Making Sure You Are Safe…
When you are towing you have to make sure you are safe and to do that means you have to take care. Your rig (Car and caravan) will probably be over twice the length of your car and it will add another ton and a half to the overall weight. Take your towing seriously as it can all go wrong very quickly if you don’t tow safely and to the legal limits.
To stay safe your rig needs to be a match for your car. Obviously you can’t tow a twin axle Bailey Unicorn with a Fiesta 1.0l so you need to ensure your vehicle and caravan match with regards weights and legal limits.
How Do I Match A Car And Caravan?
All cars have a kerb weight which you should check along with the max weight on the towball normally called the nose weight. The last thing you need to check is the legal towing limit of the car.
Caravans have weights as well these will be found on the caravan e.g. Mass in Running Order (MiRO) and the Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass (MTPLM).
Some manufacturers refer to the kerb weight as the unladen weight or the mass in running order. The European Directive 95/48/EC, includes all the fluids necessary for the car to run and a 90% full tank of fuel.
If you’re really worried about the figures then you can always take your rig to a weigh bridge .
Legal Towing Limit
The legal towing limit can be found in the manufacturers handbook. Normally there are two figures these are for unbraked or braked trailers. Caravans have brakes so this is the figure you will need.
The caravan figures are the MiRO and MTPLM and are found on the side of the caravan near the door normally but they will be in the brochure. The MiRO is the kerb weight and the MTPLM is the max weight the carvan can weigh when loaded.
Most experienced caravanners tow at or close to the MTPLM, so it’s best to use this figure for outfit matching.
Legal Towing Is Essential?
Simply if your caravan weighs less than the cars legal limit you are legal although you will need to ensure that your driving licence allows you to drive with caravan attached and whether you can pull that much weight. Always check your licence.
Cars have VIN plates and a quick check of these will mean you are definately within the legal limits. The first is the Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) this is the most the is allowed to weigh when loaded. The next is the Gross Train Weight which is the weight of the car and the caravan. Basically the difference between the two should be within the legal towing limit given in your handbook. Check whether this included the drivers weight and factor in…
Don’t exceed the Gross Train Weight….
Is a legal match a safe match?
So how do you determine a cars legal towing limit…???? Well this is achieved by repeatedly towing a a trailer up a hill as it measures the cars strength of engine and gearbox. This doesn’t mean that the car will be stabe at 60mph or in a gale it is just a guide.
An 85% match is usually the rule of thumb and this will normally be safe and stable for towing. Its a guide not legal requirement. If you are an experience tower then you can go up to 100%.
What about the nose weight?
The nose weight is the weight over the towing hitch or towball which is on the car. The nose weight is the weight the towing hitch of the caravan when it is hitched to the car. Cars have maximum nose weights and this can be found by checking which towbar you have had fitted on the manufacturers site and this will tell you what the maximum limit is.
To tow safely and to make sure you are stable the nose weight should be as high as possible. You can buy nose weight gauges so you can measure the weight that is going to be applied to the towball. Loading a caravan is critically to getting to the nose weight correct.
First, check your car can legally tow the caravan you are thinking ofbuying. Then check the matching ratio to give yourself reassurance that the combination will be stable and safe as well as legal. And don’t forget to measure the noseweight to make sure the towball’s limit is not exceeded.