WHAT IS TARE WEIGHT? HERE'S WHAT CARAVANNERS SHOULD KNOW

What is tare weight you say? Don’t worry, this is a common question many caravanners ask. It's something that pops up all the time in caravan blogs, articles, guides and forum discussions that centre on safe caravan towing.

And understanding tare weight is a crucial thing to know. It’s the cornerstone to basic towing safety and your first stepping-stone to preparing for an adventure on the road. So what is it? Let’s find out by answering these series of questions.

1. What is tare weight?

Tare weight is the weight of an empty caravan when it leaves the factory floor and before anything, such as personal items, furniture, supplies and more have been added to it.

A caravan's tare weight is set by the manufacturer and determined through the build process. Standard models will have the same set tare weight. Customised caravans will have different tare weights depending on what features are added to a chosen model.

2. Why does tare weight matter?

Tare weight matters a great deal when it comes to the right towing capacity. It will tell you if your caravan is too heavy or the right weight for your vehicle to handle. It also gives you an idea of how much weight you can add to your caravan before you reach its maximum towing capacity.

You need to evaluate this well before you purchase a caravan, from a Roma Elegance to Alto model, or upgrade your vehicle for towing purposes. If your caravan ends up being too heavy, this will compromise your towing safety, fuel efficiency, and you also won’t legally be able to tow it on the road.

That’s why it’s vital to know your caravan's tare weight well before you start hitching it to your tow vehicle.

3. Where do I find a caravan's tare weight?

Your caravan’s tare weight is set by the manufacturer. It can be found on your caravan’s trailer plate and in your caravan owner’s manual.

When you’re shopping around for a caravan, a good place to find out more about tare weight is through a licensed dealer. They have a duty of care to ensure you only buy a caravan that's the right weight for your vehicle and can be safely and legally towed on the road.

Here you can compare different caravan models, their tare weights, and get into the nitty gritty of towing capacity specifics and what's the best match for your car. 

4. Once I know tare weight, what then?

As well as tare weight, every caravan has an Aggregate Towing Mass (ATM). This is the maximum weight your caravan is legally allowed to carry with everything added to it, and should not be exceeded. 

Your vehicle will also have a maximum towing capacity. This is represented by two weights, braked and un-braked. You want to focus on the braked weight, which is the weight your vehicle can tow with trailer brakes used. As well as this, also check your vehicle’s tow ball and that its download amount can handle the weight of your caravan. Both will be specified in your vehicle’s owner’s manual.

Once you know these standards, you can then turn to packing your caravan. A good move is to weigh all your items beforehand, so you can stay within the legal towing capacity range.   

5. How do I weigh for tare weight? 

Once you're loaded your caravan, if you want to find out how much you now weigh you can visit a weighbridge to find out the Gross Combined Mass (GCM) of your caravan and vehicle combined, both fully laden.

Every vehicle has a maximum GCM weight that should not be exceeded. Knowing this will come in handy when crossing bridges and using ferries where weight-limits may be applied.

6. What’s a tare weight no-no?

A big no-no when it comes to towing capacity is only focussing on tare weight rather than ATM, and as a consequence overloading your caravan. This could be from packing too many heavy travel items into your caravan to new features in a customised build that change its initial tare wieght. Every item added to your caravan counts.

Towing a too-heavy load will make acceleration, cornering, braking and driving smoothly harder to do. With your suspension impacted you will also feel more bumps and ruts in the road. The trickle-down affect of all of this is that towing will not be as smooth, enjoyable and fuel efficient as what it has been designed for – and what you deserve!

So keep in mind what you pack in your caravan and try and live by the motto ‘less is more’.

Tare weight is my middle name

So as you can see, knowing your tare weight inside out will bring you one step closer to becoming a safe and confident caravan tower. It can help you determine what caravan to buy, what tow vehicle to match it to, and what kind of weights you can load into your caravan. A pretty important thing to know, don’t you think?

Want to know all the steps involved in becoming a confident caravan tower. Download our free comprehensive ebook 10 steps to becoming a caravan towing pro.