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What size caravan can I tow?

Dec 30


These guidelines cover how to load caravans and cars safely. If you are looking for a new tower, we have our car-car matching service.It is important to remember that the curb weight of the car (partially loaded weight) should not be less than or equal to the caravan's fully laden weight.You must load your caravan and car safety. Car towing professionals recommend that you tow no more than 85% (or even 90%) of your car's kerb weight. This will ensure the best towing performance. Never exceed 100%.


If your car weighs 1750kg and you have a full tank with fuel and a driver then your caravan's maximum loaded weight (often called MTPLM - Maximum Technically Permitted Load Mass) should not exceed 1487.5kg (85% for beginners) and 1575kg (85% for experienced towers). Many cars have weight limits that are set by the manufacturer. Some have weight restrictions that limit the weight of the vehicle they can tow.


Manufacturers will often state in their brochures that their vehicles can tow a load greater than our recommended towing ratios. Although this is legal, we don't recommend towing any heavier than the car's weight. Our own testing of caravans and cars, member feedback, and scientific research have proven the connection between stability and weight ratio. This 85% ratio gives you the most compatible caravans and cars without compromising safety or comfort.


We usually perform an outfit match assessment for our clients based on the worst-case scenario of the car's weight (i.e.The caravan's MTPLM is the caravan's maximum weight (i.e. The caravan's maximum weight).


The handbook will usually show the car's curb weight. If not, consult your dealer. On the car's plate, the maximum allowed weights for each axle and the total weight of the outfit (car or trailer) will be shown. This is usually located under the bonnet or one of the door pillars.


The MTPLM must be included in all modern caravans constructed by National Caravan Council members. It should be placed on a plate, usually near the door or A-frame. Consult your caravan dealer if in doubt.

Do I really need a larger, more powerful car?

Engine power and torque are also important factors. This can be measured in bhp per ton. Attach a caravan or other vehicle to the hitch, and the power-to-weight ratio of many cars can be almost halved.A Ford Mondeo 2.0 TDCI is a light 1557 kg vehicle that has 140bhp. Its power-to-weight ratio of 90 bhp/tonne is therefore very high. Attach the Swift Challenger 540 fully loaded to the hitch, and the power-to-weight ratio drops to 46 bhp/tonne.


The GTW is 40 bhp per tonne, which is the rule of thumb. Everything that the engine must pull, laden car or laden caravan.This is the minimum target figure to allow reasonable performance without delaying traffic or having enough power for overtaking.


Petrol or diesel

Engine performance is measured by torque, also known as pulling power. Good torque at low engine speeds allows for easy pulling away and towing with minimal gear changing.


Diesel-powered cars are more capable to tow than gasoline-powered ones. They also have more torque at low speeds. In the future, increased taxation will be imposed on diesel vehicles due to renewed concerns about air quality. Hybrid cars, which combine a diesel or petrol engine with an electrical motor, will be more in demand. The electric motor provides additional torque for towing, and it has a superior fuel economy.


Manual or automatic

An automatic is ideal for caravan towing. It has a torque converter that allows crawling at a speed where a manual clutch would slip and wear.The most recent five, six, or seven-speed automatics virtually eliminate any fuel consumption penalty and deliver performance that is comparable to their manual counterparts. The transmission also has fewer wear parts, easier re-starts when climbing hills, and excellent low-speed control when reversing to hitch up. A modern electronic handbrake makes it easier to use an automatic gearbox, especially when you are on a steep hill.


Modern automatic transmissions often have the ability to select a gear manually. However, in most driving conditions the gearbox should be left alone. This exception is when towing is required. It is sometimes more efficient to choose a lower gear before you start the maneuver than to wait for the gearbox to "kick down". These conditions can be met by more sophisticated automatic transmissions that can be programmed with special settings like W for winter, S for sport, and E for the economy.

A small number of models have a lower towing limit than the manual. Make sure you check before purchasing.



Car towing members prefer a 4x4 tower. This is because they can tow more caravans and have better traction on wet pitches. Keep in mind that smaller models are lighter than standard saloons, so they don't have the same benefits. Rear-wheel drive cars like BMWs and Mercedes offer more refined towing experiences on the road. They also provide better traction thanks to the additional weight of the caravan attached to the hitch, which keeps the rear wheels in contact with the road.


 If the rear axle and weight limits of the car manufacturer are followed, most front-wheel drive cars can tow well. However, performance can be compromised when towing on hills or in wet grass/mud. The front wheels might struggle to pull away even with the traction system activated.Each year, we host the Best Towcar Of The Year Competition. Here we evaluate tow cars in different categories to help caravan owners learn more about the flat tow vehicles on the market.