If you’re new to caravanning, you may not know that packing your van is not as simple as loading everything that will possibly fit into every storage compartment and taking off on your adventure. Incorrect loading may result in swaying, reduced control and other terrible consequences such as overturning. Fortunately, it’s easy to avoid serious issues by getting familiar with your critical weights and loading your caravan appropriately. Read our tips below.
What are the signs your caravan is not loaded properly?
- Swaying (when a caravan zigzags due to poor weight distribution within the van); which is incredibly dangerous and your risk overturning your van.
- Reduced brake control (when your brakes seem less responsive), overtime this can lead to brake failure.
- Reduced steering control, which can be a serious issue on the highway, at high speed.
- Tyre blowouts (more a consequence than a sign) but common nonetheless.
Loading heavy items
When loading heavy items like generators, gas bottles, jerry cans, barbeques or batteries, you need to ensure you are distributing the weight evenly. We recommend placing items as low as possible, near the centre of the van, and over the axle. Avoid putting heavy items anywhere behind the axle.
Once again, even distribution is key. You mustn’t overload the front or rear storage. Placing too much weight at the front or the back will cause problems. Balance water tanks, tool boxes, bike racks, gas bottles and other items evenly around your van.
Weight is everything
There are a few critical weight concepts that all caravaners should understand.
- 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.
This can be complicated for beginners and the team at Hall Towbars can help you to understand these weights.
How can a weight distribution hitch help?
Weight distribution hitches are designed to alleviate the stress on the rear of the vehicle, resulting in a far safer towing experience. They will assist with caravan sway however, it is the driver’s responsibility to ensure correct loading of their caravan in all situations.
Hall Towbars stocks a range of weight distribution hitches to suit different vehicles and towing requirements. Our team is happy to talk you through the options.
If unsure, weigh your caravan
The only way to know for sure if your van is weight compliant, is to go to a weighbridge.
Visit here to see a list of public weighbridges in Australia. Alternatively, you can Google your closest weighbridge service provider.
Hall Towbars has a free towing safety checklist here. We recommend using this checklist every time you hit the road to ensure a safe towing experience for you and other road users.
We’re happy to help with any towing queries. Get in touch with our team today.