Some disconnected/disjointed comments on your dilemma.
Your question is a chicken and egg question. Which comes first? A suitable car to tow a caravan or a suitable caravan which can be towed by your car? Your car will tow a smallish caravan but certainly not one big enough to accommodate all the people whom you may take with you.
For all practical purposes, the maximum your car will tow is governed by the kerbweight, initially, then by power, torque and max weight the car can carry. It is not a case of simply having a car, fitting a towbar, hitching the caravan and going. As a rule of thumb, if the engine is the petrol version, the torque in Nm will be approximately the same figure. Again, as a rule of thumb if a diesel, the torque will be roughly twice the horsepower figure. It follows that a diesel powered car is a better bet for towing. The more torque the better.
The kerbweight of the car is the maximum caravan all up weight that can be legally towed in the UK (or most other countries for that matter). The general recommendation is that the caravan, at maximum load, should not weigh more than 85% of the kerbweight. This allows a safety margin for towing. It is not a strict rule. You will find the kerbweight of your car in the owner's handbook or contact your local VW agent. Don't tell them that you need to know for towing purposes or they may quote the manufacturer's "maximum towing weight" which can be in excess of the all up weight of the car. If you are asking your current car to carry a possible five people and two dogs and tow a caravan, that is a big ask and not really practical.
If you have already chosen your caravan, you will find the maximum all up weight of the caravan on a plate, usually near the bottom of the door. The figure you are interested in is the "MTPLM"(Maximum Technically Permitted Load Mass) figure. If you then multiply this figure by 1.17, that will give you the mimimum kerbweight of the car to achieve the recommended 85% figure.
It doesn't stop there however. You then have to take train weights into account. Train weight is the all up weight (not the kerbweight) of the car plus the all up weight of the caravan. If that exceeds the car manufacturer's figure, you have a problem, not only from a towing point of view but from a legal and insurance point of view. Another area to look at, does your driving licence allow you to tow? If not, you will have to take another test to qualify you for towing.
If you are going to buy a caravan to accommodate all the people you propose to take with you are there you will need a biggish caravan which means more weight and a bigger car.
To sum up, it would require a lot more information to answer your question and even then, the choice would be yours. We can only point out the legal position and make you aware of the possible pitfalls.
Sorry, can't be more helpful than that with the information you have given us.
So you're thinking about a caravan then. From what you say above I would suggest your first place to check is a decent magazine for the internal layout of the van you want/need. There are a lot of different styles internally as well as different numbers of berths/beds. Practical Caravan has a table showing the internal layouts.
Once you know what suits you best you can look for a model with that layout. This will give you and idea of weights and from this you can then choose a tow car which is up to the job.
By far the best advice I can offer is to spend plenty of time choosing the correct layout because if you get it wrong (and I did the 1st time) it can cost a lot to change.
From what you say, a 3 berth van would be the order of the day. But that depends on where your pets will sleep. Possibly a 4 berth then.
Do you want a full bathroom? Or would an all in one unit be OK?
Will you cook in the van? Or (like me) use takeaways ? Makes a difference on galley facilities.
If this all sounds a bit complicated, well it's not really but you do need to approach it in a logical manner. As Dickers states above, the legalities are a bit complex. But you can only work these out once you have the basic info, i.e. what caravan you actually want.
Now, having said all that, it's also worth reading up on the various towcar tests. For example, take a VW Passat since you have a VW now. Quite a good towing car with respectable weights. This could pull a large variety of vans and the ones it can't are probably too big for you anyway.
So, the sequence needs to be: What layout? Find selection of vans in that layout. Choose preferred model. Using weights for that model you can choose a tow car. There are online matching tools for this as well.
Thanks for all the info, am really a novice (as you can tell), and yes am going to very sensible and take along time, gathering all the info I need to make the right choice and stay within the law.
Sorry my post was a bit here & there, but should clarify, caravan will only be for one person (me) & two small terriers. Mum & Dad may come once in a blue moon! so max people, 3.
Good point about the licence, will check with dvla, as someone told me that if you passed your driving test before a certain date, you have "Grandfather Rights" to tow?
I can't see anything bigger than 3 berth being in my radar, but knowing which car to buy is a big plus, (diesel noted). As have only ever driven Petrol this info is worth knowing & will now def look a diesel models. VW Passat is one of the cars I quite like but, VW are xpensive, (as I know), so other reliable options are worth a look.
Yes, VW Passats are expensive but have all the bells, lights and whistles and are, reportedly, fairly reliable. As a different choice, have a look at Ford Mondeo, Mazda 6, Peugeot 407 (go for a late model as the early ones had electronics issues) for starters. In other words, try to be wide ranging then narrow it down. If you are thinking 3 people and two dogs plus all the gear, you would be well advised to look at a Passat sized car but not necessarily a Passat.
You can still tow a caravan with the license you have, but the rules are more strict. Basically you need a light weight caravan and a car whose kerb weight (unladen weight) is heavier than the fully laden weight of the caravan. This guy explains it quite well (I think)
Lunar caravans are normally considered to be 'Light Weight' vans.
Elnagh Clipper 90.......... Real Names Mike & Hazel
The August issue of 'Practical Caravan' has the 2011 towcar awards. OK these are new cars, but will give you an idea, and also there is a note about buying a used car in each weight class, so well worth a read.
There is also a useful and easy to read piece of information on page 176 about car and outfit weights and staying legal.
My wife and I spent a couple of months visiting different caravan dealers to look at all the different layouts, brands to see what was right for us.
Also the level of service from the dealerships appears to vary a lot from one to another.
We have just bought our first van, and as we are new to it, and no trade in, we have been given a starter kit with a water container and waste container etc to help get us going.
If you are changing the car anyway, I would look at the caravans first, find what you like and its weight, then look at a car.
In my experience (not a lot) the older caravans weigh less as well. So an older 4 berth could weigh the same as a new 2 berth, for example.
Awaiting delivery of Coachman Pastiche 525/4 2013 / Range Rover Sport 58
Oh Gee! Thanks for all the help, am feeling much more informed and have had a chat with parents, who agree we should perhaps look as small Motorhomes as an alternative option, as (you have all stated above), I can drive a vehicle up to 3500kg, so am going to visit some dealers and look around.
Motorhome might be better bet, as then don't have to trade in car, (I love my polo!!), how sad am I!!
Will def let you all know when the deal is done & I can start enjoying the big outdoors!
Many Thanks Hayley (Sam the JRT & Kika the Border Terrier's Human Slave)
Post by andymacdonald30 on Jul 4, 2011 21:53:55 GMT
Go get your self a VW type 5 combo van Crew cab and tail gate (not barn doors) Loads of room in the rear for passengers and animals and camping gear ,kitchen sink etc Really easy to drive even just down to the shops loads of get up N go in them reasonable MPG as well Mind does 36 mpg or so at french motorway speeds 40 at UK speeds Get a tow hitch fitted and they make fantastic tow vehicles with a max tow weight of 2000 kg so you can tug just about anything round, as big or as small as you like
T4 VW Transporter 2.5 TDI Slightly heavily modified to 155 BHP and whole load of fun
VW because I am worth it !!
Ready for the Stage 3 remap with a hybrid turbo
Pushing 200 BHP