Having to reverse a caravan can be daunting. There’s plenty to contend with, as you have to deal with reduced visibility, the caravan’s extra length and the way it moves in a different direction to what you could expect.
However, you may be pleasantly surprised to find out that actually, after you’ve mastered the basics, reversing a caravan isn’t as tough as it may have initially seemed.
In more good news, the more you do it, the easier it will become and the better you will be at it. So, how do you go about reversing a caravan? Our guide will help…
Do you have a clear view?
Let’s assume you are reversing onto a pitch on a campsite, as is quite common (although the same principles would apply with any reversing manoeuvre).
First, position yourself so that the wheels of the caravan are just past the edge of the pitch. If you have a passenger with you, it’s worth asking them to get out of the tow car so you have an extra pair of eyes while reversing.
Tell your passenger to stand where you can see them. It helps to have agreed some hand signals and instructions in advance.
Make sure you have a clear view down the side of the caravan in your towing mirrors, and adjust them if necessary.
If you have an assistant, wind down your windows so you can hear any instructions or advice they give.
Steering in the ‘wrong’ direction
What tends to flummox people is the need to steer in what seems like the wrong direction at the start of the turn.
If you want to reverse to the left, you actually need to move the tow car’s steering wheel to the right to begin the manoeuvre.
Why? Because the back of the car needs to move to the right to push the front of the caravan to the right, so the back of the caravan swings to the left.
This is why steering in what instinctively seems like the wrong direction actually sets the caravan on the correct arc.
This tip might help when you’re mastering the basics of how to reverse a caravan: some drivers find it useful to hold the wheel at the bottom – that way they move their hands in the direction they want the caravan to go.
If the turn is a bit of a tight one, apply full lock to turn the caravan hard. If you have more space, one full turn of the steering wheel should be enough.
Continuing the turn
So, the caravan is heading in the right direction. Hurrah.
However, if you continue to steer to the right in the car, you will eventually jackknife, with the car at right angles to the caravan.
What needs to happen next is for the car to follow the caravan’s course, as you slowly edge back towards the pitch. Wind off the lock and gradually turn the wheel back the other way.
The steering wheel should be in much the same position as it would be if you were reversing into the same space without a caravan behind you.
Use small but decisive movements of the wheel to fine-tune your direction.
Relax – take your time
Even with a lot of towing experience, you may not end up with your caravan exactly where you intended. Don’t worry – just pull forward a short distance and reverse again.
It’s easier to make these small corrections than it is to perform a right-angled turn and hit the precise point you were aiming for.
If you see the caravan looming large in one of your wing mirrors and you want to straighten up, just turn towards the side where you can see the caravan.
If you want to turn more sharply, steer away from the caravan. A quarter of a turn should be enough.
Tech to the rescue!
An option is to have your caravan fitted with a motor mover. These allow you to move the caravan by remote control.
Most motor movers use a small electric motor and rollers acting on the caravan’s tyres. Simply unhitch the caravan from the car and let the mover do all the hard work.
While reversing a caravan isn’t easy, it’s something that should be within the capabilities of most drivers, after a bit of practice.
You’ll also find that it gets easier and you’ll gain confidence as you do it more often.
However, if it’s something you just can’t get to grips with, or you want to make life easier, a motor mover could be worth investing in. Be sure to take a look at our complete guide to motor movers to find out more.
If you liked this, why not read these:
- We share our tips on how to deal with a snaking caravan
- We pick out the best caravan sat navs currently on the market
Are you looking for more great driving advice and tips? Then head to our Back to Basics: Driving category, where we’re giving you the information you need to tow your caravan with confidence.
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Once you know the basic principles of reversing, it's not as tough as it seems. Yes, really!