If you are considering purchasing a new or used caravan you need to know how much the tow weight of the caravan is. With this information you can make an informed decision if your car or van is powerful enough to safely tow it.
So exactly how much do caravans weigh? Smaller 2 and 4 berth Caravans tend to weigh between 800kg and 1300kg and larger 4 to 6 berth caravans typically between 1300kg and 1800kg and beyond, but this varies depending on manufacturer and age.
How to find the weight of your caravan
Caravans have a manufacturer’s plate attached to the chassis near the entrance door that states useful information about the caravan, its weight ratings and tyre sizes and pressures.
For example, a Sprite Major 4 SB Caravan has the following information:
- Model – Sprite Major 4 SB
- VIN – XXXXXXXXXXX
- MRO – 1259kg
- MTPLM – 1415kg
- TYRE SIZE – 185 R15C 102
- TYRE PRESSURE – 59 psi
Modern caravans have two weight ratings, one called the MiRO (or MRO) and a second called the MTPLM. From these two values you can work out the payload weight.
The MiRO is the caravan’s “Mass In Running Order” – this represents the average weight of an unloaded caravan. Consider this as the minimum tow weight of the vehicle. Depending on when you caravan was manufactured, this could include onboard water – its best to check your manual to see if this is the case (see below for an explainer).
The MTPLM is the caravan’s “Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass” as worked out by the manufacturer. This represents the absolute maximum weight that the caravan’s chassis is rated for. While this isn’t a legal maximum, any damage caused to a caravan while in an overloaded state may be invalidated by the insurance – so please watch out for this. The MTPLM covers the weight of the chassis plus all loaded supplies, water, gas and equipment.
The last value that you’ll find useful is the caravan’s payload capacity. While you won’t find this on the door plate, you can work it out simply by subtracting the MiRO value from the MTPLM value. This is how much additional equipment, bedding and supplies you can carry onboard while towing the caravan.
Payload Weight Example
The Elddis Affinity 540 is a 4 berth caravan with a MTPLM weight of 1450KG and a MiRO weight of 1295KG. By subtracting 1295 from 1450 you can see that this caravan has a payload weight of 155KG.
Popular Caravan Weight Compared
We have compared 15 popular caravans available in the UK to give you an idea of how much caravan’s weigh in general.
|Name||Berths||MiRO (kg)||MTPLM (kg)|
|Elddis Affinity 540 ||4||1450||1295|
|Bailey Pegasus GT65 Rimini ||4||1472||1341|
|Sterling Eccles Sport 442 ||2||1244||1123|
|Buccaneer Galera ||6||2000||1821|
|Coachman VIP 565 ||4||1630||1476|
|Swift Challenger SE 565 ||4||1553||1400|
|Swift Sprite Super Quattro DB ||6||1711||1486|
|Xplore 586 ||6||1350||1155|
|Compass Corona 462 ||2||1234||1112|
|Coachman VIP 545 / 4 ||4||1630||1475|
|Compass Capiro 462 ||2||1281||1159|
|Venus 550 / 4 ||4||1320||1066|
|Coachman Pastiche 520 ||3||1435||1295|
|Bailey Unicorn Valencia ||4||1493||1339|
As you can see, the general rule is the larger the caravan and the more berths you have, the heavier it’s going to be (and the more power you are going to need to tow it).
What’s included in MiRO ratings?
While MTPLM ratings have remained consistent, MiRO or Mass In Running Order calculations can vary depending on what year the caravan was built, even for the same exact model.
Caravans built prior to 2010 had their MiRO calculated based on a dry weight with no allowance for any water (fresh water, water in the heater or grey water) or gas on board. The weight of any onboard leisure batteries isn’t included in this calculation.
Caravans built between 2011 and 2014 had to apply a different set of criteria to their MiRO calculations. Manufacturers had to account for the 90% of the potential weight of onboard gas and water in addition to the dry weight. For example, if the caravan had a 20 litre water tank then that would add 18Kg to the MiRO calculation. Again, leisure batteries are not included in this total.
The criteria changed again in 2015 allowing manufacturers to specify how much water they’ve accounted for. Most manufacturers now don’t include an allowance for water in the MiRO.
How can I avoid overloading my caravan?
If you are concerned with overloading your caravan try the following tips:
- Empty your water tanks – you can always refill at your destination.
- Load heavier items in the towing vehicle if space allows.
- If you are replacing equipment, camping chairs etc – go for lightweight versions.
- Batteries are heavy – carry leisure batteries in the car.
- Ditch the clutter, only load what you need for the trip.
Ultimately you can always get your caravan weighed in at a weighbridge (if you’re in the UK, use this link to find one – https://www.gov.uk/find-weighbridge) – you’ll likely need to contact them before you arrive and a fee may be payable, but it’s great for piece of mind.
The correct way to load a caravan
When loading a caravan, it’s important to make sure that weight its distributed correctly.
As the axel is capable of supporting the most weight, make sure that you load any heavy items and ensure that they are secured over this. A sliding payload of any weight is a recipe for trouble.
Also ensure that bulky or heavy items are stored low down – this keeps the center of mass low over the wheels and reduces the risk of overturning in high wind or in an accident.
Can my car tow a caravan?
There is no clear answer to this other than “it depends”..
It very much depends on the size of car, engine capacity and type and whether you caravan has and over-run brake system on board.
Typically larger cars with bigger engines have a larger towing capacity, allowing you to tow larger caravans comfortably.
For example, a Ford Focus Hatchback with a 1.8L turbo diesel engine has a unbraked towing capacity of 695kg and a braked towing capacity of 1500kg making it suitable for most small to medium caravans such as the Compass Capiro 462.
In contrast, if you look at a larger vehicle, a Land Rover Discovery 3.0L V6 diesel – you can expect an unbraked capacity of 750kg and a braked capacity of 3500kg – considerably more.
As a rough guide, larger hatchbacks should be able to tow small and medium caravans while SUV’s, pickups and big engined diesels should be able to pull most caravans on the market. If in doubt contact the manufacturer for recommended models.
The 80% Towing Rule
When evaluating a pairing between a caravan and a towing vehicle, it’s important to ensure that you are not maxing out its towing capacity. When a vehicle states its maximum towing capacity, that is just it – the maximum weight its rated at pulling.
It’s far safer to use the 80% towing rule where you only tow upto 80% of a vehicle’s towing capacity. There are many reasons for this but primarily its to do with safe braking and acceleration.
You can find the towing capacity of your car or van using the calculator at http://www.towingcapacity.co.uk/
If you are towing at maximum capacity, your stopping distance will increase significantly if you need to break suddenly. Similarly, if you are maxing out your towing weight then you’ll find your acceleration to be sluggish at best.
Looking at our examples above, the Ford Focus will have a “comfortable” towing weight of 1200kg and the Land Rover 2800kg. Both vehicles are capable of towing a wide range of modern caravans.
If your vehicle isn’t powerful enough to tow your chosen caravan then you’ll likely need to upgrade to one that can.