Driving in the mountains with a caravan doesn't have to be a problem. Read my tips!
There are people who prefer not to drive in the mountains with their caravan. Others find it no problem at all, but there are also vacationers who avoid driving in the mountains at all costs. However, driving in the mountains with a 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: Rising traffic comes first
In the mountains, ascending traffic always has priority over descending traffic.
Tip 2: Turn on the stove
Turning on the heater helps bring down the temperature of the cooling water in the engine. It's probably nice to open the windows then.
Tip 3: Refer to instruction booklet for specific tips
Often you will also find valuable tips in the instruction booklet that can make driving in the mountains easier. Always worthwhile to leaf through. Especially when you drive in the mountains for the first time.
Tip 4: Temporarily disengage stabilizer clutch
When driving on curvy mountain roads, deactivate this clutch for a while. It will otherwise wear out excessively quickly and the creaking sound is not pleasant either.
Tip 5: Make sure you have the right insurance
While driving in the mountains, the following insurances are useful and/or necessary:
- The right car insurance
- Is there a particular vignette required?
Tip 6: Stay on standard roads with a wider caravan
If you stay on the regular roads, you will encounter slopes of 12% at the most. If you choose other roads, the gradients may be higher. With a narrow caravan this may still be possible, but in other cases I would advise against it.
Tip 7: Use tractor for last steep stretch
A tractor? How do we get that sorted out? The reason I mention this tip is that I know this happens regularly in the mountains. If you spend the night at a mountain campsite, chances are that the owner will give you a hand with the very last steep part. Super convenient!
Tip 8: Tell during car check that you are going into the mountains
Do you have the car checked before you leave? If so, tell them that you plan to drive in the mountains with the caravan. The mechanic will then certainly check certain specific parts extra carefully. What do you particularly need to check?
- All parts of the brake and brake fluid.
- Clutch mechanism.
- Cooling system.
- Adequate tread and tire pressure.
Tip 9: Keep driving
Keeping the momentum going is often the best you can do. Standing still on a steep slope should be avoided at all costs.
Tip 10: Keep an eye on dashboard
Keep checking the lights and gauges on the dashboard regularly.
Tip 11: Spinning front wheels
Driving away on a very steep slope? Then drive away with the front wheels spinning. This is better for the clutch. Of course you should not do this too often, because the tires wear out extra fast. But new tires are still cheaper than a burnt clutch plate.
Tip 12: Short but powerful braking
Do not brake slowly for long periods. Short but powerful is better.
Tip 13: Allow brakes to cool regularly
The brakes are subjected to a lot of stress when descending in the mountains. Try to stop regularly to allow the brakes to cool down.
Tip 14: Is the road allowed for caravans?
Always pay close 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 are in a part of the country that is mainly mountainous, 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 for a while
It can happen once in a while: unexpectedly having to turn around on a fairly steep road. If you then also have to deal with other road users, then perhaps the nerves play a role. What can you do beforehand to try on a quiet (and also steeper) road:
- Slope test
- Turning on a narrow road
- Driving backwards over a slightly longer distance
Tip 17: How to enjoy beautiful views
Regularly in the car you sound out how beautiful it is outside. Or you draw the attention of your passengers to that one high peak over there. If you, as a driver, also want to enjoy, don't just park the car where you are.
- Never stop the car with caravan at a curve.
- When you park the car, put it on the handbrake and in gear. Uphill in first gear and downhill in reverse.
- If you are on a hill, turn the rear wheels towards the rock. If you are on a downhill slope, turn the front wheels towards the fence or rock.
Tip 18: Make a breakdown plan
Of course, I hope this plan is redundant. However, should you find yourself in a breakdown, you will know exactly what to do. You will also have the necessary items on hand. What I mean by this:
- First aid kit
- Isolation blanket
- Reflection vest
- Hazard triangle
- Safety Hammer
- Backup lights
- Tow rope
Tip 19: Drive especially early in the morning
Do the temperatures rise during the journey to or back from the vacation destination? Then drive 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.
Good news is that you generally don't have to deal with the big boys right away. Often you will first encounter some hills and smaller mountains along the way. Useful to get a feel for how it worked again with that driving in the mountains.
Going uphill with the caravan
Just a little information separately about driving up the mountain with the caravan. This demands a lot from your caravan, but by using a few handy tips, the load on both car and caravan is at its lowest. What do you pay attention to?
- You accelerate and the car hardly accelerates? The car is then in too high a gear, downshifting briefly works best. Sometimes even several gears. The engine turns a relatively high number of revolutions for a moment.
- It is pleasant and good to end up in a constant gear during the ascent. It is no problem at all when this is the first gear.
Downhill with the caravan
If driving up the mountain is the hardest on the car, driving down is the most taxing on the caravan. An important practical tip:
- Brake on the engine. Therefore, choose a low gear so that the car makes a lot of revs.
- Basically, drive down the mountain in the same gear as up the mountain.
- Keep an eye on the speed. If you go too fast, the combination may start to sway. This is because the speed of the caravan is too high. It then wants to overtake the car.
- You are actually already too late and the combination is swaying? Powerful and short brakes!
Driving an automatic
Just a few specific tips regarding driving an automatic in the mountains:
Tip 1: Regularly check gearbox oil level
The automatic transmission 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, it needs to be replaced. You can read exactly how to check the oil level in the instruction booklet.
Tip 2: Manual switching
An automatic naturally chooses the right gear for itself. The problem in the mountains, however, is that the transmission 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 harder. This promotes the cooling even more.
Tip 3: Choosing your own gear is effective when descending
If you choose the right low gear, the motor will help with the braking. In this way, you do not have to continuously press the brake pedal yourself. Usually the position you rode up in is also the best during descents.
General tips for driving in the mountains
Don't forget yourself and your traveling companions. They are at least as important as your caravan after all. What tips might come in handy?
- Take a chewing gum during strong ascents and descents. Ears are then less likely to pop due to the difference in air pressure.
- Suffering from dizziness? This could be a result of altitude sickness. The best thing to do then is to take a break. Then take a few steady deep breaths and exhale again.
Enjoy caravan driving in the mountains
At the end, however, just this: Going on vacation with a caravan is one of the most beautiful things you can experience. After driving through the mountains, up and down, you arrive at one of the most beautiful places to camp. By a lake, in a beautiful valley or at the foot of a mountain. Make use of the handy tips and driving with a caravan is a piece of cake.