Caravan towing weights and masses are two of the most confusing aspects of caravanning and it’s easy to see why. To ensure you stay legal when towing, you really need to know and understand all of the data available for both your vehicle and what you’re towing. You’ll need to locate a myriad of numbers and also understand the different terms and how to apply them. Using this data you can then ensure you are compliant, safe and ready to hit the road.
To ensure you’re towing safely, you’ll need to know the key terminology listed below. Many people stick their head in the sand to ignore, or simply just don’t understand the ramifications of not being set up correctly. A lack of understanding of loading, maintenance and service can lead to catastrophe. Basic caravan towing know-how will help you avoid being stuck on the side of the road.
Load distribution can also play a critical factor
Incorrectly loading your trailer can contribute significantly to instability and sway related issues. A critical element to minimising these problems is ensuring even load distribution. It is also important to consider the effects of loads such as luggage and equipment on the towing vehicle as well as your vehicle & the van’s tyre pressures. External elements can also impact the sway and instability of your van. Things such as crosswinds and larger vehicles overtaking you on the road.
Terms You Need to Know
- GVM (Gross Vehicle Mass): The GVM is the maximum allowable mass of a fully-loaded motor vehicle, consisting of the tare mass (mass of the vehicle) plus the load (including passengers).
- GCM (Gross Combination Mass): GCM is the rating provided by the manufacturer of the tow vehicle. The maximum laden mass of a motor vehicle plus the maximum laden weight of an attached trailer must not exceed the GCM rating.
- ATM (Aggregate Trailer Mass): The total laden weight of a trailer, which includes the tow ball mass and whatever you add as payload (e.g.. water, gas, luggage). Make sure not to exceed the ATM supplied by the trailer manufacturer.
- GTM (Gross Trailer Mass): The total permissible mass which includes whatever you add as payload (e.g. water, gas and luggage) that can be supported by the wheels of a trailer. This does not include the mass supported by the tow ball.
- Tare Mass: The unladen weight of the complete trailer as delivered (including any options fitted).
- Tow Ball Mass: The weight imposed on the tow vehicle’s tow ball by the coupling.
- Payload: The allowable load carrying capacity or ‘payload’ is worked out by deducting the “Tare Mass” from the “ATM”. Safety, insurance & warranty may be affected if the specified payload is exceeded.
Simply follow the guidelines above in conjunction with your manufacturers’ restrictions and you’ll be chugging along in no time! For more tips on caravan safety, holiday locations and real Australian stories, subscribe to OneAdventure today!