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
For a detailed and clear explanation of ALL weights relevant to the tow vehicle and caravan, please CLICK HERE!
- 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. Will usually have solar panels and batteries for Off-Grid camping.
- Full-OffRoad –What is an off road caravan? Well, is there really such a thing to start with?Most caravans are made from a combination of timber, aluminium and/or fibreglass cabins atop a steel chassis . Is any combination of these cabin materials REALLY suitable for rough, off road use though? In my opinion, no.
When many of my customers say ‘off road’ what they’re really alluding to is ‘off-grid’, ie: 12v ready with solar panels and batteries, hot water and cooking via gas and a reasonably sturdy cabin on a solid chassis. This is VERY achievable in many caravan formats. But in my opinion, not truly off road. This combination allows travelers to camp away from caravan parks, in national parks, off the bitumen and down reasonable unsealed roads.
For the traveler looking to get right off the beaten track, head along ungraded paths, rocky tracks and through rivers and gullies, I’d be setting my eyes more on a camper trailer or modern hybrid camper/pop-top. These are generally constructed with a lot more steel components, giving a lot more strength.
Campers That Are Generally Considered Off-Road Are Usually Signified by a 6” Chassis with Riser, 16” Wheels, 270/75R16 LT Tyres, Independent Suspension, Solar Panels, Batteries and Reinforced Fittings.
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.
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 or Sway Bars are common names 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.