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Motorhome Weights Guide – Plates & Payloads Explained

You might not know what your motorhome weighs, but you must be familiar with motorhome weight limits and restrictions. These vehicles have specific limits when it comes to weight.

You can find this information on the vehicle identification number (VIN) plate or the chassis plate provided by motorhome manufacturers.

Many motorhomes have a total weight they must not exceed. You can also use a free motorhome buying checklist to know the weight of your motorhome. It is easy to weigh your motorhome or campervan.

Why Is Your Motorhome Weight Important?

2 MinWhy Is Your Motorhome Weight Important?

A motorhome’s weight matters because you don’t want to drive an RV that exceeds the maximum authorised mass. You could make a costly and dangerous mistake if you don’t correctly weigh your motorhome.

These are some of the risks of driving a vehicle that surpasses the weight limit in most European countries:

  • Tow Vehicle Damage: If you exceed the gross train weight of your towable RV, it might cause damage.
  • Voided Warranty: Going over the maximum train weight of your motorhome could void your insurance because you are exceeding the limit placed by the base vehicle manufacturer as the additional weight.
  • Damage to Rig: If you have a rolling home, the issues you can face with more weight than required include loss of control and damage to the rig.
  • Broken Laws: If you buy a new motorhome, to legally drive it, you must follow the laws that exist to keep a driver safe.
  • Unsafe Driving: The first time you drive your motorhome, you might have a higher payload than expected or more than the maximum total weight. Excessive weight could lead to a higher risk of an accident. So you should follow motorhome tips for safety and keep it within the weight limit.

Motorhome Weights Terminology and What The Numbers Mean?

Now, we are at the exciting part. Understanding motorhome weights is to your advantage, so you can easily spot it on your vehicle.

Here’s a guide to what the numbers mean.

Gross vehicle weight – GVW

According to the chassis manufacturer of your motorhome, GVW is the maximum your motorhome can weigh or the maximum authorised mass of your motorhome. It’s the total weight of your motorhome and payload at a given time.

Check the plate of your vehicle, and you’ll see the GVW figure. Be aware that the weight of a vehicle is also compromised when you make modifications or accessorise it.

Motorhomes with a weight of over 3,500kg are classed as private HGVs. You can calculate the GVW of your vehicle by adding the combined weight of the driver, passengers, luggage, fuel, and other necessary fluids.

Vehicle Unladen Mass (VUM)

A motorhome’s unladen weight or mass is its empty weight when it’s not carrying any load or passengers and includes all the parts of the vehicle minus the weight of the fuel and driver.

You can also find your motorhome’s unladen weight in the manufacturer’s manual or on a plate fitted to the motorhome.

Maximum Authorised Mass – MAM

The MAM is the maximum weight of a motorhome, legally, including a full fuel tank and everything else in the vehicle. The MAM figure of your motorhome should be on the VIN plate (located in the engine compartment), the manufacturer’s handbook, and the chassis plate.

If the MAM of your vehicle exceeds 3,500kg, you need a C1 licence to drive it. If it exceeds 7,500kg, you need a category C licence.

In the case of motorhomes, there’s the possibility of exceeding an individual axle limit, usually the rear axle. We recommend moving items to different spots in the motorhome to achieve a balance.

Maximum Train Weight (MTW)

MTW is the maximum amount a motorhome can weigh together with any trailer it pulls. And the individual axle weights are the maximum legal weight each axle can carry.

Mass in Running Order (MRO/MIRO)

Mass in running order is the weight the manufacturer thinks the motorhome should weigh once it leaves the factory.

You can check for the MIRO figure of your motorhome on the manufacturer’s website or ask your dealer.

For the MIRO figure, the manufacturer considers the driver’s weight (75kg), fuel, and fluids in the vehicle, nothing else.

However, the problem is that some drivers exceed 75kg, and some motorhomes come with extras like awnings, bike racks, and scooter racks. These extras make it hard for people to know what their motorhome or even a caravan with extras weighs.

The MIRO is an important and accurate figure for your baseline motorhome weight. With your MRO figure and maximum weight figure, you can know the difference, and the difference is called the “payload”. We’ll talk about that in a bit!

MRO for new motorhomes

When getting a new motorhome, the MRO figure can be controversial because manufacturers like to sell vehicles with a high payload. However, because it doesn’t include extras like awnings and leisure batteries, the manufacturer makes the most basic vehicle to give an illusion of a higher payload.

MRO for used motorhomes

Getting the exact MRO figure for a used motorhome is difficult but not impossible. The easiest way to get it is by checking the original sales documentation, but if that’s not available, there are other options.

Ask the dealer or seller to empty the content in the motorhome, take it to a weighbridge and get a ticket showing the weight. Although you might not get the exact MRO, you’ll get an accurate estimate and know whether or not it has a small payload.

MTPLM (Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass)

Sometimes referred to as “maximum authorised mass” or “gross vehicle weight rating”, it defines the maximum allowed weight of your fully laden vehicle while on the road. Flaunting this rule and driving an overweight motorhome can nullify your insurance and get you in trouble with the police.

If, for whatever reason, you don’t have the original paperwork of the motorhome you are buying to understand the maximum technically permissible laden mass, check the motorhome’s official website to find it.

Gross Train Weight (GTW) or Gross Combination Weight (GCW)

Gross train weight refers to the total weight of the motorhome or campervan plus whatever it’s towing (trailer, caravan, etc.). It’s the maximum allowable combined MAM of your campervan and trailer and what it contains.

You can calculate the maximum weight capacity your motorhome can carry using this equation:

GTW – MTPLM = MTW

Maximum Axle Weights ( MAWs )

MAW is the total weight of your motorhome’s front and rear axles. Different motorhomes built on the same chassis may have unique interior layouts. That’s why some vehicles have front and rear axle weights that differ.

Maximum Front Axle Weight

The maximum front axle weight is the weight that the front axle of your motorhome can safely carry. To calculate this figure, place the front wheels of your motorhome on a weighing plate.

Maximum Rear Axle Weight 

The maximum rear axle is the highest weight the rear axle of your motorhome can take. Measure it by positioning only the rear wheels on a weighing plate.

How do I find my axle weight?

The chassis plate should show the maximum axle weight for each axle. It’s important to take note of this, as loading too many heavy items into your motorhome might cause damage.

When overweight, the risk of the rear axle loading being above the axle weight limits increases. And overloading will most likely lead to stability problems.

What is Motorhome Payload and How to Find Yours?

Motorhome payload is everything you put into your motorhome. You need to know the exact payload of your vehicle to avoid exceeding its capacity and rendering it illegal to drive.

The maximum permitted payload details are in the manufacturer’s manual.

To get an accurate payload figure, deduct the MRO from the MAM. But remember that you need to deduct the weight of your leisure batteries and gas bottles before calculating the payload.

Items that can add to your payload

 

Items that can add to your payload

Most motorhome owners don’t know how much the equipment they carry in their vehicles affects the payload. That’s not to say you need to ditch all items, but you should evenly distribute the load.

Here are some examples of other items that can affect your payload.

  • Awning
  • Longer truck bed
  • Double doors
  • Spare tyres
  • Generator
  • Bikes
  • Extra battery

Payload considerations to make when buying a motorhome

Before buying a motorhome, search online for its payload capacity, so you don’t end up with restrictions that’ll inconvenience you.

Don’t just take the manufacturer’s word on payload because they sometimes exclude extras like leisure batteries. Usually, some manufacturers put the payload as the MIRO, which translates to 90% full tank, driver weight of 75kg, and empty water tanks. But remember that every item has weight, so consider everything.

If you intend to travel on holiday with your family using your motorhome, you might think twice about using a 3,500kg motorhome. Remember that even your upholstery counts in the payload of your campervan.

So, if you are worried about exceeding limits, get a motorhome with a higher payload or upgrade the payload limit.

What Happens If Your Motorhome Is Overweight?

What happens if your motorhome is overweight?

If you notice your motorhome weight is above the limit, clear out all the items and equipment in your motorhome.

Check every item inside your vehicle and ask yourself if you really need it. In instances when you can do without specific things, leave them out. You might not like leaving some of your belongings aside, but it’ll be much worse if you get stopped by the police at a location and get fined for breaking the law.

Depending on the country, the motorhome weight limit might be lower, so ask questions before travelling with your motorhome.

Why Is It Dangerous To Overload A Motorhome?

First, if you get stopped in Europe or UK for overloading your motorhome, you might have to appear in court. Or you’ll be given a hefty fine.

Caravans and cars that drive over their weight limit are susceptible to developing defects in wheels, tyres, axles, and springs.

Correctly distributed weight in your motorhome is vital as it helps you control the steering wheel better.

Overloading your motorhome will affect its balance, which may lead to catastrophic losses, and insurers will not pay you a penny, so you will have to cover the costs yourself.

Steps You Can Take To Help Reduce Motorhome Weights

If you notice that the front and rear axle weights or the overall weight of the motorhome is too much, then your best bet would be to reduce the weight in your motorhome or campervan.

These are some of the proven ways you can reduce motorhome weight:

  • Ensure that you do not travel with a full tank of water. You can instead fill it up when you arrive at your destination.
  • If you have unnecessary items attached to your motorhome, remove them. It is easy to forget about the extra weight when out of sight.
  • Ensure you are not travelling with a heavy mattress. Lightweight mattresses typically included in RVs are there for a reason.
  • Travel with your fuel tank half full. You can make stops for fuel as you require. Same with your gas bottles.
  • Instead of carrying a generator, you can reap the benefits of a solar panel. They are lightweight and efficient.
  • Only pack what you need for the journey. Most times, people end up packing too much and overloading their motorhomes.

How To Know The Weight of Your Motorhome?

The weight plate of your motorhome gives you crucial information regarding the limits you must follow to maintain the vehicle insurance and warranty and legally drive your motorhome.

These are the top ways to know the details regarding the weight of your motorhome or travel trailer:

  • You can first check your MIRO figure by weighing the vehicle empty and then separately weighing the payload at home.
  • Another option is to take your loaded or unloaded motorhome to a Public Weighbridge.

Driving License Requirements Based On Motorhome Weight

Driving license requirements based on motorhome weight

After passing your driving test, you receive a licence that enables you to drive different types of vehicles. The motorhomes you can drive based on the type of driving licence are below:

  • Most motorhomes fall into Category B on a driving licence, so you can drive most of them.
  • You will need a C1 entitlement on your licence if you hope to drive motorhomes that weigh between 3,500 kg to 7,500 kg. Check our guide on a C1 licence and how to get one.
  • Finally, a category C licence is needed to drive a vehicle with a MAM over 7.5 tonnes.

Can You Upgrade The Weight And Payload Of Your Motorhome?

Yes, it’s possible to upgrade the weight plate of your motorhome. Here’s how:

  • For motorhome owners with the C1 category on their licence, you can get your motorhome weight replated to a higher one.
  • Upgrading your motorhome’s weight limit requires mechanical alterations to increase the laden mass that both the front and rear axles can handle.
  • For some motorhome models, you can upgrade the weight plate by doing some paperwork with SvTech. Although, this will come at a fixed price.

Before upgrading your motorhome weight plate, speak to your dealer or manufacturer to be sure the chassis can handle more weight.

Conclusion

Conclusion

Most motorhome owners are often concerned about the weight limit of their vehicles and how not to exceed the maximum allowed weight. It is essential to have enough information about motorhome weights to remain legal on the road and for optimal safety as you drive.

One of the first things most people do when they get a new motorhome is to load it up ready for a trip. But you will be surprised how much it weighs after you fill the fuel tank and add your belongings and cool camping stuff like solar panels and satellite dishes.

Now you can be done with the confusion about motorhome weights and safely drive your vehicle.

FAQs

Is there a weight limit for motorhomes?

Yes. Motorhomes have specific weight limits that you should not exceed. The limits depend on the front axle weight and rear axle weight capacity. If you are driving an overweight motorhome, you can be fined. Overloading your motorhome also causes excess wear and tear on it. Exceeding the maximum authorised mass in running order can also invalidate your licence.

What counts as payload in a motorhome?

The motorhome payload is the actual weight of the things you place inside your motorhome. It is important to note that payload weight is the difference between the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) and tare weight of a vehicle.

Let’s say your motorhome has a GVW of 4000 kg and a tare weight of 3200 kg. The resulting payload capacity is 800 kg. Exceeding the recommended payload can lead to exceeding your motorhome’s maximum weight limit.

14 thoughts on “Motorhome Weights Guide – Plates & Payloads Explained

  1. Brilliant article on payloads, weights and etc. We are taking this much more seriously than we did when we first got our moho and are leaving a lot out of the packing this year as we head to central Spain.
    Thank you for creating a document that is clear, authoritative and comprehensive.

  2. If we purchase a motorhome of 3.3 kg that means we only have 300 kg payload left. Is that correct? The 3.5 kg weight limit includes anything you put in it. Is that correct? So the 3.5 kg means the weight when fully loaded. We are both over 70 and are battling to understand, so any help would be appreciated.

    Thank you

    1. If your motorhome wqeighs 3300KG empty I would say it is pretty much unusable. You will only have 200KG payload. Once you have yourselves and a few bits of food and drink the van, you’ll be at the weight limit. If there are any heavy fitted extras that you don’t need I would consider removing them. Once you have packed for a camping trip I think you should go to a weigh bridge. Or, you could always do your medical and keep your 7500KG entitlement?

  3. Thank you very much for clear and concise information on payloads. This has been very helpful and slightly daunting.

  4. I have a Swift 696 – 6 seatbelts,
    Can I reduce the weight category from 3650 kg to under 3500kg by removing the seatbelts and rear bunk beds?

    I am approaching 70 and I don’t want to renew my C class cat on my license as it is too much trouble.

    Cliff

    1. I would speak to SVTech about that, they are the experts we use for down or up plating motorhomes. Sound realistic to go from 3650 to 3500. I think the motorhome has to weigh no more than 3200KG in order to be plated to 3500KG

  5. I have recently acquired a new second hand motorhome. There are three VIN information plates on motorhome. Original one plated 3650 (in engine bonnet) Another next to it 3850 and one on side of van at 3500. My V5 states it’s 3500. Can i be certain V5 is the correct current weight ?

    1. It’s whatever the computer says. There are a lot of motorhomes with multiple plates. Whatever the motorhome is currently registered as at the DVLA is the only figure that matters.

  6. If I uprare a van to >3.5t, can it only be driven by c1 licence holders? Or if the weight stays below 3.5t can B licence still drive it.

    1. You cannot drive a vehicle which is plated above the maximum weight category your license covers. It doesn’t matter if the vehicle weight is below 3.5t, if it is plated at 5000kg for example, you need a C1

  7. Hi. Could anyone throw some light on the weight regulations applicable to the French ‘Angles Morts’ stickers requirement. I have a Mercedes motorhome with the doorpost plate/sticker saying the vans max weight is 3880kg. The V5c registration certificate shows a maximum permissible mass of 3500kg. I’m aware of the whys and wherefores of how these two figures have been arrived at but my question is being as the van cannot be legally driven at over 3500kg do I need to apply the Angles Morts stickers at all?

    Many thanks to anyone who specialises in grey areas and befuddlemen! 😵‍💫

    1. Hi,

      The weight which is recorded by the DVLA is the one to abide to as that is what the computer says when you get pulled over. Probably a good idea to get a correct plate on your motorhome which relates to the information on the logbook. You do not require ‘Angles Morts’ stickers unless the vehicle is over 3500KG.

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