Caravan Towing - What You Need To Know

Thursday, 25 June 2020  |  Katie

Towing Capacity

The towing capacity of your vehicle can be found within the handbook. If you are unable to find this you can also calculate towing capacity from the VIN plate (Read our blog about VIN’s here), where line one is the maximum allowable mass, also known as gross vehicle weight (GVW) and line two is the maximum train mass (MTM). To calculate, deduct line one from line two and you have the vehicle towing limit. This is displayed in the picture below.

2505kg - Gross vehicle weight, the Maximum Allowable Mass (MAM)

of the vehicle including passengers, fuel and payload.

4200kg - Gross train weight, the combined maximum allowable

mass of the vehicle and trailer.

4200kg – 2505kg = 1695kg

If the vehicle has been deemed unsuitable to tow, a gross train weight will be shown as 0000kg or will leave it blank.


For safe towing it is recommended that a beginner should keep the fully laden weight of the caravan no heavier than 85% of the kerbweight of the tow car.

To calculate this, you need to know the kerbweight of the car and the maximum technically permissible laden mass (MTPLM).


Kerb weight is the weight of a car with all fluids (coolant, engine oil, brake fluid) plus a full tank of fuel and a driver weighing 75kg. You can find the kerbweight of your car in the owner's manual, on a plate on the door or on the V5 registration document (look for the figure G: Mass In Service).



This is the maximum weight the manufacturer deems safe to load the caravan to.

If the mass of the caravan is 85% or less of the car’s kerbweight, the car will tow it with ease.

If it’s between 85% and 100%, it is recommended that only experienced caravanners should use that car to tow such a heavy van.

But if the caravan is heavier than the car, then it is strongly recommended not to use it to tow that caravan.

When you chose a van or car to match your van, you may want to consider number of passengers, practicality and obstacles such as hills. (hill starts, will need to tow with ease or will find it hard)  

MIRO/User payload

Mass in Running Order – MTPLM = User Payload

User payload can be defined as the allowance you have for optional equipment and personal effects. (For example television, luggage, food)

If your caravan has a leisure battery installed or if you have items fitted to the caravan after it has left the factory, such as a motor mover, or heavy gas bottles the weight of these items will need to come out of your User Payload.

As a general guide, basic items for two people will weigh about 100kg, with an extra 25kg allowance for each additional person.

You may want to check with your individual manufacturer for different models to get a specific calculation.


Noseweight can be defined as the downwards force put on the car's towball. This may vary depending on how you load the caravan.

When you are ready for the road, the caravan's noseweight should be as heavy as possible, but not exceed the car's towball limit or the caravan's own noseweight. Both are normally between 50kg and 100kg


The maximum trailer width for any towing vehicle is 2.55 metres. The maximum length is 7 metres for a trailer towed by a vehicle weighing up to 3,500 kilograms.

Tips & Useful Links

  • If your trailer is unbraked, the maximum you may tow is 750 kg or half the kerbside weight of the towing vehicle, whichever is the least.
  • Tow bars must meet EU regulations and is designed for your car.
  • It is a legal requirement to always have a good view to the rear of your caravan, requiring extension mirrors. And don’t forget to take them off when you’re not towing! Here is a quick video.
  •  The number plate on the back of your caravan must show your car’s registration number, conform to the relevant British Standard and be illuminated at night. This means no felt-pen on cardboard. You can buy them here:
  • The best way to avoid snaking and pitching is to have a well-matched car and caravan and to load your unit carefully.
  • Different types of electronic and friction stabilisers can be used to help stop your caravan from snaking, these tend to be fitted in many new caravans.
  • Towing and manoeuvring courses are provided by the Caravan and Motorhome Club link here: