When buying a caravan, the maximum towing capacity of your vehicle (as specified by the manufacturer) will be critical. To make sure you have the correct towing capacity rating, see your vehicle's owner's manual or the manufacturer's website. It's worth noting, that automatic or manual transmission and petrol or diesel versions of vehicle model often have different capacities.
You'll also need to figure out what your vehicle's maximum towball download is, as this will narrow down your caravan options. The lowest capacity item in the towing configuration, such as the towbar, towball, or towing vehicle, ultimately limits the maximum towing capacity of any vehicle. Towballs are required to have a stamped rating that must not be exceeded. Overall capacity and download capacity are plated on towbars, and neither must be exceeded.
For example, your vehicle may be legally capable of towing up to 2100kg, but it may only be equipped with a towbar rated at 1200kg. In that instance, the weight restriction is 1200kg. Look for a plate or label affixed to the towbar that states the manufacturer's name and the towbar's maximum capacity. Check the maximum permissible Gross Combined Mass (GCM) - the maximum weight of the car and van, with all their contents in the owner's manual. To make sure this GCM amount isn't surpassed, add the vehicle's total recommended mass (GVM) to the potential caravan's Aggregate Trailer Mass (ATM).
Finally, when it comes to towing capacity regulations check the rear axle load for your vehicle in the owner's manual. If you are towing a caravan and also fill your vehicle's cargo space with heavy stuff, you risk overloading the back axle, this can be dangerous and is against the law.
The smaller the caravan the greater the potential pool of towing vehicles will be available to you, generally family caravans tend to be larger and therefore greater consideration will need to be given to choosing the right towing vehicle.
Four-cylinder automobiles with 2L engines or more are usually only capable of towing trailers weighing 1000kg to 1200kg provided the manufacturers vehicle and towbar ratings are sufficient.
Some six-cylinder and V8 sedans and wagons can pull lightweight single-axle caravans and campers weighing up to 1700kg comfortably.
Many medium to large SUVS and 4WDs are capable of towing trailers weighing up to 2500kg before becoming overburdened.
For the real heavyweights needing to tow three tonnes or more, there are fewer vehicles available — Ford F250s and LandCruisers excel here.
Just remember, when preparing to tow a family caravan on holiday, visit your nearest weighbridge to check its laden weight with full water tanks, and all your packed gear to ensure it doesn't exceed your vehicle's towing capability.