Caravanning Hints & Tips
24 March 2021
We are often asked the question of “how big of a caravan should I buy to tow with my current car?” Well there are several schools of thought on how best to solve this puzzle. So, we thought we would provide a quick and easy formula for you to consider.
There are numerous capacities and weight limits for both the car and the caravan that need to be complied with (GCM, GVM, Front and Rear axle capacities, ATM, GTM, & TBD) to ensure you are weight compliant and roadworthy. Now call me old fashioned but I like to get some trouble-free motoring and longevity from the vehicle I buy and drive. In order to achieve this aim, I will rarely ask the vehicle to do more than 90% of its stated capability. Hold that thought….
For example, let us drill down to work out roughly how big of a caravan we should comfortably tow behind a Ford Ranger XLT dual cab utility.
1. The first major consideration is what is the maximum weight the car and caravan can weigh in combination. What is the Gross Vehicle Mass (GCM) ? The Ranger has a listed GCM of 6000kg. That is the total allowable weight the car and caravan can be rolling down the road.
2. Next, we need to know the maximum weight the tow vehicle can be on its own, fully laden. Well the Ranger has a Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) of 3200kg. This includes any accessories fitted to the vehicle, passengers, luggage, with a full tank of fuel.
The GCM and GVM values for any vehicle should be readily available in the vehicle’s handbook. If not a call to your local dealer should throw some light on it for you.
The formula is fairly straight forward. We know in the case of the Ranger the GCM can-not exceed 6000kg. We also know that the car, filly laden, can-not exceed 3200kg by itself. So, if we were to subtract the vehicles GVM (3200kg) from the GCM (6000kg) we would be left with an allowance for the caravan of (2800kg). Now because the tow ball downforce (TBD) is allowed for in the vehicles’ GVM, we do not need to count it twice. For this reason, we will focus on the weight we can place on the axle/s of the caravan, the gross trailer mass (GTM).
Our resulting quick formula will be:
GCM – GVM = GTM or approx. ATM 3080kg 6000kg – 3200kg = 2800kg
So, when searching for a suitable caravan to tow behind our Ford Ranger without having to rob Peter to pay Paul the caravan should really not exceed a GTM of 2800kg.
Sounds great. What if we know that our Ranger, loaded with everything we will take with us when we go caravanning will not exceed 3000kg (after having the vehicle professionally weighed and added 350kg for max Tow Ball Downforce (TBD) to confirm it). Well we can use this excess to bolster the weight allowance of our potential caravan purchase as follows:
GCM – GVM = GTM or approx. ATM 3300kg 6000kg – 3000kg = 3000kg
Now remember we said we did not like to push my towing vehicles past 90% of their stated capabilities for longevity. Well you can also include towing stability as a further reason for this stance. Following this principle, the numbers would look like this:
GCM – GVM = GTM or approx. ATM 2770kg 5400kg – 2880kg = 2520kg
There you have it, yes there is a distinct difference between what you can legally tow and what you can comfortably tow.
Until next time stay safe.