Nosey Lesson

Kalych replied on 01/10/2019 07:06

Posted on 01/10/2019 07:06

We have been caravan club members for 15 years during which time we have owned 2 Baileys, 1 Compass, 2 Elddis and now our first Swift (Conqueror 580). Over the years we have towed with Vauxhall Vectra v6, Shogun, Landcruiser and Volvo XC70. I have always made sure I had a tow car with plenty of BHP, Torque and kerb weight, also very careful with loading the caravan before going on the road (tyres, wheel nut torque, lights, etc). I considered myself a caravaner who understood the risks to ourselves and other road users associated with towing and planned accordingly, with no problems encountered until our recent change of both caravan and car.


We changed our caravan to the 2016 Swift 580 and at the same time changed our tow car to a 2016 Audi A6 Avant 3.0 Quattro with a dealer fitted new tow bar thinking it would tow the Swift with consummate ease, given the cars towing capacity is 2100kgs. We loaded the caravan, did usual checks and headed south from Aberdeen to Carlisle. On the way we had 3 occasions where the caravan swayed much more than normal as I passed an HGV and on one occasion had both my wife and I concerned. I pulled over and checked everything in case the loading inside had shifted but all was ok. We continued our journey south reducing road speed which stopped any further sway.


Once at our destination I started checking further and even called the Caravan & Motorhome Club technical support team where I was advised there should be no problem with the match however two factors (outside of loading) which may cause the sway are tyre pressure and nose weight. This caused me to check tow bar weights and found after contacting Audi it was only 75kgs for that car. Needless to say I purchased a calibrated nose weight gauge and discovered the Swift was around 85kgs with only a lightweight gas bottle in the front locker.

We are now about to change our tow car having had it only 4 months and the big lesson I learned was to know the maximum load the tow car can take on the tow ball, something I’ve never thought about in 15 years towing.


Interestingly, I called the Swift Group to ask the ex-works nose weight of an empty 2016 Conqueror 580 and was advised they are not obliged to provide the public with that information. Come on Swift Group, surely to comply with design specifications you have a nose weight threshold your completed ‘ex-works’ empty caravans must adhere to?

Whittakerr replied on 01/10/2019 07:19

Posted on 01/10/2019 07:19

Not too sure the empty nose weight is of any relevance as it’s the loaded nose weight that matters. Nose weight can easily be adjusted by the way the caravan is loaded.

Although a nose weight of 75kg is a little light its still 75% of the maximum the hitch can take.

EasyT replied on 01/10/2019 07:36

Posted on 01/10/2019 07:36

A useful warning. Sorry you were caught out. When I bought our present tow car 14 years ago there were a number that I discounted as having a 75kg or 80kg hitch load rather than 100kg.  

EasyT replied on 01/10/2019 07:46

Posted on 01/10/2019 07:19 by Whittakerr

Posted on 01/10/2019 07:46

Nose weight can easily be adjusted by the way the caravan is loaded.

May or may not be easy to adjust but if ex works is 120kg as some Bailey models (no doubt others) were said to be I would find it more than a tad inconvenient and a time wasting faff redistributing load every time that I moved off.  

I have been fortunate in being able to simply store stuff where I wanted them to be during usage (except aquaroll and wastemaster) and the resultant nose weights have been fine without need to adjust. 

lornalou1 replied on 01/10/2019 12:49

Posted on 01/10/2019 12:49

So 15 years towing and every caravan/car combo you had could have been overloaded on the hitch as you never checked any of them. Makes you think how many older caravanners are still doing the same, just hitch up and go. surprisedsurprised I don't mean age I mean 20/30 years of towing.

JVB66 replied on 01/10/2019 12:56

Posted on 01/10/2019 12:49 by lornalou1

So 15 years towing and every caravan/car combo you had could have been overloaded on the hitch as you never checked any of them. Makes you think how many older caravanners are still doing the same, just hitch up and go. surprisedsurprised I don't mean age I mean 20/30 years of towing.

Posted on 01/10/2019 12:56

Just chance that when an accident occurs the investigation is not too thorough, to note that the hitch and towbar were exceeding the manufactured limitswink

EasyT replied on 01/10/2019 13:08

Posted on 01/10/2019 12:49 by lornalou1

So 15 years towing and every caravan/car combo you had could have been overloaded on the hitch as you never checked any of them. Makes you think how many older caravanners are still doing the same, just hitch up and go. surprisedsurprised I don't mean age I mean 20/30 years of towing.

Posted on 01/10/2019 13:08

15 years ago I was still able to judge by picking up the hitch and hefting up and down laughing

MollysMummy replied on 01/10/2019 14:50

Posted on 01/10/2019 14:50

I wouldn't have thought that 85kg instead of 75kg would have made that much difference. My Vauxhalls only had a nose weight max of 75kg too & I towed our Lunar Delta (which looks to be a similar weight to your Swift) with ease & no drama at the max 60mph ...

and I used the same precision & method as EasyT to gauge the 'van's nose weight.

Lutz replied on 01/10/2019 15:24

Posted on 01/10/2019 14:50 by MollysMummy

I wouldn't have thought that 85kg instead of 75kg would have made that much difference. My Vauxhalls only had a nose weight max of 75kg too & I towed our Lunar Delta (which looks to be a similar weight to your Swift) with ease & no drama at the max 60mph ...

and I used the same precision & method as EasyT to gauge the 'van's nose weight.

Posted on 01/10/2019 15:24

I fully agree. If such a comparatively small change in noseweight results in such a marked difference in the way the outfit handles there must be something else wrong somewhere, too. On one occasion I towed my 1800kg single axle behind the car with probably less than 50kg noseweight and although I did feel the difference, it was nothing to get too concerned about. I just had to be that bit more careful, that's all. Even with my current car I am limited to 80kg noseweight and it tows like a dream.

EasyT replied on 01/10/2019 15:34

Posted on 01/10/2019 15:34

I wouldn't have thought that 85kg instead of 75kg would have made that much difference.

It would to me if it meant faffing to achieve (say) 75kg instead of 90+kg when loaded to suit me. wink