What Weight Can I Legally Tow? – Part 2

13 Nov 2018

In the Part 1 of this four-part series we looked at the common terms you must know, TARE, ATM, GVM and GCM along with Kerb weight which is the vehicle weight assuming a 75kg driver and a full tank of fuel (this can vary depending on the manufacturer). We had a look at the most common 4WD dual cab utes that are used as tow vehicles in Australia, their maximum payload and the actual towing capacity once the vehicle is fully loaded.

One of the big misunderstandings is that if a vehicle is rated to tow 3.5 tonne then you are OK to hook up your fully loaded caravan and hit the road. While this is true for some vehicles it is not the case for all vehicles. The problem is payload, what you put into your tow vehicle, because this extra weight can REDUCE your legal towing capacity.

A good example is the Ford Ranger. When unloaded the Ranger will tow 3.5 tonne no problems but once you load the vehicle up with a full legal payload of 950kg you can only tow 2.8 tonne. With all these figures below we are assuming you will have the vehicle fully loaded because in our experience, no one does a trip around Australia with an empty vehicle.

Why is this information important?

Because if you exceed your legal load rating your risk of having an accident increases. Overloaded brakes, overloaded suspension and chassis along with an increased chance of caravan sway that can result in rollover (we will be looking at the causes and control measures for caravan sway in Part 4). If you are overloaded and have an accident your $180,000+ rig will have NO INSURANCE!!


So lets have a look at some more tow vehicles and their rated verses actual towing capacity. Please remember that the figures below may vary slightly depending on year and model, also any optional extras fitted to the vehicle will change these numbers.

VehicleTowingKerb WeightGVMGCMPayloadActual Towing Capacity at Full Payload
Toyota 200 Series GXL Diesel3,500kg2630kg3350kg6850kg720kg6,850 – 3,350 = 3,500kg
Toyota 70 Series Dual Cab GXL3,500kg2175kg3300kg6800kg1125kg6,850 – 3,300 = 3,500kg
Toyota Prado GXL Diesel3,000kg2325kg2990kg5490kg665kg5,490 – 2,990 = 2,500kg
Jeep Grand Cherokee V6 Diesel3,500kg2485kg2949kg6099kg464kg6,099 – 2,949 = 3,150kg
Mitsubishi Pajero GLS3,000kg2255kg3030kg6030kg775kg6,030 – 3,030 = 3,000kg

As you can see the 200 Series and 70 Series can both take a full payload and still tow their rated 3.5 tonne load. The Pajero can also tow it’s maximum 3 tonne when full loaded, however both the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Toyota Prado MUST have their tow load reduced when carrying a full payload in the vehicle.

It very important that you know exactly what your tow vehicle can legally tow when fully loaded before you commit to buying that big new caravan. As I said in the first blog the Federal laws relating to GVM and GCM upgrades are in the process of changing and the net result of this will be that soon, GCM ( Gross Combination Mass) upgrades will no longer be allowed. You will still be able to get a GVM upgrade but this won’t help you if you want to tow a caravan that exceeds your allowable tow weight.

Example of the effects of a GVM and GCM upgrade on a Toyota 200 Series.

Standard vehicle with no upgrade:  GVM 3,350kg; GCM 6,850kg

Actual tow load@ full payload 3,500kg + 720kg payload

With a 500kg GVM and GCM upgrade (soon to change): GVM upgraded to 3,850kg; GCM upgraded to 7,350kg

Actual tow load@ full payload 3,500kg + 1,220kg payload or 4,000kg + 720kg payload.

New regulation with a 500kg GVM upgrade and “NO” GCM upgrade: GVM upgraded to 3,850kg; GCM remains at 6,850kg

Actual tow load@ full payload 3,000kg + 1,220kg payload or 3,500kg + 720kg payload.

As you can see, what you can tow will change depending on how much weight you have in the tow vehicle. The other option is to buy a bigger tow vehicle if you want to tow a BIG caravan + a full payload of gear. There are a number of American big truck options on the market that can handle the bigger loads.

One example is the new Dodge Ram 1500 Laramie Dual Cab 4×4 ute with a 1.7m tray and 3.92 ratio axle.

VehicleTowingKerb WeightGVMGCMPayloadActual Towing Capacity at Full Payload
Dodge RAM 1500 Laramie4,500kg2650kg3450kg7,237kg800kg7,237 – 3,450 = 3,787kg
Dodge RAM 25004,500kg3577kg4,490kg8,990kg913kg8,990 – 4,490 = 4,500kg

If this all sounds too hard you are not alone. Many people in the caravan industry struggle to understand, or don’t want to understand how the rules are applied, but the basics are fairly simple.

Gross Combination Mass (GCM)


Fully Loaded Weight of your vehicle (GVM)


Maximum Legal Tow Weight.


Hopefully this information helps you make an informed decision before you commit your hard earned money on a new rig. Please remember the numbers supplied are only a guide as there are many individual variables that need to be considered.

Things like maximum front and rear axle loading, upgraded braking system and tow hitch canter lever distance from axle all need to be factored in so seek advice from a professional company before you make your final purchase.

In Part 3 of this series we will be looking at your vehicle GVM, Kerb Weight and what makes up a typical payload. You might be surprised at what you do and don’t need fitted to your vehicle and how easy it is to ditch the stuff you don’t need, take the stuff that you want and still stay under the legal load limit.


So you’ve got the vehicle sorted, now you have to sort out the accessories…

In part 3 of this series we take a look at tow vehicle payloads and how they affect you’re legal tow limits.

Read Part 3 Here >> 

Check out our latest posts!

BREAKING NEWS – In stock now

Are you after a Side Boat Loader to carry your cartopper boat? BoatHoist are now the only supplier of electric Side Boat Loaders in Australia. We have been manufacturing our electric Side Boat Loader since 2012 and have over 1500 happy boat loader customers out on the...

Best fishing spots from your boat on the Sunshine Coast

The Sunshine Coast is home to some of the best fishing spots in Australia, and there’s no better way to explore them than by boat. With a variety of waterways and habitats to choose from, there’s something for every angler. Here are some of the best fishing spots on...

Properly cleaning your boat

If you’re a boat owner, you know that proper cleaning is essential to keeping your boat in top condition. Not only does it keep your boat looking great, but it also helps prevent damage and prolongs the life of your vessel. In this blog post, we’ll give you some tips...

Toyota Landcruiser 300 Series – Roof Load Capacity 150kg

I have been watching with growing frustration the discussion on social media about theroof capacity of the 300 Series Landcruiser. Many people in the industry that shouldknow better, seem to be determined to spread this mis-information that the 300 Seriescan only...