Caravan Tow Weights Explained: What You Need to Know Today

Buckle up caravan owners and van lovers because today we’re diving into the world of caravan tow weights. Now, you might think that caravan towing capacity isn’t the most exciting topic in the world, but it’s one you need to know about! So, grab a cold drink, kick back in your preferred camping chair, and learn all you need to know to have caravan towing weights explained today.

Different Terms for Caravan Towing Capacity Explained

Firstly, wrap your head around the different terms used when it comes to caravan weights in this country. You may have heard phrases like Tare Mass, Aggregate Trailer Mass (ATM), and Gross Trailer Mass (GTM), as they’re often thrown around like sunblock and ice cream at a Queensland beach. But do you know what each means and how they’re different? It’s time to find out.

Tare Mass

You can think of Tare Mass as the weight of your caravan when it’s completely empty – that means no gear, no groceries, just an empty shell waiting to be filled with adventure. The tare weight of your caravan will include the accessories and options that were fitted on the van when it was built, but it doesn’t include water in water tanks or gas in gas bottles. The tare weight is also based on the caravan being unhitched from the tow vehicle.

When you’re comparing caravan options and choosing the best van for your needs, you should consider the tare weight of each caravan on your shortlist, as this can affect how much you can tow, what sized vehicle you need to tow it with, and more.

Aggregate Trailer Mass

Next, you might wonder, “What is the ATM weight on a caravan?”. ATM stands for aggregate trailer mass and refers to the total weight your caravan can safely carry when it’s fully loaded. This is basically the maximum allowable weight that your caravan and everything inside it can equal and includes water in water tanks, gas in gas bottles, all your personal gear, and any modifications. Feel free to contact our awesome team today to learn more about caravan renovations that may affect the weight of your caravan.

Also, it helps to know that the ATM weight on a caravan is the weight separate from your tow vehicle, not when it’s attached. Plus, keep in mind that the aggregate trailer mass is set by manufacturers when they build their caravans.

Gross Trailer Mass

When looking at towing weights, you want to understand the gross trailer mass, or GTM, too. This is the weight your caravan puts on the ground when it’s loaded up, hooked up, and ready to roll. In other words, this is the maximum allowable weight your caravan’s axles will pull when the caravan is connected to your tow vehicle. The GTM weight is like the ATM, but there’s a key point of difference.

Basically, while both the ATM and GTM refer to maximum capacities, the aggregate trailer mass looks at the weight on your tyres and the tow ball when carrying maximum loads, while the GTM focuses on the maximum mass sent to the ground by the axle(s) of the caravans when it’s coupled up to your vehicle (so, the weight on your tyres, not the tow ball). For this calculation, the ball weight of the caravan gets carried by your vehicle, as it is now hooked up.

Tow Ball Weight

The tow ball weight refers to the downward force or weight of the coupling onto the tow ball of the vehicle you use to tow your caravan. If you know your ATM and GTM, you can easily calculate the tow ball weight by subtracting the GTM from the ATM. For instance, if the ATM is 2900kg and the GTM is 2680kg, the tow ball weight will be 220kg.

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Caravan Payload Explained

Payload is another term you’ll need to get to know when you’re out and about in your van. Payload is the word used for the total combined weight of all the goods you load into the caravan, which isn’t part of the Tare weight the caravan’s manufacturer specifies. This includes modifications after the caravan is built, various accessories, water, gas, and your luggage and food.

The more aftermarket items you fit onto your caravan, the less weight you’ll have available for your personal belongings. You want a good idea of the payload, or how much you can load into your machine, so you don’t overload the caravan and make it too heavy.

Why You Need to Understand Caravan Tow Weights

Even if it’s tempting not to worry about explanations of van weights, ignoring tow weights can have serious consequences when it comes to caravan safety. You don’t want to be cruising along the Pacific Motorway, excited for your trip away, only to have disaster strike when your overloaded caravan starts swaying like a Maroons fan at a footy match!

Tips for Towing Success

Before you hit the road, check your caravan’s tow weights and make sure you’re towing within the allowed limits. (If you need a hand, ask us when you bring your caravan in for servicing.) Always check your tow vehicle’s towing capacity to make sure it can handle the weight, too. Plus, distribute the load evenly inside your caravan to prevent it from becoming a seesaw on wheels.

And there you have it – a crash course in caravan tow weights! Remember, towing a caravan is all about finding the perfect balance between adventure and safety, so don’t let those tow weights weigh you down. 

If you’d like to get your caravan refreshed, serviced, or otherwise ready to hit the road for an upcoming adventure, get in touch with us to book a free onsite quote.