For a used caravan, it’s best to weigh it before you buy it. This is because the caravan may have been modified or had additional equipment fitted after it was built which could affect its maximum weight and carrying capacity.
For a new van, weighing before you buy is preferred. Especially if you’ve added special features or equipment that could affect its total weight and, therefore, what you can carry in it.
Before buying, check the ball load when empty. It should be well below the tow vehicle’s maximum tow ball load specification. You may need to seek advice from a caravan dealer as to how much the tow ball load is likely to increase when it’s fully loaded.
Weigh your caravan again when it’s fully loaded for the first time to ensure the ATM specification isn’t exceeded and check that the ball load is still within specifications. Some people have their own ball weight scales and check ball load every time they load the van.
After that, weigh your caravan when any significant change is made to what is carried, or where it is carried, in the van.
Use a public weighbridge.
Only carry what’s necessary and be disciplined when it comes to loading the van. Choose lightweight items, such as replacing china plates with plastic plates, and don’t carry large quantities of water if you don’t need to.
Caravanning Queensland provides a free caravan safety check program to owners of caravans, motorhomes and other recreational vehicles. Find out more.
It’s the maximum weight that it can legally tow. Exceeding any of the specifications is illegal, potentially dangerous and can affect your insurance or damage the car. Don’t forget to check the tow bar specifications. If your car and towbar specifications are different, the lower specification will always be the limit of what you can tow.
Check the car’s handbook or contact the manufacturer. Tow bar specifications are shown on the towbar ID plate. Some trailer specifications are shown on the trailer ID plate but should be confirmed on a weighbridge. Others will need to be weighed as outlined above.
The information in this article has been prepared for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal advice or specific advice to any particular person. Any advice contained in the document is general advice, not intended as legal advice or professional advice and does not take into account any person’s particular circumstances. Before acting on anything based on this advice you should consider its appropriateness to you, having regard to your objectives and needs.