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Weighing up safety options.

Byline: By David Whinyates

Many new caravans come with all the comforts of home.

Problem is, with all this kit, caravans are growing in length and weight.

Caravanning may be cool ( but you'll swiftly be overheating if you try to tow some of today's monsters with a car not up to the job.

The most important thing to consider if you are new, or even an old hand at caravanning, is the car/caravan weight ratio.

You need to ensure the caravan you have your eye on is compatible with the car you intend to tow.

To achieve the optimum performance and safety levels, the lower this ratio is, the better the performance will be in terms of reasonable reserves of power for overtaking and hill climbing, as well as sufficient excess weight in the tow car for safer towing on fast motorway journeys. For the ideal towing balance, your caravan's Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass (MTPLM) should equate to 85% of your car's kerb weight. This ratio can be increased to a maximum 100% for experienced towers, but must not exceed this and in some circumstances it may be illegal to do so.

The kerb weight of your car will be in its handbook but check the car maker hasn't imposed a lower towing weight due to features of the vehicle construction and or engine limitations.

The weight or mass of your caravan is quantified in two ways as follows:

Mass In Running Order (MIRO) ( the ex-works weight of the van as delivered to the dealer and without any additional equipment or personal belongings. As well as the MIRO, caravan makers will normally quote additional weight allowances for essential living equipments, personal effects and optional equipment which, together make up the Total User Payload.

Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass (MTPLM) ( this is the heaviest total weight the caravan maker will permit and it's the sum of the MIRO and the Total User Payload.

When buying your caravan from any reputable dealer, they should be able to give advice on outfit matching and provide a print out from Tow Safe, an industry based computer system designed purely with this safe matching in mind.
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jun 9, 2006
Words:363
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