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Driving economically with a trailer or caravan

Brink_towing_5You can save a tremendous amount of fuel by following a few simple tips. These tips are also useful for camper van drivers. A caravan or trailer obviously increases wind resistance drastically. However, this may vary somewhat. A well streamlined caravan obviously saves more fuel in comparison to a less streamlined model. A low, narrow caravan and/or a caravan with a rounded front will always have a better fuel economy.


The purchaser of a caravan is usually persuaded by its size and interior. In spite of this, it is still possible to drive a caravan combination economically, even though driving in fifth gear is not always possible. However, driving in the highest possible gear is always to be recommended. There are two rules of thumb for selecting the correct gear for a caravan combination. If the accelerator needs to be fully depressed to maintain any progress, then it is advisable to select a lower gear. If the case of a strong head wind or gradient, it is advisable to maintain the most efficient engine RPM – i.e. the RPM that provides the best pulling power. The towing car is then at its most powerful and can maintain its speed.


Fuel consumption in practice: two things are certain. Firstly, fuel consumption will always be higher with a caravan behind the car than without. Secondly: the higher the speed, the higher the fuel consumption. In France, for example, it is permitted for caravan combinations to drive at speeds of 130 kilometres per hour, but that obviously results in increased fuel consumption. In spite of that, an economical driving style remains important, because it can save up to 10% in fuel.

Tips for driving economically:

  • Select a higher gear as soon as possible.
  • Drive at a uniform speed at a low RPM in the highest gear possible.
  • Look as far ahead as possible and anticipate traffic conditions.
  • Should you need to slow down or stop, release the accelerator and allow the car to slow down or stop in gear.
  • Check tyre pressures regularny.
  • Where possible, utilise onboard equipment (rev counter, cruise control and onboard computer).