Caravan Weight | MTPLM | MRO | Payload
Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass. This is the heaviest a caravan can weigh with everything put in it. It will normally be displayed on a weight plate which will be attached to the caravan usually near door.
Caravanning for beginners. Using your caravan is simple. You just load it up, put the kids in the car, attach it to the car and you’re off, right?
Of course, anyone that has ever used a touring caravan, know’s it’s not as easy as that. There are things to check, for instance, the tightness of your wheel nuts, the air pressure in your tyres. The reason why these things are so important is that you might not use your caravan from one month to the next. In the winter you might not use it for 4 months. Whereas with a car, you’re probably using it everyday, so if something goes right, you’ll notice it immediately.
One thing that you might have overlooked is how much your caravan weighs.
“Surely they’re build to take all the stuff you need without a problem, just keep loading it up”. Unlike your car, you do need to be aware of what stuff you’re taking with you. Not knowing the weight of stuff could end in disaster. A bit dramatic maybe, but a caravan is really nothing like your car.
Is Your Caravan a Feckless Drunk?
No-one moves better with a full belly and your caravan is no different. Think of an overloaded caravan like a drunken person trying to walk in a straight line. They can’t and your caravan, if overloaded will not be stable. It will do its utmost to sway around like a drunken person, it will refuse to do as it’s told and eventually it will fall over and end up in a ditch, with you and your car attached. Wow, keep it light! (Literally)
Important Things to Know
The first thing to know is that you can overload your caravan and it might be easier to do than you think. Your caravan has a maximum weight. Your car has a weight limit on the tow bar.
It’s All About…Numbers..
You need to know your car and caravan’s vital statistics. How much do both weigh? With a car, it will be the kerb weight and will be in the owner’s manual, or possibly inside one of the front doors. You’ll need to know your caravan’s MTPLM and MRO to work out your payload. Then you need to know the weight limit on your tow bar and your caravan nose weight.
I’m sorry? What did you just say?
Oh my days, acronyms just roll off the tongue. You may work in an industry that uses acronyms, most areas of life resort to them eventually. Caravanning is the same, it’s just a matter of knowing them. Even though I know what they mean but google what they actually stand for. Let’s look at them one by one and give them a bit of context.
Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass. Maximum what? So some engineer locked him/herself in a room for 6 hours and came up with that. Even when you know what it stands for it makes no sense! What does it ACTUALLY mean? Well, in practical terms, it’s actually the maximum weight deemed safe by the manufacturer to load the caravan. So the caravan, as a whole, must not exceed the MTPLM number.
Mass Running Order. Again, you wouldn’t easily guess it from that wording. This is the weight of the caravan as it rolls off the production line. Now it’s not as simple as that, but your handbook will have these weights. It is sometimes referred to as MIRO.
Simply how much your car weighs. This is important as you don’t want the caravan to weigh more than the car. 85% rule should apply, whereby the caravan is NOT more than 85% the weight of the car. By the way, the “85% rule” isn’t law, it’s a recommendation, made by one of the clubs possibly. Just as a general rule of thumb.
How much your caravan weighs at its nose. This is the point where the caravan attaches to the car.
The difference between MRO and MTPLM is the amount of weight you have for payload. i.e. the stuff you can put into like chairs tables food crockery etc
Our ultimate goal is to find out a) what your MRO is (so weight of stuff the manufacturer added and b) the nose weight (how heavy the front of the caravan can be)
MTPLM will be in your manual or possibly be on the side of your caravan. MRO will be in your owner’s guide, or similar. Maximum nose weight will be either the maximum amount your car can tow or the maximum weight your Towbar itself can handle. Find out both of these and use the lowest value.
Once you have those figures, come back, I’ll be waiting here……….
Great, numbers obtained let’s do some number crunching (don’t worry it’s easy enough!)
Get your MTPLM number (which is the maximum weight you’re allowed, everything all added together) Now minus your MRO number (which is the weight of everything in the caravan when it leaves the factory), the resulting number is your (drumroll) payload (the amount available to you for loading all your belongings, think of the caravan as your suitcase when going on a flight, where you can’t exceed a weight allowance)
For example, if a caravan’s MTPLM is 1692kg and the MRO is 1522kg….
Remember; MTPLM – MRO = payload. For example;
1682 – 1522 = 160KG
Not a lot is it? Or is it? How are you meant to know how much all the chairs, plates, inflatable awnings, solar lights, pants etc weigh?
One weigh to do it (excuse the pun and deliberate misspelling) is to individually weigh everything you put in the caravan. Weigh everything. You think that’s ridiculous, you weight ? until I tell you the second suggestion.
Take your caravan to your local weighbridge, weigh it empty. Put all your stuff in. Weigh it again.
I guess in real life, you just estimate everything. The approach we take is to put everything heavy in the boot of the car. Awning, if we’re taking it, Cadac, portable air con etc. Once you know how much things weigh, you should be fine. We tend to take the same things with us each time, so in theory, the weight shouldn’t increase. Be mindful of the old possession creep, where you buy this, buy that, and it all ends up in the caravan. Watch the payload as carefully as you can.
Remember to check your nose weight using the gauge of your choice to make sure it’s below the maximum allowed. If, like us, you take pretty much the same things every journey, you shouldn’t really need to weigh the nose every trip, I know there’s some out there that do.
I hope that’s all clear, if you have any questions, I’ll try to answer them. As I’ve said before on this website, I don’t consider myself an expert, I’m not trained in anything to do with caravans, I’m not a professional journalist. I’m just imparting years of experienced and gained knowledge.
Click here for information from towcar.info
Want to know more? See our caravan beginners section
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the difference between MTPLM and MiRO?
MTPLM is the maximum weight the caravan can be. This includes everything in it from manufacture i.e. the fridge, PLUS all the stuff you pack in it. MRO is the weight that the caravan is when it comes off the production line i.e. WITHOUT anything you’ve put in.
How do I calculate the payload?
The necessary weight information should be on a sticker, or weight plate which will be on the side of your caravan normally just beside the door. The numbers you’re looking for are the MTPLM (max weight) and the MRO (sometimes MiRO, which is the weight of the caravan as delivered to the dealer. Once you have these two numbers the equation is MTPLM – MRO = payload.
What is the 85% rule for caravans?
This is aimed mainly at caravan beginners and signifies that you shouldn’t tow a caravan than is more than 85% of your tow car’s kerb weight. For example, if your car has a kerb weight of 2000kg, you shouldn’t attempt to tow a caravan that has an MTPLM of 1700kg.
Remember, this is purely a safety guideline rather than any sort of law. The problem is of course, if you follow this rule and you’re comfortable towing it, you then realise you might have been able to get a caravan with a larger MTPLM and therefore had more payload weight.