Family travel

Top Gear on tow cars

In a special guest post, Mr Tin Box reviews this week’s BBC Top Gear feature on tow cars and provides his own tips for successful caravanning/life. 
Some of you may have watched Sunday’s episode of Top Gear featuring an informative piece on purchasing a suitable small car for the purposes of towing a caravan.  As a caravanist myself I thought I might highlight a few small oversights that were not fully covered by this otherwise very enjoyable segment of the show:

  1. When purchasing a small tow car it is important to understand the limitations imposed by the caravan you own or are purchasing. Ideally the caravan should not exceed 85% of the vehicle’s kerb weight. Therefore, the smaller the car the smaller the caravan you can safely tow. This is of course the reason caravanists buy the larger SUV shaped vehicles rather than their hatchback equivalents – weight is a more important consideration than four wheel drive. As mentioned in Top Gear’s excellent article, most of the small SUVs they featured specified a max tow weight of 2000kg. However, as this in most cases would well exceed the recommended 85% weight difference, that figure is not particularly useful. A more relevant figure is the ‘tow ball weight’. That is the amount of weight that can be placed on the tow hitch safely. This will vary from a 75kg up to around 150kg. More is better
  1. Stowing a caravan before setting off is very important to ensure a safe nose weight is maintained, but also to limit any breakages inside the caravan whilst on the move. Top Gear ably demonstrated how not to do it. You may also have noticed that one of the skylights on one of the caravans was left open. This can be extremely hazardous as, at motorway speeds, these can easily be removed by wind turbulence and fly into the car behind
  1. Local amenity waste reclamation centres are open for use by all, not just caravanists or members of the Caravan Club. I highly commend them to you as a place to safely dispose of your household and green waste. It is, of course, very important to separate your waste into the correct recycling skips, which unfortunately Top Gear failed to demonstrate
  1. As a caravanist, I do wash my vehicles regularly. I would recommend against the use of traditional sponges or your finger to remove grime as shown in the VT. Both can lead to excessive RDS (Radom Deep Scratches) in the paint work. A microfiber mitt or, better still, lambs wool mitt is far more appropriate. Remember to remove rings and watches, and never use washing up liquid unless removing previous layers of wax
  1. B&Q is open to all. Older people get a discount on Wednesday mornings. So unless you are of a certain age it is worth avoiding the store at that time


As a final point, I would just like to mention that I am unaware of any statistical relationship between caravan owning and ‘late night car park activities’.  Indeed it seems to me that if you own a vehicle that is mobile and contains a bed you are less likely, not more, to involve yourself with intimate relations on the back seat of a vehicle in a car park. 
Also I don’t go to garden centres…except Garsons in Funtley, because they have some good beers and cheese.