If you’re a caravan rookie, you may not know that packing your van is ‘an art’ and requires a little ‘know-how’ to get it right. When it’s not loaded properly, you’re at risk of trailer sway, reduced control and other terrible consequences such as overturning.
The good news? It’s easy to avoid these issues by knowing how to sensibly load your caravan and getting familiar with your critical weights. Read our tips below.
Know your weights
The first thing to get right is to know your critical towing weights. We’ve written lots of articles that detail the definitions you need to know and how to apply them to your setup. The basics are below.
- Towing capacity – the maximum weight that a vehicle can legally tow. During testing phases, manufacturers assign tow weight restrictions on vehicles. These tow weight restrictions are calculated based on the vehicle’s pulling capacity, and the guidelines should always be followed to ensure the safety of all road users.
- Aggregate Trailer Mass – the maximum your fully-loaded tow vehicle can weigh.
- Gross Trailer Mass – the weight of the fully loaded trailer imposed on the axle when it is attached to the tow vehicle.
- Tare Mass – the weight of an empty caravan excluding the weight of any after-sales fitted accessories.
Click here to read one of our articles on towing weights for more detail. If you have any doubt, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team to clarify.
How to load a caravan
Let’s keep this simple… Heavy items should be placed as low as possible, near the centre of the van and over the axle. Avoid loading heavy items on drawbars or at the front or rear of your van. You need to ensure you are distributing the weight evenly.
The below graphic from the Caravan Industry Association of Australia is a great, simple visual aid to show how the placement of weight in your van should be apportioned.
What are the signs your caravan is not loaded properly?
- Swaying (when a caravan moves side to side due to poor weight distribution within the van); which is incredibly dangerous, and you risk overturning your van.
- Reduced brake control (when your brakes seem less responsive), over time this can lead to brake failure.
- Reduced steering control, which can be a serious issue on the highway, at high speed.
Know how to use your towing accessories
Weight distribution hitches can be valuable. These are designed to alleviate the stress on the rear of the vehicle, resulting in a far safer towing experience.
Send us a message or call in to our showroom to discuss which towing accessories may be beneficial for your setup.
Whilst these aids can be invaluable, it’s still imperative that you load your caravan safely.