Consumer Behaviour Vehicle Weight and Distribution

Understanding Caravan & Camper Trailer Weight

17th December, 2020 by rvSafe Team
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Getting your caravan or camper trailer combination weights right is imperative as both the total weight and the way it is distributed affects both towing stability and braking ability. Plus, you do not want to get in trouble with the police, affect your vehicle warranty or have your insurance denied!

Calculating your vehicle weight can be cumbersome and the simplest and safest thing to do is take your vehicle combination, loaded with all your gear and passengers to a weigh bridge or have a  portable weigh station come to you.

If you are new to RVing and shopping for your first combination, it is important to do your research to make sure you consider the tow vehicle capacities, your trailer weight, and payload requirements.


Now to demystify vehicle weights!

Manufacturers will specify some key weight limits. These can be found on the vehicle or trailer compliance plates or check your owner’s manual.

Firstly, you need to ensure that your vehicles Towing Capacity (Braked) is higher than your Gross Trailer Mass. From here, there are four weight limits you need to check that you are within limits.

Aggregate Trailer Mass – ATM

Aggregate trailer mass is the maximum total weight of the caravan or camper trailer. This is specified by the manufacturer and includes the tow ball weight.

Tow Ball Weight – TBW

Tow ball weight, also referred to as tow ball mass, is the weight pushing down on the tow ball by the coupling of the RV being towed.

Gross Vehicle Mass – GVM

Gross vehicle mass is specified by the manufacturer and is the maximum legal loaded mass of the vehicle. It includes the weight of the car, fuel, vehicle payload, all passengers, plus tow ball weight if towing.

Gross Combined Vehicle Mass – GCM

Gross combination mass is the total permissible weight of the loaded vehicle and caravan together and is specified by the manufacturer.

The ATM will be printed on your trailer’s compliance plate and the other three will be on your vehicle’s compliance plate and/or in the owner’s manual.

You will then need to have your vehicle weighed.

The below flow chart will guide you through correcting any weight issues.

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