Struggling to reverse your van? Find the knack with these great hacks
If you’re new to towing, it can be a little daunting when it comes to reversing it into a tight spot. It goes one way while your vehicle goes the other, which can take a little getting used to. But alas, it’s not all doom and gloom. There are a few simple tricks of the trade that can really make the world of difference. It’s a good idea to improve your skills with a towing course but here are some tips to get you started.
ARE SOME VANS EASIER?
Well, the short answer is yes. Smaller caravans or trailers with a shorter drawbar typically react quicker to a change of direction, which can make them a bit of a handful. They require a little more finesse, with subtle steering wheel movements to get them to go where you want them to. They’re also a bit less forgiving. So, if the trailer starts to get out of shape, you’re better off cutting your losses early and straightening back up instead of getting right out whack as you try to bring it back into line.
Conversely, a caravan with a longer drawbar will generally react slower to direction changes, making it a little easier to manage. But you usually need a bit more room to make the turn.
USE YOUR TOWING MIRRORS
Hanging your head out the window as you reverse is neither safe nor practical. You’re far better off using your side towing mirrors to guide you back. Now, the trick is to keep an eye on both side mirrors, but favour one side instead of switching and changing every two seconds, which may confuse you till you get the hang of it.
METHOD 1 – REVERSE RIGHT
In order to reverse confidently, you need to be able to see what you are doing, right? Well, you can see a whole lot more when the driver’s side of your vehicle is on the inside of the reversing arc. In other words, the trailer is angled to the right as you reverse so you can see right down the whole length of the caravan.
METHOD 2 – REVERSE STRAIGHT
Another way to learn the knack is to practise reversing in a straight line on a quiet street or on a friend’s property where it is safe to do so. That way, you can experiment with small adjustments at the wheel to learn how your caravan reacts. To slow things down try engaging in low range, which will give you more time to react and steer your caravan correctly.
METHOD 3 – THUMBS UP METHOD
Can’t get your head around which way to turn to make caravan go the direction you want it to? Maybe this might help. The trick is to start with the vehicle’s wheels straight and hold your steering wheel from the bottom with your thumbs adjacent to each other. Left hand goes up–the caravan goes left. Right hand goes up–the van goes right. The direction that the wheel is turned now matches the van’s direction of travel; once again order is restored!
BE PATIENT & ASK FOR HELP
Practice makes perfect when it comes to reversing a trailer, and it’s definitely not something that you’ll master overnight. The best thing is to take your time and try not to get too flustered. If you’ve got a passenger on board, kick them out and get them to watch your blind side. Other than that, have a little fun with it as you learn a new skill for the road.