Can I tow a caravan heavier than my car?

This article will answer the following question: Can I tow a caravan heavier than my car? We will discuss what happens if you tow a caravan heavier than your car and give you a few essential tips to towing safely. 

Can I tow a caravan heavier than my car?

You can tow a caravan heavier than your car without legal consequences, as long as you respect the maximum allowable weight. Thus, 3500Kg (approximately 7716 lbs) would limit the entire train of car + trailer. Regardless of weights, if the caravan’s body length is more than 7 meters, you can NOT legally tow it with a car.

If you have the B category on your driver’s licence, you can tow a caravan heavier than your car if:

  • The motor vehicle whose maximum total authorized mass does not exceed 3,500 kg and whose number of seats, apart from the driver, is not more than 8;
  • The assembly consisting of a category B towing vehicle and a trailer whose maximum total authorized mass does not exceed 750 kg;
  • An assembly consisting of a category B towing vehicle and a trailer whose maximum total authorized mass does not exceed 3,500 kg. The maximum total authorized mass of the trailer does not exceed the towing vehicle’s mass.

All the above three criteria have to be met at once. 

What happens if you tow a caravan heavier than your car?

First things first, you will damage the brakes. It is one of the basic safety systems but, if your vehicle carries more load than allowed, they may not work properly, in addition to that you will need more time to stop the vehicle and therefore more distance, so in case of sudden braking, you might not react in time and crash.

This is dangerous especially on slopes since the same excess weight can cause you to lose control of the vehicle.

Damage to the suspension: Overload mainly affects the rear suspension, while the shock absorbers wear out faster. This, in turn, can lead to a loss of control of the car, faster tire wear and, if not repaired quickly, can lead to uncomfortable and noisy driving inside the car.

Loss of stability control: This is another of the most affected elements by the excessive load of the vehicle. The function of stability control is to mitigate the effects of sudden movements. Still, by carrying more weight, they may not work properly and cause your car to skid or in the worst case, overturn either in a very tight curve or with an abrupt flying.

Body damage: Overloading causes your vehicle to lower and move closer to the ground so that when passing a pothole or a bump, the entire lower part scrapes against the road, damaging the lower part of the structure and other elements such as the exhaust pipe.

More fuel: In addition to the damage your car suffers, your wallet will also suffer from excess weight since on average, for 100 kilograms of additional load, fuel consumption increases by up to 5%.

Security risks: Your car suffers the effects of overloading, but also the occupants and it is that carrying more people than your vehicle indicates can be a risk.

First, because there are not enough seat belts for everyone and in the event of an accident they will be left unprotected. If you are travelling with children or babies, they will not have the space designated for their special seats, which is a danger because they could get out of the car in the event of an accident.

Another risk derived from overload is visibility. Either by people or objects, the field of vision is reduced which is dangerous, especially in movements such as lane change or passing.

Before anything else, the most advisable thing is to know what the load capacity that the car supports is and never exceed it.

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Keeping this in mind, once we need to load, it is best to make the most of the trunk space; If it is not enough, you can choose to fold the seats, something prevalent in hatchbacks or SUVs boast a high degree of versatility.

Of course, make sure that the load obstructs visibility as little as possible and that objects are always well secured, either with harnesses, nets or fixed to the ground. In the event of a sudden stop, they do not become projectiles that hit the occupants.

It is also crucial that you distribute the load evenly, both in the front and rear and on both sides to avoid the vehicle being loaded to one side.

If your vehicle allows it, take advantage of the rails on the roof and hold the load well to not move during the journey, but all with measure, it is not about loading a skyscraper in the car.

Lastly, don’t confuse versatility with overloading the vehicle. It is preferable to make more trips or hire a cargo truck that meets our needs, rather than putting our safety at risk, damaging our car or taking an overload violation.

How to tow a caravan safely

Towing heavy trailers is not a light task. A good understanding of the vehicle, the trailer, and its capabilities and limitations are very important. It is also important to properly maintain all the components involved in towing, understand the vehicle and the trailer’s dynamics, and understand how we should drive for greater safety.

The right vehicle: The first thing we must do before towing is to make sure that the vehicle has enough capacity to do so safely. This is very important because the engine, chassis, shocks, transmission, brakes and cooling system will be working under heavy load.

Some considerations to take into account:

  1. Check the load capacity of your vehicle. The instructions can be found in the vehicle manual, but if you do not have it at hand, contact the manufacturer to obtain the information. Make sure the vehicle has the necessary capacity to tow the weight you require.
  1. If you are thinking of buying a towing vehicle, it is a good idea to get a vehicle designed with the appropriate capabilities and equipment for the weight you plan to pull. 

For example, for heavy loads, many vehicles already include engines with more torque, superior cooling systems, heavy-duty battery, and reinforced suspension, among others. These equipment are sometimes marketed together as a towing package.

  1. It is essential to know the standard terms of the maximum weights that the vehicle can support. For example, the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is the vehicle’s weight with all its occupants and cargo included. The gross combination weight rating (GCWR) is the gross weight of the car, its occupants and the load, in addition to the weight of everything that is being towed. The tongue weight (TW) is the weight that the trailer puts on the hitch.
  1. Calculate the weight of the load, including the weight of the trailer itself.
  1. Include in that weight the additional content that you are towing may have, such as gasoline or water in tanks, luggage, or additional equipment. It is a good idea to add 10% to the calculated weight to decrease the margin of error. The common term for the total load weight is called Gross Trailer Weight (GTW).
  1. The right hitch. There are many types of hitches that span different types of weight classes. A hitch must be selected that will support the gross weight of the trailer. Hitches are rated according to weight; for example, a Class I hitch holds up to 2,000 pounds.

Another vital component is the hitch mount type. For relatively light loads, you can use an average amount installed on the car’s chassis and bumpers; For heavy loads over 5,000 pounds, a unique mount is required to distribute the trailer’s weight across all wheels.

Final tips

When towing a fully-loaded caravan, don’t forget the tires. Just as important as checking the tires’ pressure and condition on the vehicle is checking the tires on the trailer. Flat, worn, and unbalanced tires can present a road hazard.

Pay attention to the speed rating of the trailer tires. It is common for these tires to have a low-speed rating, which is essential to respect even when the trailer is empty.

Drive slowly and cautiously. As you begin to drive with a trailer, become familiar with the overall dynamics of the vehicle and the trailer as a whole. Test the brakes and learn how to calculate stopping distances. Pay close attention to traffic signs, take curves at low speeds, and generally change direction with subtlety.

If you have any questions or comments on the content, please let us know!

FAQ on Can I tow a caravan heavier than my car?

What caravan Weight Can I tow?

You can legally tow a caravan weight of 3500 kgs or 3.5 tonnes. Each car make and model have a specific towing limit for both braked and unbraked trailers.  

Can you increase a vehicle’s towing capacity?

You can’t increase a vehicle’s towing capacity as they are engineered with a specific capability. Some cars weren’t designed for towing at all!

How do you tell if you are towing too much?

You know that you are towing too much if you are over the GCWR and if your vehicle is leaning, or there is lots of bounce when you hit bumps along the road.

References

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