How to measure a caravan’s noseweight
Making sure your caravan’s noseweight is correct is one of the most important things to do when it comes to towing your caravan safely and securely.
A caravan’s noseweight is, essentially, the force exerted by the caravan onto the car’s tow ball.
The weight of the caravan should apply a slight downward force on the car’s rear, helping the back tyres grip the road and giving the car – and therefore the driver – more control.
If there is too much downward force on the back of the car then the front will rise up, putting too much pressure on the rear tyres and raising the front headlights past the legal limit.
Too much downward force would also reduce the grip of the front tyres which could be extremely dangerous in 4x4s or cars with front wheel drive.
If there is not enough downward force on the car’s tow ball then the rear tyres won’t have enough grip so it’s equally as important not to have a noseweight that’s too low, especially if your car has rear wheel drive.
What should my caravan’s noseweight be?
Your caravan’s noseweight should be around seven per cent of its total weight, including passengers and luggage.
You can calculate this number by dividing the caravan’s total weight by 100, then multiplying the answer by seven.
So if your caravan’s laden weight is 1300kg, then your nose weight would need to be roughly 91kg.
You should also check your car’s handbook to see the maximum noseweight it can carry. This will normally be somewhere between 75-150kg, depending on the size of your vehicle.
Tow balls and bars also have a maximum weight limit, so make sure you check this separately and remember that the noseweight must not exceed any of these limits.
How do I check my caravan’s noseweight?
Start off by deciding what you’re going to use to measure. You can buy both digital and spring-loaded noseweight gauges or, if you prefer, just use bathroom scales and a piece of wood to spread the load.
Make sure the caravan is on an even surface. If the front is lowered then the noseweight reading will be too high, if it is raised then the reading will be too low.
Slot the narrow end of the noseweight gauge into the hitch-head. Wind the jockey wheel in, lowering the caravan until the wheel lifts off the floor.
Take the reading on the gauge (or scales) and make any adjustments necessary until it is correct.
Tips for measuring your caravan’s noseweight
• When loading your caravan, try to balance the weight across the axel.
• You may have to rearrange the contents or move some heavier items into your car in order to get the right weight.
• Check your caravan’s handbook – it may give you a specific noseweight.
• You can buy jockey wheels with a built in gauge which some people consider easier to use.