If you’re looking at purchasing a caravan and don’t have a lot of experience towing, you may find it difficult to understand what all the weight requirements mean… and how to stick with them. 

Let us help you understand the terminology and how it applies to you, to ensure that you have a safe setup that complies with the laws.

4WD tow vehicles on beach

Before you buy a new tow vehicle or caravan, what are those all-important weights to wrap your head around?

  • Towing capacity – maximum weight that a vehicle can legally tow
  • Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) – maximum allowable total mass of a fully-loaded vehicle. Tare mass (weight of vehicle) + load (including passenger weight)
  • Gross Combination Mass (GCM) – Maximum laden mass of a vehicle plus maximum laden mass of an attached caravan. GCM must never be exceeded.
  • Aggregate Trailer Mass (ATM) – Maximum your fully-loaded tow vehicle can weigh
  • Gross Trailer Mass (GTM) – Weight of the fully-loaded trailer imposed on the axle when it is attached to the tow vehicle
  • Tare Mass – Weight of an empty caravan excluding the weight of any after-sales fitted accessories
  • Payload – ATM minus Tare Mass. Everything you put into the vehicle and caravan – water, gas bottles, luggage, etc.
  • Trailer Ball Weight – Weight imposed on the tow vehicle’s tow ball by the coupling

You already own a tow vehicle

First, you need to establish the towing capacity of your existing vehicle and ensure it’s up to the task of towing your new caravan. Your vehicle’s towing capacity and other important weights can be found in your owner’s manual or by contacting the manufacturer.

You also need to ensure that your vehicle is fitted with an electric brake controller and appropriate heavy duty towbar and towing mirrors.  We can help with any required towing accessories, check our towbars, towing mirrors, electric brakes, bullbars and other accessories.

Simply get in touch with our team here or pop into our showroom.

You intend to purchase a new tow vehicle

If you intend to purchase a new vehicle to suit your caravan, first you need to check the caravan’s weights to make sure it’s compatible with the tow vehicles you’re looking at. Caravan and car salespeople are a great source of information but always do your due diligence too. A caravan’s weight details can be found on the VIN plate or on the manufacturer’s website.

Pay close attention to Tare mass, Ball weight, and Aggregate Trailer mass when selecting your tow vehicle.

Check your weights

You can check the weight of your vehicle and caravan by using a public weighbridge. Visit here to see a list of public weighbridges in Australia. Alternatively, you can Google your closest weighbridge service provider.

Overweight? It’s not worth the risk

It is crucial that these weights never be exceeded in accordance with your vehicle owner’s manual and towbar rating. Warranty and insurance will be affected if these weights are found to have been exceeded, not to mention the risk to your safety. It’s simply not worth it.

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