We’re sure you pay careful attention to the maximum load weight allowable for your caravan while packing for your travels, but do you pay as much attention to the maximum nose weight? The way in which you load your belongings into your caravan will have an effect on the nose weight, or the weight of the caravan at the point of the hitch. A nose weight which is too low, or too high, will affect the towing stability of the caravan and, therefore, the safety.
To make sure your towing is as safe as possible, here is a simple guide to measuring the maximum nose weight for your caravan.
Manufacturer’s maximum nose weight
The maximum nose weight for your caravan will always be
- The lowest of the maximum nose weight specified by the manufacturer of the towing car
- The maximum specified by the manufacturer of the tow bar
- The maximum specified by the manufacturer of the hitch and,
- The maximum nose weight of the caravan itself
It is important to check all four limits (or three, if not all are provided) and always stick to using the lowest – don’t be tempted to load a bit more if three out of the four give a more generous allowance.
For example, if the caravan manufacturer provides a maximum nose weight limit of 100kg, the hitch manufacturer states 150kg and the car manufacturer states 85kg, the nose weight should never exceed 85kg.
Some particularly rugged vehicles, such as Land Rovers, will allow a maximum nose weight of 150kg, but it is more typical for it to sit at around 80-100kg.
Always bear in mind that the nose weight should never exceed the maximum weight limit for the towing vehicle’s tow ball, regardless of the maximum value for the caravan.
Measuring the nose weight
The easiest way to measure the nose weight is to weigh the caravan at the point of the hitch. You can buy special gauges which have been developed specifically for this purpose, but a set of bathroom scales and a short length of wood to place between the scales and the hitch will do the job just as well. To measure the nose weight in this way, all you will need is your normal bathroom scales and a length of wood, normally about 15 inches long, which acts as a prop between scales and hitch.
Remember always to park on level ground before measuring weight, to ensure an accurate result.
If you own an older model of caravan and no indication of maximum nose weight is provided, it can generally be calculated as between 5% and 7% of the maximum permissible load weight.
Why does it matter?
The nose weight is an incredibly important factor in the stability of the caravan. Too low, and the caravan will tend to lean backwards and lift the back of the towing vehicle; too high and it will put too much pressure on the hitch and tow bar, lifting the front of the vehicle and compromising the steering. Incorrect nose weights can also lead to snaking and similarly erratic movement. These effects will be more pronounced when driving on hilly roads and the winding country lanes which tend to lead up to holiday parks and caravan sites.
Aside from the safety issues, adhering to the weight maximums while towing a caravan is a legal requirement. Should you be stopped by the police, or involved in an accident, and found to be exceeding the limits, you may find yourself in trouble with both the police and your insurers.
A video guide
This short video demonstrates how to measure the nose weight of your caravan. It really is quite simple to do, just have a look and see for yourself.
Opinions vary on how often you should check your nose weight and there are no official guidelines as such.
Having said that, we would certainly recommend it being checked at the beginning of each season as an absolute minimum, but it certainly would be safer to do it before every journey especially if you are moving items around in your van, or adding to or decreasing the amount of contents that you carry.
We'd love to hear how often you check the nose weight on your caravan, so please leave us a comment below.
Don't forget that here at Lifesure we have a number of caravan insurance policies that have been chosen specifically to suit the needs of our customers. Call our caravan team on 01480 402460 for a quote.