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Paul90125

Weight - wise and/or legal

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Hi.

 

I'm thinking of upgrading to a heavier (MTPLM) caravan without changing my tow car.  Is what I'm proposing legal/wise?

 

The proposed new caravan will have an MTPLM of 1350 kg (100kg more than my current caravan - for a fixed bed).  Everything that goes into it is weighed etc, so I'll never be going beyond 1350kg.

 

Tow car - it's kerb weight is 1276 kg, which I know is insufficient.  However, when we go away we load the car (including ourselves) with an additional 270 kg - so whenever it is towing the caravan it will always weigh 1546 kg (everything is weighed). This is still within the car's gross vehicle weight of 1809kg.   So can I consider my kerbweight 1546 kg?

 

My towing limit is 1500kg - so 1350kg is within that.

My total train weight (1546+1350 = 2896kg) is within the car's gross train weight of 3309kg.

 

For 1350kg / 1545kg the ratio is about 87%.

 

If we did a "light" weekend the car may only be 1450 kg which gives a 93% ratio.

 

What do you think - wise?  Legal?  Or do I need to look for a new tow car??

 

Thanks

 

Paul

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I’m not sure about legality but with such a light car that is very unwise. Technically the weight is what’s on the rear axle of the car so adding more stuff to the car just means you are increasing the weight over the rear axle in any case. I would say it’s an accident waiting to happen. Someone with more legal noise than me can confirm that side of things though.

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Legal, yes (assuming your car insurance doesn’t have a restriction as a few do).

 

Wise? No, caravans are not the most stable things to tow hence the guidance of 85% of kerb weight for those new to towing up to 100% for those experienced which, for the purposes of guidance, is not based on a loaded weight.

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The 85% recommendation does not use actual weights but the car kerb and caravan MTPLM which effectively gives some margin as the car will always weigh more than its kerb weight. Then the 85% is for people new to towing and up to 100% for experienced towers.

 

For your old caravan if you loaded it to the MTPLM (1250 kg ?) did your car tow it ok since the ratio is 98% ? For your proposed new caravan it is 106%. Do you have to fill the new caravan up to its MTPLM or can you keep it down to your existing caravan weight and in which case you would probably be ok until you are in a position to replace the car.

 

When we got our second caravan its MTPLM was 1499 kg and the car at the time kerb weight 1485 kg (mass in service 1560 kg) and it towed it ok but we did not put much in the caravan so it was not that much more than the MIRO so about 1350 kg. The car was replaced by one with 1605 kg kerb weight (MIS 1680 kg) and this is a lot better.

 

I have read on here that some car insurance policies exclude towing a caravan actually weighing more than the car kerb weight so you need to check yours. The same may apply to car recovery policies such as Greenflag's Mayday.

 

 

Edited by Paul1957
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You/we can debate the use of the 85/100% guidelines but you can't mess around with the % calculation on which the guidelines are based - the "NCC Towing Ratio" would be 106%, not 87% as you're trying to fudge.

 

You don't get my vote for your proposed outfit!

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An oft rehearsed debate with no clear answers and no hard evidence!
FrankBullet summed the legal position up nicely.

The general consensus is that what you propose is unwise,  although there is anecdotal evidence to show that it is not that simple.

 

 

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You need to consider although you are adding 270 kg to the car you also need to take into account about possibly 100 kg nose weight and 30 kg Towbar weight to be added so possibly nearer 400 kg so you would need to check you don't exceed rear axle maximum weight .

 

 

Dave

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One thing to consider is the true kerb weight of the car. The numbers on the V5 are almost always miles off as evidenced every time I weigh a car during its MOT. 

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Not all cars are equal.  Some are better/more stable than others.  That would be part of my consideration.

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As Will deBeast says. We towed 1450kg Bailey Pegasus with our 4x4 DAcia Duster 1.6 petrol  109bhp. It s kerb weight was circa 1300kg I think though I NEVER bother with that figure. It was rated to tow 1500kg and tow it did VERY VERY well. WE never had a wobble or any issue and happily travelled at the speed limit up to Ben Nevis in Hurricane Brian a few years ago! 30,000 miles of happy caravanning and one of the best cars we ever had. 

The Pegasus didn't even  have ATC or shock absorbers either. My advice is have a read up to see what your car is like towing.  Can you let us know what it is? 

My opinion-the 85% guidance-it is not a law was 'invented' when cars were far less advance and had much soggier suspension!

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Published "kerbwieghts" can be misleading at best. Have a look in you V5 and find your car's Mass in Service. Base your decision (and other calculations such as car payload) on that figure.

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15 minutes ago, Flying Grandad said:

Published "kerbwieghts" can be misleading at best. Have a look in you V5 and find your car's Mass in Service. Base your decision (and other calculations such as car payload) on that figure.

 

But there is a big difference between kerbweight and mass in service. Mass in service, by definition, will almost invariably be less than the kerbweight even though it includes 75kg for the driver, which kerbweight doesn't.

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As the guy from the insurance company who did investigate the accidents the fact is I have not seen an accident where the driver has lost control of a caravan with a sensible towing ratio. Yours suggestion is at best unwise and could be fatal. I know that sounds blunt but I have dealt with the results.

Some insurers do limit the loaded weight of any trailer to the unladen weight of the tow car and that can only be based on their accident experience.

The towing limit is what the car can restart five times on a 12% incline and has nothing to do with safety. Towing a broken down car at low speed around town is very different to a large flat sided caravan around town.

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38 minutes ago, Wildwood said:

As the guy from the insurance company who did investigate the accidents the fact is I have not seen an accident where the driver has lost control of a caravan with a sensible towing ratio. Yours suggestion is at best unwise and could be fatal. I know that sounds blunt but I have dealt with the results.

Some insurers do limit the loaded weight of any trailer to the unladen weight of the tow car and that can only be based on their accident experience.

The towing limit is what the car can restart five times on a 12% incline and has nothing to do with safety. Towing a broken down car at low speed around town is very different to a large flat sided caravan around town.

 

I would speculate that the insurance companies are not acting on the basis of accident data, but purely on postulation. There simply aren't enough accidents involving trailers to be able to have enough detailed data from which one can come to a reliable conclusion. For instance, how would the insurance company know that poor weight distribution was not the cause rather than the absolute weight of the towed trailer. Also, lack of due care and attention on the part of the driver could be the cause rather than any weight issue. Besides, weight ratio is, after all based on a worst case scenario, but how many vehicles tow a fully loaded caravan with just the driver and no other payload in the car?

The manufacturer has full product liability within the limits that he specifies and that means not only five restarts on a 12% incline, but also the way in which the outfit handles and its braking performance.

Edited by Lutz

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1 hour ago, Wildwood said:

As the guy from the insurance company who did investigate the accidents the fact is I have not seen an accident where the driver has lost control of a caravan with a sensible towing ratio. Yours suggestion is at best unwise and could be fatal. I know that sounds blunt but I have dealt with the results.

Some insurers do limit the loaded weight of any trailer to the unladen weight of the tow car and that can only be based on their accident experience.

The towing limit is what the car can restart five times on a 12% incline and has nothing to do with safety. Towing a broken down car at low speed around town is very different to a large flat sided caravan around town.

As a mere motorist, the only accident I have ever come across where it was clear that caravan stability was likely to be the main cause (car and caravan on their sides across a motorway with no other vehicles involved) was a "sensible towing ratio", early Disco with a typical TA Bailey.

Clearly your experiences and mine were very different!

 

 

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1 hour ago, Wildwood said:

As the guy from the insurance company who did investigate the accidents the fact is I have not seen an accident where the driver has lost control of a caravan with a sensible towing ratio......

Out of curiosity, when you say "investigate", was that as a qualified collision investigator, fully hands on forensically as in attend the scene, take measurements, carry out forensic vehicle examinations, produce scale plans, collision reconstruction etc. or sitting at a desk drawing conclusions from driver and witness explanations and the outcome of any prosecution or inquest?

Edited by Legal Eagle
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Until I see any evidence to the contrary and there is VERY little caravan overturning data out there, I will base my decisions on my experiences.  I have seen a tyre blow out and the sway on the caravan from that but the car slowed and recovered and have seen some wobbly caravans that were being towed by vehicles I know should have coped. I also refer to tractor units on articulated lorries; I know full well the connection is very different  but given that the trailer outweighs the tractor unit I will remain devil's advocate but would simply advise any beginner to read up on the 85% advice BUT to not take it as gospel that sticking to this will ensure safety or otherwise! The results of the continent and USA seem to confirm my feelings-is it only the Uk who has this advice? 

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As with Stevan

The only time I've ever seen a car and caravan on its side was in France and the car a Discovery. Crazy driving rather than weight ratios? 

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As I've pointed out many times the 85% ratio was invented by the industry as a guide for those new to caravanning in the absence of any other guidance, so they had a guideline for matching a van to their car, or vice versa when at the dealers. That's why empty car and full caravan weights were used as they are published figures  that should be relatively easy for owners to access. Using actual weights would usually mean lots of guesswork and probably a totally different % ratio. As an example, a rig that is 85% when using the guidelines, will probably be 72% if the actual car weight was used.

 

As said the 85% was meant as a guide for purchasing, not necessarily a rule to actually run your rig to. A few % over isn't going to cause an issue, indeed, as long as you never get into a risky situation and/or load your van badly you may never encounter a problem. But how many of us want to take such a risk that nothing bad will ever happen? 

 

As to other countries not having such guidelines, that's purely because nobody elsewhere thought of it as a guide to purchase and nothing to do with whether they consider it wise or not. 

 

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2 hours ago, Stevan said:

...early Disco with a typical TA Bailey.

...

 

 

Yes, I think some 4x4s with long travel suspension can be a lot less stable than you'd expect.  It isn't just about the weights.

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6 hours ago, Lutz said:

 

But there is a big difference between kerbweight and mass in service. Mass in service, by definition, will almost invariably be less than the kerbweight even though it includes 75kg for the driver, which kerbweight doesn't.

I've just been to check in my V5. That gives Mass in Service as 2067 kg. The Nissan brochure quotes 1991 kg for Kerbwieght. The MIS is actually heavier than the "Kerbweight". That was also true for my previous vehicle (Nissan X-Trail) Maybe it's peculiar to Nissan.

Edited by Flying Grandad

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39 minutes ago, Jezzerb said:

...I also refer to tractor units on articulated lorries; I know full well the connection is very different  but given that the trailer outweighs the tractor unit I will remain devil's advocate but would simply advise any beginner to read up on the 85% advice BUT to not take it as gospel that sticking to this will ensure safety or otherwise! The results of the continent and USA seem to confirm my feelings-is it only the Uk who has this advice? 

Not sure we can read anything significant from these other fields.

 

HGV tractor units weigh 6-8 tonnes, have a hugely higher trailer noseweight, have the hitch firmly within the wheelbase and a better braking system.

 

The continental caravans generally have longer A frames (as I wish we did).  And the USA usually use electric brakes, I believe.

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14 minutes ago, fredsautos said:

As with Stevan

The only time I've ever seen a car and caravan on its side was in France and the car a Discovery. Crazy driving rather than weight ratios? 

I have noticed that a lot of the 4x4 brigade do seem to think they are invincible - tramping along at silly speeds with trailers or caravans hooked on, wading through deep water without knowing what its underneath them and blatting through snow and ice when most others are using a bit of common sense.

 

I've seen many who have come unstuck because of it and they seem to be quite surprised when it all goes pear shaped.

Edited by matelodave
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1 hour ago, Flying Grandad said:

I've just been to check in my V5. That gives Mass in Service as 2067 kg. The Nissan brochure quotes 1991 kg for Kerbwieght. The MIS is actually heavier than the "Kerbweight". That was also true for my previous vehicle (Nissan X-Trail) Maybe it's peculiar to Nissan.

Not just Nissan, it has been the same for the Citroens we've had using the values in the brochures and handbooks for the kerb weight and the V5C for the mass in service.

Edited by Paul1957

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19 hours ago, Paul90125 said:

Hi.

 

I'm thinking of upgrading to a heavier (MTPLM) caravan without changing my tow car.  Is what I'm proposing legal/wise?

 

The proposed new caravan will have an MTPLM of 1350 kg (100kg more than my current caravan - for a fixed bed).  Everything that goes into it is weighed etc, so I'll never be going beyond 1350kg. 

 

Tow car - it's kerb weight is 1276 kg, which I know is insufficient.  However, when we go away we load the car (including ourselves) with an additional 270 kg - so whenever it is towing the caravan it will always weigh 1546 kg (everything is weighed). This is still within the car's gross vehicle weight of 1809kg.   So can I consider my kerbweight 1546 kg?

 

My towing limit is 1500kg - so 1350kg is within that.

My total train weight (1546+1350 = 2896kg) is within the car's gross train weight of 3309kg.

 

For 1350kg / 1545kg the ratio is about 87%.

 

If we did a "light" weekend the car may only be 1450 kg which gives a 93% ratio.

 

What do you think - wise?  Legal?  Or do I need to look for a new tow car??

 

Thanks

 

Paul

you have a kerb weight of  1276 kg, which gives you  85%  of 1084 kg.  (which is recommended  for novice caravanners. ) As to the other weights on the car weight plate and the caravan weight plate, I  think that you are getting mixed up with what they actually mean. Anyway back to your original question, I would say that you are neither legal nor wise, but that's just my opinion

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