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?

Francis replied on 01/10/2019 15:53

Posted on 01/10/2019 15:53

I know this may well have been checked so if so please ignore me but last year while towing home from the Lake District we got a few bad sways on the motorway it was a clear day no wind ect and the van was loaded as it always was (never had any issues before) our car is a Volvo V70 well matched to our van and previous to this it had towed the van 1000s of miles with no issues even in very windy conditions. The car went in for its MOT the following week and it was found that the front tyres were very worn close to the limit. I got 2 new Yokohama tyres for the front and 2 weeks later we towed the van on a 400 mile round trip and the difference was amazing the van was stable no swaying and the car felt much more planted and in control. I now keep a very close eye not only on the tyre pressure but also the tread.

JVB66 replied on 01/10/2019 16:09

Posted on 01/10/2019 16:09

On some  heavily used roads that are in need of resurfacing can have "tram lines" caused by HGV wear can give the affect of swaying, as the van wheels tend to roll into the hollows which are wider than the width of the van wheels,and can be accentuated when being passed by other vehiclessurprised

EasyT replied on 01/10/2019 16:24

Posted on 01/10/2019 16:24

On some heavily used roads that are in need of resurfacing can have "tram lines" caused by HGV wear can give the affect of swaying, as the van wheels tend to roll into the hollows which are wider than the width of the van wheels

I have experienced that on occasion

EmilysDad replied on 01/10/2019 18:24

Posted on 01/10/2019 15:34 by EasyT

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

Posted on 01/10/2019 18:24

I meant in terms of towing ... not achieving the actual nose weight. 😉

Navigateur replied on 01/10/2019 19:21

Posted on 01/10/2019 19:21

I recall reading a suggestion that Bailey deliberately make caravans with a high ex-factory nose weight in the expectation that users will load them up with lots of stuff behind the axle(s).

flatcoat replied on 01/10/2019 20:26

Posted on 01/10/2019 20:26

Before going to the expense of changing the car i would try changing the tyres to a quality brand with stiff sidewalls. Also play around with the tyre pressures front AND rear. I cannot brleive 10kg on nose weight could cause such a big problem. Might be worth getting the rear suspension checked out too. My older generation A6 estate with fwd towed a Moonstone at 1625kg mtplm like a dream.

lagerorwine replied on 01/10/2019 20:30

Posted on 01/10/2019 20:30

For 10yrs, until 2018, I towed a 7.25m single axle caravan (95% match) with my Mk3 Mondeo, that had a 75kg hitch limit. No issues, and did 20,000 miles towing during that time - including Spain many times.

Personnally I would be actively exploring various loading options (for both car and caravan), before trading in what should be a great towcar, to loose a shed load of money

Kalych replied on 03/10/2019 06:55

Posted on 03/10/2019 06:55

Thank you all very much for your varied responses. I do appreciate an ex-works empty caravan nose weight is simply a guide however, if the guide weight is already over the car manufacturer design specifications for towing then it would be a no brainier (for myself) with selection of the towing vehicle.

I wouldn’t have thought 5 or 10 kg on the tow ball would make a big difference but on this occasion with this set up it certainly did and perhaps there were other contributing factors on the day.

Perhaps I’ve been ignorant and lucky over the past 15 years but  refreshed awareness has pushed me to take the safe route and have ensured our revised vehicle is more than capable of towing our van.

Thank you again and safe journeys to all.

EasyT replied on 03/10/2019 07:42

Posted on 01/10/2019 18:24 by EmilysDad

I meant in terms of towing ... not achieving the actual nose weight. 😉

Posted on 03/10/2019 07:42

I was responding to Whittakerr MM but generally we move every 5 days. I wold not wan to unload OH's wardrobe every time that we moved and reload on arrival surprised

Whittakerr replied on 03/10/2019 08:16

Posted on 03/10/2019 07:42 by EasyT

I was responding to Whittakerr MM but generally we move every 5 days. I wold not wan to unload OH's wardrobe every time that we moved and reload on arrival surprised

Posted on 03/10/2019 08:16

Sorry if i missed something ET but your post quoted MM not me.