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?

lagerorwine replied on 01/11/2019 18:44

Posted on 01/11/2019 18:44

As I said before, I would be exploring every possible loading combination (of car and caravan), before despatching a perfectly capable 3ltr 4wd estate towcar and spending thousands of pounds unnecessarily.

Or set the speed limiter to 55, and arrive 10 minutes later with 2-3 mpg saving and feeling more relaxed

Lutz replied on 02/11/2019 14:25

Posted on 01/11/2019 18:44 by lagerorwine

As I said before, I would be exploring every possible loading combination (of car and caravan), before despatching a perfectly capable 3ltr 4wd estate towcar and spending thousands of pounds unnecessarily.

Or set the speed limiter to 55, and arrive 10 minutes later with 2-3 mpg saving and feeling more relaxed

Posted on 02/11/2019 14:25

I absolutely agree. The Audi should be more than capable of towing a caravan well below its towload limit with ease. There must be something else wrong somewhere if it's a real problem. A substantial difference in wheel load on the caravan between left and right might be a possibility.

punto338 replied on 04/11/2019 22:15

Posted on 21/10/2019 02:41 by DS3

Most of my cars have been 75kg nose weight. Never had any issue with any of them.

Interestingly, when watching people leave sites, I have never once seen anyone check the noseweight before hitching up. Even those more experienced. Makes you wonder just how many outfits are driving around illegally.

I suppose lifting it up by hand is a good way of telling the weight, rather than using a calibrated nose weight gauge. "rolls eyes"

Posted on 04/11/2019 22:15

This topic is always going to generate debate.

 I am one of those who checks the nose weight with a gauge on a regular basis (providing I have a relatively level pitch) before leaving a campsite. It takes about 5 mins max. Why do I do it?  We tow about 10,000 miles a year.  I know the caravan is absolutely stable at all speeds and inclines/declines between 90kg and 95kg - max towball limit according to Hyundai is 100 kg. Less than 90kg, the caravan is skittish.  Yes, I load the caravan roughly the same way, but all sorts of things can affect the balance depending how long we have been on a particular pitch; a fortnight's worth of laundry, restocking the wine supply, using more tins in cooking etc etc.  Most of the time I am within my weights but, just occasionally, I have to do a little adjustment to my loading.

That is what works for me.  However I think everyone's combination is different with different stability criteria. In my mind, providing you don't exceed the vehicle's maximum towball weight, the rest is down to trial and error to find the optimum nose weight for stability. Once you have found that weight, it doesn't matter how you check it as long as it works for you.