Choice of Tow Vehicle – The Do’s & Don’ts

Selecting the right trailer/tow vehicle combination is essential to your safety and the safety of other road users. You want to have a caravan trip that is comfortable and free of breakdowns. Finding a vehicle with sufficient towing capacity for a larger caravan can especially be hard. Once your load exceeds around 3,000kg, options for tow vehicles become limited. But there’s always a car for the job. Here’s a guide on finding the right one.


Is it Legal?

You can find towing capacities of different cars in the manufacturer specifications, which you can find on the websites of car brands. Towing specifications can change from each model, year and even within the same model range, depending on the vehicle. Always check with the manufacturer if in doubt. You should also keep in mind that the manufacturer’s claims don’t always match up to real life performance. Always double check by looking at reviews and recommendations.

While it may be relatively easy to choose a towing vehicle based only on the legal requirements, you should aim to get more than the bare minimum you need. You want a durable vehicle that can provide a reasonably trouble-free towing experience, especially if going on longer trips.


Determining Mass

There are four things you need to determine to safely tow your caravan – the Aggregate Trailer Mass (AGM), Gross Trailer Mass (GTM) , Gross Combination Mass (GCM) and Tow Ball Mass (TBM)

  • ATM – The maximum rating the caravan can legally weigh once everything is loaded into it.
  • GTM – The maximum legal weight when the loaded caravan is hitched to the tow vehicle.
  • GCM – The maximum legal combined weight of the tow vehicle, caravan, loaded items and passengers.
  • TBM – The amount of weight a caravan applies to the tow ball of your vehicle. This is one to look out for because a manufacturer may say a vehicle can legally tow 2,000kg but only have a 1,000kg towbar fitted.


What Kind of Car is Best?

Theoretically, you don’t need a 4WD or SUV to tow, but it will realistically be difficult to find a 2WD capable of towing a caravan, especially when you account for factors like tow ball mass. The best tow vehicles are AWD vehicles with a turbo-diesel engine and automatic transmission. This is because they are more powerful, versatile, durable and safer in wet weather conditions and off-road tracks. They also offer the additional benefit of more space in the back.

Automatic transmissions are better as heavy loads can damage manual transmissions when switching gears. When picking a car, remember to consider things like rear access, turning circle and features like a square hitch, which allows you to insert a variety of tow tongues for different trailers.


New and Used Caravans in Melbourne

At Canterbury Caravans, we have a diverse range of new and used caravans for sale on display, from pop tops to lightweight vans and family sized caravans. We also offer a comprehensive range of services for your caravan, including servicing and repairs, as well as alterations and additions to suit your specific needs.

Visit our location, or call us on 03 9729 8188. Alternatively, use our online contact form to get in touch for all your caravan concerns and enquiries.