Eriba caravan?

Late October but managed to get good deal on 2021 price as next years model has the inevitable price increase. Actually choice of bed layout was important as at our age (58) we both get up in the night so this bed format avoids the clambering over each other scenario.

@William I was going to put this on that particular thread but it is now closed so thought it best to start a new one. Hope it’s helped answer some of your questions?

Excellent thread Paul, thanks I didn’t realize the other one was closed. Congratulations and enjoy your new Eriba!

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What would be the minimum car power for the one pictured? Please don’t say a 2.5l (arrgh) diesel!

As with matching a tow car to any caravan, power is a relatively minor consideration.

The first thing to look at are the respective weights. In the UK (and most other countries AFIK) the kerb weight (empty but with an allowance of 75kg for the driver and the weight of half a tank of fuel) of the tow car has to be greater than the plated MTPLM (Maximum Technically Permitted Laden Mass, of the caravan - the absolute maximum allowed all-up weight including permanent fixtures such as motor movers and leisure batteries, consumables such as gas bottles, and the user payload). There is also a requirement that the gross vehicle weight plus the MTPLM don’t exceed the maximum plated train weight of the towing vehicle. These are legal requirements under road traffic legislation. For safe and comfortable towing, most would agree that one should aim for the MTPLM being in the range of 80-90% of tow car kerb weight.

With modern vehicle driver aids and traction control systems fitted to caravans, and very careful loading it’s possible to get away with a bit more, but straying above that 90% ratio is fraught with peril, particularly when driving downhill as the caravan tends to control the car rather than the other way round.

The other considerations to be aware of are that some cars which might otherwise fit the bill are not type approved for towing at all, some manufacturers recommend uprating engine or transmission cooling systems, and all tow cars have a maximum nose weight (the downforce on the tow bar) both for structural reasons, and also to maintain safe steering.

If you can meet these requirements, the tow car is almost certainly going to have enough power, since most cars have a high enough power to weight ratio to tug well over 80% of kerb weight.

I have two questions on MTPLM, if I may:

  1. Do you mean literally best to get a caravan with an MTPLM in that range, or do you mean get one with the MTPLM no more than ideally 80% but definitely no more than 90% of car? (I assume the latter)

  2. Is it the MTPLM that actually matters legally in relation to kerb weight of car (or manufacturer’s prescribed max towing weight for the car), or is it the actual weight that is critical? Both of course are from the angle of not overloading caravan, which could invalidate insurance as well as be dangerous and a motoring offence, but from the angle of legal and safe to tow if you are careful in loading the caravan never to exceed the max towing weight of the car even if the caravan technically is allowed to carry more if pulled by a heavier car? By way of example, if one has a car with a max tow weight of, say, 1350kg, is it legal and safe to tow a caravan of MTPLM 1400kg, actual weight 1050kg, being careful never to add more than 300kg payload (and noting your advice about practical weight, actually adding negligible payload)?

1: The latter as you correctly assume.

2: As far as legislation is concerned it is the PLATED MTPLM that counts, irrespective of actual load. Similarly it is the PLATED kerb weight (or the kerb weight listed on the V5), and the PLATED maximum train weight.

Confusingly, “maximum towing weight” as quoted by vehicle manufacturers has nothing at all to do with these weights, being the maximum weight that the vehicle can tow from halted up a standard incline. The LEGAL maximum towing weight is calculated by subtracting the Gross Vehicle Weight from the Gross Train Weight (both as plated and irrespective of actual loads) and this figure may differ from the other legal maximum based on kerb weight and MTPLM and from the quoted maximum towing weight!

AFIK, the nose weight maximum is not a legal requirement, but if a loss adjuster were somehow to find that it had been exceeded it could invalidate a claim.

As an aside, user payloads for caravans are surprisingly low, except for 2 tonne twin axle beasts. As an example my own caravan (MTPLM 1550 kG) has a payload allowance of 204 kG, and this has to include the motor mover as this is not included in the MIRO (mass in running order). It’s very easy for the load to creep over time, and I make a point before the annual service of clearing the cupboards and lockers and repacking them, removing items that have been smuggled in because they “might come in handy”. This occasionally leads to “spirited negotiations” with Mrs Nicos.

I mitigate this by carrying items such as the porch awning (30 kG) in the car, freeing up payload in the caravan to allow us to pack the fridge with food, and the wardrobes with clothes etc.

If you are talking about the Eriba 530, which is the one I have, we tow her with our quite small Audi A3. It’s the 1.5l engine with 150PS. We are about on the limit of the 85% match, and ensure that the weight on the tow ball is about 60kg to 65kg, the maximum for the car being 75kg. We don’t have an awning but have a wind out canopy. You can carry two full gas bottles and a bit of water in the toilet and water tank, for those in journey wee events and it’s all fine. The tins of foot etc sit next the fridge over the axle. The water and toilet are on the opposite side to the canopy to it’s ok from side to side, if that makes sense.

We wouldn’t be seen dead in a diesel and the petrol car is fine, though we are very careful going downhill and don’t go too fast uphill, or the fuel consumption suffers horribly.

Many thanks for the clarification, much appreciated: I know I could have found by searching, but that has saved me the effort - and more importantly corrected my assumption about the meaning of ‘maximum towing weight’ if my choice does come down on the side of caravan,

Happy to have been of help. It’s not the most straightforward subject, particularly when a term has different meanings in different contexts!

Interestingly, my car’s declared max towing weight is 90% of its kerb weight, and my considerations re possible caravan fit both!

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Excellent news!

Pretty much all modern caravans have anti snaking devices on the hitch. Towing at 90% of kerb weight is legal, and safe with suitable care. To improve the safety aspect consider looking for a caravan with the Alko towing stability device (or similar) and/or getting dedicated wiring for your tow bar which on many cars automatically adjusts their stability settings.

Experience helps a lot, and careful packing of the kit inside the caravan can have a huge impact on towing stability by keeping heavy items low down and close to the axle, and by not putting heavy items too far back as they can create a pendulum effect.

I know how scary snaking can be - many years ago I had a rare Audi, and bought another two as non -runners (one a good engine wrecked body, the other vice versa) to build another. I had to transport one about 200 miles, and used my girlfriend’s company car, a Vauxhall Cavalier, to tow. guess the car weights were similar, but the towed was plus the trailer weight. hiring a trailer. I had no notion of towable weight etc - and the main weight quite high from the road. Shortly after setting off I was on a dual carriageway (two lanes plus hard shoulder, going down a long hill, around 50mph and with a very strong crosswind. It started snaking - I managed eventually to get it under control, and pulled onto the hard shoulder to check the trailer and recover myself. I could see my skidmarks in a sine wave over several hundred yards - and at its peak nearly reaching the central reservation and outer edge of the hard shoulder. Luckily it was Sunday morning
and there had been no-one else on the road. I drove the rest of the way not exceeding 40mph, and slower down hill.

That is one reason why I am wary of committing to a caravan, though I am well aware that keeping within recommended (as well as legal) towing weight, combined with modern technological improvements, make the risk far far lower.

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