Benjamin DaviesSee other Advice articles filed in ‘Base vehicle matters’ written by Benjamin Davies
Staying within your motorhome’s weight limits is critically important. If your vehicle is overloaded, you can be prosecuted and fined, but more importantly (and more frighteningly), your ’van could ride unpredictably, the brakes could be overloaded and a serious accident could result. The best way to find out if your ’van is legally loaded is by visiting a local weighbridge. This is essentially a giant set of scales used for checking the weight of commercial vehicles before they hit the road.
Finding your local weighbridge is easy – your local council will have details of where to find one. Otherwise, you can check out the Yellow Pages phone directory. You don’t need an appointment, but do phone ahead to check the opening times and to check prices. As a rough guide, each measured weight will cost between £5-£10.
As well as giving you peace of mind that your ’van is safe, a valid weighbridge certificate will placate any police officer who suspects your ’van of exceeding legal weight limits.
1. To start with, find your vehicle’s MTPLM (maximum technically permissible laden mass), and maximum axle weights. If you bought it new, check the handbook; if you have an older ’van, check under the bonnet, doorstep or side panel for the chassis plate: this will have the figure stamped on it.
2. Prepare before visiting the weighbridge by ensuring your ’van is in full touring trim. That is, load it as if for a typical tour, including the people you plan to tour with, all your usual camping gear and clothing, plus gas bottles, a tank of fresh water (if you prefer to tour with water onboard), and a full tank of fuel.
3. Drive onto the weighbridge pause a while, then drive off. Then, reverse so only the rear wheels rest on the platform. This records gross vehicle weight (GVW) and rear axle load. Calculate front axle load by subtracting rear load from GVW.
4. You’ll be given a dated printout with registration details and weights of your ’van. Confirm that you don’t exceed your ’van’s MTPLM in touring mode. How you reduce your ’van’s weight, if required, is up to you. Use our table below as a guide.
Full 7kg gas cylinder 15kg
Five-litre water container 5kg
Three empty water and waste containers 5kg
Mains lead 3.5kg
Folding table 5kg
Portable 14” TV 10kg
Three saucepans and a frying pan 3kg