How much payload do I need in a caravan?

In this blog post, we answer the following question: How much payload do I need in a caravan? We talk about the importance of the Maximum Authorized Mass (MAM) and how (not) to load a caravan when going for a long trip.

How much payload do I need in a caravan?

When wondering how much payload you need in a caravan, you should remember that the weight of the loaded caravan must not exceed 80% of the car’s tare. That is, if our car weighs 1000 kg when empty, the fully loaded caravan should not weigh more than 800 kg.

The payload capacity is a very important piece of information when buying a caravan. Before acquiring our caravan we must take into account that the Payload is sufficiently large for the extra equipment that, if necessary, we want to add as soon as we buy it or later.

For example air conditioning, a small fridge, a tv stand, a  spare wheel, etc. And of course, the Payload also includes “our things” (clothes, dishes, table, chairs, TV, toys, bedding, microwave, bicycle, food, drinks, and so on).

We can load whatever we want, as long as the weight of the caravan does not exceed its Maximum Authorized Mass (MAM).  It is common for manufacturers to adjust it a lot. In other words, it is very common for the MMO (Mass in Marching Order) of the caravan to be just a little lower than its MAM. For example, the MMO of the caravan is 1200 kg and its MAM of 1300.

That means that we would only have 100 kg of Payload, that is, what we would have left to add extras and load our things. The MAM is the maximum that the vehicle can weigh with its additional equipment, extras, luggage, etc. Exceeding the MAM is grounds for a traffic penalty.

To better understand how the payload works,  The Dethleffs C’go 495 QSK  has a GVW of 1,300 kg and a MiRO of 1,130 kg, therefore a payload of 170 kg (remember that MAM (1,300 kg) – MiRO (1,130 kg) = Payload (170 kg) That means that no matter how few extras we put on it and little luggage we take with us, we will easily go over 1,300 kg.

Among those extras we can find the moving with its battery – an almost essential accessory in medium-large caravans that weighs around 80 kg depending on the models and brands – or the air conditioning, also almost essential in summer in different places, which weighs another 30 kg. A complete advance can weigh more than 30 kg, the spare wheel about 20 kg …

And we need to add what we take with us on a trip: clothes, bicycles, table, chairs, plates, pans, sheets, cleaning products, food …

In short, we adjust the weight very well or we will have no choice but to increase the MAM of the caravan, which is possible in most models, as long as we do not exceed the MiRO of the vehicle. That is why it is important to consider before buying a caravan that the one we choose has a very good payload. 

The importance of the Maximum Authorized Mass

The first thing to think about to move in a caravan is that this is not a cargo trailer, but rather a home trailer only. It is designed and manufactured to live inside. Manufacturers leave just 100 to 150 kilograms to spare in the Maximum Authorized Mass (MAM) for campers to load their supplies and other necessary implements.

It is interesting to know what, in general, is carried in a caravan and its real weight to verify that with just a few things you can exceed the limit of MAM. For this reason, when loading the caravan, be careful what you take and where you take it.

The 80% rule

Fortunately, there is the famous “80% rule.” According to this, the weight of the loaded caravan must not exceed 80% of the car’s TARE. That is, if our car weighs 1000 kg when empty, the fully loaded caravan should not weigh more than 800 kg. There is a very useful tool to calculate this and many other interesting parameters: TowCar. 

This wonder gives us the possibility to check the compatibility of our vehicle with the model of the caravan that we want, and calculate how suitable it is for the car in question. It is essential to have an approximate idea of which are the caravan models that best suit us according to the vehicle we have to tow it.

How not to overload a caravan

In order not to pass the MAM, you have to take into account the weight of things like, for example, an advance with sticks, which weighs thirty-seven kilograms and a half; a 25-meter extension cord with a reel, weighing three and a half kilograms; a spare wheel, which weighs twenty-one and a half kilograms …

These are just some examples since to drive a caravan during a long trip you need more things like two small gas cylinders, which weigh eight kilograms, or liquids for the toilet that can weigh three and a half kilograms.

To all this, we must add clothes, a television or food. Therefore, you have to be very careful with what you load to move in a caravan.

Where to put the load in a caravan?

If the vehicle does not have much space to carry things and it is necessary to load the caravan, it will always be done in the centre and on the axle. Placing the load in the front will result in an imbalance resulting in the vehicle sinking through the rear suspension. This will cause the front axle to lift and loose steering.

In the same way, as is known, tow balls do not allow a lot of weight vertically. In a normal car, the weight that the tow ball can support is not much more than 70 kilograms. In the case of caravans, if you want to know the vertical weight they support to travel safely, you just have to look at the plate of the tow ball. However, reaching the weight limit is not good.

If what we do is to load the part behind the caravan a lot, the danger increases, since the part behind the vehicle will end uplifting and it will be totally unstable.

For all these reasons, the front chest should not support a lot of weight, although currently, caravans have a large chest, even with the possibility of placing two large butane or propane cylinders in it. However, it is recommended to carry them in the trunk.

It is important not to have a lot of weight on the drawbar because not only will the tow ball be overloaded, but also the stabilizers will not be able to support a lot of weight because they are not designed for it.

Lighter objects such as kitchen towels or towels can be carried in the mezzanine cabinets. However, it is better not to overload this part too much, since weighting such a high position ends up raising the point of gravity and it is easier to overturn.

In the event of an imbalance, what to do is stop and re-house the load in the best possible way.

Dangers of exceeding the MAM

When you carry your car heavily loaded and at the limit of its allowed load – you should never exceed it -, keep in mind that there are big changes that you must take into account and that affect both the way you drive and the mechanics of your vehicle.

  • Increased stopping distance. – It is necessary that when you travel with more weight in your car, you increase the safety distance with the car in front of you, redouble your attention and slow down. Your braking system will not work the same as when you usually drive, it will take longer and you will go faster before you stop.
  • Decreased stability and balance – The weight makes your car less agile and less balanced, especially if you carry a lot of weight in the trunk, in the rear, if you have a roof rack, a trailer or any other accessory to carry more cargo.
  • Increased consumption –  Always keep in mind that if you go with your car at full weight, you are going to spend more gasoline or diesel -also the autonomy in the case of an electric car decreases- so it is worth making an effort to implement the classic tips to reduce the consumption: smooth, careful driving and limited speed. 

In the same way, think about the cost of fuel when you are preparing suitcases and try to minimize so that the weight of the load is as tight as possible.

Conclusions 

In this blog post, we answered the following question: How much payload do I need in a caravan? We talked about the importance of the Maximum Authorized Mass (MAM) and how (not) to load a caravan when going for a long trip.

The amount of payload that you are allowed to have in a caravan should not exceed 80% of the car’s tare. To calculate the payload on a caravan subtract the Tare weight (the unladen weight of the van, as it left the factory, minus any dealer-added features) from the van’s Aggregate Trailer Mass.

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

FAQ on How much payload do I need in a caravan?

How is payload calculated on a caravan?

To calculate the payload on a caravan subtract the Tare weight (the unladen weight of the van, as it left the factory, minus any dealer-added features) from the van’s Aggregate Trailer Mass.

How do you know if you tow too much weight?

You know you are towing too much weight when the rear of the truck will appear hunkered down and the front end will feel light.

What happens when you exceed your vehicle’s towing capacity?

When you exceed your vehicle’s towing capacity you bring a series of consequences for your card, such as engine overheating; tire failure, overloading the drivetrain, CO2 emissions increase among others. 

What is Max payload?

Max payload is the maximum amount of weight you can safely add to a truck’s cargo area in addition to its empty weight. 

How much weight can you put in a caravan?

The weight that you can put in the caravan should be either 10% of the ATM (Aggregate Trailer Mass) or a maximum of 350 kg ( 770 pounds). The manufacturer should usually specify the maximum permissible ball weight, which should be between 8-12% of the weight of the caravan.

How much does a standard caravan weigh?

A standard 2 and 4 berth caravan weighs 800kg and 1300kg, while 4 to 6 berth caravans weigh between 1300kg and 1800kg. 

References

Towingandtrailers.com

Caravanchronicles.com

Practicalcaravan.com

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