All the information you need to understand weights so you can travel safe or choose the right tow vehicle. Understand your Caravan Weight and Tow Vehicle Weight.
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In order to tow safely and legally, you must tow within your car's towing capacity, which is the maximum amount of weight your vehicle is able to tow as recommended by the manufacturer. Unfortunately some of the abbreviations, acronyms and definitions regarding weights, can be confusing. And to make matters even more confusing, 3500kg towing capacity as advertised by the manufacturer, does not mean you can tow 3500kg legally.
The information and examples below, will hopefully help you understand weights and what it means for your towing capacity. If you need some help or advice, do not hesitate to contact us with your vehicle details.
Unhitched from Tow Vehicle
ATM is the combined weight of the trailer and its full load when it is not coupled to a tow vehicle.
The ATM includes the Tow Ball Mass as it is unhitched from the vehicle, where as the GTM (see below), the tow ball mass is transfered to the vehicle.
ATM = Caravan Tare Mass + Max Payload
Hitched to Tow Vehicle
GTM is the weight of the fully loaded trailer imposed on the trailer’s axle when it is coupled to the tow vehicle. Note, this is when the Caravan or Trailer is carrying its maximum load.
GTM will always be less than ATM as some of the trailer weight is transferred to the tow vehicle when the trailer is hitch to it.
GTM = ATM – TBD
Tare Mass is the weight of the Caravan or Trailer straight off the manufacturer line. This is the total weight of an empty caravan. It does not include people, luggage, water or gas.
Where this gets tricky, is the Tare Mass recorded on your plate, may not be your actual weight. Additional aftermarket accessories are not included in this measurement from the manufacturer, as they are not original components. This includes items like toolboxes, solar panels added and even additional batteries.
Payload is the trailer’s carry capacity. It’s the difference between its Tare Weight (un-laden weight) and its ATM. Payload is important for all trailers, however it is critical to campers and caravans, many of which have quite limited carrying capacity to start with. Modifications and additions to the trailer can very quickly eat into its carrying capacity and result in an overloaded trailer, or the inability to legally carry necessary items.
Max. Payload = ATM – Tare Mass – TBD
Tare Mass or Tare Weight is the weight of an empty standard vehicle with all of its fluids (oils, coolants) but with only 10 litres of fuel in the tank.
This is the same as Tare Mass, but with a full tank of fuel and without any accessories fitted (bull bars, tow bars, roof racks etc). Think of it as your standard vehicle literally parked at the kerb and ready for you to get in and drive away.
This is the maximum your vehicle can weigh when fully loaded as specified by the manufacturer. GVM is the Kerb Mass plus all accessories (bull bars, roof racks, winches etc) and payload.
Most importantly, if you're towing something, the GVM also includes the Tow Ball Download. (See above)
The GCM is the maximum loaded weight of the towing vehicle and any trailer or caravan being towed while driving on the road.
Payload is the vehicles carry capacity. It’s the difference between its Tare Weight (un-laden weight) and its ATM. Payload is important for all trailers, however it is critical to campers and caravans, many of which have quite limited carrying capacity to start with. Modifications and additions to the trailer can very quickly eat into its carrying capacity and result in an overloaded trailer, or the inability to legally carry necessary items.