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This website will give you all the information you need to check your tow vehicles compatibility and identify the 80% match ( This means the caravan/ trailer should weigh no more than 80% of the Vehicles kerb weight)
Simply press on tthe button below and this will take you to towcheck
Generally cars will accept most towbars on the market. Modern 4WD vehicles can have factory fitted towbars which just require the purchase of a plug in towball. Motorhomes dependant upon type will require a specialist tow bar system such as Alko.
The standard 50mm towball is compatible with UK leisure vehicles, however Caravans with Alko tow hitches will need a special extended neck towball to prevent the caravan from detaching itself from the tow vehicle
This is personal preference, however many swan neck towbars will prevent having to cut the vehicles bumper to fit. Detachable towbars are useful if you don't want to keep the towball visible meaning you can store the towball when not in use
With the introduction of the European 13 pin socket around 2008 replacing the need for 2 separate cables, you will need to be mindful of the electrics on your caravan when fitting a new tow bar. Talk to us about the best options for your needs.
In the last few years as car electrical systems have become more complex many vehicles will require something called coding which tells the vehicles on board systems that you have plugged in a trailer. Without coding the lights on the trailer will not be recognised as the canbus system monitors the systems it recognises.
Dedicated electrical systems are the best option for your vehicle as they connect directly into the vehicles harness reducing the chances of poor connections or faulty wiring. The additional cost is well worth it!
What does ‘Nose Load’ mean?
This term refers to the weight, mass or load of the caravan or trailer’s coupling head that is applied to the tow bar or towball of the towing vehicle.
Does ‘static vertical mass’ and ‘nose load’ mean the same thing?
Yes, because static vertical mass is the technical name for nose load. You might even hear it called tongue load in some parts of the United States!
How do you measure nose load?
A proprietary device such as scales can be used to record and measure the weight or force that is applied by the caravan or trailer. It is necessary to measure the weight/force as near to the coupling head’s centre as possible. The height must also be the same as when the trailer/caravan is coupled to your intended towing vehicle.
N.B You will not get a correct measurement of the nose load if the scales are placed too far from the coupling head and under the A-frame. It is worth considering using one of the devices which are commercially available that have the capacity to measure nose load.
What is my maximum nose load?
There should be a maximum legally specified nose load in your vehicle’s handbook. The nose load may be referred to as the ‘maximum static vertical load’; this is the technical terminology. The maximum nose load varies between models, so it is essential to contact your vehicle’s manufacturer if you have any doubts.
How can I find out the maximum nose load for my tow bar?
EC Type Approved tow bars come with an ‘S’ value which can be found on the approval label. This shows the maximum nose load for that tow bar. This does not necessarily mean that it is the maximum nose load for your vehicle though, because not all tow bars are vehicle specific. You must refer to your vehicle’s handbook for the correct model specific data.
What is my caravan/trailers maximum nose load?
Manufacturers of EC or nationally approved caravans or trailers are not obliged to apply a label or capacity/rating plate to their products at present. There are plenty of manufacturers who do specify the maximum nose load though. You will find this information on a label or plate as the ‘S’ value in kg. Modern caravan/trailer coupling heads come with an EC approval plate or a mark which dictates the maximum ‘S’ value. Other components of your caravan/trailer may be in excess of this so you must contact the caravan manufacturer if you have any doubts.
What is the best nose load for me to use?
Research has demonstrated how the stability of a caravan or trailer increases when the nose load is greater. It is generally accepted that your trailer/caravan’s nose load should be somewhere in the upper range of the recommended maximum nose load. Common sense should be used as a nose load of 150KG for a vehicle like a Mitsubishi Shogun might not be achievable if you try to tow a 250KG caravan.
How would my tow bar mounted cycle carrier affect my maximum nose load if used while towing?
At present it is recommended that the weight of the cycle carrier and any cycles is subtracted from the maximum recommended nose load. The combined load of the cycle carrier, cycles and the caravan or trailer’s nose load should not be in excess of the maximum nose load for your vehicle.
What would happen if I exceeded my vehicle’s maximum nose load?
This is not advisable since the vehicle mounting points and tow bar could be damaged. There is also a risk that your warranty would be invalidated.
Can I adjust or change my nose load?
There is only one really effective way to adjust nose load and this involves redistribution the trailers contents. Certain special purpose trailers such as boat trailers allow you to change the nose load. The nose load can be altered by shifting the axle or axles on the rear chassis, but it is wise to let the manufacturer or one of their representatives do this!
Is it OK to have negative nose load?
This is a potentially hazardous situation because the likelihood of your caravan snaking or becoming unstable would increase. A negative nose means that the trailer coupling is not forced down securely onto the towball