In this study the characteristics of a mobile crane are obtained by using a flexible multibody dynamics approach, for the determination of safe loads to prevent tipping of a mobile crane. Only the boom of the crane is assumed to be flexible since it is the only element that has considerable deflections in applications. The coupled rigid and elastic motions of the crane are formulated and software is developed in order to carry out the dynamic analysis. The variation of piston force with respect to boom angular position for different boom motion times are simulated, load curves are generated and the results are compared with the experimental results obtained from a 10 t mobile crane. (C) 1999 Academic Press.