What weight can my BMW tow?

May 7, 2021
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I’ve a BMW 320D XDRIVE SPORT AUTO ESTATE (2015) and I’m trying to find a caravan to tow.
The v5c for my car states “Max permissible mass 2160kg” and “Mass in service 1660kg”.
I assume the first is the maximum weight with the car fully laden and the second is the weight of the car empty.
Do I take the 85% as a percentage of the 1660 and that is the maximum weight I can tow?

The v5c also states “Technical permissible maximum towable mass of braked trailer 1600kg”
Im a bit confused.
Can someone please help☹
 
May 24, 2014
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85% is not a law nor any rule. It is simply good advice for a novice.

The weight you mention of 1600kg is basically what your car can tow, whether it is safe to do so only you can decide. Have a look at Towcar.info. If you have seen a caravan you like, input details of both car and caravan and see what your ratios are and what Towcar says about the combination. Other things you need to be aware of is the weight your towhitch can take and the caravans difference between MIRO, or Mass In Running Order and M MTPLM or Maximum Technical Permitted Laden Mass . The difference between those two is your payload, or what you can carry in the caravan.

Pay attention to noseweight, because it can have a great bearing on how stable your caravan is under tow. If for an example, your car is 75kg rated at the towball, then getting as close to 75kg (and good luck with that) is advised.

This is very much a simplified precis on the issue, stand by for a far more detailed description incoming.
 
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Nov 11, 2009
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1600 kg caravan fully loaded is the legal maximum for the car. The 85% guide is kerbweight divided by the MTPLM of your chosen caravan. Mass in service is a useful starting point but better if you can find the kerbweight. The V5 MPM is the maximum allowable weight of the car.
Sometimes called Gross Vehicle Weight.
Do you have a BE licence if you only have B then there are restrictions on what you personally can tow. The restriction is that GVW+MTPLM must not exceed 3500 kg. Under this restriction it doesn’t matter if the car and caravan are totally unloaded. It’s is the “ plated “ weights not actual weights. So if you only have B your car is only legally allowed to tow 1340 kg irrespective of how either are loaded.
 
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1600 kg caravan fully loaded is the legal maximum for the car. The 85% guide is kerbweight divided by the MTPLM of your chosen caravan. Mass in service is a useful starting point but better if you can find the kerbweight. The V5 MPM is the maximum allowable weight of the car.
Sometimes called Gross Vehicle Weight.
Do you have a BE licence if you only have B then there are restrictions on what you personally can tow. The restriction is that GVW+MTPLM must not exceed 3500 kg. Under this restriction it doesn’t matter if the car and caravan are totally unloaded. It’s is the “ plated “ weights not actual weights. So if you only have B your car is only legally allowed to tow 1340 kg irrespective of how either are loaded.
 
Oct 8, 2006
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To the OP, I would suggest you do some investigation as some BMW's are not homologated for towing - certainly a couple of soft-tops but I have a recollection that there are some estates that are in the same category.
Also note that if the vehicle GVW is 2160Kg then unless you took your driving test before 1/1/97 and have an automatic B+E licence you will need to take an additional driving test to get the E supplement if you buy a caravan with a MTPLM in excess of 1340Kg as your licence only permits a maximum train weight of 3500Kg.
Have a look on the vehicle plate (usually on the nearside B-pillar between front and back doors or a door edge) which will show two figures at the top. The bigger number is the maximum train weight that the vehicle can handle, if your reading is correct the smaller number should be 2160; subtract smaller from larger and the difference is the maximum your vehicle can tow - with a B+E licence.
 
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If you do have BE then it opens up a wider range if caravans. As Thingy recommended look at Towcar.info Ut is very flexible in that you can alter parameters and see the effect. I have found it quite accurate over four quite different cars. But I cannot over emphasise enough that eventually you have to input accurate figures for the car and intended caravan.
Many dealers are awful in the presentation of information on websites. They will give MTPLM but not always. MRO can often not be shown so finding payload requires phone calls. Also things like battery, mover, second gas bottle come out of payload and if the solar panel wasn’t a factory fit that too comes out of payload. So be painstaking in your approach. For example many two berth caravans show payloads around 125kg. Once the items I’ve mentioned are deducted you may not have sufficient left unless you can carry a load in the car. Kids might compromise that option. Just take time and continue to ask questions
 
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Mar 14, 2005
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I’ve a BMW 320D XDRIVE SPORT AUTO ESTATE (2015) and I’m trying to find a caravan to tow.
The v5c for my car states “Max permissible mass 2160kg” and “Mass in service 1660kg”.
I assume the first is the maximum weight with the car fully laden and the second is the weight of the car empty.
Do I take the 85% as a percentage of the 1660 and that is the maximum weight I can tow?

The v5c also states “Technical permissible maximum towable mass of braked trailer 1600kg”
Im a bit confused.
Can someone please help☹
The confusing arises mainly becasue there are the bits that are law and others that are just advice, and over the years the advice has become almost regarded as law..... Yes confusing.

Lets just look at the law for a moment. On your car (not e on the V5) you will have a data plate that gives four limits, and it will look a bit like this
1620421750721.png
1 = Gross Vehicle Weight or GVW or MAM (maximum weight of solo vehicle)
2 = Gross Train Weight or GTW (maximum weight of tow vehicle plus trailer)
3 = Tow vehicles front axle limit
4 = Tow vehicles rear axle limit

These are all absolute limits and must not be exceeded, not even if advice suggests otherwise.

GTW - GVW = the maximum weight of the trailer when the car is fully laden. Sometimes car manufacturers will state the car can tow a higher value, but it means the load in the car must be reduced to make sure the combined measured weight of car and trailer does not exceed the GTW.

That's the legal bit, - Now the advice.

I hope its fairly obvious that a caravan is generally a big boxy trailer, and as such its going to behave very differently on the road compared to a small garden trailer. In recognition of this the UK caravan industry suggests that novice caravanners should limit the MTPLM of their caravan to just 85% of the kerbweight of the tow vehicle This is only advice and not the law, so a few percent either way isn't going to be a problem provided it stays within the legal limits above.

The advice for experienced caravanners is MTPLM not to exceed 100% of kerbweight.

This advice does not offer guarantees about safety, that is more down to ensuring the vehicle and trailer are all in mechanically good condition, and the drivers driving habits.

If you are unsure about towing, then the caravanning clubs do offer towing courses to explain things and to build some practical experience.

The concern about your driving licence stems from the fact that licences issued before 1st Jan 1997 were automatically awarded entitlement BE (with dates) which allows you to drive a car and trailer of combined MAM up to 8250kg

Where as licences after that date were only given "B" which limits the driver to a combined MAM of 3500kg.
1620424077711.png
 
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May 7, 2012
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Essentially the 1600 kg is the manufacturers towing limit and you may be breaking the law if you exceed this, if you were stopped at a checkpoint you could be prevented from travelling further. It has nothing to do with safety when pulling a caravan though, and will be the maximum weight the car can restart five times on a 12% gradient. It is therefore simply a measure of the strength of the driveline rather than a safety issue. Exceeding the limit could also be regarded as grounds for the manufacturer turning down a guarantee claim.
Caravans with their large flat sides are not ideal trailers and can be badly affected by sidewinds and the bow waves of large vehicles so the 85% recommendation was devised for newcomers. The idea is that the car needs enough weight to control the car if there is a problem and makes sense although technical improvements since then have made the figure suspect and possibly 90% might be reasonable now although the 85% figure s still the one suggested by both big clubs and the NCC.
Generally speaking BMW's are very good towcars and yours should be good, but as a beginner I would not regard towing up to the manufacturers limit as sensible.
 
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Essentially the 1600 kg is the manufacturers towing limit and you may be breaking the law if you exceed this, if you were stopped at a checkpoint you could be prevented from travelling further. It has nothing to do with safety when pulling a caravan though, and will be the maximum weight the car can restart five times on a 12% gradient. It is therefore simply a measure of the strength of the driveline rather than a safety issue. Exceeding the limit could also be regarded as grounds for the manufacturer turning down a guarantee claim.
Caravans with their large flat sides are not ideal trailers and can be badly affected by sidewinds and the bow waves of large vehicles so the 85% recommendation was devised for newcomers. The idea is that the car needs enough weight to control the car if there is a problem and makes sense although technical improvements since then have made the figure suspect and possibly 90% might be reasonable now although the 85% figure s still the one suggested by both big clubs and the NCC.
Generally speaking BMW's are very good towcars and yours should be good, but as a beginner I would not regard towing up to the manufacturers limit as sensible.
As far as I am aware there is no legislation governing towing weights however legislation does refer to maximum train weight, This where it goes pear shape.

Some cars like Vauxhall may have had a maximum towing weight of i.e. 2000kg if the car only has the driver in it however if you add passengers and luggage to the car the towing weight reduces taking into account the weight of the passengers so we now have a figure of 1600kg instead of the 2000kg. Hence reference to train weight.
 
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May 7, 2012
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That is why I say "may be" in the text. This is a difficult one, as while there is nothing to say the manufacturers maximum towing capacity is the legal limit, other parts of the legislation could be taken to say this, but there appears to be no actual case law on it. Having said that towing a weight in excess of the manufacturers figures is not wise as it could cause damage if the capability of the drive train is exceeded. There is a point that it could be described as dangerous, but that would be unlikely with the car in question here. Cars with a towing limit well in excess of the kerb weight might reach that however. Following a Lunar Delta down the motorway towed by a car that was far too small is a case in point. The caravan was travelling fairly fast and was swinging all over the place. A video of that from behind would probably ensure a conviction.
 

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