In this Guide you will find a wealth of technical information, handy hints and advice, which,when put into practice, will help you to tow your Recreational Vehicle with a greater degree of confidence and safety. Towing any type of trailer involves more than attaching a towbar to your vehicle and hitching
up. It adds another dimension to your driving and there are a number of considerations you should
take into account.

These include:

  • the towing capacity of your vehicle;
  • the type of tow bar you should fit to your vehicle and the maximum load capacity of the coupling;
  • the trailer when laden and coupled to the vehicle shall not exceed any of the tow vehicle
    maximum ratings;
  • the ATM must be specified on the trailer’s Vehicle (VIN) Plate;
  • the type of trailer you are towing and whether it complies with all the regulations governing trailers in Australia;
  • the type of equipment you may need to fit to increase the trailer’s stability when being towed;
  • whether your trailer is correctly loaded;
  • the ways in which towing can affect your driving;
  • the safety checks you should make prior to and during your trip; and
  • the type of insurance most suitable for your caravan or trailer.


(Gross Vehicle Mass)

The GVM is the maximum allowable total mass of a fully loaded motor vehicle, consisting of the tare mass (mass of the vehicle) plus the load (including passengers). This also includes any load or weight applied to the vehicle’s towbar.

Tare Mass

The total weight of the caravan (load on tyres plus coupling mass) with all options and fittings as supplied by the manufacturer, with empty water tanks, gas bottles, excluding fluids not essential for operation on public roads, and without luggage or personal effects.

Tow Ball / Coupling Mass

The weight imposed on the tow vehicle’s towbar by the coupling. Generally speaking, the tow ball coupling mass specified on a trailer’s Vehicle (VIN) Plate will be an actual weight recorded with the trailer at tare mass. The tow ball coupling mass will vary depending on the loading of the trailer.


(Aggregate Trailer Mass)

The total permissible weight of a trailer, which includes the weight supported by the tow vehicle (tow ball mass) and whatever you add as payload (e.g. water, gas, luggage). The ATM is specified by the trailer manufacturer and must not be exceeded.


The allowable load carrying capacity or ‘payload’ is worked out by deducting the “Tare Mass” from the “ATM”. It must not be exceeded under any circumstances. Safety, insurance and warranty may be affected if the specified payload is exceeded.


(Gross Trailer Mass)

The total permissible mass that can be supported by the wheels/tyres of the caravan. This includes whatever you add as payload (e.g. water, gas, equipment and luggage), but does not include the weight supported by the tow vehicle (tow ball mass).


(Gross Combination Mass)

GCM is the rating provided by the tow vehicle manufacturer. The maximum laden mass of the vehicle combination (tow vehicle and caravan) is not permitted to exceed the GCM rating. It is important to note that even if the tow vehicle and trailer are individually within their respective maximum ratings the combination may not necessarily be within the GCM rating of the tow vehicle.