Your caravan’s noseweight is the weight, or downward force on your tow bar when it’s being towed. Checking this weight is important to make sure you are safe when towing. Thankfully, it’s relatively simple. To do this you will need the following...
The tow vehicle’s noseweight limit
You can find this in your handbook. For example, my own tow vehicle has a noseweight limit of 100kg.
An example of the noseweight limit in a tow vehicle handbook
The tow bar’s limit
You can find this on accompanying documentation or on the plate attached to the tow bar (pictured). My tow bar limit is 150kg.
An example of the tow bar limit printed on the plate attached to the tow bar
The caravan chassis limit
This is the ‘S’ number stamped on the AL-KO hitch. As you can see in this photo, I have a caravan chassis limit of 150kg
The caravan’s noseweight cannot exceed the lowest of these three figures which, for me, is 100kg.
An example of the caravan chassis limit stamped onto the AL-KO hitch
The MTPLM (Maximum Fully Loaded Weight) of the caravan
Now we move to the caravan’s MTPLM (its maximum, fully-loaded weight) which can be found on a sticker on the side of the caravan, or in the handbook.
You can see mine marked in this picture of the sticker on my caravan.
The MTPLM marked on the weight plate on the caravan side
Putting it all together
The ideal noseweight is between 5% and 7% of this figure so mine would be between 70kg and 98kg. Personally, I like my noseweight to be at the heavier end of the scale, so I tend to set mine around 90kg to 95kg, which is within my tow vehicle’s 100kg limit.
Measuring your noseweight
Now you know how much your noseweight should be, it’s time to measure it. With your caravan loaded, simply place a noseweight gauge (which can be found for sale on the PRIMA website) under the hitch and raise the jockey wheel until the noseweight gauge is taking all the downward weight of the hitch. If you haven’t got a noseweight gauge, bathroom scales and a piece of wood cut to length make an ideal substitute. If you’re using the scales-and-piece-of-wood option, try to ensure that the wood is the right length to keep the caravan relatively level, or you’ll get an incorrect figure.
Measuring noseweight with a noseweight gauge
Measuring noseweight with bathroom scales
If the noseweight is too heavy, move floor-mounted luggage towards the rear and check again. Do the reverse if the noseweight is too light. Due to a possible pendulum effect, avoid moving heavy items more than 2ft (60cm) either side of the axle. If this isn’t possible, time spent rearranging heavier items is time well spent and will make for an enjoyable and safer tow.