Help a beginner!

HIT

Jun 12, 2019
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Hi,

I'm looking for some advice please. I'm trying to buy my first caravan (ideally a 6-berth) and have found one that is basically perfect. However, its MTPLM is 1440kg which is about 100kg more than I was originally looking at and because I am buying a car to tow at the same time has basically blown my car research away!

I'm on a post-97 B licence only so was already quite restricted on car choice but this 100kg step up has made it even harder and I'm struggling to find a car that has a kerb weight greater than the 1440kg (I've accepted I'm going to struggle to meet the 85% guidelines) but also a max laden weight under 2060kg to keep me under 3500kg (as well as having to factor in the towing weight and towball limits too!). The car also needs to be a decent one for someone with no towing experience!

Has anyone got any advice or guidance on cars out there that might do the job?

The caravan I'm looking at is also quite long (7.15m), which is quite a lot longer than I'd originally planned. Does length make much difference when towing or does an extra metre or so not really make much difference?

Thanks for any help!
 
Feb 23, 2018
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Hi HIT

I also have a post-97 licence. Without going into the minutiae of kerb weights, MAMs and ratios, you would really do yourself a favour if you did the 'BE' test; this would remove any practical restrictions for normal cars and caravans, especially if you need a 6 berth.

My first caravan was less than 2 meters wide and under 4 meters long, so I noticed the extra width immediately when towing the Sprite for the first time. Length is a factor for storage [another 30cm and my caravan would not fit on the drive] and manoeuvring - the tail will swing as caravan pivots in the middle. But I guess the longer the caravan the easier it is for external forces to act upon it, and cause it move about and therefore move the car; cross winds, displaced air from trucks and coaches.
 

HIT

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Thanks. I think in an ideal world the B+E route is probably the wisest but we were hoping to get away this summer and it would be a struggle to get that in before then (planning on a few towing lessons though!). Not to mention the added expense.

We are very fortunate that we've got plenty of space on our drive so storage isn't an issue although can see what you mean about additional risks though.

I think there is a car out there, its just finding it! Unfortunately the Kugas Ive seen within my price range are too heavy :(
 
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Hi, I don't want to go to far off piste in response to your question, but perhaps you may consider the awning route, if your prepared to take it up, this'll allow you to have a much smaller van etc etc. Just utilize an awning to the max and many of your issues will simply evaporate. B)
 

Mel

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I would also endorse the B and E test route. It is done over a few days, and it will be far more expensive to buy the wrong car and van just to get in within weights.

If you decide not to do B+E I guess it will be about trawling through car makes to find the right weight. Someone I know rates the Skoda Kodiaq. But no experience of it myself.
Good luck with your hunt
Mel
 
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Guzzilazz said:
Ford Kuga diesel mk2... Mine is about 1900 kg...

Like Guzzilazz says , our Kugas are great for towing , plenty of power but are a heavy car and I think what he means by 19oo kg is what they will pull I'm sure they are about 24oo kg in weight which will put you over anyway with your caravan of choice so like other people have said try and get the B+E option done which will then give you the choice of anything !

Good luck .
 
Nov 11, 2009
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In looking at cars you have to take in its Gross Vehicle Weight. This plus the caravans MTPLM are what decides if your outfit is legal against your licence. And it’s the sum of these two specified weights that is key. Loading the car and caravan lightly to get below 3500kg is irrelevant
 

HIT

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Ironduke2018 said:
Hi, I don't want to go to far off piste in response to your question, but perhaps you may consider the awning route, if your prepared to take it up, this'll allow you to have a much smaller van etc etc. Just utilize an awning to the max and many of your issues will simply evaporate. B)

Thanks, we definitely want an awning to give us space, but unfortunately we need to be able to have up to four kids in the van with us as they are all too young to be sleeping outside.

otherclive said:
In looking at cars you have to take in its Gross Vehicle Weight. This plus the caravans MTPLM are what decides if your outfit is legal against your licence. And it’s the sum of these two specified weights that is key. Loading the car and caravan lightly to get below 3500kg is irrelevant
Thanks, may have got the terminology wrong but yes this was what I meant.

Potentially I think a Vauxhall Astra might do the job. Seems a bit small but looks like the weights might work out. May just be a bit of a struggle getting everything in the car!
 
Mar 14, 2005
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HIT said:
Hi,

I'm looking for some advice please. I'm trying to buy my first caravan (ideally a 6-berth) and have found one that is basically perfect. However, its MTPLM is 1440kg which is about 100kg more than I was originally looking at and because I am buying a car to tow at the same time has basically blown my car research away!

I'm on a post-97 B licence only so was already quite restricted on car choice but this 100kg step up has made it even harder and I'm struggling to find a car that has a kerb weight greater than the 1440kg (I've accepted I'm going to struggle to meet the 85% guidelines) but also a max laden weight under 2060kg to keep me under 3500kg (as well as having to factor in the towing weight and towball limits too!). The car also needs to be a decent one for someone with no towing experience!

Has anyone got any advice or guidance on cars out there that might do the job?

The caravan I'm looking at is also quite long (7.15m), which is quite a lot longer than I'd originally planned. Does length make much difference when towing or does an extra metre or so not really make much difference?

Thanks for any help!

Hello HIT,

I’m sorry but there is no easy way to put this, but you have chosen to go for a physically large caravan, and even though it has a MAM of 1440 at over 7M long it is big!.

You have correctly identified because you have a post 97 licence your tow vehicles MAM cannot exceed 3500-1440 = 2060kg. Again you have established that finding a tow vehicle that is within the MAM limit and has a rated towing capacity that covers that caravan is possible, BUT the likely size of vehicle you may find will not really be up to towing a caravan of that size.

The cars rated towed weight is not a reflection of how it would handle a caravan, but just the weight it can start on a 12% incline, it does not take into account the aerodynamics of the outfit which will only start to play a very significant part as speed builds up. For that reason the industry guidance of aiming for only 85% is really a good idea, and only when you have built up experience, only then raising the towed weight.

I do appreciate this is not what you want to hear, but I sense your heart is ruling your decision. And you should be listening to your head.

As a family of six we caravanned in a 4.5M caravan, and it was fine, If you want more space then perhaps postpone your purchases and use a holiday cottage, and do your B+E test ready for next season.

PLease don’t make an expensive mistake which you may live to regret, but there is also a possibility that what you are considering may physically endanger you and your family.

Please think again.
 
Feb 23, 2018
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HIT said:
Thanks. I think in an ideal world the B+E route is probably the wisest but we were hoping to get away this summer and it would be a struggle to get that in before then (planning on a few towing lessons though!). Not to mention the added expense.

We are very fortunate that we've got plenty of space on our drive so storage isn't an issue although can see what you mean about additional risks though.

I think there is a car out there, its just finding it! Unfortunately the Kugas Ive seen within my price range are too heavy :(

So I looked up my old notes for my last car, a Volvo V50 2.0D. I purchased it without towing in mind, but its wight and limits were within 3500kg.
Kerb weight - 1456kg,
Max Pay load - 504kg
MAM - 1960kg
Max Train Weight - 3460kg
Towball limit (Braked/unbraked)- 75kg / 50kg
Towing limit (Braked/unbraked) - 1500kg / 700kg

If you were prepared to tow at 100% you would have 1456kg to play with.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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HIT said:
Ironduke2018 said:
Hi, I don't want to go to far off piste in response to your question, but perhaps you may consider the awning route, if your prepared to take it up, this'll allow you to have a much smaller van etc etc. Just utilize an awning to the max and many of your issues will simply evaporate. B)

Thanks, we definitely want an awning to give us space, but unfortunately we need to be able to have up to four kids in the van with us as they are all too young to be sleeping outside.

otherclive said:
In looking at cars you have to take in its Gross Vehicle Weight. This plus the caravans MTPLM are what decides if your outfit is legal against your licence. And it’s the sum of these two specified weights that is key. Loading the car and caravan lightly to get below 3500kg is irrelevant
Thanks, may have got the terminology wrong but yes this was what I meant.

Potentially I think a Vauxhall Astra might do the job. Seems a bit small but looks like the weights might work out. May just be a bit of a struggle getting everything in the car!

Four children and two adults in an Astra wouldn’t seem a good option. Do you mean a Zafira? The children’s safety seats or just seating arrangements will take space. Do not underestimate how much weight you will take for just basics in your caravan. What is the payload if your preferred caravan as a battery takes around 23kg, mover 35kg, aquaroll, waste carrier etc then there will be bedding, kitchenware, clothes. Don’t underestimate what even minimal load weighs. Even some very experienced caravanners get a surprise when they weigh the loaded caravan on a public weighbridge.
 

HIT

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CustardAvenger said:
HIT said:
Thanks. I think in an ideal world the B+E route is probably the wisest but we were hoping to get away this summer and it would be a struggle to get that in before then (planning on a few towing lessons though!). Not to mention the added expense.

We are very fortunate that we've got plenty of space on our drive so storage isn't an issue although can see what you mean about additional risks though.

I think there is a car out there, its just finding it! Unfortunately the Kugas Ive seen within my price range are too heavy :(

So I looked up my old notes for my last car, a Volvo V50 2.0D. I purchased it without towing in mind, but its wight and limits were within 3500kg.
Kerb weight - 1456kg,
Max Pay load - 504kg
MAM - 1960kg
Max Train Weight - 3460kg
Towball limit (Braked/unbraked)- 75kg / 50kg
Towing limit (Braked/unbraked) - 1500kg / 700kg

If you were prepared to tow at 100% you would have 1456kg to play with.

That's perfect thank you, looks like it could be a candidate. I'd probably approach it by keeping the weight in the caravan as little as possible and loading the car up as much as I can (recognising anything but the bare essentials isn't coming with us). That way I suspect I could bring the ratio down quite a bit.
 

HIT

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otherclive said:
HIT said:
Ironduke2018 said:
Hi, I don't want to go to far off piste in response to your question, but perhaps you may consider the awning route, if your prepared to take it up, this'll allow you to have a much smaller van etc etc. Just utilize an awning to the max and many of your issues will simply evaporate. B)

Thanks, we definitely want an awning to give us space, but unfortunately we need to be able to have up to four kids in the van with us as they are all too young to be sleeping outside.

otherclive said:
In looking at cars you have to take in its Gross Vehicle Weight. This plus the caravans MTPLM are what decides if your outfit is legal against your licence. And it’s the sum of these two specified weights that is key. Loading the car and caravan lightly to get below 3500kg is irrelevant
Thanks, may have got the terminology wrong but yes this was what I meant.

Potentially I think a Vauxhall Astra might do the job. Seems a bit small but looks like the weights might work out. May just be a bit of a struggle getting everything in the car!

Four children and two adults in an Astra wouldn’t seem a good option. Do you mean a Zafira? The children’s safety seats or just seating arrangements will take space. Do not underestimate how much weight you will take for just basics in your caravan. What is the payload if your preferred caravan as a battery takes around 23kg, mover 35kg, aquaroll, waste carrier etc then there will be bedding, kitchenware, clothes. Don’t underestimate what even minimal load weighs. Even some very experienced caravanners get a surprise when they weigh the loaded caravan on a public weighbridge.

Thanks - should clarify not all four kids would be in the same car (2 cousins who'd be visiting for hols!). Appreciate what you are saying about the weight of the vitals but wouldn't that apply to all caravans anyway, whatever their size, the available payloads stay pretty consistently the same? The only difference being the extra kgs you could put in the car?
 

HIT

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ProfJohnL said:
Hello HIT,

I’m sorry but there is no easy way to put this, but you have chosen to go for a physically large caravan, and even though it has a MAM of 1440 at over 7M long it is big!.

You have correctly identified because you have a post 97 licence your tow vehicles MAM cannot exceed 3500-1440 = 2060kg. Again you have established that finding a tow vehicle that is within the MAM limit and has a rated towing capacity that covers that caravan is possible, BUT the likely size of vehicle you may find will not really be up to towing a caravan of that size.

The cars rated towed weight is not a reflection of how it would handle a caravan, but just the weight it can start on a 12% incline, it does not take into account the aerodynamics of the outfit which will only start to play a very significant part as speed builds up. For that reason the industry guidance of aiming for only 85% is really a good idea, and only when you have built up experience, only then raising the towed weight.

I do appreciate this is not what you want to hear, but I sense your heart is ruling your decision. And you should be listening to your head.

As a family of six we caravanned in a 4.5M caravan, and it was fine, If you want more space then perhaps postpone your purchases and use a holiday cottage, and do your B+E test ready for next season.

PLease don’t make an expensive mistake which you may live to regret, but there is also a possibility that what you are considering may physically endanger you and your family.

Please think again.

Thanks, appreciate your time for giving guidance. Finding a caravan has definitely been a lot more complicated than I first bargained for! I still hope I can make this work though as I think if we left it until next year I suspect the money we have available now will disappear into the vacuum of life, and it would take us a good few years to get back to where we are now, which is years we could have been out caravanning having a great time with the kids. Lets face it, as far as kids go there is only a limited timeframe before they won't want to do it any more.
 
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Why not try looking at a slightly older estate car like an Audi of a Volvo estate that could still have a good towing capability but may not be as heavy as a Kuga or a Jeep that you were looking at just to get you on your way and keep you within your limits for now ?
 
Nov 16, 2015
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HIT, welcome to this wonderfull world of caravanning, just me, The Boss and two dogs and we are almost on the weight limits of our caravan and car, admittedly the caravan Carries all the pots, pans, Electric pressure cooker and the kettle with the whistle, etc, beware how much you "could" overload the car and caravan.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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HIT said:
otherclive said:
HIT said:
Ironduke2018 said:
Hi, I don't want to go to far off piste in response to your question, but perhaps you may consider the awning route, if your prepared to take it up, this'll allow you to have a much smaller van etc etc. Just utilize an awning to the max and many of your issues will simply evaporate. B)

Thanks, we definitely want an awning to give us space, but unfortunately we need to be able to have up to four kids in the van with us as they are all too young to be sleeping outside.

otherclive said:
In looking at cars you have to take in its Gross Vehicle Weight. This plus the caravans MTPLM are what decides if your outfit is legal against your licence. And it’s the sum of these two specified weights that is key. Loading the car and caravan lightly to get below 3500kg is irrelevant
Thanks, may have got the terminology wrong but yes this was what I meant.

Potentially I think a Vauxhall Astra might do the job. Seems a bit small but looks like the weights might work out. May just be a bit of a struggle getting everything in the car!

Four children and two adults in an Astra wouldn’t seem a good option. Do you mean a Zafira? The children’s safety seats or just seating arrangements will take space. Do not underestimate how much weight you will take for just basics in your caravan. What is the payload if your preferred caravan as a battery takes around 23kg, mover 35kg, aquaroll, waste carrier etc then there will be bedding, kitchenware, clothes. Don’t underestimate what even minimal load weighs. Even some very experienced caravanners get a surprise when they weigh the loaded caravan on a public weighbridge.

Thanks - should clarify not all four kids would be in the same car (2 cousins who'd be visiting for hols!). Appreciate what you are saying about the weight of the vitals but wouldn't that apply to all caravans anyway, whatever their size, the available payloads stay pretty consistently the same? The only difference being the extra kgs you could put in the car?

Payloads in caravans can vary quite a lot and as cars are getting lighter caravan makers have tried to compensate. Some modern family vans like the Sprite 4/6 berths still have reasonable payloads whereas some two berth higher spec vans can be down as low as 125 kg. That’s why you will see couples towing their outfit with a roof box on the car.
But you are right that irrespective of van the “ essentials” will generally form a baseline payload.
 
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Craigyoung said:
Guzzilazz said:
Ford Kuga diesel mk2... Mine is about 1900 kg...

Like Guzzilazz says , our Kugas are great for towing , plenty of power but are a heavy car and I think what he means by 19oo kg is what they will pull I'm sure they are about 24oo kg in weight which will put you over anyway with your caravan of choice so like other people have said try and get the B+E option done which will then give you the choice of anything !

Good luck .

Ooops, my mistake... Mine is 2250kg
 
Mar 14, 2005
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HIT said:
Thanks, appreciate your time for giving guidance. Finding a caravan has definitely been a lot more complicated than I first bargained for! I still hope I can make this work though as I think if we left it until next year I suspect the money we have available now will disappear into the vacuum of life, and it would take us a good few years to get back to where we are now, which is years we could have been out caravanning having a great time with the kids. Lets face it, as far as kids go there is only a limited timeframe before they won't want to do it any more.

I do appreciate your wish to do it now, but I cant emphasise enough that your chosen caravan is going to cause you problems when it comes to choosing a suitable car. The problem is your restricted Cat B only driving licence. Any of the cars that will fall withing your 2060kg MAM limit will I am sure struggle to keep proper control of the size of caravan you have chosen.

Consider alternatives for this year.

1. You say you need to change your car, so chose a car that will suit your daily needs and that is capable of hauling your chosen caravan.

2. Bank your caravan fund in a restricted access account so its not instantly available to spend.

3. Hire a static caravan, which will give you a taste of what caravanning life is like (You may find its not what you really want).

4. If you want to get closer to trying out a touring caravan, then consider hiring a motorhome

5. Plan and do your B+E test, then you will be free to choose what ever caravan suits you (within the capacity of the car)

If you go with your stated plan, you will be spending out a lot of money on a car that may be too small, a caravan that may be too big to tow comfortably, and you might find if your children don't take to it, it becomes a millstone, when a smaller caravan might suit you both and the children have alternative arrangements.

If waiting one year is going to be a deal breaker then I can't help but wonder if its really what you want anyway.

Take care
 
May 7, 2012
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There is a lot to be said for what the Prof says. I do not see the point in buying a lighter car to get under the limit if you are going to get the B+E next year and then have the expense of buying a bigger one. If you want the additional weight on your licence then I would go for it now.
Having said that if you take things easy there are a few cars that can do the job but I would prefer you get it right from the start. Do you need a big six berth or could you manage with a smaller model as if so that might be a better idea. to start with.
I did start with a 10 ft caravan and worked up, so cannot speak as to the difficulty in starting big but towing is not that difficult. You will be aware of the extra room needed from the start and what you have to watch is like any trailer it will cut in on corners so you need to take them wider and then watch the line in your mirror until you get the room needed right.
 
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When we first started out we had a 5 Berth Bailey Orion which was a lightweight caravan entry level as my licence was limited to 3500 kg like you but since then I've upgraded my licence and now my car and caravan but they are a lightweight caravan and decent enough , we had hours for 6 or 7 years . It had three bunks at he back and a make up pull-out double bed at the front.

https://www.gocaravanning.com/caravan-specs/9417/Bailey-Orion-450-5-2012.html
 
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Craigyoung said:
When we first started out we had a 5 Berth Bailey Orion which was a lightweight caravan entry level as my licence was limited to 3500 kg like you but since then I've upgraded my licence and now my car and caravan but they are a lightweight caravan and decent enough , we had hours for 6 or 7 years . It had three bunks at he back and a make up pull-out double bed at the front.

https://www.gocaravanning.com/caravan-specs/9417/Bailey-Orion-450-5-2012.html

Ours is a Sprite Musketter TD five berth, 1300kg MTPLM with weight upgrade from Swift. 6 .5m overall length.
The ex works MRO is 1109 kg, with a User Payload of 191kg, giving MTPLM of 1300kg. Include within maker’s ex works MRO is an allowance for a 10Kg gas bottle, the step, the power cable, water filler pipe, carpets and Owners Manuals, Equipment Manuals.
the rear diner converts to a small double and one bunk. We tend to use to as a 2-3 berth so some stuff has come out which increases payload.

Hope this helps.
 
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Hi HIT

I'm afraid I agree entirely with the Prof on this one. I too think you're letting your heart over-rule your head.

You seem to be set on buying a large 6-berth caravan in order that two child cousins, who will only occasionally come on holiday with you can have their own bed, but willing to compromise on the car that your family will be using not only for towing, but all year round.

Driving licence requirements are based on the maximum weight capacities of the car and caravan combined - the actual weight of either when loaded for your holiday is irrelevant. Whilst you may find a car that's physically capable of towing the caravan you're looking at but can be used on a B licence, you're unlikely to find one that's really suitable. The 85% guidance referenced earlier in this thread is crude and simplistic but the principle is sensible.

If you're prepared to consider getting your B+E licence in the future but don't have time to do it this year, would you be able to get a friend or relative with either a B+E or a pre-1997 licence to tow the caravan to site for you? Alternatively there are companies that offer to do this.

If you're prepared to compromise on the size and weight of the caravan you'll have a much wider choice on a post-1997 B licence. As a rough guide, most large family hatchback or estate cars (e.g. VW Passat, Ford Mondeo, Vauxhall Insignia or Zafira) will have a maximum permissible weight of about 2200kg (though you'll need to check the manufacturer's data for each specific model) leaving 1300kg for the caravan. A 2.0 litre diesel (or similar) with around 140-150bhp will probably give the best compromise between reasonable performance when towing and low running costs under normal use.

My own experience is that the length of the caravan isn't something you notice all that much when towing (except perhaps in car parks or when trying to manouevre onto site pitches). Width and weight are far more noticeable.
 

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