When packing suitcases for a vacation, it’s important to consider that the space in your trunk and the permissible total weight of your vehicle are limited. While safety should be the primary motivation for proper loading, careful planning can also prevent time-consuming repacking on the road, as well as fines and penalty points.
Safe Traveling for Your Vacation
Empty weight, total weight, axle load, and roof load – What do you need to know? The manufacturer includes the so-called empty weight, which includes the weight of the vehicle with a full fuel tank, a driver weighing 75 kilograms, onboard tools, a spare tire, first aid kit, and warning triangle, in the vehicle documents when it rolls off the assembly line.
For vehicles manufactured after July 1, 2003, the fuel tank capacity for fuel calculation according to the EU loading standard EN 1646-2 is reduced to only 90%. However, the empty weight must include “100% filled systems for other fluids (excluding used water)”. For motorhomes, this means a full fresh water tank, full gas bottles, boiler contents, and water in the separate toilet flushing tank.
Observing Axle Load, Nose Weight, Trailer Load, and Roof Load
The difference between empty weight and permissible total weight is called payload. The permissible technical total weight in kilograms can be found in the vehicle registration under section F.1.
Caution: Every small accessory that is installed in the vehicle after it leaves the factory increases the empty weight and reduces the available payload capacity. For motorhomes, this often includes awnings, bike racks, roof boxes, or ladders.
Therefore, when your motorhome is fully equipped, it’s better to visit a weighing station and record the new weight. Even with the best intuition and experience, the weight of your luggage shouldn’t be guessed but verified on a scale.
Where Can I Weigh My Vehicle?
Weighing a vehicle is often possible at composting facilities. It’s best to inquire at the relevant local authorities. Some traffic departments also offer the opportunity to weigh caravans for free once a year. Take a look at the local newspaper for published dates and locations.
Axle load provides information about weight distribution, indicating the maximum load capacity for the front and rear axles of the vehicle. This information can be found in the owner’s manual or directly on the vehicle, such as on a plate in the engine compartment or near the passenger door. These weights must also be strictly adhered to. Careful loading, proper weight distribution, and checking on a scale contribute to this.
The roof load is determined by the bodywork manufacturer and depends on the roof’s construction. In some cases, motorhome roofs are equipped with rubber mats or aluminum plates, showing the safe walking areas. The owner can learn which weights can be transported on the roof from the manufacturer. Often, the dealer might have the answer as well.
Motorhomes as Towing Vehicles
For those who want to tow an additional trailer or boat trailer with their motorhome, an additional hitch is needed. The vehicle registration document provides information on how much weight can be towed.
Before a trailer hitch is released onto the market, it undergoes a series of tests that determine the indicated values.
Checklist: Proper Loading of Cars and Motorhomes
- Create a packing list and write the weight next to each item.
- Distribute the load properly – place heavy and bulky items as low as possible.
- Store provisions in sealed plastic containers to prevent them from shifting during braking or driving.
- Cushion sharp objects and place them crosswise whenever possible.
- Ensure luggage doesn’t protrude above the height of the rear seatbacks.
- Consider using a cargo barrier or safety net for heavy luggage.
- For motorhomes: Don’t forget about liquid gas and water.
- For motorhomes: Place bulky items in spacious external storage compartments.
- For motorhomes: Use unbreakable tableware and secure it in overhead cabinets.
- For motorhomes: Store lightweight items in overhead lockers.
- For motorhomes: Always place heavy items at the bottom to maintain a low center of gravity.
- For motorhomes: Clear off open shelves and tables.