Stay safe and legal with the Van Life Matters motorhome weight guide. Ignoring motorhome weight restrictions means you’re risking invalidated insurance, fines and prosecution – here’s an essential lowdown on everything you need to know about motorhome weights.
While it’s something that can be overlooked all too easily, an overweight motorhome is not only dangerous but illegal too.
Before we get stuck into motorhome weight limits, let’s take a look at the commonly referenced motorhome weight acronyms:
MRO: Mass running order, sometimes known as MIRO (mass in running order) GVW: Gross vehicle weight MAM: Maximum authorised mass PMW: Permissible maximum weight MTPLM: Maximum technically permissible laden mass GTW: Gross train weight
Motorhome MRO (Mass Running Order)
Motorhome MRO is the unladen weight of the vehicle when it’s not carrying any passengers or luggage – essentially, it’s the weight of the motorhome as it left the factory.
It includes the body and all parts normally used for it to operate.
Because motorhome manufacturers aim to offer their vehicles with the highest possible payload (more on that to come), most try to keep motorhome MRO under 3,500kg to appeal to a wider audience.
It means manufacturers tend to design the most basic vehicle possible, giving the illusion of a bigger payload because the MRO does not include accessories such as awnings, solar panels and additional leisure batteries.
If you’ve got a used motorhome and cannot find its MRO, take everything out and head to a public weighbridge to get your motorhome’s unladen weight.
Motorhome payload is the maximum weight you can add to your motorhome.
The payload includes the weight of people, stored water, gas, food and camping accessories – it’s the maximum total weight of everything you want to load for your trip.
Motorhome maximum authorised mass (MAM) is the weight of the vehicle plus the maximum motorhome payload.
Motorhome MAM is also known as gross vehicle weight (GVW), permissible maximum weight and maximum technically permissible laden mass (MTPLM).
The MAM of your motorhome will be listed in the owner’s manual and is normally shown on a plate or sticker attached to the body of the vehicle – usually usually inside the cab door.
Maximum motorhome axle weights
Also shown on the chassis plate are the maximum individual axle weights for the front and rear.
In addition to adhering to the MAM, you must also ensure that the weight is distributed uniformly and does not exceed any particular axle load.
In order to account for changes in loading, you might find that the total axle motorhome weight is higher than your motorhome’s MTPLM.
Motorhomes built on the same chassis will feature various kitchen, bathroom and living room layouts
As a result, some motorhomes will be heavier at the front or the back.
However, the overall weight of your motorhome must still be less than the MTPLM rating.
Your motorhome’s axles will be weighed separately when you take it to a weighbridge.
Up-plating: Vehicles can be 'up-plated' to take a greater payload. This could just be a simple paperwork exercise, depending on the chassis. However, it might also cost a lot and necessitate improvements to the chassis, suspension, and brakes. Down-plating: Similarly, motorhomes can also be down-plated to 3,500kg.
Motorhome gross train weight
The chassis plate or sticker may also show a gross train weight (GTW), sometimes called gross combination weight (GCW).
This is the weight of the fully-loaded vehicle, plus fully-loaded trailer and must not be exceeded
Don’t forget you’ll also need to ensure you have the right qualification on your driving licence.
How to weigh your motorhome
Once you have worked out your motorhome weight limits using the Van Life Matters motorhome weight guide, head of to your nearest public weighbridge to ensure your vehicle complies.
It’s widely recommended that new motorhome owners get their vehicle weighed soon after purchase, and before loading anything into it, to note its unladen weight.
You should then also, load everything up and return to the weighbridge to check that you’re within your motorhome’s MAM.
What to do if your motorhome is overweight
If your motorhome is overweight, try sticking to the essentials when you come to load it up.
To keep the weight down, you should also travel with an empty water tank – you can fill-up on arrival to your campsite.
If you’re at the bare minimum and are still coming-in heavy, you should perhaps consider re-plating your motorhome.