85% debate continuation

Mar 14, 2005
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Parksy has suggested that the debate about the Industry weight limits in the "New Tow Car Advice" thread be continued as a new thread.

It seems strange that in continental Europe no other country has need of the UK's industry advice. There must be in experienced caravanners there too, so how do they start on this journey of discovery without the advice that is so dogishly followed in the UK?


Any continental caravanners wish to tell us how they manage?


Prof,

If the 85% advisary loading ratio is there for all to see and according to you it is nothing to take seriously when it comes to matching a caravan outfit ( for the last three years I've been well over 95%) , what advice would you give to someone who is new to caravanning, would you say go for the 85% matching or would you say load up the front locker box with two gas bottles, wheel clamp and hitch lock and a jack then load your awning kids bikes all you personal effects in side the caravan and then jog off down to Cornwall, of course you would not you would refer them to the 85% matching,
Hello Camel

Let me assure you; I have always suggested that loading a car and caravan should be taken seriously and I take exception to your suggestion that I haven’t.

I have always advised it is better to aim for a trailer to be loaded as light as possible, but of course with an appropriate nose load.

I don’t believe the way the present advice is calculated provides the best universal approach, because it uses imprecise information, and because it fails to recognise the true capabilities of each model of tow vehicle.

In the absence of better methods I may refer some people to the 85% /100% suggestion, but I also usually point out some of the other factors that also need to be in place to minimise the risks of towing.

I am not aware of any verifiable evidence that confirms these figures are the optimum range for good towing. As others have suggested they should be used as a starting point, not an end in themselves.

But also if the advice were revised, with a proper scientific approach It would not surprise me if the lower figure were not reduced below 85% for novices

EDIT NOTE 22nd Feb 202
If you are looking for clarification about the present caravan industry advice for caravanners about tow matching I suggest you follow this link.
ww.practicalcaravan.com/advice/50460-towing-101-part-6-how-to-deal-with-a-snaking-caravan

If you continue in this thread you will find a range of diverging views, which will show how some of us have concerns about the the industry advice, and how we are trying to clarify its efficacy or otherwise. PJL
 
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camel

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Prof,
If someone new to caravanning came to me for advice on caravan outfit matching I would have no hesitation in explaining the 85% matching and to aim for that untill they can understand a caravan plate,
 
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JTQ

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My starting point would be to consider the particular car the virgin tower had in mind, as a little understanding of its attributes, or lack of, would influence my view on its towing suitability and so reasonable matches.

The Continetal novice probably is not frightened into a low ratio, as they are not exposed to our two clubs and our forums, plus the van most probably is fitted with suspension dampers?
Also, in certain countries the taxation means the tow vehicle is never going to be a heavy lump, certainly in the early years of starting the hobby..
 
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Prof,
If someone new to caravanning came to me for advice on caravan outfit matching I would have no hesitation in explaining the 85% matching and to aim for that untill they can understand a caravan plate,
Relying solely on the 85% weight ratio recommendation and disregarding the statutory plates could be a bit risky because some cars have a maximum permissible towload that is less than 85% of its kerbweight. The owner must therefore be in a position to understand the values on the respective plates.

Note also that the weight ratio is based on a worst case scenario (caravan as heavy as possible, car as light as possible) so for the sake of checking that ratio, it doesn't matter what the actual payload in the caravan is.
 
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camel

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Prof,
In your caravanning days what method did you use to load your caravan did you weigh everything everytime before you set off,
 
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Personally I always want to be legal but as far as anything else goes I am afraid i have this urge to ignore the doomsayers. Hence I ride a motorbike after being told not to all through my formative years!!
So I look at what the car maker rates the car at for towing and aim to be a bit below this with the caravan. Has always worked VERY well for me!

I also don't weigh contents-but we do tend to keep the load to the car and try not to accumulate too much in the caravan.
 
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So I look at what the car maker rates the car at for towing and aim to be a bit below this with the caravan. Has always worked VERY well for me!

I also don't weigh contents-but we do tend to keep the load to the car and try not to accumulate too much in the caravan.
I presume that you don't mean if the car manufacturer's towload rating is, say, 120% of its kerbweight, you would be happy to tow at just "a bit below this".
 
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What I mean is, if the manufacturer has type approved the car to tow 1500kg I will happily tow to 95% of that figure-and that is from experience.
I don't and have never looked at kerbweight. Our Duster was a bit lacking in power-106bhp, but our Mini JCW Clubman is rated at 1500kg and I would happily tow 1500kg in that. However we are lucky to have an alternative so I don't have issues with switching off the rear door sensors etc.
Our Duster (checked a min ago) had a kerbweight of 1250kg yet we happily and I mean VERY happily towed for over 30k miles of lovely holidays-no wobbles no nasty issues even towing in the worst of the worst of conditions had an issue. And towing at the speedlimit btw. After that many miles it wasn't luck either.
Our Pegasus was 145okg max so we were at 116% if kerbweight is used, so YES I DID and would again.

I am and until proven to me otherwise always will be a conscientious objector to the 85% kebweight advice. Novice towers-I am not sure what difference being a novice and being an expert tower might be other than maybe familiarity breeds contempt and therefore an experienced tower may get caught out more easily. Being a motorcyclist I am VERY aware of crosswinds, gates etc and tow cautiously and according to the conditions. I might be wrong but I reckon most novices would be even more careful than the clowns I see bowling down the motorway well in excess of the legal limit and towing.

I should add we now tow a Buccaneer with a Nissan Navarra and on some forums there has been a lot of chatter about 'trucks' being light at the back and not being stable towers. Early days yet but I am MIGHTY impressed with how the car tows a 2000kg caravan and at 24mpg too. Glad we have a speed limiter and cruise control as it would be far far too easy to break the law in this car-towing or not!
 
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I think you ignore weights at your peril, they are a factor in safe towing but as the Prof points out regularly not the only one. Ignoring them is simply risking your life and that of the others around you.
Having said that I do accept that most of us can tow safely at higher ratios than 85%. At the same time you do have to understand that the towing limit for any car is simply the limit at which it can restart that weight five times on a 12% incline and has nothing whatsoever to do with safety. It is more measure of the strength of the driveline the a safety limit.
The car must be able to control the weight of the caravan for safe towing, and while many people get away with having a caravan heavier than the car, it is simply not good practice, and in the event of an emergency could be catastrophic. You are unlikely to be able to check how good a match your combination is before you buy so the only sensible thing is to err on the side of caution.
Correct loading, tyre pressures and even weather conditions can be relevant as well. Safety is a complex subject but identifying and obeying the basics is the best path to safe towing.
As the Prof has said towing within the cars towing limit may not in itself be illegal. if the combination is unsafe it could be regarded as just that.
 
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Prof,
In your caravanning days what method did you use to load your caravan did you weigh everything everytime before you set off,
I expect I used the same method as everyone else, I picked an item up and carried it into the caravan and placed it where I thought it should go.

But I suspect that wasn't what you meant.

No, I didn't weigh every item or put it on a spread sheet, but we did use a check list of things we took and I was certainly aware of roughly how much things weighed and where they should be placed to achieve a good load plan and a satisfactory nose load.
 
Jun 20, 2005
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Jezzer
As pointed out by Lutz and Ray the maximum towing ability of the vehicle as stated by the maker has nothing to do with weight ratios . My vehicle is rated to tow 3500kg. The vehicle GVWR ( Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) is 2200kg. Would I tow a caravan at 3500kg💥💥💥Madness.
 
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Having said that I do accept that most of us can tow safely at higher ratios than 85%. At the same time you do have to understand that the towing limit for any car is simply the limit at which it can restart that weight five times on a 12% incline and has nothing whatsoever to do with safety. It is more measure of the strength of the driveline the a safety limit.
It would be an irresponsible car manufacturer to specify a towload limit that is based solely on the regulatory requirement. Any self-respecting manufacturer would also take into account handling and braking performance. However, one should realise that the limits do apply under optimal conditions, i.e. an experienced driver exercising maximum care and adapting his driving as appropriate to the prevailing road, traffic and weather conditions.
 
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Thank you Lutz, you beat me to it,

I would add that speed is always a significant factor in loss of stability, and universally if instability is experienced when towing reducing speed enough will always allow control to be reestablished.

Just becasue a large Towed weight limit has been set by the car manufacturer, and it is legal to attach a trailer of that mass, The driver should consider adopting a slower speed when towing to reduce the build up of forces that tend to detract from stability and safety.
 
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I am sure that the concern re weight is a factor and best to err on the safe side, BUT from my experience the above is very true and speed is always a factor. We;'ve had emergencies in our Duster and van combo and have never had any issue but I always drive according to conditions and never knowingly speed either. I am sure there will be a lot of farmers with trailers and large heavy high sided machinery and at least two horses moving slightly that would say the 85% advice is conservative but am being devils advocate and agree that errring on the side of caution is always sensible!
 

camel

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Prof,
sorry but that is not a very good reply to my question, you seem to be the man to go to on caravan loading but your reply is far from being of any help to new caravanners , try again and give some instructive advice to new caravanners,
 

Parksy

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Prof,
sorry but that is not a very good reply to my question, you seem to be the man to go to on caravan loading but your reply is far from being of any help to new caravanners , try again and give some instructive advice to new caravanners,
Now then, play nicely!
Don't start to persecute fellow forum members, we don't need it and we don't allow it so stop it!
 
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Prof,
sorry but that is not a very good reply to my question, you seem to be the man to go to on caravan loading but your reply is far from being of any help to new caravanners , try again and give some instructive advice to new caravanners,
There are plenty of guides available to help caravanner's decide how to sensibly load a caravan.

There is no need for me to add to them.

If you are looking for finite detail instructions, then no one can do that on line as it would require specific knowledge of each caravanners car, caravan, and what they wanted to load.

Perhaps you have your own suggestions?
 
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I advise 85 of the manufacturers towing limit set for the car as a starting point!
That might be a solution----But:!

On what evidence and scientific basis have you used to come to the conclusion that 85% of Maximum Permitted Towed Mass is the best figure to go for?

This is the problem with the industry guidelines, there is no published supporting evidence. If the evidence and methodology had been peer reviewed, then we could have better confidence in the guidance.
 
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IMO manufacturers published towing limits are a joke that only serve to confuse your average motorist who wants to use his vehicle for towing.
They only have relevance where the manufacturer forbids towing for a particular model or specifies a towed weight limit well below the towing vehicle's own weight.

The majority of published towing weight limits are widely optimistic and have no place in the real world.
I find it amazing that vehicle manufacturers have not agreed a more real world system of assessing towing vehicle capabilities.......after all they can rank vehicles for crash survival!

I see the 85% of kerbweight guidance as an attempt to put forward a simple method of keeping a sensible weight balance in a towing outfit.

...........and yes there are many other factors involved in safe towing.
 

camel

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There are plenty of guides available to help caravanner's decide how to sensibly load a caravan.

There is no need for me to add to them.

If you are looking for finite detail instructions, then no one can do that on line as it would require specific knowledge of each caravanners car, caravan, and what they wanted to load.

Perhaps you have your own suggestions?
I use a weighbridge to determine my towing weights and the 85% for a starter guide last three years I have towed at 97% never fails using a weighbridge,
 
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Hee thought that would cause a bit of excitement; you'd struggle to find a caravan near 85% of the 3500kg our Navarra is supposed to tow, and we can supposedly add nearly 1000kg into the flat bed AS WELL. There will probably be lots of farmers out there towing heavy plant/ tractors on trailers and two or more horses in a box behind half cabs like this however that do get close. One of the Navs criticisms was its soft suspension but it now has dual rate springs. Settles beautifully with the Buc on the back.

Are we doing manufacturers a di service-is there anyone out there in the motor industry who has experience of this; it must be wrong that there is only the gradient test -yes that may well be the law, BUT many cars designed or advertising their towing prowess ie Discoveries and our Nav have trailer sway assist (we have-so we have it on both our van as ATC and the Nav) and the Disco now can have auto trailer parking. These systems HAVE to be tested with a variety of heavy trailers on surely to make sure they work safely and the way in which they are designed. I simply think we don't know enough-might be worth a chat with Landrover customer services if you are really worried but in the meantime I remain a very cautious driver, who loads the van carefully , checks tyres etc religiously (especially after having a car whose professionally fitted towbar had the chassis bolts work loose). Madness-no don't think so -proceed with caution and adjust road speed according to the conditions, and assume every other driver on the road is an idiot. Just my philosophy.
 
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I can only add that the towing limits that we specified for our cars was not based solely on the re-start requirement on an incline. In the course of development, the vehicles were also subjected to handling and braking tests. After all, we, as a car manufacturer, have full product liability for all that we specify. It's a matter having to be able to demonstrate that the product is "fit for the purpose".
 
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