Driving a caravan in the mountains, 22 tips

8 minute reading time
Caravan rijden in de bergen, 22 tips
Driving in the mountains with the caravan does not have to be a problem. Read my tips!

There are people who prefer not to drive their caravan in the mountains. Still others don't mind, but there are also holidaymakers who avoid driving in the mountains at all costs. Nevertheless, driving in the mountains with the caravan does not have to be a problem. Read the tips below and you will know exactly what you should or should not do. Better for you and better for your caravan.

Tip 1: Increasing traffic takes precedence

In the mountains, ascending traffic always has priority over descending traffic.

Tip 2: Turn on the stove

Turning on the heater helps to lower the temperature of the cooling water in the engine. It would probably be nice to open the windows then.

Tip 3: Consult instruction manual for specific tips

You will often also find valuable tips in the owner's manual that can make driving in the mountains easier. Always worth browsing through. Especially when you drive in the mountains for the first time.

Tip 4: Temporarily disable stabilizer clutch

When driving on winding mountain roads, disengage this clutch for a while. It otherwise wears excessively fast and the creaking sound is also not pleasant.

Tip 5: Make sure you have the right insurance

While driving in the mountains, the following insurance policies are useful and/or necessary:

  • The right car insurance
  • Is a certain vignette required?

Tip 6: Stay on the standard roads with a wider caravan

If you stay on the normal roads, you will encounter a maximum gradient of 12%. If you choose other roads, the slopes may be higher. This can still be done with a narrow caravan, but in other cases I advise against this.

Tip 7: Use tractor for the last steep part

A tractor? How do we get that arranged? The reason I mention this tip is that I know that this happens regularly in the mountains. If you stay overnight at a mountain campsite, there is a good chance that the owner will help you with the very last steep part. super handy!

Tip 8: Tell during the car check that you are going into the mountains

Do you have the car checked before you leave? Then tell them that you want to drive the caravan in the mountains. The mechanic will then check certain specific parts extra carefully. What should be especially looked at?

  • All brake components and brake fluid.
  • clutch mechanism.
  • Cooling system.
  • Sufficient profile and sufficient tire pressure.

Tip 9: Keep driving

Keeping up the momentum is often the best thing you can do. You should avoid standing still on a steep slope at all times.

Tip 10: Keep an eye on the dashboard

Keep checking the lights and gauges on the dashboard regularly.

Tip 11: Spinning front wheels

Driving off on a very steep slope? Then drive away with spinning front wheels. This is better for the clutch. Of course you should not do this too often, because the tires wear out extra quickly. But new tires are still cheaper than a burnt clutch plate.

Tip 12: Short but powerful braking

Do not brake for extended periods of time. Short but sweet is better.

Tip 13: Let brakes cool down regularly

The brakes have to endure a lot when descending in the mountains. Try to stop for a while to allow the brakes to cool down.

Tip 14: Is the road allowed for caravans?

Always pay attention to whether the road or pass is suitable for caravans. Some mountain passes and roads are prohibited for caravans.

Tip 15: Make sure you have a full tank

If you come to a part of a country where there are mainly mountains, always make sure you have a full tank. In the high mountains you will look in vain for a pump.

Tip 16: Practice certain maneuvers in the Netherlands

It can happen once: unexpectedly having to turn on a fairly steep road. If you also have to deal with other road users, then nerves may play a role. What can you try in advance on a quiet (and also somewhat steeper road):

  • Incline test
  • Turning on a narrow road
  • Driving backwards over a slightly longer distance

Tip 17: How to enjoy beautiful views

It is regularly heard in the car how beautiful it is outside. Or you draw the attention of your co-drivers to that one high peak there. If you, as a driver, also want to enjoy the ride, don't just park the car where you are.

  • Never stop the car with caravan at a bend.
  • When you park the car, put it on the handbrake and put it in gear. Uphill in first gear and downhill in reverse.
  • If you are uphill, turn the rear wheels towards the rock. If you are on a downhill slope, turn the front wheels towards a fence or rock.

Tip 18: Make a breakdown plan

Of course I hope this plan is unnecessary. However, if you run into bad luck, you know exactly what to do. You will also have the necessary equipment at hand. What do I mean by this:

  • First aid kit
  • insulation sign
  • Reflectievest
  • Warning triangle
  • safety hammer
  • Reservelampjes
  • Towing cable

Tip 19: Drive especially early in the morning

Are the temperatures high on the way there or back from the holiday destination? Then do the most miles early in the morning or at night. This way the car has the least chance of overheating. Another advantage is that there is less chance of traffic jams.

The good news is that you generally don't get to deal with the big boys directly. You will often encounter a number of hills and smaller mountains along the way. Handy to feel again how it worked with that driving in the mountains.

Stow with the caravan

Separately, some information about driving up the mountain with the caravan. This demands a lot from your caravan, but by using a few handy tips, the tax for both car and caravan is the lowest. What do you pay attention to?

  • You accelerate and the car hardly accelerates? The car is then in a gear that is too high, downshifting works best. Sometimes even multiple gears. The motor then rotates for the same relatively high number of revolutions.
  • It is nice and good to end up in a constant gear during the ascent. It's no problem at all when this is first gear.

Descend with the caravan

If driving up the mountain is the hardest for the car, driving down is the most taxing for the caravan. An important practical tip:

  • Brakes on the engine. Therefore, choose a low gear, so that the car makes a lot of revolutions.
  • In principle, drive down the mountain in the same gear as you do up the mountain.
  • Keep an eye on the speed. If you go too fast, the combination can swing. This is because the speed of the caravan is too high. He then wants to overtake the car.
  • You are actually too late and the combination is swinging? Powerful and short braking!

Driving an automatic

A few specific tips regarding driving with an automatic transmission in the mountains:

Tip 1: Regularly check gearbox oil level

The automatic gearbox requires some extra attention. Cooling and lubrication are both necessary. When checking the oil level, pay close attention to the color of the oil. If it has become darker, then replacement is necessary. You can read exactly how the sounding works in the instruction manual.

Tip 2: Manual shifting

An automatic transmission naturally selects the correct gear. The problem in the mountains, however, is that the gearbox switches back and forth between two gears too often. There is a risk that the oil will become too hot as a result. If you choose a lower gear yourself, you also have the advantage that the water pump will run faster. This promotes cooling even more.

Tip 3: Choosing a gear yourself effective when descending

If you select the correct low gear, the motor will help with braking. That way you don't have to continuously press the brake pedal. Usually the position in which you drove up is also the best when descending.

General tips for driving in the mountains

Don't forget yourself and your travel companions. They are at least as important as your caravan after all. What tips may come in handy?

  • Take a chewing gum during strong ascent and descent. Ears then pop less quickly due to the difference in air pressure.
  • Suffering from dizziness? This can be a result of altitude sickness. It is best to take a break then. Then take a few deep breaths in and out again.

Enjoy caravanning in the mountains

At the end, just this: Going on holiday with a caravan is one of the most beautiful things you can experience. After the drive through the mountains, up and down, you will arrive at one of the most beautiful places to camp. By a lake, in a beautiful valley or at the foot of a mountain. Use the handy tips and driving a caravan is a piece of cake.

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