Using a hitch lock is an essential part of caravan ownership. It’s an easy way to visually and mechanically deter thieves, and is one of a number of safety and security precautions you can take to give you peace of mind on the road. With so many varieties, sizes and lock types, finding a hitch lock which is compatible with your caravan can be daunting, so our friends over at Prima Leisure Accessories have put together a beginner's guide to help you find the perfect lock.
What is a caravan hitch lock?
A caravan hitch-lock is a security device that will stop someone unhooking your caravan from your car and towing it away. It does this by covering the towing ‘tongue' to stop it dropping on a tow bar. Some devices are designed solely for a parked caravan, whereas others can remain fitted while you're on the road, so your caravan remains locked during quick service station stops.
Why should I use a caravan hitch lock?
While their primary function is to act as a security device on the road, they provide security in storage too. When connecting your caravan to a post, using a hitch lock will deter any opportunist thieves from targeting your caravan. Additionally, many insurers require you to fix an Al-ko secure wheel lock and hitch lock to your caravan anytime you leave the vehicle unattended, and not doing so could invalidate your contract.
Which hitch lock should I use?
Hitch locks are classed depending on the weight they can tow. There are five categories:
- Class I: A maximum of 2,000lbs or 907kg. Typical loads include small trailers, cargo carriers, kayaks, mobility scooters and bike racks with up to two bikes.
- Class II: A maximum of 3,500lbs or 1580kg. Typical loads include small popup campers, small boats and small trailers.
- Class III: A maximum of 8,000lbs or 3628kg. Typical loads include midsize caravans, lawn maintenance equipment, motorcycles and snowmobiles.
- Class IV: A maximum of 12,000lbs or 5440kg. Typical loads include large caravans, large boats and toy haulers.
- Class V: A maximum of 20,000lbs or 9071kg. Typical loads include large toy haulers, equipment haulers and multi-car trailers.
Sizes vary and it’s vital to check the compatibility of a lock with your caravan model to check it will fit your chassis. If you'd like more information, Etrailer has an in-depth guide on hitch-lock categories where they talk about the types of cars for towing too.
Which brand of hitch lock should I trust?
It's important to look for certifications that verify the quality of the product and meet insurer’s requirements. ‘Sold Secure' is an industry standard when looking at hitch locks, and class the locks by a bronze, silver, gold or diamond rating. Thatcham Approved Category 3 is another standard, and if you own a Bailey caravan, you can purchase a Bailey-branded hitch lock to fit all recent models, including Thatcham’s Category 3 Saracen Gullwing Hitch Lock.
Many modern caravans are built on Al-Ko chassis. The German manufacturer also produces premium hitch locks that are designed to fit perfectly.
And of course, it's important to remember that hitch locks are one of many security measures you can take to ensure your caravan is safe. Wheel locks or clamps, caravan alarms and caravan trackers are all additional security features you can buy. As well as using security accessories, you should always remain vigilant. Ultimately a little precaution can save you a lot of trouble.