Vehicle and Caravan towing weights explained

Once you have obtained the relevant licence you need to drive your vehicle and tow your caravan, you will then need to ensure your vehicle weight can tow your caravan with all your luggage and equipment in it.

How do I work out my vehicle’s towing capacity?

The towing capacity of a vehicle is the maximum weight that it can legally tow.  However, although its legal it may not be safe or comfortable, especially if you are new to caravanning.

The towing capacity is usually published in the handbook of the vehicle or on the VIN plate which can be found in a variety of places on the towing vehicle.  To work out the towing weight using the VIN plate you need to take deduct line one from line two and this will give you the towing limit.

The maximum weight the vehicle in the above example can tow is as follows:

4200kg – 2505kg = 1695Kg

This means that the maximum weight of the towing vehicle must not exceed 1695kg.

Safe towing weights

If you are a novice or are new to caravanning it is recommended that you should keep the fully laden weight of the caravan no heavier than 85% of the kerb weight of the tow vehicle. This is known as the 85% rule and whilst it is not legally enforceable it is recommended.

To calculate the 85% rule, you will need the kerb weight of the car and the maximum mass of the towing caravan (called ‘maximum technically permissible laden mass or MTPLM).  

Once the 85% rule is applied the towing vehicle will tow the caravan with ease. Only experienced drivers should increase this percentage to between 85% and 100%. Anything over 100% and the caravan will be heavier than the car, this is known as ‘outfit matching’ and should be avoided.  

How to find the MTPLM of my caravan?

This is normally listed on a plate near the door frame and can also be found in the owner’s manual. 

The manufacturer should also be able to tell you this.

How to find the kerb weight of the vehicle?

You can find the kerb weight of the car in the owner’s manual; it may be on the VIN plate or on the V5 registration document labelled under ‘G: mass in service’)

How should I load my caravan safely?

When loading a caravan, it is safer to load items as per the diagram below:

Place heavier items such as water and tinned food over the axel. Medium items such as luggage on either end and then light items in the top of the caravan such as blankets and cushions.

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