Excess weight in the caravan

Feb 23, 2024
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Ok so almost all people will know the answer to these questions but as I don't know I would like to get a range of answers from seasoned experts on here.

  1. Why is it so important to keep the caravan weight as low as possible - apart from fuel economy maybe.
  2. What is nose weight and how does that affect towing and safety etc.

I know many may huff and puff at these questions exclaiming they are a must-know prior to towing but I honestly don't know the full ins and outs of it all, if at all. All I know is my van is probably overweight due to my other half filling it with all sorts of stuff for all eventualities, I keep saying yes and I tow the caravan with no problems so far. I have a decent-sized 2.2-litre Honda CRV and Sprite 450c Caravan.

I'm sure the comprehensive range of answers will help me fight the fight with my other half to lighten the load and to keep us as safe as possible on the road, not to mention help other newbies out too.

Thanks in advance for the replies
 
Dec 27, 2022
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Simple answer is to take it loaded to a weighbridge and get it weighed then you will know how much you have to get rid of.🤔
Pointed out to C that we were 70kg overweight and we would have to move that weight to the car or lose it altogether. Now we are legal again.
 
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Jul 18, 2017
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Simple answer is to take it loaded to a weighbridge and get it weighed then you will know how much you have to get rid of.🤔
Pointed out to C that we were 70kg overweight and we would have to move that weight to the car or lose it altogether. Now we are legal again.
I don't think that is an answer for the question asked?

You keep it as low as possible to stay within the law.

Regarding nose weight, go to search box and enter noseweight and search as numerous threads regarding nose weight and why it is important.
 
Nov 6, 2005
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The lighter the caravan/trailer in relation to the towing vehicle the better the stability, all other things being equal - it's also a good idea to keep any weight in the caravan as low down as possible to keep the centre of gravity low down as the side of a caravan acts like a sail in cross-winds
 
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Oct 19, 2023
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As Buckman says, we keep the caravan weight low to stay within the law. The manufacturers keep the weight as low as possible to maximise the number of vehicles capable of towing them, then stick a weight limit on them lower than it needs to be so even more vehicles are capable of towing them.
 
Oct 8, 2006
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Sorry, but keeping the weight as low as possible is incorrect. The law requires that the gross weight of the caravan must not exceed the MTPLM. On older vans that is on a label by the access door but with modern caravans the MTPLM is on a label adjacent to the gas bottle - and in practice it is the maximum load that the axle can take and which is also on a label usually on the back or bottom of the axle case on the nearside. Best way to record it is to reach underneath with a camera and take a picture of it.
The maximum weight that you can tow is limited by what you find on the vehicle plate. On most modern cars it will be on a label at the bottom of the nearside B pillar - the pillar between the front and rear side doors. There will be four numbers: ignore those adjacent to '1' and '2'. the two remaining numbers (at the top of the label) are the GTW or gross train weight which is the total weight of the tow vehicle and the trailer, and the GVW or gross vehicle weight. Subtract the smaller number (GVW) from the larger number (GTW) and the result is the maximum trailer weight that the vehicle can tow.
The noseweight is the maximum that the towbar can carry and will be on a label on the main towbar cross member. The caravan weight on the ball - or noseweight - is the maximum the caravan chassis can take and is usually 100kg for most smaller single axle caravans. Remember though that the 100kg only comes into play only if the towbar can handle a load greater than 100kg. The noseweight is generally in the range 5-7½% of MTPLM. In most cases weight can be moved around inside the van if necessary to get onto that weight range, but in some vans you will not be able to achieve even 5% of MTPLM: in such case just balance the caravan as best possible to make it a stable tow.

[We have a Bailey Unicorn 4 Seville and empty the noseweight is 31kg with an uprated MTPLM of 1450kg. The maximum loaded weight we have achieved is 53kg at which it is stable. (Even with my 76kg son standing inside the van right at the front the highest noseweight we got was 74kg!) The reason was that Bailey put the cooker and the gas locker at the back end. They discontinued the model with a year and replaced it with the Marida which with Series 5 is now called ....? The Seville.]
 
Apr 18, 2024
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My dacia duster can have a MTPLM of 1500kg's and being that the Avante has a 1060kg towing weight, we are a good bit under, so long as we keep the nose at the correct weight. I put a few tools in the front on our first outing which dropped the front of the caravan a little, on the return journey the tools went inside just on the axle or a bit before, it felt much sturdier coming back.
 
Jul 18, 2017
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However most caravan have two MTPLMs as you pointed out, one on a sticker by the door and other in the front locker. One by the door is not mandatory and the other is mandatory and they are guidelines set by the manufacturer. It is also illegal to exceed the maximum load on the tyres.

I doubt very much of the MTPLM of the caravan is the maximum weight that the axle can handle as the axle should be able to handle a greater weight than the MTPLM.
 
Jul 18, 2017
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In what way is "keeping the weight as low as possible" incorrect? Whilst legal limits mustn't be exceeded, getting as far under them as possible will give better stability.
Glad you mentioned it as I was unsure about that statement as thought that they had perhaps got a bit mixed up?
 
Oct 19, 2023
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I doubt very much of the MTPLM of the caravan is the maximum weight that the axle can handle as the axle should be able to handle a greater weight than the MTPLM.
It can be but my understanding is most often (in UK at least) it isn't, hence many manufacturers will sell you a new plate with a higher MTPLM without even looking at your caravan let alone changing anything.

Mine has a maximum axle weight of 1250kg and maximum nose weight of 100kg. The MTPLM is 1175kg. All three figures are on the same plate next to the door. No plate in the gas locker but one on the axle with 100/1250 on it.

The million dollar question is, if I was stopped and my caravan weighed 1275kg (1200 on the axle and 75 on the nose) would I be legal? I can't find a definitive answer to that.
 
Oct 8, 2006
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However most caravan have two MTPLMs as you pointed out, one on a sticker by the door and other in the front locker. One by the door is not mandatory and the other is mandatory and they are guidelines set by the manufacturer. It is also illegal to exceed the maximum load on the tyres.

I doubt very much of the MTPLM of the caravan is the maximum weight that the axle can handle as the axle should be able to handle a greater weight than the MTPLM.

My van had an 'outside' plated MTPLM of (I think) 1368kg or thereabouts. I asked for the upgrade and it came at 1450kg - which is the weight labelled on the axle case, and also in the gas locker.

When we had a Pegasus 462 (12 years ago!) it too was plated something like 1376kg but uprated it was 1490kg and the axle was labelled 1500kg. No manufacturer would build an axle to weight capability and then expect it to be run at that. There has to be some headroom - I would have though at least 10-15% - else how can the axle handle all of the bumps on the road especially with our current pothole situation!!
 
Nov 11, 2009
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My van had an 'outside' plated MTPLM of (I think) 1368kg or thereabouts. I asked for the upgrade and it came at 1450kg - which is the weight labelled on the axle case, and also in the gas locker.

When we had a Pegasus 462 (12 years ago!) it too was plated something like 1376kg but uprated it was 1490kg and the axle was labelled 1500kg. No manufacturer would build an axle to weight capability and then expect it to be run at that. There has to be some headroom - I would have though at least 10-15% - else how can the axle handle all of the bumps on the road especially with our current pothole situation!!
I don’t agree, my last caravan had a MTPLM of 1300kg and its axle was 1300kg. Prior to that I had a 1000kg, and its axle was 1000kg, and inadvertently I ran it for around 200 miles at around 240;kg overload. The axle coped fine, and fortunately I had fitted new uprated trailer specific tyres whose combined load index just exceeded the caravans weighed weight. I had a Bailey too which was uprated to 1400 kg, it’s axle specification, but that took its MTPLM to within 20 kg of its maximum tyre loading. So I changed the tyres for caravan/trailer specific ones with a higher LI.

But if a component is rated at x kilogram why shouldn’t it be run at that loading. It’s like tyres the manufacturer will have included some design margin above the stated rating. But trying to keep the caravan as light as possible is a sensible approach, but one that I didn’t do particularly well in achieving. Most of my vans were at times loaded to near MTPLM, and towed well as the tow cars were a good kerbweight and generally well loaded.
 
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Mar 14, 2005
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My dacia duster can have a MTPLM of 1500kg's and being that the Avante has a 1060kg towing weight, we are a good bit under, so long as we keep the nose at the correct weight. I put a few tools in the front on our first outing which dropped the front of the caravan a little, on the return journey the tools went inside just on the axle or a bit before, it felt much sturdier coming back.
You have not expressed the point correctly.

Using your figures the Dacia has a maximum towed weight limit of 1500kg. That does not mean the trailer can only have an MTPLM of 1500, becasue you are not comparing apples with apples.

There is functionally nothing wrong with using as a way of choosing a caravan, but its not the actual way the criteria work.

Car manufactures have to specify the maximum towed weight the vehicle is capable of towing. Strictly this is the limit for the maximum weight the trailer actually develops on its road wheels. It does not include the load the trailer exerts on the tow ball. And more importantly it does not specify the largest MTPLM of the connected trailer.

A trailers MTPLM is a paper specification that describes the upper limit for the measured weight of the whole trailer (road wheel loads plus tow ball loads)

As far as the tow vehicle is concerned the trailers paper MTPLM is of no interest, only what the trailer actually weighs on its road wheels.

Considere a box trailer. it may have an empty weight of 500kg but a fully loaded weight limit (MTPLM) of 2000kg. You car could quite legally tow the trailer provided its only part loaded and its load on its road wheels does not exceed 1500kg. yet its MTPLM paper value exceeds the tow vehicles Towed Weight Limit.

However whilst that is the legal position, some but not all UK caravan insurers do set towed weight limits based on the MTPLM of the caravan.
 
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Nov 6, 2005
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As far as the tow vehicle is concerned the trailers paper MTPLM is of no interest, only what the trailer actually weighs on its road wheels.

Considere a box trailer. it may have an empty weight of 500kg but a fully loaded weight limit (MTPLM) of 2000kg. You car could quite legally tow the trailer provided its only part loaded and its load on its road wheels does not exceed 1500kg. yet its MTPLM paper value exceeds the tow vehicles Towed Weight Limit.
Technically that's true - but the payload of almost all UK market caravans is so meagre that caravans are best assumed to be running at MTPLM
 
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Aug 12, 2023
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The other reason to keep heavy stuff on floor or close to it is avoid stressing body. The body of caravan is light weight structure, weight high up will increase flexing in body. More flex more likely waterproofness of joints will be compromised.
Floor is bolt to heavy duty steel chassis so heavy items on it shouldn't put stress on body.

I suspect my caravan could be over weight when carrying ebikes but not to worried as all heavy items are bolted to steel chassis ie bike rack, motor movers.
 
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Feb 23, 2024
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I've read with interest all the replies thank you and sorry again for such a newbie question. Firstly I have no weighbridge open to the public close by. Secondly I've pulled this caravan with a 1.6 Pug HDI and it was safe enough I never go over 55mph ever. Now I am pulling it with a 2.2 CDTI Honda CRV and I almost don't know it's on.

So I figure that although yes I may be overweight and putting the full awning in the boot would help, if I keep as I do any additional weight on the floor low down a few plastic boxes stacked on the bunk beds with board games etc in aren't going to hurt too much.

All the same thanks again for all the answers.
 
Nov 16, 2015
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I've read with interest all the replies thank you and sorry again for such a newbie question. Firstly I have no weighbridge open to the public close by. Secondly I've pulled this caravan with a 1.6 Pug HDI and it was safe enough I never go over 55mph ever. Now I am pulling it with a 2.2 CDTI Honda CRV and I almost don't know it's on.

So I figure that although yes I may be overweight and putting the full awning in the boot would help, if I keep as I do any additional weight on the floor low down a few plastic boxes stacked on the bunk beds with board games etc in aren't going to hurt too much.

All the same thanks again for all the answers.
Think about the safety side of it, are your tyres rated high enough, for your overweight caravan, is your towbar, rated strong enough for your nose weight, how much nose weight do you have,
Having a overweight caravan, can go from being ok one minute, to being a pile of scrap wood, plastic and metal at the side of the road.
Take care.
 

Sam Vimes

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Sep 7, 2020
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I'm not suggesting that this is the case here, but I've often come across people who think that engine power is all that needs to be considered when pulling a caravan.

I confess that when I started towing in the 90s that's all I thought to ask about at the dealership. And they didn't offer any other advice. Now I know better.
 
Feb 23, 2024
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Think about the safety side of it, are your tyres rated high enough, for your overweight caravan, is your towbar, rated strong enough for your nose weight, how much nose weight do you have,
Having a overweight caravan, can go from being ok one minute, to being a pile of scrap wood, plastic and metal at the side of the road.
Take care.
Fair point well made ... tyres are spot on but the rest is worth looking into properly. I'll buy a nose weight device and take it from there.

The caravan has some weights on the panel at the side but they are rubbed so from what I can see the first figure is 1,000kg and the second 210kg.

But thank you - I'm inspired hired a nose weight device and frantically trying to find a weighbridge near Wigan (which isn't easy from what I can see).

Just for the record in case anyone else has a honda crv 2007 the tow capacities are
Max towing capacity 1500kg
Max weight at towball 100kg

For Sprite 450 owners the details are -
Max Laden Weight of Caravan 1000kg
Max Pay Load 210kg
Unladen weight 790kg

Thank you to all - I'll get this sorted out.
 
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Nov 16, 2015
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I think you will find that most scrap yards will weigh your caravan, last time I done mine, it cost £10, and about two hours to remove about 50 kgs of stuff from the van. No steam iron in the van anymore, down to just one frying pan and two pots. No clothes dryer. I leave the two spare EHU cables at home, and make sure I have one in the car, Got rid of the Jenga, connect 4 instead.
You can get the weight down, Cider goes in the car.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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I'm not suggesting that this is the case here, but I've often come across people who think that engine power is all that needs to be considered when pulling a caravan.

I confess that when I started towing in the 90s that's all I thought to ask about at the dealership. And they didn't offer any other advice. Now I know better.
The first time I was advised about weight was when I offered to buy a Safari caravan from a newly bereaved neighbour. I had a 1.8 litre Morris Marina estate. Without any hesitation she told me that she thought that the car was powerful enough but was too light. End of discussion.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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I've read with interest all the replies thank you and sorry again for such a newbie question. Firstly I have no weighbridge open to the public close by. Secondly I've pulled this caravan with a 1.6 Pug HDI and it was safe enough I never go over 55mph ever. Now I am pulling it with a 2.2 CDTI Honda CRV and I almost don't know it's on.

So I figure that although yes I may be overweight and putting the full awning in the boot would help, if I keep as I do any additional weight on the floor low down a few plastic boxes stacked on the bunk beds with board games etc in aren't going to hurt too much.

All the same thanks again for all the answers.
If as you have expressed your caravan is overweight, your outfit is illegal, this is likely to render your insurances invalid. I strongly advise you to review what you are carrying and how you load it.
 
Feb 23, 2024
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If as you have expressed your caravan is overweight, your outfit is illegal, this is likely to render your insurances invalid. I strongly advise you to review what you are carrying and how you load it.
As I said Prof - I'm inspired and on to it. But thank you for making it crystal clear the rig could well be illegal, which I had confirmed earlier in the thread you succinct clarification is invaluable
 
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