How Much Does A Caravan Weigh?

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Since setting up Horton Common in 2014, I’ve had many discussions with our visitors about the weight of their caravans for various reasons. First, it may have been conservations about their tow car and how suitable they found it for pulling their caravan. Secondly, it has been conversations based on driving licences and ‘Gross Train Weight’. Therefore I thought I would write a post about these conversations, and to explain why the weight of a caravan is important for those looking to purchase a caravan for the first time. Before we discuss the topic of how much does a caravan weigh in detail, I’ll just cover the ‘highlights’.

How Much Does a Caravan Weigh?

The smallest and lightest caravans, such as an Adria Altea, have a weight of around 900kg and a Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass (MTPLM)of 1100kg.

Generally, trailers below this weight don’t have toilet/shower facilities and are really camping trailers more than a common understanding of what a caravan provides.

The heaviest caravans you will see on UK roads would be something like a twin-axle Airstream International. The weight of these caravans unladen is around 2,000kg and with an MTPLM of around 2,400kg.

Update: I would encourage you to read my post on how to weigh a caravan. I discuss the use of portable weigh scales and how to find and use public weighbridges.

Disclaimer: Hey! By the way… any links on this page that lead to products on Amazon or Caravan Guard are affiliate links, and I earn a commission if you make a purchase, with no additional cost to you 🙂

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What Does MTPLM Mean For A Caravan’s Weight?

MTPLM stands for Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass. On each caravan, there is a metal label (usually located around the door) which will provide full details on the caravan.

It will show the MRO (sometimes MIRO), which stands for Mass in Running Order.

This is the weight of the caravan as it leaves the factory, hence its unladen weight. The MTPLM is the maximum weight the caravan can be once laden while complying with your insurance policy and legal to tow.

If you have an accident and your insurance company believes it was due to your caravan being overweight, they could refuse to payout.

Therefore it’s very important you do not overload your caravan and pack a caravan correctly.

Caravan Weight Plate
A typical caravan weight plate – Image:

Quick Note: The MTPLM is also very important when it comes to purchasing new caravan tyres. You want to make sure the tyres your purchasing have a load index rating to suit the MTPLM of your caravan.

How To Load A Caravan For Good Weight Distribution

When it comes to loading up your caravan, weight distribution is very important. How you load up your caravan will affect how it performs on the road.

First, you need to be aware of the user payload limit for your caravan.

As stated above, the payload will be the difference between the unladen weight of the caravan and its Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass (MTPLM).

Once you’re confident your items are within the payload limit, you can start to load the caravan. You want to distribute the items depending on their weight.

The heaviest items (likely to be the awning) should be positioned over the caravan axle on the floor.

Try to make sure you are balancing the weight of items on either side of the axle. This will mean the caravan has good on-the-road performance without excessive pitching and snaking.

The RAC has produced quite a good towing guide for caravanners.

The above diagram provides a good illustration of how to properly and safely load a caravan – Image: RAC – Towing a Caravan Guide

Caravan Nose Weight & Why You Should Check It

Before you set off after loading up your caravan, you should really check the nose weight of the caravan once fully laden. The nose weight is the force the caravan is placing on your car’s tow ball.

Each car has a different rating for nose weight on the tow ball. It depends on the car’s chassis and suspension setup.

Cars with long overhangs from the rear wheels generally have low nose weight limits. You will also typically find PHEVs and electric tow cars have lower nose weight limits.

Cars with air suspension usually have higher nose weight limits. The reason being the air suspension can up the pressure to stop the back of the car from dipping down too much.

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Some cars have a nose weight limit as low as 60kg. Larger 4x4s will be rated around 150kg, sometimes even higher. Always check the manual for your car to find its nose weight limit.

Depending on how much stuff you have in your caravan and its position, it can be challenging to keep the nose weight under control.

Remember, a caravan motor mover can increase the noseweight of your caravan, also reducing your user payload.

Consequences Of Going Over Your Nose Weight Limit

If you breach your nose weight limit and have an accident, your insurance company could refuse to payout. It can also be very unsafe to exceed the nose weight rating.

More weight on the back of the car will potentially lift the front. The front of your car obviously provides the steering.

Less contact with your steering wheels on the road can lead to handling issues and potential accidents. Most people will have seen cars on the road which are clearly breaching their nose weight limit.

The rear wheels of the car almost disappear into the arches, and the tow bar is practically dragging against the ground.

Caravan Weight Distribution
This diagram shows how excessive caravan nose weight can cause significant problems – Image:

Conclusions On How Much Does A Caravan Weigh

Understanding the unladen weight of your caravan and its maximum MTPLM is important so you can understand how much payload you have for your belongings.

The rated MTPLM of the caravan is also important with regard to your car. Does your tow car have a maximum towing capacity that is above or matches the caravan’s MTPLM?

Anyway, I hope the above provided you with some useful information and links to other useful resources. I’ve also produced posts on how to set up a caravan on site and how to level a caravan.

Once your setup with your car and caravan you may be interested in coming to visit us here ar Horton Common and experience our fully serviced pitches. 🙂

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