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Caravan Towing Capacity Info

All You Need To Know About Towing Capacity

Towing capacity is one of the most important factors that you need to know and requires some careful deliberation and an understanding of some simple numbers. Towing a caravan is quite different from travelling in your car, as loading your car with suitcases does not require too much thought while towing a caravan needs some careful planning. Let’s look at how to work out the towing capacity and and the rules that should be followed.

Caravans, just like any other equipment used, have a cut off weight limit that they are assigned with. They have been designed to withstand a specific weight, though there may be a safety margin incorporated. There is a lot of testing carried out by the manufacturers, this protects you against towing too much and having a flat tyre or a blow out, as a result. Excess weight could even make the chassis bend!

Is the maximum towing capacity for caravans in Australia the real maximum?

The towing capacity is a limit that should be adhered to, but this does not mean that you get worked up when loading up close to the maximum limit, it is just a safe limit to stick to. There is a safety margin, in the event that you inadvertently add a little extra weight.

The maximum limit that caravan manufacturers in Australia set for towing capacity has more to do with the cooling ability. This is how much the cooling system can cope with the loads, though you really wouldn’t want to load too much.

The Caravan manufacturer’s limit is final- It’s the legal limit!

The maximum limit is the legal requirement that a driver should stick to. Apart from the papers that go into buying a caravan, ensuring that you have loaded up correctly, is another legal thing to do. At the end of the day, a caravan is a great way to travel and travelling safe is essential.

A little excess may not attract the cops immediately, but you will feel the pinch when you are pulled up during random checks by the State authorities. What could be worse is if you meet with an accident, there is no scope for an insurance claim if you are overloaded, even if you claim that you did not know. You are supposed to ensure that you stick to the limit.

The Numbers you need to know about caravan towing capacity

It is important to find out the caravan’s towing capacity as this will help you figure out which vehicle you could use to tow. Caravan manufacturers in Australia provide this crucial information in the manual.

There are a couple of weights that are important- braked and the unbraked weights.

Maximum towing capacity- Braked: The most important of weights for caravanners is the ‘Braked’ weights, which is the weight the vehicle can tow when the brakes are used.

Maximum towing capacity (Unbraked) This is the maximum amount of weight that can be towed by a trailer when there is no trailer brake.

Braked and unbraked weights are included in the user’s manual. Braked weight is preferred over the unbraked weight as the maximum limit for unbraked weight is 750 kg. Unless you are a super light camper, this is way too low.

Maximum towball download

The maximum towball download amount is the weight limit for the coupling that presses the towball down. The braked weight can be used to determine the maximum towball download as it is 10% of the former.

Tare Mass

This is the total weight of the tow vehicle, including the fuel, coolant and other liquids.


This is the additional weight that is added above the tare mass. This too has a limit that should be adhered to, called the maximum payload limit.

Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM):

Caravan manufacturers in Australia indicate this weight, and it is the maximum weight that can be supported by the vehicle. This includes the weight of the vehicle, the passengers who may travel and other items that may be loaded onto the car. This will also include the towball mass if the car is attached to the trailer.

Here is how you can find out the GVM

Tare Mass + Payload limit = Gross Vehicle Mass

Finding out more about the weights

A car should have 10% of its total mass as its towball maximum. This may seem simple but most European cars have fewer that 10% of weight to impress upon their tow ball. As, even if the car can tow a 2000kg caravan, it still may not have the punch to press the towball.

Tow bar: The car should be fitted with a tow bar, which should match the maximum braked towing capacity of the trailer. A strong tow bar will make sure that the caravan is towed safely during the trip.

Tow Ball- The tow bar is attached to the chassis of the car and it has a tow ball. When selecting the car for your trailer, it is important to note the weight mentioned. Though the ones that are popular are the ones that have a limit of 3500kg, there are versions that have a limit of 2500 kg. It is important to check this as it could lead to unintentional overloading.

Maximum Axle Mass- This measure is usually rated high but it is important to add the existing load to the weight of the caravan. This will ensure that you don’t overload beyond limits.

Choosing the right car for your trailer:

One of the biggest conundrums faced by caravan owners is to find the right car to tow their precious van. Here are some of the features that they need to look out for

Medium sized sedans: When the caravans are a lot smaller or when fold out camper trailers are used, medium sized sedans, SUV or a wagon are ideal. The ideal car can be determined by matching the weight of the caravan to the towing capacity of the vehicle.

Medium sized sedans: When the caravans are a lot smaller or when fold out camper trailers are used, medium sized sedans, SUV or a wagon are ideal. The ideal car can be determined by matching the weight of the caravan to the towing capacity of the vehicle.

A good 4X4 for towing a caravan

Some of the best 4X4 that can be used to tow larger caravans have a turbo diesel engine along with an automatic transmission. There are plenty of advantages that is offered by these vehicles, particularly for the ones travelling with large families.

Third row of seats: The 4X4 have a third row of seats , which means there is more space for people to sit. Otherwise, these seats can be folded and it could make more room for luggage.

Seating space: These vehicles also have better seating comfort for passengers sitting in the second row. Most of these vehicles have the option of adjusting the backrest angle or for sliding the seat rearward.

The luggage areas of these vehicles are also big, weather sealed and lockable

Tips for towing a trailer:

To ensure that there is smooth towing, there are certain important checks that need to be carried out. Trailers can be a little tricky and, if not towed correctly, there could be damage to both the towing vehicle as well as the caravan. Here are some important tips

Road worthy: The towing vehicle and the caravan should be in good condition. They should be checked and should be road worthy.

Check the regulations in your state: The driver’s handbook is a good place to start, the State’s regulations are usually provided here. Some states restrict caravan movements to the slow lane, find out about such rules before venturing out.

Distribute the load: Now that you know how much of luggage you can carry, it is important to know how to load it. This is also a very crucial step as it will ensure a smooth passage. The load should be distributed evenly across the caravan. It should never be concentrated on any particular side, as it could affect the balance of the vehicle.

Drive slowly: It can be very tempting to speed up, especially when the road looks clear. However, irrespective of how empty the road it, remember that you have a heavy caravan in tow.

Brake carefully: Braking suddenly is neither good for you, nor is it good for the other cars on the road. This is why you need to drive slowly as it will give you enough time to respond to an emergency. Maintain a fair distance between you and the car ahead, this way you don’t have to slam the brakes.

Towing a fully loaded caravan is a lot different from driving an empty one. It might require a bit of practice initially, but it will make you better when you drive on road. Even if you are within towing limits, try and reduce load as much as possible. Water is one such load that can be refilled whenever necessary, loading up may be unnecessary.

At all costs, stick to the towing capacity, even if it means leaving out some things that you would like to take along. At the end of the day, caravan manufacturers in Australia have taken into account the safety of travel when determining the towing capacity, so stepping out of line could just mean trouble.

Here is a guide that will help level your caravan on a steep site.