If you ever have to load up your car, if you don't do it the right way it could make it unstable and even dangerous. We have all seen the videos on TV and You Tube of people transporting huge objects on small vehicles. Fortunately most us have the sense not to do that, but there are still several issues you should consider if you want to load your car safely.
How loading affects vehicle handling
Your car is designed to take a certain load, this known as the Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) or Maximum Permitted Weight (MPW). This weight is the maximum the vehicles tyres, suspension and other components can handle before either a component may fail, or the vehicle itself will no longer handle safely. This weight should be printed on the VIN (Vehicle Identity Number) plate of your car, or be in the specifications section of your cars handbook. Do not exceed it.
When your car is heavily loaded, it will handle very differently. Stopping distances will be increased and you will also find that you will have to take corners at much lower speeds in order to stay in control of the vehicle. Drive cautiously in a heavily laden vehicle - drive more slowly and keep a larger distance between yourself and the vehicle in front.
If your car is heavily laden you may have to increase your tyre pressures to compensate for the extra weight.
Loading objects inside the car
Make it secure
Objects should be packed securely so that they don't move around. Large objects in particular could make your car unstable if they are allowed to slide around in the back.
Try to avoid stacking things higher than the back of the front seats. This may block or restrict your ability to use your rear view mirror. It will also reduce the chances of objects flying forward into the front of your car in an accident
If you do have a lot of things stacked higher than the front seats, make sure that none of them can slide forward if you brake suddenly. Especially if you do not have headrests to stop things sliding into the back of your head or even hitting the windscreen
Use smaller objects to help wedge larger objects in place and stop them from moving around
Don't put objects on the parcel shelf. Remember that if you have to break suddenly any loose objects will fly forwards and become potentially dangerous projectiles
Don't have loose objects in your front foot wells. If something rolls underneath your brake pedal and wedges itself, it could prevent you from braking!
Packing heavy objects
Pack the larger heavier items in first and if possible put them in the boot. The heavier the object, the more damage it will do if it slides forward in an accident
Always pack heavy objects at the bottom of your stack. The object of stacking any load in a vehicle is to keep the centre of gravity as low to the ground as possible. This helps keep the vehicle stable when taking corners
Look after your passengers
If you have folded away some seats to accommodate your load, ensure that your passengers are not cramped by your load and that there is nothing loose or heavy behind their heads
Take extra care when carrying small children with any large loads. Make sure they have the correct sized child/baby/booster seat for their weight and that it fitted properly. Again don't surround them with 'stuff' and don't pack any loose items behind them that may be thrown forward in an accident
Our advice would be to never travel with anything unsecured inside the interior of your vehicle. All items should be securely stowed away to prevent injury should an accident take place.
Access to your spare wheel
If your load is likely to be covering the area where your spare wheel is located, try to only put items that are easy to move on top of it. You don't want to have to unload the entire car to get your wheel out.
Using a roof rack
Roof racks provide useful extra storage space on any vehicle, but they also need to be used sensibly and safely. The most important thing to remember is that anything that goes on the roof will be subject to high air speeds and so it will have to be as secure and as 'aerodynamic' as possible.
If you use your roof rack a lot it may be worth purchasing an aerodynamic roof top box which will cut down the amount of wind resistance for any loads. Below are a few tips on how to safely use a roof rack.
Check your cars manual to make sure that you do not exceed the maximum load that your roof can handle
Make sure all items on your roof rack are held securely, the last thing you need is for something to come off when you are travelling at speed
Try to avoid putting any tall flat fronted objects on your roof rack. They will slow you down and the air pressure will exert a lot of force on the object. Make the roof load as low and streamlined as possible
Avoid any heavy braking that may caused your load to lurch forwards
Remember that your vehicle will now have added height. If you drive an MPV or 4x4 type vehicle multi-storey or underground car parks may be off limits to you
Avoid putting heavy objects on your roof rack, even if your roof can handle the load. Put them inside if you can to keep the weight close to the ground and maintain the stability of the vehicle
If you have been involved in a car accident that was not your fault, we can help you get a replacement vehicle, car repairs, legal assistance and injury compensation. Please give us a call on 02392 484 244 or start your free claim enquiry online using the button below, and one of our experienced claims advisors will be happy to assist you.