Across the UK, motorhome weight limits get put in place for several important reasons. Namely, they exist to keep you and your motorhome safe, as well as other passengers on the road. These weight limits also exist to protect your vehicle insurance, and if you exceed them, you could end up in trouble or unable to legally pass through a weigh station while driving.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything you should know about motorhome weight limits in the UK, explaining the weight guide terminology in detail. You’ll learn about how and where to weigh your motorhome and tips for reducing weight if necessary.
Keep reading to find out how to manage your motorhome’s weight so that you can be as safe and legal as possible when travelling.
What is the average weight of a motorhome?
The average weight of a motorhome is a number that varies greatly from driver to driver. Because you may be towing other vehicles or trailers behind your motorhome, it’s possible that you could have a motorhome weight much greater or less than the average.
There’s a pretty large difference in the weight of a truck compared to a sedan getting towed behind your motorhome. Furthermore, a trailer may get filled with a little or a lot. Because of these weight discrepancies, the average fluctuates. However, it’s pretty common for motorhome owners to carry a weight close to 3,500 kg.
What are motorhome weight limits set at?
Motorhome weight limits in the UK vary depending on what type of licence you hold. For example, if your motorhome is between 3.5-7.5 tonnes, you’ll need to have a category C1 licence to drive it. Or, if you want to drive one heavier than 7.5 tonnes, then you need a category C licence to drive it legally.
When it comes to the weight limits, however, there are different criteria set up in a system of acronyms. There are actually seven different acronyms related to motorhome weight limits, including GVW, MAM, PMW, MTPLM, MIRO, MRO, and GTW. Below, we’ll explore what these acronyms mean in relation to a motorhome’s weight limit in the UK.
What is the terminology for motorhome weight?
The aforementioned acronyms refer to the weight limit of a motorhome in different scenarios, ranging from permissible maximum weight to gross weight, authorised mass, and more. The first four are each acronyms describing essentially the same thing – the most a motorhome can weigh when it’s ready to hit the road.
GVW – Gross Vehicle Weight
Gross Vehicle Weight refers to the weight of your motorhome, including everything packed inside for a trip. It accounts for any weight that you’ve added prior to driving it.
MAM – Maximum Authorised Mass
A motorhome’s Maximum Authorised Mass refers to the legal maximum weight that the motorhome can be while fully loaded, according to the motorhome’s manufacturer. You can usually find this weight listed on the door of your motorhome.
The MAM is really the absolute total weight limit of the vehicle, as prescribed by law. As previously mentioned, if you want to drive a motorhome with a higher MAM, you need a special licence category.
PMW – Permissible Maximum Weight
The Permissible Maximum Weight of a motorhome also refers to the maximum amount of weight you can carry when the vehicle is fully loaded.
MTPLM – Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass
Again, this acronym refers to the maximum weight your motorhome can be when full of supplies and ready to take on a trip. It’s just another way to say that you can’t exceed this amount of weight at the end of the day.
MIRO – Mass in Running Order
The Mass in Running Order acronym for motorhome weight refers to the weight of your motorhome when it is brand new. It assumes that nothing got added onto the motorhome, packed inside of it, or towed with it. It’s essentially the weight of the vehicle directly after manufacturing has finished.
This weight limit relies on the assumption that the average driver weighs 75 kg, and the motorhome has a full tank of fuel already.
MRO – Mass Running Order
MRO is just another way you might see the Mass in Running Order labelled. It also refers to the weight of the motorhome after leaving the factory and relies on the same factors.
GTW – Gross Train Weight
The GTW of a motorhome refers to the vehicle’s maximum combined weight with anything it might be towing and anything that might be inside of it. It’s essentially the net weight when you include any cars hitched on behind it or supplies and people inside of the motorhome itself.
What is a motorhome payload?
The payload is basically the difference between the maximum total weight of the motorhome – the MAM – and its weight before you add anything onto it. So, it’s the weight of what you add onto your motorhome or stock inside of it. This could be anything from towed trailers or cars to food, luggage, passengers, extra appliances, furniture, supplies, and more.
There are limits set on the amount of payload you can bring onto your motorhome when driving it, just as there are limits set on the gross weight and individual weight of the motorhome.
If you want to figure out what the payload is for your motorhome, you can go to a weighbridge or scrap yard and get it weighed. You shouldn’t have to pay more than about £10 to do so. Once it’s weighed, you can subtract the motorhome’s MRO from this amount to get your payload.
Because payload is such an important part of travel for most motorhome drivers, people often look for motorhomes advertised with larger payloads. You have to keep this number in mind when packing your motorhome so that you don’t get into a dangerous weight zone.
How do I find the weight of my motorhome?
Weighing your motorhome while travelling is going to be a necessity. You don’t want to get pulled over, only to get penalties on your licence for breaking motorhome weight limit rules in the UK. You especially don’t want to get into an accident or unsafe driving situation because you’ve overloaded your motorhome without realising it.
Getting your motorhome’s weight is basically the same process as getting your payload weight. You need to stop at a local weighbridge or other location that weighs large loads. There, you can get your gross vehicle weight measured. Note that as long as you already know your MRO, you can figure out payload based on GVW.
Where can I weigh my motorhome while travelling?
We mentioned before that you can go to a weighbridge to get your motorhome weighed locally. You can also sometimes go to scrap metal yards or even agricultural merchants to have your motorhome weighed.
It’s best to go to a weighbridge, though, since they can supply you with documentation/proof of weight before you head out on a trip. This is important to have in the case that you get pulled over for speeding or some other reason and get questioned about your weight limits.
What are motorhome axle weights?
In some cases, it’s also important to check in on the individual axle weights of your motorhome. There are weight limits for these, as well. If you overload the rear axle, for example, you can damage essential parts of your motorhome, such as the chassis.
This is why it’s important to evenly distribute the payload throughout your motorhome, whether that’s moving passengers around or making storage spaces throughout the vehicle. Doing so ensures better vehicle stability and control while driving it.
Knowing the front and rear axle loads is also useful in determining what kind of tire pressure you want for the front and rear tires, respectively.
How do I weigh the individual axles?
Just as you can use a simple subtraction calculation to figure out your payload at the weighbridge, you can also calculate individual axle weights pretty easily.
First of all, note that you can easily find out the individual front axle weight of your motorhome by driving only the front wheels onto the scale at the weighbridge.
If you want to find out the rear axle load, you can simply subtract the first weight (front axle weight) from the total weight of the motorhome (GVW). Keep in mind that if you have a tag-axle motorhome, you’ll need to divide the rear axle load by the number of individual axles.
What happens if your motorhome is overweight?
You don’t want to get into a situation where your motorhome is overweight. Overloading a motor home is dangerous to you and other drivers, and it also puts unnecessary wear on your motorhome, which reduces its longevity.
The more strain you put on your motorhome to pull its own weight, the more likely it is to break down faster, require repairs, or even drop in value.
Why is it dangerous to overload a motorhome?
Some of the most obvious risks of driving an overloaded motorhome include reduced speed control and reduced brake control. If you’re driving through a particularly mountainous or hilly region, an overweight motorhome may not be able to make it up the inclines.
In worst-case scenarios, your engine may even overheat or stop working in an effort to climb those mountains. You could get stranded, forced to take an alternate route, or worse.
You also run into the issue of safety in that your brakes aren’t going to work as well as they would if you had kept your MAM under the limit. This is incredibly dangerous, especially since vehicles like motorhomes are more top-heavy than traditional motor vehicles.
To stay extra safe, you’ll have to greatly reduce your speed on downhill roads, and it could add minutes or hours to your driving time.
Furthermore, driving an overloaded motorhome puts you and other drivers at risk of getting into an auto accident. You could flip, skid, or even get in the way of oncoming traffic, leading to a collision.
How can I reduce the weight of my overweight motorhome?
Luckily, there are easy ways to reduce the weight of your motorhome. Each motorhome has its own certain maximum payload in mind. This means that you can always add passengers and items to your motorhome before you start driving, but you need to stay within the limit.
The first step is to get your motorhome weighed officially and calculate your current payload. If you are over the limit, consider downsizing or leaving one or more of the following things at home.
Food and Beverages
This is one of the most obvious ways to reduce the weight on your motorhome. While it’s important to bring food and beverages along with you in your motorhome for a trip, these items are replaceable.
You can always stop at a gas station, restaurant, or grocery store to eat and drink along the way. And when you do, you can cut back on your payload by eating outside of the motorhome or eating and disposing of your trash before you keep driving.
Packed food, and especially drinks, can add up in weight. When it comes to boxed and canned goods, you pack on a lot of unnecessary weight, and the same goes for coolers full of ice and beverages (liquid weight).
Cut Back on Clothing and Accessories
You can also cut back on what you pack in your suitcase. Your wardrobe may not be dispensable, but you also don’t need to pack multiple outfits for each day in your motorhome. This can add up to lots of extra payload, especially when it comes to heavy items like shoes, handbags, denim, etc.
Consider packing less in your suitcase, and plan on using your motorhome’s wash unit or wash and dry units at camping sites so that you can reuse the few clothes you do bring.
Regularly Dispose of Wastewater and Trash
Keeping filled trash bags and used waste/wastewater on your motorhome can quickly add unnecessary weight to the vehicle. When you’re at motorhome sites or campsites, you have an opportunity to drop this weight, as needed.
Even just one gallon of liquid water at room temperature weighs a whopping 3.785 kg. You can see how that will add up quickly.
Find Lightweight Furniture or Reduce Furniture
Instead of stocking your motorhome with heavy loveseats, benches, or other motorhome furniture, opt for something lightweight. Camping chairs and foldable furniture will weigh a lot less than regular furniture, and they’ll save you some storage space as an added bonus.
You might even consider removing some of the furniture from your motorhome for a trip where you know you’ll need to pack lots of other supplies. You can temporarily leave them at home while you travel so that your payload is more manageable.
Remove Outside Features That You Don’t Use
Does your motorhome feature an attached ladder, bike rack, rooftop storage container, or other feature that naturally uses up a lot of weight? If so, this is a real fool proof way to reduce the weight of your motorhome.
When you’re not using a bike rack, for example, there’s really no reason to have it on the back of your motorhome, just tacking onto the overall weight.
Limit Your Decor
When it comes to motorhomes, space and weight are very limited, which is why it’s best not to go overboard on the decorations and design. You don’t need a clock on the wall if you already have a clock on your phone, for example.
You don’t need extra rugs on the floor, picture frames on the walls, or tonnes of throw pillows on your motorhome bed or couch, either.
It’s important to remember that you should conserve any weight you can to use for essentials – such as first aid kits, tools, food, and luggage.
Replace Wood with Plastic and Other Lightweight Materials
Where possible, it will be a big help to replace heavy, wooden storage like cabinets and shelves with plastic ones. Bringing in lightweight plastic tubs, crates, or even plastic shelving can make a huge difference in the overall weight of your motorhome.
The same goes for doors within your motorhome. If you have a wooden door where you could just use a curtain, opt for that remodel to significantly reduce weight.
What does it mean to uprate a motorhome?
Last but not least, consider the prospect of uprating your motorhome if you really want to haul more weight. Uprating a motorhome – also known as up plating – is when you change the physical or mechanical components of the vehicle so that it is lighter. The resulting effect is a higher possible payload, given the motorhome’s MAM.
UK motorhomes must meet regulations for weight limit, including individual axis load limits, gross vehicle weight limits, and payload limits. You should weigh your motorhome before travelling at a local weighbridge.
There, you can find out whether or not your load is overweight and decide whether you need to reduce the payload. Make sure you study the weight limits for your motorhome and licence category before you set out on the road.
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