As the owner of a small caravan site, I’ll often be asked by our guests for advice and tips with regards to caravan related questions. As such, part of the reason I started to write blog posts on our website was not only to market Horton Common, it was also to make sure I’m up to date on the latest safety and security advice. I obviously want our guests to arrive and leave our site as safely as possible so they come again. Hence, as much as its possible to do so I want to help our guests and potential guests to avoid dangerous scenarios. With today’s post, I wanted to share some additional information and stories with regards to safe/secure caravanning and some important checks that you need to carry out.
The main emphasis of today’s post is around caravan tyre safety. I’ll reference an example of what can happen in a caravan tyre blowout situation. I’ll not only discuss how to avoid (as much as you can) a blowout happening in the first place but what to do if it does happen. Another topic which will be discussed is caravan security with regards to security devices and insurance companies. Now, I’ve covered these topics in the past, which I will link to below. However, below I’ll also discuss a method of caravan security that some people assume is a more secure option than fitting a wheel lock. The reality is, your caravan insurance company is likely to think otherwise.
Introduction to Caravan Safety and Security Advice
I’ve written quite a few posts around various caravan safety and security topics, its the most important content I produce. Whether its discussing the best caravan fire safety devices or as is the case with the main emphasis of this post, caravan tyre safety. As I’ve written so much content around tyres such as how long do caravan tyres last and the best tyres for tow cars I do sometimes think I come across as a broken record.
However, tyre safety is such an important topic I just have to remind my self of that fact and keep writing. What I feel does help is that I frequently reference content/videos produced by various caravan organisations and caravanners themselves. It helps to reinforce the fact that its not just me who wants to help caravanners take advice on caravan safety and security as seriously as possible. Therefore, with this post, I wanted to reference a couple of videos. The first is by Keith and Michelle of the YouTube Channel Carefree Caravanning.
So the first safety advice I wanted to reference from the video above is to never store a gas bottle within the caravans living area. As Keith and Michelle point out, its very dangerous for several reasons. I’ve produced quite a few posts now around caravan gas bottles and fittings which you can read through the links below. Its always important to remember you need to have your gas system professionally maintained and serviced.
However, the main topics I wanted to discuss with this post are caravan tyre blowouts and caravan security devices. First, I want to put further emphasis and context to the comments and advice Keith made in the video above with regards to caravan security devices.
Are Your Caravan Security Devices Insurance Approved?
As I’ve previously discussed in my post on how to find the best caravan insurance policy and provider, they each have different requirements. Some insurance providers may provide a discount for fitting any wheel lock or hitch lock. Some may only provide a discount for fitting a specific make and model of hitch lock. However, as Keith notes in the video, in some cases if you don’t fit a specific hitch and wheel lock your caravan insurance may actually be invalid. This is often the case with the AL-KO wheel lock. As most caravans are based on an AL-KO chassis the lock fitment will be there as standard on the caravan. Many insurance companies regard the AL-KO wheel lock as the most secure solution. The issue is, many caravanners don’t like to fit it, as it can be a real pain to line up the AL-KO wheel lock, especially if you need to level the caravan.
AL-KO Caravan Wheel Locks
Some of our guests genuinely hate fitting their AL-KO wheel locks. However, they do so as its a specific requirement of their caravan insurance: Image – Amazon
While the AL-KO wheel lock can be a pain to fit, before you choose a third party wheel lock, check with your insurance company. Not only may they state you have to fit an AL-KO lock, but they may also state you have to have one fitted on both sides of the caravan at all times when the caravan is stationary. Therefore, that would apply when the caravan is on a caravan site, at a storage yard or at home on your driveway. Hence, as Keith discusses in the video. If you jack up the caravan and remove the wheels for axle stands you may not be complying with the terms of your insurance.
AL-KO Caravan Hitch Locks
With caravan hitch locks its a little different compared to the AL-KO wheel locks. You will generally find that many insurance companies will allow you to fit and provide discounts for fitting a wider range of hitch locks, not just from AL-KO. In fact, a couple of years ago one of our guests told me an interesting story of a conversation they had with their insurance company. Instead of the insurance company recommending the fitment of the common red AL-KO hitch lock, they actually recommend against it?! Why? Well the red AL-KO hitch lock is an aluminium casting. There were reports of thieves hitting the red AL-KO hitch lock with a sledgehammer to damage and remove the lock.
This is the red/aluminium AL-KO hitch lock which thieves have apparently in some cases broken off with sledgehammers/crowbars: Image – Amazon
However, after watching Keith and Michelle’s video above and the comments with regards to AL-KO locks and products not supplied with registration cards it got me thinking. The issues which have been reported with the red AL-KO hitch locks may not actually be a problem with the product its self. There may actually be cheap ‘AL-KO knock-off’ products floating around the internet on eBay etc. So if you are going to purchase a new AL-KO wheel or hitch lock, check that it comes with a product warranty card which you can register directly with AL-KO and that they approve the product. Its also worth noting, the black AL-KO premium hitch lock made from steel is the preferred and recommended security device by several insurance companies.
The black/steel AL-KO premium hitch lock is the prefered security option by many caravan insurance companies over the red/aluminium AL-KO hitch lock: Image – Amazon
Caravan Tyre Blowouts – What To Do and How To Try and Avoid Them
Having a tyre blowout on your caravan while on a fast A road or motorhome is one of the scariest scenarios that a caravan owner can be put in. Unfortunately, its a situation that can happen. Now, there are various precautions and checks you can take to reduce the chances of experiencing a blowout which I will discuss below. However, if you were to hit a nail or sharp object a blowout could still occur no matter how carefully you looked after your caravan tyres. The video below was made by Helen and Jane about their experience and the repercussions of the tyre blowing out on their caravan. I appreciate the video below can be a bit of an uncomfortable watch. However, learning about and preparing to deal with a caravan tyre blowout is something every caravan owner should do.
Helen did exactly what you should do after a tyre blowout. She resisted the urge to press the brake pedal and let the car and caravan gently slow down until the point where she could pull onto the hard shoulder. I recently wrote a post covering the best tips on how to avoid caravan snaking and jack-knifing which covers the same advice. What Jane does state in the video above is the AL-KO ATC stabilisation system fitted to their caravan did engage to help assist Helen to keep the caravan under control. Its very reassuring to hear that, even though that’s obviously what its supposed to do. However, with safety systems, there are few opportunities to get feedback on how they perform in the real world and not just theory on how they ‘should’ work from the manufacturer.
Caravan Tyre Safety Checks
As Keith discusses in the first video above, to avoid, as much as possible a caravan tyre blowout situation you really do need to look after your tyres. A key cause of blowouts is tyre flat spots, as caravans often spend a lot of time sitting idle. Therefore, you either need to rotate your caravan tyres or use tyre savers. I’m still not really sure how long a caravan tyre sat on a tyre saver is good for to be honest. If the caravan tyres are stationary for an extended period of time, even with tyre savers you may still want to rotate the wheels occasionally.
While I do encourage the use of tyre savers for caravans when sat idle to reduce tyre ‘ovalisation’ if the caravan is stationary for extended periods of time I still think wheel rotation is a good idea: Image – Amazon
Furthermore, as Keith references above, tyre tread depth while an important factor is often not the reason you will need to change your caravan tyres. It will more likely be due to the age of the caravan tyres (over 5 years old) or they are showing signs of sidewall cracking. Correct tyre pressures again is another important topic. Therefore if you are not sure about any of the above, please read my associated posts below.
- How long do caravan tyres last
- Caravan tyre pressure guide
- Caravan tyre pressure gauges
- How to change a flat caravan tyre
- Best caravan tyre pressure monitors
Conclusions on Caravan Safety and Security Advice
I suppose the best piece of advice I can give you that applies to caravan safety and security measures is to never presume. For instance, never presume all caravan security devices are regarded equally by the insurance companies. Check with your chosen insurance company on exactly which devices they recognise, not only for discounts on your instance but also to keep your insurance valid. When it comes to caravan tyre safety never presume your tyres are safe just because they have sufficient tread remaining. Check the age of the tyres, the sidewall condition and the pressures. Additional safety devices such as live tyre pressure monitoring is also a good feature to have. Furthermore, many insurance companies will also provide an additional discount for using a tyre pressure monitor such as TyrePal.
Thanks for reading. If you have no idea on the age or condition of your caravan tyres I hope the video above detailing the experiences of Helen and Jane has encouraged you to check your caravans tyres. I thank Helen and Jane for producing the video above, as I don’t believe many caravanners fully appreciate how important tyre safety really is and the potential consequences. I also hope at some point in the future you come and visit us here at Horton Common caravan site to experience our fully serviced pitches. 🙂