller and the time taken for the electric drive motor to pump enough fluid to activate the master cylinder. By utilising a compressed air reservoir to provide instant activation of the hydraulic master cylinder, AL-KO’s iQ7 can deliver unparalleled response times.
At the end of the day, safety is an area where shortcuts must never be taken. Risking safety is risking your life, and AL-KO keeps this front of mind when designing its products. With this in view, products such as the iQ7 are equipped with the latest superior computer processor circuit technology for maximum reliability. Plus, the iQ7 is compatible with AL-KO’s ESC mentioned above, allowing electronic stability control for disc brakes. Previously, disc brakes meant sacrificing stability control, but now you can have both when you use these two products together.
AL-KO iQ7 Outback
Australia’s arid and vast landscape teamed with its scorching heat creates a unique mix of challenging terrain and topography. In the outback especially, it can get very dusty, sandy and dry, and the conditions need to be approached with more caution than with regular touring.
The AL-KO iQ7 Outback, like the iQ7, is the latest in power-assisted hydraulic braking, but the Outback is designed especially for harsh and dusty conditions. The Outback has extra filtration to cope with dust and provides the driver with the ability to service and replace filters without the need for special tools or skills. Coupled with AL-KO hydraulic disc brakes, the iQ7 Outback provides safe and reliable braking in the harshest Aussie conditions. And just like the iQ7, the iQ7 Outback includes inbuilt breakaway technology to stop your trailer if it becomes detached from your tow vehicle — something every caravanner will appreciate.