Can you tow a caravan using cruise control?

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: Can you tow a caravan using cruise control? We will explain what Cruise Control is, and when you should and shouldn’t use it. 

Can you tow a caravan using cruise control?

You can definitely tow a caravan using cruise control, although many caravans and trailer manufacturers do not recommend this. The risk is that when you climb a hill with a heavy load and cruise control decides to brake or slow down, you may cause an unwanted accident and put yourself in harm’s way.

To be safe, we recommend that you remain vigilant and use cruise control on a certain stretch of road, or in specific cases – when you are very tired, for example.

But let’s see what exactly cruise control is and when it is not recommended to use it!

What exactly is Cruise Control?

Today, Cruise Control has become a standard component for most car models on the market and is a big plus for those who travel long distances such as those on the highway.

What is the use of such a system? In short, it automatically adjusts the speed of a car without the driver keeping his foot on the accelerator. It is already known that car manufacturers are adding more and more advanced systems to their models for cruising, in order to allow the driver to drive as easily and safely as possible. 

In addition, many of the new technologies are the first steps taken in the development of autonomous vehicles.

In the first phase, the system was the prerogative of luxury cars, but as the technology became accessible, carmakers introduced it on several table models. And today it is part of the standard equipment for budget cars starting from the basic levels.

Naturally, the progress of technology has allowed car manufacturers to take the next step through Adaptive Cruise Control, which can vary the speed of a vehicle depending on traffic, bringing them even closer to autonomous driving.

How is it used? Modern Cruise Control systems are integrated into automotive electronics and are often combined with additional technologies, such as lane departure warning, or neutral sensors. 

In the standard version, the cruise mode must be selected via a switch, then accelerated to the desired speed and press a button located on the steering wheel or on a lever on the steering column to set it. 

The car’s electronics maintain the selected speed so you can take your foot off the accelerator. On some systems, you can adjust the speed with a button, and the car will automatically change the running mode.

On a car with ACC it is even simpler: operate the system and the car will accelerate or slow down to the (pre) set speed. These systems use radar waves or optical sensors to maintain a certain distance from the car in front and also have the ability to increase or decrease that distance depending on the safety area of ​​the car.

To deactivate the system, press the actuation button to regain control of the accelerator pedal. An important safety feature that all these systems must have is that they will deactivate immediately if the brake pedal is depressed. 

On vehicles with a manual transmission, depressing the clutch pedal will sometimes have the same effect. However, most will “remember” the setting so that the same running speed is resumed after braking.

Avoid using Cruise Control in rainy weather

Driving in the rain is, moreover, totally inadvisable: Cruise control does not see that there is rain or that there are puddles on the road. So it will not adapt speed under traffic conditions and when you arrive in a puddle, the risk of aquaplaning is higher. 

The risk is higher precisely because the car will float on the water and continue to accelerate on the water. This could cause slippage. Whereas if we had not set the cruise control, simply letting go of the accelerator gradually decreases the speed of the car.

Be careful not to fall asleep while driving

While cruise control allows the driver of the vehicle to be more relaxed, sometimes he becomes so relaxed that he falls asleep. Therefore, it is better not to use it if you are tired.

Studies also prove that people are less attentive and that reaction times in the event of danger are longer.

Some also tend to get closer to vehicles. It is for this reason that manufacturers now offer adaptive cruise control. They keep a safe distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you. If the car in front of you brakes, your vehicle will automatically brake on its own. 

Tips: how to drive with a loaded caravan

Before leaving, you will have made sure that the caravan is securely attached to its coupling ball, that the electrical connections are connected, that the indicators and brake lights are working; likewise, the jockey wheel must be securely reassembled. 

Then be aware that a trailer must have the registration number of the carrier vehicle if it weighs less than 500 kilograms (and it is usually unbraked). However, this is sufficient to transport most “normal” motorcycles. Still, if you have more ambition in terms of transport, know that:

  1. A trailer weighing more than 500 kilos must have a specific registration number as well as, quite logically, a grey card.
  2. A trailer over 750 kilos must have its own insurance.
  3. For a trailer weighing more than 750 kilos, the E / B permit is mandatory.
  4. Beyond 750 kilos (but less than 3,500 kilos), the trailer must have a mechanical inertia braking system. Beyond that, a hydraulic, electric, vacuum or pneumatic braking system becomes compulsory.
  5. This is to say that the vehicle registration document will dictate your load capacity: basically, you will avoid imagining carrying a Harley-Davidson CVO Limited and an Indian Roadmaster behind a Twingo Phase 1 (a phase 2 either, or elsewhere). 
  6. And before you set off, don’t forget to adjust the tire pressure of the trailer/caravan.

Conclusions and final tips

There is only one way to drive well with a trailer: you must be calm. You are on an adventure, so enjoy it! Still, here are a few more things to keep in mind:

  • Take turns wider than usual, to leave the trailer its own space to “round off the trajectory”;
  • Brake and accelerate more smoothly than usual. In fact, you will increase the safety distance with other vehicles because the excess weight will increase your braking distances by approximately 20 to 30%. Inthe engin,e brake more than usu so as not to overheat your brake system.
  • Avoid speeding: the small trailer tires get hot; Likewise, on trailers that are not very rigid, swaying can occur and it can become tense … Some modern cars have ESPs which incorporate the presence of a trailer, but they are still rare on the market. 
  • If you are overpassing a vehicle slower than you, consider your hitch’s length and not fall back too quickly.
  • You also have to “read the road”, scan it, anticipate bumps, potholes, tight bends, anything that could panic a gyroscopic sensor.
  • Before you have to back up into a tight spot at the end of your journey, it’s best to practice in a larger parking lot!

Please let us know if you have any comments, questions or tips on using cruise control and towing a caravan.

FAQ on Can you tow a caravan using cruise control?

Does cruise control damage transmission?

The sensors that the cruise control is using can indeed damage the transmission. If you are having issues with it, it is best to have the problem diagnosed in time and see if the transmission issue is from the cruise control or something else. 

Should I use 4×4 when towing a trailer?

It is not recommended to tow a trailer on dry pavement with the vehicle in 4-wheel drive. You should instead use a 2-wheel drive. 

Is it better to tow with overdrive on or off?

It is better to tow with overdrive off when you are pulling a heavy load on a hill or if there is heavy traffic. 

References

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