Whether you’re just starting out or an experienced caravanner, there’s always plenty to learn. Below you will find a list of FAQ’s and definitions that might help answer that burning question you’ve been thinking about.
- TARE – The weight of the caravan at the completion of the build process; empty of water, gas, food and personal belongings. FIXED NUMBER
- ATM – The total maximum permissible weight of the entire caravan after loading your water, gas, food and personal belongings. FIXED NUMBER
- PAYLOAD – The ATM minus the Tare, ie, the amount of weight permissible to load into the van. This is made up of water, gas, food and personal belongings. Commonly 400kg for tandem axle vans, 300kg for single axle vans. FIXED NUMBER
- Tow Ball Weight – The down-force exerted through the tow hitch onto the towball of the towing vehicle. This weight will vary depending on how the van is loaded. VARIABLE DEPENDING ON LOAD
- On-Road – Mainly suitable for bitumen travel with some light unsealed roads. Usually signified by a 4” Chassis, 14” Wheels, 185R14C Tyres, Roller-Rocker Suspension
- Semi-OffRoad – Suitable for medium-duty travel on unsealed roads. Usually signified by a 6” Chassis, 15” Wheels, 235/75R15 LT Tyres, Roller-Rocker Suspension (This is the basis of all Villa Caravans)
- Full-OffRoad – Suitable for heavy duty travel on unsealed roads and tracks. Usually signified by a 6” Chassis with Riser, 16” Wheels, 270/75R16 LT Tyres and Independent Suspension
Where are caravans measured from? The measurement SWRV Centre adheres to in describing a caravan’s size is the External Body Length, NOT INCLUDING the A-Frame or Rear Bumper.
How much will my car need to pull? Your vehicle manual/book will have a page specific to towing. It will say, ‘Towing Capacity, BRAKED = XXXXkg’. This figure needs to be higher than the ATM of the caravan.
What are Electric Brakes? Most modern caravans have an electronic braking system that feeds through the trailer plug. To operate this you need an ELECTRONIC BRAKE CONTROL UNIT fitted to your vehicle. This regulates the amount of power put through to the caravan brakes. An auto-electrician can supply and fit this to your vehicle.
Do I need Stabiliser Bars? Stabiliser Bars is a bit of an incorrect name for what is technically called a WEIGHT DISTRIBUTION KIT. Whether you need one or not depends on your individual vehicle and caravan combination. When you connect the van to the back of the car, if they both point downwards, you probably need a WEIGHT DISTRIBUTION KIT. This re-distributes the weight to the front wheels of the tow vehicle, giving a level towing system for safer towing.
What shackles do I need? You need one shackle for each safety chain on the van. It is recommended that the shackles have a stamped rating on them and the rating (or sum of ratings with two shackles) be greater than the ATM of the caravan. For Example, if your caravan ATM is 2,800kg and has 2 chains, you would require 2 shackles rated at 1,500kg ea.