Do you know how much you weigh? No, not you before your Christmas excess, but your fully loaded van. Are you within your permitted motorhome payload, are you legal? Looking back, I now know I have driven motorhomes illegally.
Our first van back in 1990 was a fantastic Auto-Trail Pullman on a Talbot. I’ve no idea what the payload was. But it had 5 beds, so in blissful ignorance, I assumed that it could take 5 people, 5 bikes, 3 scooters, 5 bodyboards, 5 wet suits, 5 snorkel kits, a six-person picnic bench, 5 chairs, big barbecue, a couple of sunbeds, a massive awning and groundsheet oh and not forgetting the Swingball and bats. But that was only outside stuff. Inside, all the food, beer, bales of clothes, a German Shepherd etc. This van, because of its lack of speed, was affectionately known as the sloth and looking back we must have been a ton overweight, so no wonder we struggled up French mountains and the brakes smelled so much on the way down!
That was then though, we’re all more clued up now.
Are we? This year we weighed over 100 loaded vans as they attended a rally and just over 40 of those were overweight. Over half of those who were overweight were also overloading an axle! So that is two separate weight offences and if the extra weight took them above the weight their licence allows then that was another offence. Why so many?
Talking to these normally law-abiding people we discovered that when they bought their motorhomes most did not understand about payload and it was only later reading articles or forum posts that they realized they might have payload issues.
So even today payload is an aspect of the motorhome purchase discovered long after people have paid their money got the van home. They might sometime later read an article or see a forum post about it and think, I wonder what my payload is.
Looking back at the sale process they may have seen some confusing mention of it on the dealer’s website or in that very tiny print at the back of the brochure under specification. No matter that this will be the tiniest faintest print in the brochure, the warnings about being overloaded will be there, they’ve told you! Absolving them of their responsibility! If the maker really wanted you to see these warnings, they might make them more obvious.
Even when you know and understand the subject of payload well, it’s hard to find the right figures, this is especially so of vans with tiny payloads. If motorhomes have a large payload, the print will be much bigger it might even make it as a selling point on the window sticker in the showroom. If they are not saying much or anything about the payload then you should wonder why.
The Law on Motorhome Payload
So many motorhome brochures have TBC(To be confirmed) where there should be a payload figure. Maybe they hope that you’ll only confirm it after you have bought it!
When you wander around the show or a showroom, rarely will you see the payload on the sticker, they’ll tell you the length, they’ll tell you the price, they’ll tell you how many berths, about how many kilos the garage is strong enough to hold. But they won’t tell you that if you fill-up the water, add a grandchild, a bath towel and some flip-flops you might be illegally overweight.
Have you had your van weighed while you are loaded for a trip? If not, use this site https://www.gov.uk/find-weighbridge and a weighbridge and get it done, many of you will have a pleasant surprise and find you are well underweight, others might be shocked but you need to know.
This article is from the December 2019 is of Motorhomefun Magazine. You can read the whole magazine here