When considering a caravan, you also need to consider the weight of the caravan. This is for your safety as your vehicle can only tow and carry a certain amount of weight. If you are flying down the highway at 100kilometres an hour, that caravan turns into a deadly weapon. Below are the definitions for the different types of weight talked about with caravan towing. It’s best to look up your vehicle’s Towing weights and if you already have a caravan, go to a public weighbridge to get a better handle on what you’re carrying.
Aggregate Trailer Mass (ATM) – this is the maximum capacity or how heavy a fully loaded trailer is when it is not coupled to your vehicle. This mass is measured with the caravan resting on the jockey wheel and not hitched to a car. When you are thinking of buying a caravan/camping trailer, you need to see what your vehicle can safely tow. To find your vehicle’s towing capacity, look in your owner’s manual. If the capacity of your vehicle is greater or equal to the ATM then your vehicle should be able to tow the caravan/camper.
Gross Trailer Mass (GTM) – this weight comes from when the caravan is hitched up to a vehicle. It is the weight of the fully-loaded trailer and the weight that is distributed to the trailer’s axle and tyres.
Tare Mass – this is the total mass of the caravan without any load. The caravan is empty and has no water, no gas, not food or luggage. It also means no extras like TVs, mattresses, solar panels, etc. It’s only the weight of the actual caravan itself. This weight can be found on the vehicle plate or in the caravan handbook. Your payload will be the difference between this tare weight and the ATM/GTM weight.
Payload – all the items that you fill your caravan with is your payload. This can include the extras and comforts like TVs and solar panels, water, luggage, gas. If you exceed the payload capacity that can make towing safely an issue. To work out the payload, the Tare Mass is deducted from the ATM.
Gross Combined Mass (GCM) – the weight of the vehicle fully loaded and the weight of the caravan fully loaded.
Towball down-weight – this is the weight the is pushing down on the tow ball. Typically it should be around 10% of the weight of the caravan. It is important to look at this as a lot of weight will be exerted on this part of your vehicle.
I hope that this short article has helped explain a bit more about weights and what to think about when buying your next caravan. Have a talk to the friendly staff at Caravan Consignment QLD and they will be able to help you more.