Caravan Snaking

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Aug 16, 2020
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Hi All,

After some advice I towed my caravan (Elddis Avante 524 -2004) for the 2nd time over the weekend on the M6.

First time I took it out I had no issues, however on the journey up the M6 I felt a bit of pulling side to side. Especially as Lorrys passed I was doing between 50mph/60mph. I've also replaced the tyres since 1st time out with new GT Radial Kargomaxx tyres.

I replaced the Alko 1300 stabiliser pads the next day with new ones and was also told to sand off the powder coating on the tow bar before fitting the new ones. I tightened the screw on side of alko hitch to make it harder to push down.

I checked all tyre pressures on car and caravan and set them to manufacturer recommended settings.

Anyway on the way back I was towing OK on the normal roads until I got on the motorway I changed to middle lane doing 50mph and the caravan started to snake really badly. I managed to regain control by taking foot off the pedal and then putting foot back on pedal to straighten it.

A car then come past and told us the sun roof was open on caravan could it be that which caused this to sway so bad it was fully wide open. I did ask the Mrs to check everything was locked but she never put the clips to lock on the sun roof. I pulled over and closed and drove rest of way home slight wobble but no major snaking.

My other concern is the car it's a Kia Sportage 2012 1.7 CRDI it pulls the caravan easily but max tow weight is 1200kg. The caravan weighs 1114kg + 34kg for motor mover, I also loaded some heavy stuff over the axle probably around 30kg in total. Then I have plastic plates and cups in the top cupboards nothing really heavy. My nose weight before setting off was 50kg.
 
Jul 18, 2017
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I would think that the nose weight is the culprit as at 50kg it is probably too light. A nose weight closer to 80kg probably would be more suitable. Check the towbar for the maximum weight allowed on towbar. The snake was probably caused by the tail wagging the dog.
 
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Damian

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Mar 14, 2005
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I agree with the above about noseweight.
You need to be as close to the towball limit and within the van limit as you can.

Check your car handbook for the max load on the towball
The van will most likely have a max hitch limit of 100Kg.
 
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Damian

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It does not matter who made the towbar as they all have to conform to the same standard.
 
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Aug 16, 2020
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Yeah just checked its 80kg, do you think the snaking was caused by nose weight being so light and not the caravan roof being open?

It was quite scary to be honest I knew not to brake, I was looking at another car to tow but not sure if that is the cause.
 
Jul 18, 2017
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Doubt if the open skylight would have had any effect, but the nose weight at 50kg would definitely have an effect. Get the nose weight to between 75 and 85kg. You should feel a big difference in safety when towing.
 
May 24, 2014
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I think you may be describing two different issues. You mention initially a pull when passing HGVs. This is perfectly normal, its known as the bow wave effect and can be felt in greater or lesser forces. It all depends on speed, proximity to the HGV, the aerodynamics of your unit and much more. Dont worry too much about that, you will become accustomed to it.

A true snake is a vastly different thing and again there are a number of potential issues, suck as the noseweight which has already been covered. Bad loading, unequal tyre pressures, maybe a failed shocker on the caravan if yours has them but one of the biggest culprits is driving style. A bit heavy handed on the steering wheel in comnination with any of the other potential issues can be just as likely problem.

You say that this is only the second time you have towed the caravan but dont mention if you are new to towing. If thats the case maybe the Caravan Clubs course may be of benefit to you.

Back to the motorway, you will often find the better HHGV drivers will allow a bit more room when overtaking you or being overtaken. Many HGV drivers will themselves be aware of the bow wave effect. You will also experience that occasionally by vehicles like high top transits passing you at speed.

The main points are that if you ARE new to towing caravans, spend a bit of time reading about loading safely, have a good check on your tyre pressures (when cold) before your journey and take it steady until you get used to the feel of your unit.

Caravan Towing & Driving Courses | The Caravan Club
 
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May 7, 2012
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In theory the combination should not cause problems, but frankly the car needs to be changed to something more powerful as you simply do not have enough capacity to have enough kit on board for using the caravan on site, 30 kg is simply too little.. What may be the problem could be the caravan weight as they can actually heavier than the MIRO figure and it could be to a point where it might cause the caravan to snake as it is too heavy for the car. I would take the caravan to a weighbridge and see if the quoted weights are wrong.
The nose weight at 80kg looks fine and should not be the problem.
 
May 24, 2014
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Just another thought, you arent towing with the water system filled, are you?

I also agree about the car, you seem to be towing close to a 1:1 ratio which i wouldnt advocate for an inexperienced tower.
 
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Jan 19, 2002
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Don't know where you live, but if you google 'public weighbridge (county)' then you should get a list with address and phone number. As Raywood says it would be worth loading the van as usual and then taking it to be weighed. Certainly your margin for the car is very narrow, and the stated weight of 1114 (presumably the MIRO) may not include some essential items depending on the age of the van. This might help clarify for you:
Caravan Weight: Loading to be legal - Practical Advice - New & Used Caravans & Caravanning Reviews - Out and About Live
and:
Caravan Genius: Weights and Measures - Practical Caravan
As an example I expect most vanners will empty the water system and the toilet before towing (perhaps leaving a little flush water for use en route if needed!) - 1 ltr weighs 1 kg - and maybe with the heater at the front and the loo at the back tis can change the towing dynamics.
 
Mar 27, 2011
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You were lucky the roof light didn’t blow off, might not be anything to do with stability but expensive if it gets blown off plus dangerous to people behind.

BP
 
Aug 16, 2020
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In theory the combination should not cause problems, but frankly the car needs to be changed to something more powerful as you simply do not have enough capacity to have enough kit on board for using the caravan on site, 30 kg is simply too little.. What may be the problem could be the caravan weight as they can actually heavier than the MIRO figure and it could be to a point where it might cause the caravan to snake as it is too heavy for the car. I would take the caravan to a weighbridge and see if the quoted weights are wrong.
The nose weight at 80kg looks fine and should not be the problem.
My nose weight was 50kg when I towed it.
 
Jan 3, 2012
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Pleased it was a possible outcome and in agreement with Beehpee you were very lucky. with the roof light.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Hello Paul,

Your snaking is almost certainly down to insufficient nose load as others have said,

but I have other concerns .
according to the from the web sites below, your towing ratio sits at about 91%. That is not illegal but its higher than recommended.

But what is greater concern is the weight limits for your car.

according to https://www.topgear.com/car-reviews/kia/sportage/17-crdi-2-5dr/spec
Your car has
MRO of 1490kg
GVW of 1940kg
A braked trailer towing limit of 1200kg
max power of 116Bhp
Max torque of 280Nm

According to https://www.gocaravanning.com/caravan-specs/4433/Elddis-Avante-524-2005.html
your caravan has an MRO of 1135kg
and an MTPLM of 1360kg.

My first concern is that with your caravans 1135MRO plus you motor mover of 34 gives an unloaded weight of 1169 kg just 31kg below the cars braked trailer limit - However to use the mover you need a battery which is going to take so close as makes no difference to the cars rated towing limit.

There is some leeway through load transference of the hitch load to the car, but the loading margins are so small as to be impractical for carrying the normal caravanning items and the luggage and personal effects of anyone using the caravan.

I'm sorry but This is not a practical car and caravan combination.
 
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May 24, 2014
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A thought for Paul542. Did you buy this caravan from a reputable dealer. If so, one would expect they would have done a towcar check for you. If that is the case, you may have some leeway to exchange the caravan rather than your car with little or no extra cost.
 
Oct 21, 2020
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One thing to mention from me.
On some roads, there are huge troughs in the road surface caused by heavy traffic, I have found these to upset the handling of the outfit and quite a disconcerting feeling when first encountered.
Some good advice above however.

Regards

Kevin
 
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Nov 11, 2009
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Hello Paul,

Your snaking is almost certainly down to insufficient nose load as others have said,

but I have other concerns .
according to the from the web sites below, your towing ratio sits at about 91%. That is not illegal but its higher than recommended.

But what is greater concern is the weight limits for your car.

according to https://www.topgear.com/car-reviews/kia/sportage/17-crdi-2-5dr/spec
Your car has
MRO of 1490kg
GVW of 1940kg
A braked trailer towing limit of 1200kg
max power of 116Bhp
Max torque of 280Nm

According to https://www.gocaravanning.com/caravan-specs/4433/Elddis-Avante-524-2005.html
your caravan has an MRO of 1135kg
and an MTPLM of 1360kg.

My first concern is that with your caravans 1135MRO plus you motor mover of 34 gives an unloaded weight of 1169 kg just 31kg below the cars braked trailer limit - However to use the mover you need a battery which is going to take so close as makes no difference to the cars rated towing limit.

There is some leeway through load transference of the hitch load to the car, but the loading margins are so small as to be impractical for carrying the normal caravanning items and the luggage and personal effects of anyone using the caravan.

I'm sorry but This is not a practical car and caravan combination.
Don’t forget that if the caravan had its battery fitted that is not included in MRO. So allow something of the order 20-25 kg for the battery.

Certainly in addition to what others have said there’s no reason at all not to load the caravans nose load at or near to the maximum noseload that the car is specified for. 50kg is too low if the car can accept 80 kg.

As long as tyres for car and caravan were at the recommended pressures there’s nothing about Kargomax ST that should cause a problem. I had ST6000s on my last van and travelled widely at autoroute speeds without any concerns. I only wish they made them in my current size.
 
Jul 18, 2017
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Hello Paul,

Your snaking is almost certainly down to insufficient nose load as others have said,

but I have other concerns .
according to the from the web sites below, your towing ratio sits at about 91%. That is not illegal but its higher than recommended.

But what is greater concern is the weight limits for your car.



According to https://www.gocaravanning.com/caravan-specs/4433/Elddis-Avante-524-2005.html
your caravan has an MRO of 1135kg
and an MTPLM of 1360kg.



I'm sorry but This is not a practical car and caravan combination.
In addition, the maximum tow weight for the vehicle is 1200kg so towing a caravan with a MTPLM of 1360kg may invalidate the insurance of both the car and the caravan so only third party remains in place. IMHO they should not tow this caravan again until a suitable vehicle has been found or the caravan changed.

A thought for Paul542. Did you buy this caravan from a reputable dealer. If so, one would expect they would have done a towcar check for you. If that is the case, you may have some leeway to exchange the caravan rather than your car with little or no extra cost.
No dealer is obliged to do any check as that is the reposibility of the driver of the vehicle however it would have been nice if the dealer did do a check and advise accordingly.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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In addition, the maximum tow weight for the vehicle is 1200kg so towing a caravan with a MTPLM of 1360kg may invalidate the insurance of both the car and the caravan so only third party remains in place. IMHO they should not tow this caravan again until a suitable vehicle has been found or the caravan changed.



No dealer is obliged to do any check as that is the reposibility of the driver of the vehicle however it would have been nice if the dealer did do a check and advise accordingly.
If the cars maximum towing load is 1200 kg there’s absolutely no problem in towing a caravan with an MTPLM exceeding 1200 kg, providing its unloaded and its MRO is below 1200 kg. It’s not going to invalidate the insurance. However as has been shown the OP can only tow his caravan if it is in MRO state. IE virtually unloaded except for the fitted mover. As such the OP would be just under the cars towing limit and he would be legal. But the arrangements are totally impractical.
 
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May 24, 2014
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Thanks all I am going to buy another car to tow with and sell the Sportage I've only just fitted 2 new tyres and a tow bar best part of a grand spent on the car but would rather be safe than sorry.
I think all things considered, thats a very wise decision.
 
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