3 January 2021 · Motoring Tips & Advice

Basic Towing Guide & Definitions | Phil Gilbert Hyundai

Given the border closures and travel restrictions across Australia, more people are choosing to take road trips in their own backyard. This has meant an increase in caravan purchases and rentals, but with more Aussies exploring a new territory, many have questions.

When it comes to caravan towing, there are rules and regulations to follow. Laws are designed to protect drivers, passengers and third parties, so before you set off, be sure you have the knowledge to keep you legal. To start you off is our basic towing guide with the key definitions you should understand.

How to be sure you’re towing legally

  1. Keep your vehicle under the maximum total weight. The maximum total weight is the combined weight of your vehicle and the trailer. Make sure the total weight of the setup doesn’t exceed the GCM (Gross Combination Mass), which can be found in your owner’s manual.
  2. Stay under the vehicle’s rated axle capacities. Balancing the load when towing is essential. Check your vehicle’s maximum weight for the front and rear axles.
  3. Stay below the towing capacity. Your vehicle has a specified towing capacity, which you should never exceed. 
  4. Do not tow more than one vehicle at a time. Towing more than one vehicle is both unsafe and illegal in every Australian state.
  5. Don’t let anyone ride in trailers or caravans. Having a person riding in the caravan while it’s on the road is against the law. When your car moves, the contents in the caravan are subjected to the same force as the car, so items could fly around and harm a passenger. There are also no seatbelts or airbags fitted in the caravan itself.
  6. Ensure the correct brakes are fitted. If your trailer weighs more than 750kg, it needs its own set of brakes. They could be mechanical and operated when the trailer hitch moves in and out, but most modern trailers use electric brakes.

See more information about towing rules in New South Wales on the government website.

The key definitions to know about

You’ll probably come across the following terms regularly (including in this guide), so let’s break down their definitions.

  • Tare mass - the actual mass of either the caravan or your vehicle as specified by the manufacturer, with no payload.
  • ATM (Aggregate Trailer Mass) - this describes the tare mass of your caravan plus its maximum payload. In other words, this is the most your caravan is allowed to weigh.
  • GVM (Gross Vehicle Mass) - the overall weight limit that your car’s wheels can support, including passengers and tow ball mass.
  • TBM (Tow Ball Mass) - the mass that’s exerted on your tow ball when your caravan is fully packed.
  • Payload - this describes any additional mass to your vehicle’s tare mass.

Contact Phil Gilbert Hyundai to get equipped for your next trip

Ready for a camper trip across New South Wales or other parts of Australia? Our Hyundai online store is equipped with the parts you need to explore safely. Shop online or call our team on (02) 9735 8400 for more information about our accessories and vehicles suited for towing, to make your next trip your best yet!