Claims for dual cab ute towing capacity mislead caravan buyers. That ute must weigh enough to keep a caravan steady, or the caravan tail wags the towing dog.

Close to 40 years, Australia’s towing speed limit for trailers over a laden 750 kg was 72 km/h. Back then the Royal Automobile Club advised trailer weights to not exceed that of the tow vehicle: preferably a ratio of 3:4. Now, with a speed limits almost 30-40 km/h higher, it is not uncommon for a 2500 kg ute to tow a 3500 kg caravan – a ratio of 3.5:2.5.

Many vehicle makers specify GCM (Gross Combination Mass) – the total allowed laden weight of the vehicle and trailer. In some cases they quote the weight of a totally standard vehicle. Here’s a few examples showing that claims for towing capacity mislead:

  • GCM 6000 kg. Claimed tow capacity 3500 kg. Unladen weight 2247 kg. Payload 952 kg. If towing 3500 kg that plus the ute’s unladen weight – of 2247 kg is 5747 kg. This leaves only 253 kg for everything carried – all fuel over 10 litres, driver and passengers. It is an all but empty 2500 kg ute towing an up to 3500 kg caravan.
  • GCM 5910 kg. Claimed  tow capacity 3500 kg. Unladen weight 1969 kg. Payload 941 kg. If towing 3500 kg that, plus the ute’s unladen weight, is 5469 kg. This leaves 441 kg for everything carried. It is 2401 kg towing 3500 kg.

  • GCM 6000 kg. Claimed tow capacity 3500 kg. Unladen weight 2118 kg. Payload 1082 kg. If towing 3500 kg that, plus the ute’s unladen weight  is 5618 kg. This leaves 382 kg for everything carried. It is 2500 kg towing 3500 kg.

  • GCM 5885 kg. Claimed tow capacity 3100 kg. Unladen weight 1955 kg. Payload is 945 kg. If towing 3100 kg that, plus the ute’s unladen weight is 5055 kg. This still leaves a payload of 830 kg when towing 3500 kg. It is 2785 kg towing 3100 kg. Still undesirable but not as bad as above.

Claims for dual cab ute towing capacity mislead caravan buyers – few utes remain ‘standard’

That typical 250 kg – 440 kg payload may just be sufficient for driver, passengers, pets plus fuel, but few utes remain standard. Many will have a winch (40-50 kg), bull bar (4-45 kg), extra spare wheel (35-40 kg) recovery gear (30 kg), toolbox (20 kg), winch (>40 kg) etc. A more realistic towing capacity is 2500 kg.

See also Caravan-tow vehicle-dynamics