21/07/2014
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Motorhome weights and payload explained

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Many motorhomers are breaking the law by overloading their motorhome. So, what can you do to avoid a hefty fine, or worse?

It’s very easy to overload your motorhome, particularly if you’re the sort of person who likes to be prepared for every eventuality. The trouble is that even if you’ve overloaded your motorhome inadvertently, it’s no defence in the eyes of the law.

While slight overloading may land you a hefty fine and points on your driving licence, being heavily overloaded is a much more serious offence. The problem has become more of an issue in recent years as the base vehicle weights have steadily increase and customers expect greater luxuries.
 
What does your motorhome weigh?
You should know the Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) or Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass (MTPLM) of your motorhome. Find it in your owner’s manual and/or on the chassis plate. This is the maximum figure that your vehicle will be authorised to carry in total with all your touring kit and passengers on board.
The difference between the actual measured weight of the motorhome and the MAM or MTPLM is the payload of the vehicle. This must be loaded into the vehicle in such a way as to not exceed the individual axle loading limits – you may have a large garage and 500kg payload, but if you only have a tolerance of 300kg on the back axle, you can’t just chuck all your stuff in the motorhome’s garage.

Visit a weighbridge
Have the front and rear axle weights checked. Ideally you want to do this in plenty of time before you go on holiday. Equally, what you carry for a particular trip can vary, so regular trips to the weighbridge are a wise precaution.

Weigh your extras
On a new motorhome, remember that every additional optional item – from carpet mats to electric awnings – must be subtracted from your available payload. Buy a vehicle with a modest payload and just a few extras can soon reduce the remaining payload to a negligible amount for your essentials such as clothing, bedding, food and drink. Manufacturers and dealers should advise you clearly on the weight of any options, so check carefully at the time of purchase. Given the sizeable cost of investing in a motorhome, you can also insist on getting it weighed as part of the deal. 
 
What the police say
Tim Booth, the Leisure Vehicle Officer for the ACVIS Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service says, "experience from roadside checks shows that many ‘offenders’ fill up their vehicle before they leave home, rather than buying food and drink locally at their destination. On many occasions the excess weight comes from the volume of cans, in particular alcohol and fizzy drinks. The fact that a litre bottle of liquid weighs around 1kg doesn’t seem to register on the radar! In one case, it was the weight of an extra passenger being carried in a vehicle only designed to carry two people that resulted in the vehicle being overweight."
 
If your motorhome is overloaded
If you’re marginally overloaded, draining the fresh water tank may be sufficient. Vehicles with large garages are most at risk of overloading. As a rule, if you’re carrying something you haven’t used in the last year, leave it at home. If repositioning the load or thinning down equipment doesn’t work, consider using a trailer or have your vehicle replated to a higher weight limit. Speak to the dealer, manufacturer or a specialist replating firm such as SvTech.

This is an extract from a longer article in August 2014 MMM magazine, which also contains advice about using weighbridge results to get the right tyre pressures. To order your copy, click here


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