A poorly loaded caravan is a disaster waiting to happen! For you to correctly load or troubleshoot overloaded caravans, you should first understand the consistency of vehicle masses. Accidents caused by overloading can easily be avoided, but on the flipside, can be fatal.
Poorly arranging items into your car and rig can significantly affect the stability of your driving and towing capacity of your vehicle. On the flipside, with a handful of minute changes, you can bring about huge changes to prevent overloading accidents effortlessly!
Signs your caravan is poorly loaded
The weight a caravan can carry depends on the axle, suspension, tyres, caravan and tow car. As a fundamental rule, caravan weight should be less than 85% of the tow car’s weight.
But even if you don’t surpass this threshold, your caravan may feel overloaded if you didn’t arrange your items properly. To know if that’s the case, here are the signs that you can look for:
Snaking or Swerving
Also referred to as wobbling, snaking happens when a caravan zigzags due to the poor weight distribution within the van. If this is ignored, there is a high chance that your home on wheels can overturn too!
From winds to wet roads, many factors cause a caravan to snake. The best way to control your overloaded van when it snakes is by gradually decreasing your speed without stopping abruptly or with a sudden brake.
When the caravan exceeds its Maximum Permissible Load, it can lead to hazardous tyre blowouts while you’re caravanning.
But this can be prevented if the weight of your caravan is below the maximum limit and if you consider that tyres expand because of too much heat due to overweight caravans. If you suspect that your tyres are too thin spread too thin because of the caravan, check at a weighbridge ASAP!
Problem in controlling suspension because of speed on highway
Prompted by stress in the mechanics of a caravan and tow car, lack of suspension control happens to a caravan when the traction fails to keep up with the speed of vehicles along the highway.
This can easily cause a fatal accident. To be safe, get off the highway without accelerating too much and repair your driving balance.
Reduced brake control
When you exceed the Aggregate weight of your trailer, you produce an insurmountable strain on the tow bar and your towing car.
The same leads to the tow vehicle failing to brake effectively. Over time, if you continue to overload your caravans, your brakes will fail. Take it as a cue and get your rig’s weight checked immediately!
Impossible to change direction instantly
One of the brightest tips on caravanning safely is avoiding the right lane while using left and centre, to change. Instability due to the extra weight on your rig causes the car and van to wobble on the road when you try turning at high speed.
Mechanics point out that for every 50 kg you remove from a vehicle, fuel economy peaks by 2%. When you’re driving an overloaded van, the gas usage also doubles. In contrast, reducing the load on your van by 10% adds 4.1% to your car’s mileage too.
11 tips to avoid caravan overloading
Overloaded caravans badly affect the steering and balance of driving and damage the parts of a caravan in the long run. Overloading can cause significant damages because it can invert a giant vehicle within a wink too!
While most amateurs pack their rigs haphazardly, remember that you must know and comply with weight rules to avoid accidents.
Using a local weight machine or a weighbridge, the driver of the caravanner must know the total weight of the caravan, towing car, people and ‘stuff’ at all times to drive safely. Using a portable weighing machine, you can weigh every tiny to huge memorabilia onboard the caravan effortlessly.
When you’re done with the indoor accessories, it is clever to take the packed caravan to a weigh bridge so you’ll know the total weight. These items are among the heaviest in your stuff – awning, gas bottles, BBQ, bedding, clothing, stored foods, fixtures that came with the caravan and those that you fixed.
Lessen things you want to bring to have space for what you need
Packing light is not an option, but a rule for caravanners. Using storage hacks and optimisation of ‘stuff’, separate the things you need from the things you want.
De-cluttering prevents your rig from snaking when on the road.
User Payload and MTPLM
Referred to as the total capacity of a caravan, User Payload refers to the combined weight of the fuel, passenger weight, appliances, shelves, hooks, fixtures and fittings, inclusive of the manufacturer’s accessories that originally came with the rig. Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass refers to the mass of a loaded caravan. MTPLM should never be higher than the kerbweight of your tow car.
How to Ensure you have the Right Noseweight
Defined as the highest force that your towball can bear, noseweight is provided by the manufacturer for every piece. So that you would not overload your rig, never exceed the maximum noseweight of your 4×4. Avoid packing heavy items in the front locker to avoid exceeding the noseweight limit of your van.
Use a Stabiliser
Your tow car is responsible for maintaining the stability of your caravan. Given this, It is mandatory that you take a caravan-towing course prior to driving on wild roads. You can also request your dealer to fit a stabiliser on your towbar. This helps keeping stability during heavy crosswinds and snaking of an overloaded caravan. Just make sure the stabiliser is suitable to the car and rig prior to purchase.
Weight Distribution on the Roof
Never put your heaviest item in the ceiling cabinet, roof track or roof as it tends to adversely affect the centre of gravity of your van, resulting in snaking. This can also cause accidents when turning.
Further, always make sure you fit a roof box in your roof storage. This will keep the items dry and secure due to the lower wind resistance, making the drive smoother! Moreover, avoid storing heavy items at the back of your caravan as well.
Weight Distribution on the Floor and Axle
Centre of gravity must be as low as possible in order to drive a caravan without overturning or crashing it. Hence, make sure you keep the heaviest of items on the floor or around the axle.
Avoid front locker. Instead, ensure that your heaviest items are laid directly on the floor in secured boxes. Keep the heaviest items above your van’s axle to keep the caravan stable.
Deciding a Permanent Storage Space for Light and Heavy Items in a Caravan
Using floor space, you can store heavy items on top of the axle or around the wheels of the caravan. The golden rule is to keep the light items in cupboards or shelves while heavy items should be placed strictly above the axle.
Make sure items are secured especially when on the move
Not having your appliances and accessories secured could significantly damage them. Best to use bungee cords or similar knick-knacks to secure your belongings.
Keep items with average weight on the floor too. Remember that if you don’t secure the things onboard, no insurance will validate your claims as overloading makes it void!
Use an Automatic Trailer Control (ATC)
To improve the stability of your towing, you can also use intelligent modern devices such as ATC to prevent snaking by maintaining the right angles when towing.
Additionally, using a brake control can help hack the optimal or heavy braking at the time of need.
Opting for plastic replacements instead of steel or metal gas bottles and utensils lessens your caravan’s weight.
Avoid overloading your caravan because even a slight change in steering or stability can be a cause of an accident. From tyres to picking the best towing car for your caravan, there are many ways to ensure that you follow the weight limit of your caravan.
We at Galaxy Caravans can help you match your legitimate gross mass and weight as well as clear your doubt on loading of caravans. If you’re interested, write to us in the comments below. Also keep checking our website for caravans for sale announcement and more caranning tips.