Shocking data set to spark crackdown on overweight caravans

Published: November 13, 2023

Anyone towing a caravan in Queensland is being put on notice that police will be cracking down hard on overweight rigs.

With the busy Christmas holiday period just around the corner, the Courier Mail reports that there has been some alarm over startling statistics showing nearly all vehicles towing caravans were breaking state rules.

It says that Department of Transport and Main Roads data revealed nine out of 10 vehicles towing caravans last year exceeded their weight limit.

In a blitz on unroadworthy caravans, police reportedly used mobile scales to weigh vehicles on the Landsborough Highway in western Queensland last year but did not issue fines.

This year, however, the Courier Mail reports that those towing overweight caravans can expect fines for exceeding vehicle towing limits of up to $287 and three demerit points.

In New South Wales, the fine is $469 and three demerit points. It is $238 to $1580 in Victoria, up to $591 in South Australia and $130 to $735 in Tasmania.

Caravan Trade and Industries Association of Queensland chief executive, Jason Plant, told the Courier Mail it was an issue which needed to be looked at.

“The rising popularity of recreational vehicles indicates we have more drivers on our roads who are either new to caravanning or who might have returned to it after some time away, so they may not be used to handling a longer and heavier vehicle,” he said. “It’s important that drivers who are inexperienced in manoeuvring such large vehicles can do so safely in order to avoid becoming a danger to themselves or other vehicles.”

Mr Plant said a free statewide education program, called VanSafe, would cover new caravan driver safety rules.

The Courier Mail reports that the interactive and hands-on program detailed the correct caravan weighting, towing rules and payload limits.

“The data alone demonstrates the need for this type of caravan road safety program,” Mr Plant said. “All RV owners and drivers have a responsibility to educate themselves on safe caravanning practices but the more we can do to support both new and seasoned drivers, the more confident and compliant they’ll become and the safer our roads will be.”

  • When was the last time you had your caravan weighed? Comment below.

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Our first stop on any trip is to the local waste transfer station so we last weight check was last month. $6.50 well spent.

and it’s about time

Two months ago, and we just scraped in on the vans ATM (60kg under!) and well under with our motor vehicle!

If they are just scraping in I’d suggest most are overweight for safety. It only takes some idiot cutting you off to move the van in a precarious manner. All sorts of issues can affect a van or vehicle very close to GVM or GCM.

It’s been obvious for quite a few years that a majority of these combinations with all the bells and whistles plus all the gear are overweight.

Mark. How does overloading make it safe. No take out weight. Be verry concious of weight, especially the towbar weighi. Lotus vans wre hard to gettowbarweight because all their 3 tanks were behind the axle group

Under is under, thats all you need. good on you John.

So if heavy vehicles are
Allowed a small tolerance on there weights are caravans allowed any tolerance???

Bit of difference with a 30 tonne truck and a 5 tonne van. Trucks cargo loads are changing all the time but most vanners deliberately ignore the weight of their rigs. Truckies face a very substantial fine..lot more than any overweight van. Why fine them?….just put them off the road…people may start doing the right thing. Bloody great 28 foot Mcmansions towed behind a car just seems ludicrous to me…maybe lower their ego!!!

Excellent reply ian,Spot on with comments
Cannot see point pulling Mc mansions around ;;house on wheels

They are allowed the tolerance, known as a Mass Measurement Adjustment (MMA), not because they are large trucks, but because it is agreed that the accuracy of weighing devices are different and this must be taken into account when working out correct mass limits. There is also a MMA with portable scales with different scales being known to be be more or less accurate than others. The height of the scale and whether the entire vehicle combination is lifted (All wheels including car) or just one axle all changes the weighing dynamics of the accuracy of the devices. So does the road structure. Think of it this way, if I lift one side of a vehicle higher than the other where does the weight transfer to, the other side, this is dynamic weight transfer, hence all wheels need to be lifted at once to get correct weights. Road Authorities have to get scales (and weighbridges) certified each year to prove accuracy just like a speed camera or radar or lazer does. Private companies do not, though I would suggest reputable ones would. However even with certification, depending on a number of variables, they can still give inaccurate weights, the best way is to go to a weighbridge that is certified and use in accordance with the regulations (i.e. if it is a gross bridge only use it for gross weight, if it is certified for split weighs use it for axles only), and then apply the MMA. The MMA is also used by road agencies and police.

I weighed my van 4 times at different weigh facilities. Three were with in 60-70klgs I went to Pedders and they were 160 kilos heavier. Dual axle van weighed on single axle scales. I tried to explain it to the guy there couldn’t get through to him about weight dynamics. Even 60-70 kilo is quite substantial. I’ve heard most new vans are over weight from time of production!?

We own a weighbridge and it is certified for split weighing. The Critia is that the weigh pad must not be anymore than 3mm difference in to the approach pads. One would be surprised how much difference it makes if the weigh pads are not at the same level. We weigh our van and if I get pulled up and weighed I will state that if the pads and on the vehicle are not at the same level I would take it to court if I was found over.

Once loaded we check before every trip

Problems are , when you buy your caravan, they tell you that you have say a 600 k payload, but they weigh the van before you buy with no water no gas go figure

Same as everything else – even your car.

Dead right. Just like they say your dualcab is a 1tonner.

That is called the tare weight, pretty universal method of describing vehicle (& trailer) weights. Not sure I understand the point you’re trying to make.

Whenever I have updated my caravan, the first thing I do is load it up as if I am going on a trip and head to the local tip and have it weighed. I have more cupboard space in my latest update but only put in what I had in the prior van. Why carry more than what I already worked out that I needed. A good way to check what you are putting in to the van is to put a red dot sticker on each item. When away if you use it take the red dot off. After a couple of trips pull everything out and if it still has a red dot on it ask yourself if you really need to take it with you.

Spot on bob,good advice.

from a heavy vehicle driver that’s great advice bob and it’s healthy for all involved that the conversation is alive and well my granddaughter and her fiancé are going long distance traveling because of discussions the first thing they did was split weigh the combination

Long overdue.

Didt qld or nsw do a weight check a few years ago. Lots of stuff left on the road and 2to3 hoir delay to get throughthe step. Now they know how truckies go.

This should have been happening many years ago. It is going to take quite a few fines before the ignorant ones start to wake up to the fact that they can’t just load up their ute to the roof, throw the boat on and tow their huge van around where ever they want because “it does it easily”. It will be funny reading the comments from those learning the lesson the hard way.

I have a campertrailer. A,hanky and it is overloaded. So the manufacturer has to be more realistic with their weights. I only take the bare neccessities and some food. It only has solar and one extra battery. Rest is in the canopy on my ute

It would be a great step forward if caravan manufacturers showed greater detail to the stamped compliance plates in regard to accuracy.

I Agree. I think caravan manufacturers should be required to weigh each van they build and not build 1 model and use its weight and stamp the compliance plate the same for every van of that model. Ours has 2725 Tare on the compliance plate. When we picked it up it had 150kg of water, 2 gas bottles 35kg and spare tyre 35kg so it should have weighed 2725 +150+35+35 =2945kg. We pulled over a weighbridge on the way home from picking it up 3206kg. 320kg ball weight so we can’t use the front toolbox or jerry can holders and only carry 2 chairs and a table in the front boot

Pete, have a look at my response above, weighbridges have an adjustment and you will most likely will be below that weight depending on weighing method.

Yes do agree with the weight. discussion we had our ATM upgrade on our fusion caravan 21ft old ATM was 2270 now with the upgrade it’s 3080 we have been on the road since 2017

3 years ago we met up with a vaner who had a ford ranger he was towing a 24 f van that had 4.2 ton and he laugh at me saying he was over weight ? some dont care

Think that’s bad. Motor homes are worse. Tow bars and motor scooters mounted on the rear of some of these vehicles far exceed the allowed weight limits. Never mind the centre of gravity moving to the rear. Do the calculation on yours and see what I mean.

Another major issue is that the Compliance Plate weights (and advertising material) are often incorrect. I purchased a camper with a stated hitch download weight of 165kg and ATM at tare of 1533kg.
My car can handle 200kg max on the hitch and an ATM of 2000kg, so all good….or so I thought.
I purchased the camper and then loaded up and weighed it before heading off – way too heavy on the hitch. I unloaded and weighed it at tare weight – 220kg hitch weight and 1680 ATM.
I cannot legally tow the camper even with nothing in it!
The manufacturer will not engage and the retailer also will not respond at all.
Consumer Affairs say they cannot help.
Currently mulling up going legal, but any resolution would take more than a year and cost heaps for lawyers, etc.
Discussions with others indicate that this may be an industry issue.
Warning for others – do not purchase before checking the weights yourself or you may end up in my situation or without the ability to carry the load that you need.

Get a lawyer to send a letter of demand to them. Your situation surely cannot be allowed to happen.

Done that – they do not respond. I guess relying on the cost and time of litigation to ward people off. The cost of litigation can far exceed the cost of the camper and it is rare that costs are awarded.

Dont you know how to balance your camper? Get a towball scale or2 bathroom scales under the jocky wheel and add the 2 weights.

I have all the weigh gear, but believed the Compliance Plate specs. Never again – next time I buy I will insist on a weighbridge ticket and I will be there when it is done or measure myself!

Try the ACCC, who are not happy with the industry.

Caravan manufacturers must weigh each and every van which leaves their premises instead of assessing the weight by the equipment installed. a copy of the weighbridge certificate must accompany the van as well as tare and GCM weights on compliance plates. This will then allow purchasers to assess the amount of gear etc. they are legally allowed to place in van.

It is the extras fitted by the dealers that are the main problem.

That would be ideal, but not required ATM. In fact many use the ability for type approval to not weigh at all. Dept of Infrastructure does not care and will not take action – at least in my case. Advised they have no authority.

don’t worry about anyone else but yourself just weigh it before you buy it for your assurance

that solves the problem neil and you can get a good idea about the average weight YOU will add from the posts on this site

Had our motorhome weighed came in at 4720kg and limit is 4495kg
Easy to do once you fill up water, fuel, food, grog, tools etc and wife’s makeup bag.
Typical car licence motorhome

As expected the caravan makers and dealers will wring their hands and wail loudly to divert everyone’s attention from the plain fact that directly or indirectly THEY are largely responsible for the situation.
“couple of solar panels on top, couple of AGM batteries under the bed, extra water tank, generator box on the back?” “Yes Sir. Will there be anything else Sir. Thank you sir”

tell them to weigh everything you want installed if you cross reference with accessories manufacturers weight you can’t go wrong or can if you don’t double check.As a heavy vehicle operator we might go to load our maximum weight and the consignor often says can you put this on if it puts you overweight the answer it no,all about compliance nowadays.If you are innocently driving down the highway and a .pedestrian walks out in front of you and it’s serious the authorities will weigh your vehicle if it’s overweight you will become a great percentage of blame,so be warned,no excuses once the horse has bolted

We have just had our GCM upgraded and engineer certified and are now happily towing our rig with confidence that we are legal, thanks to Lovells. We have also done years ago when we first started caravanning a towing course even though hubby has towed trailers for years and it was money well spent.

Yes it should be addressed, but who can ensure or say that the VIN PLATE of a CAR or Caravan is Correct,?. & where can one get the State Requirements of Each State.
(A) If for example: My Jayco Caravan Vin Plate States your Caravan, has :
(B) Tare Weight of : 1311Kg &
(C)A.T.M. of 1630Kg
(D) My Tow Vehicle has a Load Capacity of 275Kg
(E) My Tow Vehicle has a TOW Capacity of 2 TONNE.
(F) My Tow Bar is a 2Tonne Capacity
(G) My Tow Vehicle has a Max of 200 Kg Tow Ball Weight { Stated on Drivers Door frame .
(H) My Tow Vehicle has a LOAD Capacity of 572Kg.
(i)My Tow Vehicle has a Maximum Gross Combined Mass of 4.1Tonne
(I) So as long as We keep below it’s Maximum Capacity and below it’s Maximum Tow Ball Weight and do not exceed it’s Maximum Gross Combined Mass of 4.1Tonne
(J)So as long as my Caravan Weighs up below: the 1630 Kg ( Loaded & Water Tanks & Gas Bottle/s Full along with Food ETC then we are O.K.????)

so can anyone tell me if I am correct or not in my thinking.

Most likely you would be OK so long as:
1. You put ~10% of the ATM on the hitch with the van loaded correctly (most weight over the axle and do not try to balance the load by having excess weight at the rear of the van especially)
2.Do not exceed the maximum front and/or rear axle loads – yet another factor to work out!
3.Know how the tare weight of your tow vehicle has been calculated. Depending on the OEM, the tare weight may or may not include a driver with specified weight, fuel at a specified amount of fill, etc. And don’t forget to look for little asterisks that give additional information (like the Nissan Patrol that specifies a 3500kg load, but with an asterisk that reduces the hitch load when you want to tow 3500kg).

So if your car specifies 572kg load, does that include you, fuel, etc – because if not there will not be a lot left – EG: 2 people @~80kg, 100litres of fuel ~100kg, 1630kg with 10% on the hitch. Gives only ~100kg for gear including bull bar and other aftermarket add ons.
4.Do not rely on the Compliance Plate specifications – weigh your rig yourself to make sure.

Yes we have a large van (23’) – it is our home. We live in it 12 months and require items for 4 seasons and hobbies and maintenance. So please don’t judge all big vans as big egos !! We do weigh and usually come in just under. But if we are travelling remotely and need to stock up on food and water we know we might go over if weighed at that time. We do remove items if not needed and trim down when we can.
However Toyota Landcruisers have little extra payload unless expensive upgrades. That is the one of the problems.
We will take further steps to address our weight but hard to find what else we can ditch. Only thing in our favour is our towing experience and our innate caution. But that does not protect us from idiot drivers or emergency situations. It is tricky.

The big problem is that caravan manufacturers are building larger vans with ridiculously small load capacity. Usually it is 300kg, but when water tanks and gas bottles are filled there is little left for all the usual stuff. When I ordered my last van I specified double the normal allowance and that was just enough, even for a single axle off roader. My suggestion is to start the discussion with the manufacturers.

Many caravan companies and sales people are deliberately under estimating total weight to get sales so owners are unaware. Needs to be more policing of manufacturers too!

Suebee, that’s exactly right. Our local caravan yard do not care at all about weights, they will sell you a van that you can tow empty and their cop-out is we don’t know what people are going to put in them

never, my van is a pommy swift, 1.25 unladen and 1.9 loaded. towing with a BT50 3.5 tow capacity and a 3.2lt donk. when researching vans I could see the industry was lying to new van buyers saying a 3.5 truck could tow a 3.5-rated van. Not so…. very glad the authorities are now addressing this dangerous process. Manufacturers will have to re-think weights, materials, and designs to bring it back to a safe capacity.

Keven..
I have an 18′ 6” van it is just over one year old, i purchased it from the manufacturer in melbourne,a couple of months ago we loaded up the van to go away for a few weeks water tanks full etc decided to have the van weighed before we left, most weights were OK except the ball weight it was way over the specified ball weight on the compliance plate, so i decided to take the van home and empty every thing out of the van including both water tanks,it was the same as if the van just left dealer
then i went back to weigh bridge and had the van weighed again, the ball was still 40 kg over the ball weight on compliant plate therefore it would be impossible to get down to the ball weight on the compliance plate so all the other 18’6” vans on the road built by this company would be the same and illegal to tow on our roads, this mean i have a van that can not tow even completely EMPTY I tow the van with a ford ranger SO WHAT CAN I DO NOW

I had the same experience went back to manufacturer and asked them what the actual weight they had measured for my ball weight. They said it was calculated as 10% of the van weight. My actual value was much higher and as it is a single axle poptop ball weight could be effected by the actual layout of the van such things as size and location of aircon, fridge, bed and seating.
They then provided a corrected compliance plate however they made the van weight 1999kg so they didn’t have to retrofit a brakeaway setup. The new plate was fitted by the van suppliers with special screws and sign-off by two witnesses, the old plate was returned to the manufacturer, so change was not trivial. (My van was an Outback with 16″ wheels and aircon on roof (forward of location used for internal fitted one on top of the fridge which would have inpacted their standard numbers)

Well and truly the only way to go, the fines imposed don’t go far enough as with overloaded trucks you don’t move them until they comply and the fine is a flat rate with heavy penalties for every KG over 2%
on each axle, which would in some cases fall back on the manufacturers.

Then there are the ride heights way higher than necessary even a van that’s weight compliant sways in winds or when trucks pass from the opposite direction even if fitted with anti sway gadgets, not to mention the excessive drag and fuel consumption ,it’s a case of it looks like you can take it off road but the reality is most never go off road where it’s a case of looks verses reality and safety.

It’s definitely a mathematical nightmare to get your weights “legal”, being that so many new vans are offer lots of addon’s these days. Reading through all the comments so far I only saw one mention of front and rear axle loads. All our weights came in under but when we looked at the rear axle weight with the van on we are 20kgs over. Not too bad really but it is often over looked. A lot of dual cabs with a few bibs and bobs in the back would be over on the rear axle.

Every trip out we weigh our vehicle and van.
See heaps of vehicles loaded to the hilt then a boat on top towing a van. We shake our heads how do they get away with it. Blind Freddy can see they are overloaded! Glad it’s on the radar for authorities now.

funny but reading the comments it’s people’s ignorance that has caused the authorities to come down and the comment about (once we go outback we ignore compliance) making a public comment like that has authorities licking their lips,honestly why would you say that

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