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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.
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 tires. 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.
One thing that might be 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.

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 it’s 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.

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 owners 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’s 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.

MTPLM

Maximum Technically Permitted Laden Mass. Maximum what? So some engineer locked himself 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, it’s actually the maximum weight deemed safe by the manufacturer to load the caravan.

Weights

MRO

Mass Running Order. Again, you wouldn’t easily guess it from that wording. This is basically 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.

Kerb Weight

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.

Nose Weight

How much your caravan weighs at its nose. This is the point where the caravan attaches to the car.

Payload

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

What Now?

Our ultimate goal is to find out a) what your MRO is (so weight of stuff you can cram in 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, came back, I’ll be waiting here……….

Great, numbers obtained let’s do some crunching!

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 payload.

For example, my MTPLM (or rather that of my caravan, cheeky) is 1692kg The MRO of my caravan is 1522kg  (I found this on Bailey’s website, just by googling it)

Which means 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 etc weigh?

One weigh to do it (excuse the pun and deliberate mis-spelling) 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 weigh bridge, weigh it empty. Put all your stuff in. Weigh it again.

Real Life

I guess in real life you’re 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 have an idea of how much things weigh, you should be fine. We tend to take the same things with us each time so in theory, the weigh 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 MTPLM 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.

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.

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CaravanVlogger

Experienced caravanners that are still learning!Our first caravan was a Knaus which we bought from Germany in 2006. After this we bought a Autotrail Motorhome, but sold that to build a house. Once that was done we went back to a caravan, a Sterling Eccles, which we recently part-ex'd for a Bailey Unicorn.
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4 COMMENTS

  1. 85% rule is actually a guide.
    Many cars are capable of towing more than 85% safely.
    Check the cars V5 document for the maximum weight it is allowed to tow. Do not rely on Google for that figure as there are many variations of some cars.
    Pretty good explanation of everything though well done Graham.

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