Choosing a caravan
Match a caravan to your car
Before you start looking for a new tourer or towcar, it is
that you are armed with all the information you will need to get the perfect match of caravan to car. Get it wrong and you could put yourself and others in danger, and risk invalidating your warranties and insurance.
While many pundits argue about the legality of the so-called "85% rule", caravan and motoring organisations unanimously endorse this as a safe and sensible ratio of caravan and car.
WHAT DOES THE LAW SAY
For a summary of the basics, see our 'Legal Issues' page from the link on the left, or Click Here
Our best advice is to get your facts "from the horse's mouth" by visiting the following website:
National Trailer and Towing Association (NTTA)
DOES YOUR DRIVING LICENCE COVER YOU FOR TOWING?
Our best advice again is to get your facts "from the horse's mouth" by visiting the following website:
Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA)
FACTS AND FIGURES
You will need to know the kerbweight, noseweight and maximum towing limit for the specific car with which you intend to tow your caravan. Weights vary from vehicle to vehicle, depending on engine and specification. Be sure to obtain the exact figures to ensure an accurate and safe match.
EXACT WEIGHTS FOR YOUR CARAVAN
You will need to know your caravan's Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass
(MTPLM - see left) or, for pre-1998 caravans, its Maximum Gross Weight
(MGW). However, if you are feeling unsure about any of the figures, call Towsafe on
01722 411430, which can match any post-'82 car to any post-'86 caravan.
MATCHING MTPLM TO KERBWEIGHT
Ideally, your caravan's MTPLM should not exceed 85 percent of your car's kerbweight - it should never exceed 100 percent! Only experienced caravanners should attempt towing at 100 percent. The car's maximum towing limit should never be less than the MTPLM of the caravan on tow. It's also important not to exceed the lowest noseweight of your car and caravan.
The car-caravan matching service Towsafe is available in several caravan dealerships across the UK, and also on their website www.towsafe.co.uk
To connect your caravan to car you will need to have fitted (professionally) a suitable towing bracket. Since 1st August 1998 you may only fit a 'Type Approved' towing bracket by law. You will also need at least one 12v electrical connector to work the road lights on the caravan. You will need a second connector if you want to run the caravan's internal 12v kit from the car's battery, or while towing (e.g. fridge).
This is the vertical load the caravan hitch puts on the car's towball, and can significantly affect the high speed stability of a caravan. Correct loading of the caravan's contents (see under Towing a caravan) should ensure that the noseweight does not exceed that recommended by the car and tow bracket manufacturers. Typically this is around 75kg, or 7% of the van's actual laden weight.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT CARAVAN
Where do we start? Firstly it will probably depend a lot on your budget. After that it's a matter of doing the legwork visiting as many dealerships as possible (see our Dealer Directory) looking closely at various models inside and out, and reading reports in magazines etc. Check on the following for your requirements:
- Cost, finance, warranty
- How many berths do I need
- Are the beds a good size
- Single or twin axle
- How much storage space
- What seating/bed layout is best
- Cooker/fridge/water heater
- Length for storage
- Weight for towing