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Your guide to towing

Posted in Motoring Tips

Your guide to towing

If you're thinking about getting on the road with a caravan, boat or trailer - we've got the guide you need to read before you hitch up!

Taking the boat or caravan on holiday is an Australian tradition - and one of the many reasons people step into a Toyota.

But like any activity involving your vehicle; it can be dangerous if you don't follow some basic rules.

Towing capacities

Knowing how much you can safely, legally and practically tow can sometimes be three completely different things!

Your Toyota should come with figures for your Gross Vehicle Mass/Weight (GVM/GVW) as well as a Gross Combination Mass (GCM).

Your GVM/GVW is the maximum laden weight of the vehicle; including the kerb weight of the vehicle plus driver, passengers, luggage, tow bar, bull bar, any other accessories and the tow ball down load.

Your GCM is the maximum allowable mass or weight of a towing vehicle and its trailer.

To make sense of these numbers, just know that your GVM is the safe weight that you can carry within your vehicle, while the GCM is the safe weight you can carry in your vehicle and in your caravan or trailer.

For example, a 2017 Toyota Hilux SR5 4X4 Double Cab Pickup has a GVM of 3000kg - meaning you can load 3 tonnes of passengers, luggage, bull bars and fuel and operate the vehicle safely and normally. It also means that the parts, such as the transmission and engine, that make up the vehicle can comfortably operate with this weight on board.

The same Hilux also has a GCM of 5850kg meaning that it can tow an additional 2850kg (including tow ball down load) safely and in normal conditions.

For example, a 16ft caravan may have a tare weight of 1400kg and a tow ball load weight of 150kg. This means you can add an extra gas cylinder, a spare tyre as well as stocking the pantry, and still comfortably tow behind our example Hilux with two passengers on board with their luggage in the tray.

Electric braking

If you are towing anything with a tare weight heavier than 750kg, you must fit an electric brake in the cabin of your vehicle in order to operate braking on at least one axle of the trailer or caravan.

On trailers with a Gross Trailer Mass (GTM) of over 2000kg, the braking system must apply to all wheels, as well as immediate application of trailer brakes in the event of the trailer becoming detached from the towing vehicle. Under these circumstances, the brakes must remain applied for at least 15 minutes.

If your trailer's laden weight is under 750kg, you don't need to have an independent braking system fitted, as the momentum of the towing vehicle is considered sufficient to slow the trailer - although you will still have to fit safety chains to ensure the trailers drawbar doesn't hit the ground if it becomes detached from the towing vehicle (especially important since it doesn't have breakaway brakes.)


Just like your car, it's important to keep your caravan and trailer insured in case of a crash out on the road.

From the Department of Transport & Main Roads Safe Towing guide:

Compulsory Third Party insurance for trailers in Queensland is provided by the towing vehicle’s insurance cover. If your trailer is being towed by an interstate registered vehicle, contact your insurer to obtain additional cover. A trailer may not be covered by comprehensive insurance if:

  • it does not comply with Queensland registration and vehicle standard legislation;
  • its on road mass exceeds your vehicle’s towing capacity;
  • it is not roadworthy or safe; or
  • it is overloaded.

You can also get higher cover levels specifically for caravans that has protection for when you're not on the road, even covering the contents of your 'van (even food spoilage!)

If you have a question about how much your Toyota can tow, need to vehicle to take a caravan, trailer or boat on the road or get your vehicle serviced before a big road trip; see the team at Motorama Toyota in Moorooka or Browns Plains.  

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