The Technical Team at the Club holds a wealth of information and much of it is distilled in these pages.
If you’re looking for the right tyre for your motorhome or need to find a gas cylinder to use on the Continent, the chances are you will find the answer here.
Team members Ian Hewlett and Iain Geddes have both been active campers and caravanners since childhood. Now they regularly test cars and are involved in the Club’s annual Tow Car Awards. They also try out tents, trailer tents, caravans and motorhomes for the magazine’s On Test section and in their own time enjoy their own camping holidays.
Whether your question is about matching a tow car and caravan, how to use an electric hook-up or finding spares to repair your tent, you are likely to find the answer in these pages. But if not, you can ask the team by clicking below.
I am concerned that several cars I'm considering for towing have either a temporary slim spare tyre or run-flat tyres. Are these compatible with towing?
The slim tyre is normally acceptable but check the car’s handbook for limitations or exact instructions for use when towing.
Slim tyres are subject to a maximum speed of 50mph and a distance limitation set by the manufacturer. The tyre will have a load index at least equivalent to the full size road tyres, hence the loading will be acceptable. But because of the great difference in road contact, caution is needed when braking and manoeuvring, whether towing or not.Run-flat tyres are different. The additional flexibility of the deflated tyre may seriously affect the stability of the towing outfit. The car manufacturer should give guidance in the handbook, but be aware they may forbid towing at all or have a very low speed limit and a minimum distance may be imposed.
Read more »
Where can I get a pitch marker for when I leave the site for the day in my camper?
You can buy some quite elaborate pitch markers at many of the motorhome and caravan shows that take place throughout the year across the country.
A more simple one is to fashion up a simple stake and attach a copy of your registration plate, this can then be knocked into the ground as you drive off, letting the site staff know at a glance you’re out but intend to come back.
Also, if you leave your hook-up lead on the pitch, please remember to disconnect it from the power bollard too. It is not good practice to leave a live trailing lead on the ground.
Read more »
Some tents claim to be treated to resist fire. Does this mean it is safe to cook in my tent?
There is a subtle difference between fire-resistant and fireproof fabric. In the case of tents, fire-resistant means that when an ignition source is placed in contact with the fabric it may burn. But when the ignition source is removed from the fabric it will self-extinguish. Thus if your stove flares up and the tent catches light it will burn until the ignition source is removed.
Some tents have dedicated areas that could be used for cooking, with considerably more ventilation than normal and often with near vertical walls too.
However, as a general rule we don’t recommend you cook in a tent, nor place hot items such as lights or barbecues in tents or awnings – not just for fire safety but to avoid the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning too.
Carbon monoxide is a deadly gas produced from the combustion of fuels – please see our dedicated webpage on this topic.
Read more »
My car handbook specifies a maximum towing weight far higher than the 85 per cent recommendation. Surely the 85 per cent figure is unrealistic?
The 85 per cent recommendation is based on achieving a safe and stable match and is therefore often, but not always, less than the manufacturer’s towing limit.
The car’s towing limit has nothing to do with high speed stability. It’s simply based on the car’s mechanical capability and is tested with a series of 1-in-8 hill starts. The towing limit may not even be set by the traction or pulling power of a car and it may be constrained by some other limitation such as the clutch or handbrake performance.
If all conditions were perfect, with a smooth road, no hills, no wind and no other road users, the towing limit would be more meaningful but in the real world you should ideally keep a caravan lighter than the kerbweight of the towing vehicle hence the Club’s 85 per cent guide.
Read more »
I’m new to camping and have read on some web forums about SIGs. What does this mean?
A SIG is a sewn-in groundsheet. This means that either the flysheet, or living area of your tent, will have a groundsheet permanently sewn into it. This helps create a draught- and insect-free environment inside your tent. Read more »
Do I need extension mirrors when towing?
Regulations say that you should have mirrors to provide an adequate view to the rear and along both sides of your trailer.
With a small camping trailer or a narrow trailer such as some horseboxes it’s unlikely you’ll need extension mirrors. However, with many car and caravan combinations, including folding tourers, the view through your normal car mirrors will be obstructed, hence you will need to fit additional exterior mirrors.
The mirrors should be ‘e-marked’ to show they meet current standards. Don’t forget the regulations state your mirrors must not extend beyond your car or trailer by more than 200mm (250mm for cars registered from 2010) so once you go back to driving solo the extension mirrors need to be removed.
Here’s some more advice about extension mirrors.Read more »
Why is it so difficult to match a car to a caravan?
For some years now the Club has offered free use of the Towsafe matching system to members. It’s a good system with an excellent depth of data but we’re aware it’s not always been that easy to use. However, this will soon change.
Working with the new owners of Towsafe, we’re making some improvements, which means members should see a much easier-to-use interface.
Read more »
Can I use some sort of thermal wrap to stop butane freezing in winter?
It may seem paradoxical but you can’t do this. As butane approaches zero degrees it stops gassing off but the process of expanding the liquid from the cylinder to create a gas absorbs energy, making the temperature drop further. Therefore some form of insulation would only make the situation worse. In reality the only realistic option for LPG when you know the temperature drops below 10C is to use propane. Traditionally all-season campers would switch between propane and butane as the season progressed because butane worked out considerably cheaper. The price difference these days is quite small so many people choose to stick to propane throughout the year.
If you have a refillable system and use Autogas, this is predominantly propane so should be useable at lower temperatures.
Read more »
What’s the best way to care for my leisure battery in winter?
If you stand your tourer down for the winter, whether it’s a caravan or motorhome the onboard batteries will need to be kept charged to maintain them.
Ideally you’d remove them, store them somewhere and connect them to what’s often called a ‘smart charger’ that will push the necessary charge in.
However, this is not an option for everyone and why would you want to lift out a heavy battery when your caravan or motorhome has an onboard charger?
We know that not all onboard chargers are equal and that they have a primary role as a power supply. Therefore there’s a very real risk some of these will overcharge a battery, damaging it. If you intend to do this it’s important to monitor the battery.
See our advice for a better understanding of a leisure battery.
Read more »
CLIVE MOTT chooses ten toolkit essentials for the caravan or motorhome owner
CANDY EVANS provides an invaluable guide to choosing an inflatable awning
CANDY EVANS looks back at the history of Volkswagen’s iconic T2 campervan, which stopped production last year