Loading the car?

Apr 25, 2019
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Sorry if this is always being asked.
Some caravans seem to have very low payloads . So my immediate thought is well it can travel in the car until we get there.
This sounds too good to be true.
So is there a weight limit of what I can pack in the car whilst towing a caravan?
I’ve got a Volvo XC90, I believe this can tow any UK legal caravan.
This will be our first van so I could keep you very busy whilst choosing a caravan.
Thanks in advance.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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MrsM said:
Sorry if this is always being asked.
Some caravans seem to have very low payloads . So my immediate thought is well it can travel in the car until we get there.
This sounds too good to be true.
So is there a weight limit of what I can pack in the car whilst towing a caravan?
I’ve got a Volvo XC90, I believe this can tow any UK legal caravan.
This will be our first van so I could keep you very busy whilst choosing a caravan.
Thanks in advance.

Your car V5 will show the cars Mass in Service which is basically the car empty but with fuel and kit supplied by Volvo. This is akin to Kerbweight but not exactly. The V 5 will also show the cars Gross Weight which is its maximum loaded weight which includes everything including driver passengers dogs etc. On the cars wight plates your handbook will show you where it is you will see Gross Train Weight. This is the combined maximum weight of car and caravan. From the three weights you can then decide what’s what. Subtract the cars Gross Weight from Gross Train Weight and that gives you maximum caravan weight.
It is recommended though that the caravan Weight should not exceed the cars kerbweight. This s is because caravans behave differently compared to say a smaller but heavier loaded trailer

Does your licence cover categories B and E if not you will be much restricted to a combined weight of 3500 kg or less. And this is not an actual figure it is the calculated sum of your cars Gross Weight and caravan MTPLM. So given the XC90 probably has a high Gross Weight you would be restricted to a very light caravan MTPLM.

The Caravan and Motorhome Club website has some very good technical data sheets covering topics like this one and many others too.
 
Sep 26, 2018
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MrsM said:
Sorry if this is always being asked.
Some caravans seem to have very low payloads . So my immediate thought is well it can travel in the car until we get there.
This sounds too good to be true.
So is there a weight limit of what I can pack in the car whilst towing a caravan?
I’ve got a Volvo XC90, I believe this can tow any UK legal caravan.
This will be our first van so I could keep you very busy whilst choosing a caravan.
Thanks in advance.

Our Bailey has a miserable payload once you take into account the battery and motor mover. We have half dozen plastic boxes in a big size and a half of that size... Everything that we carry (crockery, pans, glasses kitchen stuff etc, etc) is kept in the boxes in the caravan when in storage. We move them to the car when we tow, unpack them when we get to site (empty boxes in the car) and reverse when we go back to storage... Works for us
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Guzzilazz said:
MrsM said:
Sorry if this is always being asked.
Some caravans seem to have very low payloads . So my immediate thought is well it can travel in the car until we get there.
This sounds too good to be true.
So is there a weight limit of what I can pack in the car whilst towing a caravan?
I’ve got a Volvo XC90, I believe this can tow any UK legal caravan.
This will be our first van so I could keep you very busy whilst choosing a caravan.
Thanks in advance.

Our Bailey has a miserable payload once you take into account the battery and motor mover. We have half dozen plastic boxes in a big size and a half of that size... Everything that we carry (crockery, pans, glasses kitchen stuff etc, etc) is kept in the boxes in the caravan when in storage. We move them to the car when we tow, unpack them when we get to site (empty boxes in the car) and reverse when we go back to storage... Works for us

You are dead right. We looked at a 2 berth Coachman and with only 125 kg it wasn't that attractive an option. Thats why you now see so many tow cars with roof boxes on even though it may only be a couple going on a trip.
 
May 7, 2012
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Not clear what caravan you have but many can have the MTPLM upgraded so if yours is too low for your needs then this could be worth looking at.
If you load the contents in the car apart from exceeding its overall weight limit do also be aware that there will be a limit for the back axle which with a caravan attached could put you over this if you get the loading wrong. Try to get the weighty items near to the centre of the car to even out the weight distribution.
 
May 24, 2014
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Our routine is thus.

In the Caravan, TV, Aquaroll, Wastemaster, Clothes, Plates Pots and Pans. Light food, cereal boxes, biscuits etc. Fridge full to bursting.

Front box, 2 X Gas bottles, chocks, blue and pink fluid. Some light spares, i.e. tapes, bungess, Isaflex, storm straps.

In the car, awning, poles, chairs, cadac, jack and wheel brace, leg winder, wheel locks. Two stacker boxes of food/drink. Anything else.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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MrsM said:
Sorry if this is always being asked.
Some caravans seem to have very low payloads . So my immediate thought is well it can travel in the car until we get there.
This sounds too good to be true.
So is there a weight limit of what I can pack in the car whilst towing a caravan?
I’ve got a Volvo XC90, I believe this can tow any UK legal caravan.
This will be our first van so I could keep you very busy whilst choosing a caravan.
Thanks in advance.

This is actually a great question, and one that I wish more caravanners might consider as it is often assumed the car will take virtually anything you put into it. If you start to look too closely at all the detailed specifications it can become quite mind numbing, but in most cases simply considering 6 essential limits will see you right.

As otherclive has suggested the VIN plate carries the necessary weight limit information.

In the EU, the plate will not only carry the Vehicle Identification Number but it will also carry four other bits of useful and legal information. Four weight limits are set out:-

A. Is the GVW which is the maximum all up weight the solo vehicle can be.
B. Is the GTW which is the maximum all up weight the vehicle and trailer combined can be.
C. Is the maximum load that can be applied the vehicle’s Front axle.
D. Is the maximum load that can be applied the vehicle's Rear axle.

Where a vehicle is NOT approved for towing the value for B is blank or set as Zero.

When a towbar is fitted the bar assembly should carry two limit values:-

E. The maximum permitted towed weight limit for the tow bar and vehicle
F. The maximum vertical stationary nose load the trailer can apply (S value)

Each of these values is an absolute limit for the vehicle and should be adhered to when setting it up to be driven. If the outfit is stationary it is perfectly ok for the limits to be exceeded for example when you climb into the caravan to load it or to use it for on route meal or rest place.

Some but not all car manufacturers publish load limits for the boot, and the roof of the car, so they should be borne in mind, and in general (unless specifically specified by the manufacturer) the trailers nose load should be considered to be part of the cars boot load.
 

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