Frequently asked questions
- What is CRiS?
- Is it hard to tow a caravan?
- Will my car tow the caravan I want?
- How do I choose the right caravan awning?
- What can a caravan offer you?
- What is the difference between single axle and twin axle?
- How do I choose the right caravan for me?
- How should I store my caravan?
- How do I hitch?
What is CRiS?
CRiS (the Caravan Registration & Identification Scheme) was established in 1992 by The National Caravan Council and provides a method of registering the 'keeper' details of every tourer manufactured by NCC member companies to help prevent and detect caravan related crime.
All new tourers are assigned a unique 17 digit CRiS Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), which is die stamped into the chassis, etched onto windows and recorded onto an electronic tag embedded within the bodywork.
As well as helping to recover a stolen caravan in the event of a theft, CRiS provides anyone looking to buy a used tourer with a valuable security check; CRiS can confirm the make and model details registered against a VIN, whether it is stolen or written off, or if any finance is still outstanding on it.
CRiS has contributed to a reduction in the number of tourer thefts taking place in the UK, however thefts do still occur. As well as fitting additional security devices, owners and buyers should protect their investment by keeping the tourers CRiS registration details up to date.
Is it hard to tow a caravan?
Not particularly - after all thousands do it! You just need to take a little more care cornering, braking and accelerating smoothly, to allow the trailer to follow the direction and speed of the car.
Will my car tow the caravan I want?
There is a fairly straightforward guide to what you can tow; basically we recommend that the weight of the caravan with its contents should not exceed 85% of the car's kerbweight, or unladen weight. This is called "outfit matching" and we can help you with this. It is very important to find a good match between car and caravan. Some people work with their existing car, and some people might time buying a new car and caravan at the same time.
How do I choose the right caravan awning?
As awnings are available in all shapes and sizes, you will need to make sure to find one that will suit your needs and your make of caravan. We can help you with this choice but may need to know your Caravan year and model or Caravan's awning measurement.
The awning measurement for your caravan should be detailed in the handbook. We also store this information for many Caravan models, present and past. On the rare occasion that we do not have this information, a measurement can be taken.
When measuring for an awning, to help you to take accurate measurements, make sure that your caravan is on even ground.
Thread a piece of string through your caravan's awning channel making sure that it touches the ground at both ends. If you are doing this on your own and there is a bit of slack in the string, put a weight on one end (a lump of putty may work).
Mark on the string where it meets the ground at both ends then remove it from the channel and measure from point to point in centimetres. This is size of the awning you need.
You'll will also need to choose which depth of awning best suits you. We recommend that you visit our showroom and walk around and inside some awnings or give us a call to discuss your requirements.
We can also provide Awning carpets and groundsheets. These add to your accommodation and provide useful protection for you and your pitch.
What can a caravan offer you?
A caravan can give you a freedom that other types of holiday struggle to match. Not only can you go where you want when you want, but holidaying in a caravan means the weather is not the limiting factor to staying warm, dry and entertained.
Over the last ten years caravans have made significant strides in many areas, such as construction, insulation, heating and interior design. All of these combined mean that it really can be your home from home with all mod cons, giving you warmth and comfort wherever you are. Many modern caravans even come with handy charging points so you can keep your mobile devices charged during your stay away.
The kitchen in a modern caravan is well-engineered to make the best possible use of space available. First time buyers will be very impressed with the amount of cupboard space available. Most caravans come with a built in microwave, cooker with hob and oven, fridge, and a sink with mixer tap. Modern washrooms contain quality sanitaryware and a good shower.
It will be yours, so you can make it your own and have everything to hand and organised as you wish, whilst following loading guidelines. By choosing Swift, you will become part of the Swift family of people who appreciate the quality, design and innovative features that make the Swift Group market leaders.
What is the difference between single axle and twin axle?
- Two wheels on one axle
- Lighter than a twin axle so can be towed by smaller cars
- Easier to manoeuvre onsite, which is especially beneficial whilst learning to tow
- Four wheels on two axles
- Tend to be heavier requiring a larger tow vehicle
- On road have benefit of extra grip and stability
- Offer more space
- Can be harder to manoeuvre
- More expensive
How do I choose the right caravan for me?
Choosing the correct interior layout for your needs is crucial.Key considerations:
- How many people will you usually take on holiday with you?
- How many berths (sleeping accommodation) will be required?
- What are the number of adults and children staying in the caravan?
- Will you be having occasional guests staying over?
- Remember that with regards the number of people sleeping you can always purchase an accessory such as an awning to extend space and sleeping area available.
- Do you need a double bed or two single beds?
- Do you need the bed to be fixed or pull-out?
- Do you require bunk beds for children?
- How many people will be seated around the table? Do you need two separate areas or one main area?
- Will you prefer an end or side kitchen?
- Will you want a layout with an ensuite washroom or a centre washroom easily accessible to all?
- Measure to check that each berth is long enough for your requirements as some berths are only suitable for children.
- Check the cushion depth and comfort in seating, because you will want a good night's sleep if it is used as a mattress.
- Fixed beds in modern caravans often come with luxury mattresses so this is another consideration for the first time buyer when choosing between a fixed bed or a pull-out bed.
Once these key questions are answered you can choose a layout to best suit your needs. Our caravan search page can assist with this.Driving licence
In order to be able to tow a caravan a driver must hold at least a Category B on your driving licence. If you passed your car test before 1 January 1997 you are generally entitled to drive a vehicle and trailer combination up to 8.25 tonnes maximum authorised mass (MAM).
If you passed your driving test after 1 January 1997 and have an ordinary category B licence, you can:
- Drive a vehicle up to 3.5 tonnes or 3,500kg MAM towing a trailer of up to 750kg MAM
- Tow a trailer over 750kg MAM as long as it is no more than the unladen weight of the towing vehicle (with a combined weight of up to 3,500kg in total)
Note: If you want to tow a trailer weighing more than 750kg, when the combined weight of the towing vehicle and trailer is more than 3,500kg, you will need to pass a further test to obtain a B+E category licence.
How should I store my caravan?
If you have space and want to store your caravan at home things to consider are:
- Check that there are no obvious height problems
- Check your local bylaws because there may be restrictions
- Think about the security of your caravan if it is parked on a driveway
If you are not fortunate enough to have space at home things to consider are:
- Cost-effective options, such as finding a local storage centre. It would be worth having a look in your local area to identify who offers a caravan storage service. We recommend that you check where it will be stored and check that the area is secure and what security measure they have in place. Find out what their policies and procedures are, for example can you access your caravan at any time or are there closing hours, or do you need to contact them in advance to access your caravan. You would also want to know about insurance and costs.
- It might be that you have a favourite caravan site to visit and would like your caravan stored on-site ready for when you visit, be that in the UK or abroad.
Whether or not you plan to use your caravan over the winter months will determine whether or not you take action such as removing tyres or covering your caravan with a cover. Draining water and removing items that can be frost damaged also needs considering.
You can find additional advice on storing your caravan and winterisation on the Caravan Club or Camping and Caravan Club websites and there will also be a section in your caravan handbook. There are various further security measures, such as Theftcheck, that you might want to consider.
How do I hitch?
- To hitch, start by making sure that the caravan handbrake is on and the corner steadies are raised.
- Then use the jockey wheel to raise the caravan hitch height until it is higher than the car tow ball.
- Now you need to reverse the car until the tow ball is either underneath, or just beside the caravan hitch.
- Once in position, put the car's handbrake on.
- Raise the hitch lever and lower the hitch on to the tow ball by winding up the jockey wheel, ensuring it is in the correct location.
- Keep winding the jockey wheel up until the hitch fits over the tow ball, and the hitch safety mechanism pops out, showing green, or in older types until the handle clicks back into place.
- To check you have locked on properly, wind down the jockey wheel until the rear of the car starts to lift.
- Return to winding up the jockey wheel, then stow it in the correct position beside the A-Frame, and tighten its retaining handle.
- Attach the 12V connector(s) for the lights etc.
- Attach the breakaway cable.
- Release the caravan handbrake.
- Check all caravan road lights are working, the steadies are fully up and windows and doors are properly secure.
- Finally, make sure the towing mirrors are properly adjusted.