Things to be aware of with regard European Caravans
Are you thinking about buying a caravan or just checking the condition of your own vehicle?
European caravans are designed to be towed with a small vehicle on the motorways of Europe, in other words, a good design for lightweight tow vehicles, these caravans were never designed to be loaded up and dragged across a logging track in New Zealand.Even our good roads are not that smooth, and this will have an effect on the axle.
What to look out for when checking the axle is to be sure that the lever arm is facing downwards and that there is room for the arm to travel up and down. See the image below.
The lever arm is supported at that angle with rubber inserts inside the axle tube. Over time the rubber inserts become severely compressed and the lever arms will no longer point downwards, causing the suspension to be rigid, hence the impact from bumps and potholes in the road will travel throughout the vehicle and eventually damage the structure, which leads to cracks forming in the body and moisture penetrating to the interior.
If you already find yourself in this position don't despair
An axle can be repaired, a refurbished axle will make the caravan sit much higher off the road surface and the vehicle will tow much better than before.
As a rough guide, the distance from the bottom of the caravan floor to the road surface measured at the axle should be no less than about 400mm, a refurbished or new axle will measure approximately 500mm
Finally, be careful not to overload the European caravans, there is a plate on the side of the entrance door with the weight restrictions printed on it, if you want to know how much your caravan weighs when you are all loaded up ready to go, just take it to the local waste depot first, they will have a weighing bridge and for a small fee, you can weigh the caravan for peace of mind.
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