How to choose the ute for a slide on camper?

Submitted: Thursday, May 18, 2017 at 13:16
ThreadID: 134887 Views:11559 Replies:15 FollowUps:33
This Thread has been Archived
Hi all! I am new here. My husband and I are retirees and we want to do the Big Lap next year (2018). We have never owned or driven a 4X4 but will take a training course before setting out. We've had Subaru Foresters for past 25 years and done car camping.

I'm trying to do the research and we have narrowed down to 1) ute plus slide on camper or 2) wagon plus offroad campertrailer. We plan to spend 9-12 months on the road. We want to be able to do the Gibb River Road and similar offroading, but don't plan to tackle anything like the OTT. We do want to do as much free camping as possible.

We are looking at buying a used vehicle - either ute or wagon. We are old enough to find long distance driving hard on our backs so looking for seat comfort options. We want a reliable vehicle as neither of us is particularly mechanically minded. I gather that a Prado would be a kinder ride than a ute, but I am less happy about driving while towing than my husband is, so we are also considering a ute plus slide-on camper - something like Tailgate campers or Trayon.

I'm looking for advice as to what make, model and motor size used utes we should be considering as well as year and kms. We want diesel and hope for an automatic. Decent fuel consumption. We want the one and a half cab models - they seem to be called by different names: extra cab, super cab etc. We have a budget of around $30 000.

I've read good reviews of the Ford Ranger but they have only an 80 litre fuel tank - vs the Prado with 130 -150 litres. I'm also somewhat concerned by other posts in this forum where people were getting 20lt/100km in new Ford Rangers while towing. Would a slide on camper be equivalent to towing for fuel consumption?

As you can see we are pretty ignorant!

We'd be grateful for all and any advice! Many thanks

Back Expand Un-Read 0 Moderator

Reply By: Kazza055 - Thursday, May 18, 2017 at 13:30

Thursday, May 18, 2017 at 13:30
If it was me I would be looking at a camper over the slide on mainly because I reckon it would be a PITA to climb up into the slide on.

Also a camper can be unhitched to allow you to go touring, how easy is it to take the slide on off and back on again?

Then again I have a caravan with all the mod cons like shower & toilet - nothing better than pulling of the road after a hard days drive and being able to have a hot shower before going to bed.

I hired a motor home for 3 weeks touring in USA and it was a PITA that every time you needed/wanted to go out, you needed to pack everything away.
AnswerID: 611177

Follow Up By: Member - Rustygq - Thursday, May 18, 2017 at 17:01

Thursday, May 18, 2017 at 17:01
Yes good point, campers as part of the vehicle are PITA. Friends fount that, they'd pack up to do a day trip or shopping, come back to the park and find their spot taken. Caravan or camper trailer for my money. Good luck.

Lifetime Member
My Profile  Send Message

FollowupID: 881214

Reply By: Rob K (VIC) - Thursday, May 18, 2017 at 13:45

Thursday, May 18, 2017 at 13:45
Hi Kristin,

This topic was partly cover in Thread ID: 134718 - tray top camper and ute issues.

Have a look at this thread and then keep doing your research.

I'm sure you'll get lots of opinions.

Good luck.

Rob K
AnswerID: 611178

Follow Up By: Kristin S - Thursday, May 18, 2017 at 14:11

Thursday, May 18, 2017 at 14:11
Thanks, Rob! I did look at that thread but there was a lot of debate about twin cab utes and whether they have long enough trays to hold a slide-on camper. We've checked Tailgate and Trayon camper models to go on the extra or super cab models. They seem to weigh around 400 kg unloaded. Assuming we can manage strengthening the tray and the load balance, I am more interested in knowing things like which used utes would be most suitable: eg. Hilux vs Ford Ranger vs BT-50 in a price range of around $30 000. What year, kms, make is best assuming 4x4 and diesel (and hopefully automatic). Also comfort, reliability, offroad capability and fuel efficiency. There seems to be quite a lot I can find on the internet about 4x4 wagons and utes used for towing, but not so much for utes to be used with slide-on campers.

I'm just hugely confused. If this isn't the best forum and anyone can point me to a more appropriate forum for these questions that would be great as well :)

FollowupID: 881209

Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Thursday, May 18, 2017 at 20:02

Thursday, May 18, 2017 at 20:02
If it suits you Kristen, go for a single cab or space cab . . . suicide doors are a bonus for cab access, opens right up :)
FollowupID: 881223

Reply By: Member - Richard B (NSW) - Thursday, May 18, 2017 at 14:32

Thursday, May 18, 2017 at 14:32
For the last 10 years I have owned a Trayon ....current one is our second and it is mounted on a Mazda BT 50 exta cab diesel ....our travels have ranged from black top roads to GRR (twice) , Cape also twice, and lots of 'in betweens' and I must say that they are a superb combination. I travel with a kayak as well and have at time been away for 12 weeks. Overall my consumption has never been more than 10l/100 , and that is from actual fillups....the trip computer is just a guide. I am in my seventies and drive always with an eye on being conservative

We have never found it a problem having our home on the back ...just requires a little extra packing up and then re setting up whenever you might need to takes us less than 5 min to do either

New , the Trayon is about $30000 and Mazda about $42000 so you might battle a bit to keep to your budget but so saying there are second hand ones that come up for sale now and then. Bear in mind that there could be extra expense involved in sorting out the elecs if bought separately, and I would up grade the suspension.

Good luck with your search



Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Position  Send Message

AnswerID: 611181

Follow Up By: Kristin S - Thursday, May 18, 2017 at 15:06

Thursday, May 18, 2017 at 15:06
Thanks Richard for the information and assurance that your BT-50 + Trayon has worked well. We are happy to consider used Trayons and/or used utes. We just don't know how to assess used utes - which ones age the best and are reliable, how many kms are too many etc. Maybe we need to consider a new or newish ute and look for an older Trayon? We only have $60 000 all up to play with as we aren't selling our house - yet!


FollowupID: 881210

Follow Up By: Member - Richard B (NSW) - Thursday, May 18, 2017 at 16:38

Thursday, May 18, 2017 at 16:38

If you would like to send me an email..benaby2at gmaildotcom i may be ablr to give you some more pointers

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Position  Send Message

FollowupID: 881213

Reply By: duck - Thursday, May 18, 2017 at 15:46

Thursday, May 18, 2017 at 15:46
as an owner of a few full size slide on's DO YOUR HOME WORK
The weight is the problem as most utes with a full size slide on"s are well over there legal weight whilst there traveling, think of the hight to get in & out of (will it be 3 or 4 stairs) & how hard is it to get into bed if its a over the cab version, does it a hand wind or Electric wind up, there scary when fully up whilst you back under it,
I would not consider a full size version under a std ute type no matter what brand, tried that, it was fine on my Nissan 6 wheeler & my new one that I have built is fine on my Isuzu NPS 4x4 truck, buts its a 5 steps up to the door

good luck
AnswerID: 611183

Follow Up By: Kristin S - Thursday, May 18, 2017 at 16:12

Thursday, May 18, 2017 at 16:12
Thanks, duck. You bring up some good points I hadn't considered - especially the bit about trying to back up into it when it's freestanding!!! LOL.

The Tailgate camper does have 3 or 4 steps up but also a rail to hold on to. There are also a few steps up onto the bed. The Trayon has steps as well.

What do you mean by a "full-size" slide on? The ones we have been looking at fit on to the tray of a cab chassis model ute and do not protrude over the ute's cab. They are basically just boxes. Neither appear to have wind up. You basically pull down the tailgate part or push up the roof.



FollowupID: 881211

Follow Up By: duck - Friday, May 19, 2017 at 10:36

Friday, May 19, 2017 at 10:36
what I mean by full size is a full head room, mini caravan NOT a camper version
I have had both types also in pop top & Non pop top
FollowupID: 881240

Reply By: cruza25 - Thursday, May 18, 2017 at 16:06

Thursday, May 18, 2017 at 16:06
There is a nice landcruiser ute with slide on for sale here in the classifieds

Make him an offer, it's all ready to go. ????
AnswerID: 611185

Follow Up By: Kristin S - Thursday, May 18, 2017 at 19:25

Thursday, May 18, 2017 at 19:25
Thanks cruza25! I wish!! Very nice but about $15 000 over our budget unfortunately :)

FollowupID: 881220

Reply By: 2517. - Thursday, May 18, 2017 at 16:09

Thursday, May 18, 2017 at 16:09
Pajero are a good tow vehicle cheaper then Toyota go well and not to bad on fuel.Towing a caravan or a camper 15 litres per hundred is realistic .A lot better ride and more comfort then utes,plentys of campers around get one with a hard bottom.
AnswerID: 611186

Follow Up By: Kristin S - Friday, May 19, 2017 at 09:27

Friday, May 19, 2017 at 09:27
Thanks 2517 - I'll start researching Pajeros as well!

FollowupID: 881239

Reply By: Rangiephil - Thursday, May 18, 2017 at 21:29

Thursday, May 18, 2017 at 21:29
We have done a couple of circuits with a Range Rover and Discovery 2 towing a 1997 Camp'o'matic hard floor camper.
Just a couple of observations.
We met a couple with a LC tray with a USA slide on camper "Black Wolf"? who confided that they were going to sell once back home as the LC tray was inconvenient for normal day to day like going to the shops. So think about the longer term eg room in the cab for shopping etc..
I agree that it is inconvenient to leave a spot but some campers have electric legs you can let down, but then you have to reverse under.

Avoid a dual cab with slide on as there are many instances of bent chassis as the load is so far back. King Cab is the biggest to go for.

I would/will go again with my hard floor camper trailer. I chose an older Camp'o'matic as they are light and immensely strong. I have never had a problem and have been on the roughest roads in OZ for thousands of Ks.

The latest Chinese camper trailers are seductive with a low price, but many have problems, and many are HEAVY. I cannot see the point of a camper trailer with a tare of 1400Kgs. You might as well have a caravan.

We don't free camp very often as many places are dirty and overcrowded. I prefer National Parks with the occasional caravan park for washing and showering.
It is not much fun in cold weather in a camper trailer , unless you can have a fire. Slide ons are probably warmer.
Regards Philip A

AnswerID: 611194

Follow Up By: Kristin S - Friday, May 19, 2017 at 09:26

Friday, May 19, 2017 at 09:26
Thanks Rangiephil and Dean K3! Oh my goodness! That set-up looks very dangerous, I agree!
The slide-ons we've been considering are much smaller. You can see them here: Still, I appreciate hearing pros and cons, as everyone is making good points worth taking int consideration.
Ideally, I'd love to "borrow" or rent a ute/Tailgate set up for a week or so to see how we like it. We have hired motorhomes before travelling with our kids and they worked well but they were the Maui make and I think Mercedes vehicles and not 4WD. I'm sure I could probably get used to towing and I know there are training courses we can do. We have looked at camper trailers - all under 1 tonne. We want to travel as lightly as possible. My husband is worried about cold weather in a campers but I'm hoping we can follow the warm weather by timing our trip appropriately. I'm not sure if that is possible. I'm on a very steep learning curve!
FollowupID: 881238

Reply By: Dean K3 - Thursday, May 18, 2017 at 22:14

Thursday, May 18, 2017 at 22:14
Can't comment on tray on -only use a tent or tow folks some what heavy camper trailer.

Full size slide on as commented on refers to the units usually fitted to amercian sized well bodies ie ford F250or other incarnations from dodge etc

attached hopefully is a unit i observed on a hilux whilst at wave rock hyden, even at slow speed I was kind of alarmed at stability of the unit -note took them in hurry as it drove past with mobile phone so not planned pictures.
AnswerID: 611197

Follow Up By: ian.g - Friday, May 19, 2017 at 10:43

Friday, May 19, 2017 at 10:43
Looks ugly (read dangerous) to me, would hate to be driving it any distance, and certainly not on dirt roads
FollowupID: 881241

Reply By: Bushranger1 - Friday, May 19, 2017 at 09:52

Friday, May 19, 2017 at 09:52
G'day Kristin,
We have just placed an order for a new Single cab Dmax & plan on purchasing either the Tailgate Camper you mentioned or the similar one from Outback Campers in Carrum downs.
We had a great run in really rough terrain for 2 years with the Outback camper trailer we had so leaning towards that one.

Both units are around 500 kg empty but when we added up the total weight of EVERYHING decided to do a GVM suspension upgrade as we will have the unit on the back for long periods of time.
No way I would put ANY slideon on the back of a dual cab ute!
That photo above is very scary & surely if stopped by the RTA it's over limit.
AnswerID: 611204

Follow Up By: Dean K3 - Friday, May 19, 2017 at 11:21

Friday, May 19, 2017 at 11:21
agree with what your saying about hilux and stability. Seems in WA authorities are more focused upon heavy transport operators with logbooks maintenance than they are with 4wd and caravans and GCM values.

if they did focus on 4wd and caravans many people would be in for bit of a surprise as many combinations would be close or over 4500 maximum allowed weight on C class licence (technically 4495) - go over this and your out of class weight wise and insurance null n void
FollowupID: 881245

Reply By: Bob Y. - Qld - Friday, May 19, 2017 at 13:58

Friday, May 19, 2017 at 13:58
We had friends who had a Trayon, fitted onto a Triton single cab ute, Kristin. They used to visit us every year when we lived on the Diamantina River. One year they went around Australia in it, and had no dramas. The Trayon was one of the early models, and they had a few issues with it initially, but overall they were very happy with their setup.

I'd agree that the space/king cab would be the most practical, with that extra, secure storage inside. Did a trip over the Simpson last year with a couple who had a Dmax space cab, and a home made canopy on the back. It was a most capable vehicle, and used a lot less fuel than our Landcruiser V8!

I don't think you're ignorant person wouldn't ask!


Seen it all, Done it all.
Can't remember most of it.

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message

AnswerID: 611211

Follow Up By: Kristin S - Monday, May 22, 2017 at 07:18

Monday, May 22, 2017 at 07:18
Hi BobY and Bushranger1!

Thanks for your comments. It's helpful to know that slide-ons do work for some people. I'm beginning to see that personal preference has a big role to play but also the different experiences people have had.

Can I ask why you guys chose the D-Max over the BT-50 or Hilux?

Thanks for not thinking I'm ignorant! I guess just very inexperienced at this point.


FollowupID: 881315

Follow Up By: Michael H9 - Monday, May 22, 2017 at 07:35

Monday, May 22, 2017 at 07:35
You rarely if ever see a thread about Dmax issues. The owners seem to love them and they are regarded as very reliable without the Toyota price premium. There are 2 Ranger / BT50 threads on here right now.
FollowupID: 881316

Follow Up By: Bushranger1 - Monday, May 22, 2017 at 07:54

Monday, May 22, 2017 at 07:54
G'day Kristin,
Owned Hiluxes for 30 years & "moved to the dark side" & went for the D'max.
Been looking & reading for a few years & rarely hear of issues with the Dmax. Also have a friend with same model & he is very happy with it.
Price also came into the equation as the Toyota Hilux & other vehicles were substantially more dollars than the D,max. Particularly the runout model I purchased.

Also I was adamant I would not own a vehicle with a DPF so managed to track down a 2016 plated Dmax previous model MY15.5 (new model is MY17 with DPF).
FollowupID: 881319

Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Monday, May 22, 2017 at 13:26

Monday, May 22, 2017 at 13:26
I purchased a Landcruiser, Kristin, because I needed the 3900kg GVM upgrade. Also I've been driving them since 1965, so probably very "one-eyed" about them. Don't recall why our friend bought a Dmax, but think it was because the extra cab suited his needs the best. He also carted lots of gear/tucker behind the seats, to keep the weight forward.

Have got a little more slide-on research for you to do. :-) Check out the Tong Metals website here. They do an interesting slide-on, all aluminium, and appear to be quite low weight. Have heard some good reports about them, and the firm that built my canopy, in Hervey Bay, are aligned with them in some way.

Just a thought from our experiences. Where weight really creeps on you, with a capital "K" for kilogram, is all the add-ons that you want, or are offered. Things like multiple drawers, slide out benches and drop fridge slides are just a few of the pitfalls. For instance, we've just put an 80L upright Engel in our canopy, weighing 28kgs. To kit our 40L Engel, with a drop slide, the weight would be closer to 50kgs.

Plastic drawers, by Oates, from Bunnings are very lightweight, hold plenty of stuff and seemed very robust. Okay, alloy or s/steel look good, but it all comes at an increasing weight penalty. Lithium batteries are the way to go for weight saving, but you probably need to be seated in a comfortable chair when you ask the price.

Happy planning,

Seen it all, Done it all.
Can't remember most of it.

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message

FollowupID: 881331

Follow Up By: Kristin S - Friday, May 26, 2017 at 15:55

Friday, May 26, 2017 at 15:55
Thanks, Bob, for your advice about weight and positioning. The plastic drawers idea is great! Would never have thought of that. Nor thought to consider the fridge weight... Still learning every day!
FollowupID: 881476

Reply By: splits - Friday, May 19, 2017 at 16:53

Friday, May 19, 2017 at 16:53
If you choose a ute, do you really need an extra cab and a slide on? My wife and I are both in our 70s and have been driving all over mountain ranges and very remote Outback tracks for the last eleven years in a single cab with a permanent camper on the back. On some of those desert tracks, we have not seen another car for three or four days.

Our camper is home made but there are many professionals who could have made it for us. Our empty 4x4 Hilux ute weighed 1610 kg with a full tank and no accessories. I removed its aluminium tray and bolted the camper directly to the chassis. The car weight increased by only 90kg. The camper contains a permanent double bed, portable toilet, 40 liter fridge, four jerry cans, a deep cell battery and charger, a fold out table, plenty of storage space and a internal shower that can be set up in less than two minutes. When fully loaded the car is always around 200 kg under maximum and the suspension is standard. There is very little weight behind the rear axle and with its small pop top roof erected, we can stand up full height in it. The little roof covers the floor area and half the bed.
It has no permanent kitchen but cooking has never been a problem with our little gas stove and camp oven.

Overall height with the roof down is 1950 mm.

This is not going to suit everyone but it is proof that you can see any part of the country that a standard 4x4 ute can reach without overloading it, running the risk of bending the chassis or having to change the suspension. We have never had to worry about vehicle reliability due to over stressing it. It is a good example of what can be done when you think outside the square.

The ute is a 2003 model diesel non turbo manual that we bought from an auction. It was ex Government and had 42,000 ks on it. It now has 174,000 on it and apart form a one in a million faulty bearing in the gear box at 50,000, we have had no trouble with it.

We also have a 1991 dual cab Hilux diesel manual with 418,000 ks. The rear differential has a little more back lash than normal but apart from that it is running very well with no sign of any major problems.

My wife is not all that impressed by the ride in the old dual cab, even on sealed roads, but the later model single cab has never worried her no matter where we have driven it.

We don't take very much gear with us on long trips but if we wanted all the endless amount of stuff that many people take, we would put it into a small box trailer rather than overload the car or take it up near its maximum weight.

The manufacture's maximum carrying and towing limits are only for the best possible conditions like good sealed roads, not bush tracks.

If you decide to buy a camper trailer then look closely at its tow ball weight. Many have far too much for something that is so short in length and has all of its weight so close to the axle. They don't have long heavy ends to swing around like big caravans. Too much ball weight is a contributing factor in chassis bending on all utes, including single cab or extra cab.

You may find the car manufacturer says a weight distributing hitch must be used for ball weights above a certain limit. This is usually above 50% of the maximum. The problem here is they can't be used in many off road situations because of the risk of the angle between the car and the trailer exceeding a certain amount.

To ignore the manufacture's instructions and then bounce the car along rough roads can easily put the chassis at risk even if the car was nowhere near fully loaded.

This link applies to caravans but it still well worth reading. TOWING
AnswerID: 611214

Follow Up By: Kristin S - Monday, May 22, 2017 at 07:50

Monday, May 22, 2017 at 07:50
Thanks splits for all the information and advice! Unfortunately we have very little mechanical ability so we couldn't make a camper ourselves and I wouldn't know where to begin to get a professional to make one for us. I'd be afraid that we'd miss some key component. That's why we are looking at units made by companies that supposedly know what they are doing.

We are looking at an extra cab model because my husband is a keen hobby photographer and doesn't want to entrust his gear to the camper. He also wants it close at hand so that he stop and shoot anything of interest along the way while drivivng. We figure with an extra cab model he can keep his gear easily accessible in the area behind the front seats. Hopefully we are on the right track here?

Trayon and Tailgate slide-ons both have a dry weight of about 400kg and this brings me back to my original question of how to select an appropriate ute if we decide to go with one of these? What ute specs are most important to consider?

We want to travel as light as possible for our circumstances (doing the Big Lap). I've been reading Collyn Rivers book on camper trailers though, and his lists of "Stuff you may need to take" and "Tools and spares" indicate one could easily add another 350kg!!

Thanks for the Towing link!

FollowupID: 881317

Reply By: R Marinov - Friday, May 19, 2017 at 19:54

Friday, May 19, 2017 at 19:54
Hi Kristin,

For more comfort check out the wedgetail camper:
AnswerID: 611223

Follow Up By: splits - Friday, May 19, 2017 at 22:44

Friday, May 19, 2017 at 22:44
Very impressive but as usual weight will most likely be a problem. If this is the one in the video then the weight will be between 550 and 580 kg before you start putting your own gear into it.SPECS.That is far too much for any of the extra cab Hilux/Ranger size utes. It would even have a single cab struggling without suspension modifications and if you have to do that, you have bought the wrong car.
FollowupID: 881258

Follow Up By: Nutta - Sunday, May 21, 2017 at 21:00

Sunday, May 21, 2017 at 21:00
That would have to be one of the best slide on campers i have ever seen! How much are they?
FollowupID: 881308

Follow Up By: Kristin S - Monday, May 22, 2017 at 07:53

Monday, May 22, 2017 at 07:53
Oh yes! I saw this one and loved it BUT it does take quite a lot of setting up.

What vehicle would you need to carry the Wedgetail?
FollowupID: 881318

Follow Up By: splits - Thursday, May 25, 2017 at 20:19

Thursday, May 25, 2017 at 20:19

There is nothing wrong with your husband's idea of keeping his photography gear close at hand in the back of an extra cab but it could cause a few weight distribution problems with a slide on.

A slideon that weighs 400 kg empty could easily be 600 or more when loaded. You could weigh the car with both of you and the photography gear in it and find it is just under its maximum carrying capacity so you think all is ok but it may not be. Unless you and your husband weigh around 100kg each and whatever is in the extra cab section is at least around 100 kg, then the car could have too much out the back and not enough in the cabin. This is a mistake many people make, particularly with dual cabs, and it has caused a lot of chassis bending problems.

I asked my local Toyota dealer about weight distribution after reading something about cabin loads years ago on the net. He said Toyota work on 100 kg for each seat. That is the weight of each person plus clothing and all the things people usually put in the cabin with them. It has to be that way. They can't design these utes to carry anything less than the weight of large adults.

Any of the current model utes will carry the slideon you are considering but look into the weight distribution first. If the dealer can't help you then contact the manufacturer. Their website should have a customer information number or email address.

This is one of the reasons we built our own camper. The combined weight of my wife and I is nowhere near the maximum capacity of the two full size seats and the little one between them in our single cab. I got around it by first removing the 130 kg tray and placing all heavy items in the camper over or in front of the rear axle and across its front wall.

The things we have behind the axle would not overload a billy cart.

I even remove the tow bar on trips. Why carry the heavy thing when you are not towing?

FollowupID: 881454

Follow Up By: Kristin S - Friday, May 26, 2017 at 16:22

Friday, May 26, 2017 at 16:22
Hi splits. No, my husband and I do not weigh 200kg between us, LOL! Nowhere near.

Thanks for raising these issues as we definitely need to keep them in mind. Does the extra-cab section qualify as "seats". So would the expected load for the whole cabin area be 400kg? But I am confused. Couldn't we carry some heavy items in the extra cab section plus the photo equipment to balance things out?

The Trayon people make a big deal about most of weight being placed in the first third of the unit, which sits on or forward of the rear axle. So I guess we'd need to be careful about storing items to the rear of the rear axle?

Don't you need a tray to carry the slide-on?

FollowupID: 881477

Follow Up By: splits - Sunday, May 28, 2017 at 21:34

Sunday, May 28, 2017 at 21:34
" Does the extra-cab section qualify as "seats". "

The seats, the extra cab area and the tray out the back all come under the heading of " load bearing areas ". If the car is to be loaded up to its maximum then each area must take its full share. Exactly how much must go in each area is a good question.

The engineers who designed the car will know how the load must be distributed right down to the last kilo. Dealers should be able to explain it to their customers. If they can't then contact the manufacturer or better still ask the dealer to do it for you. I have worked for new car dealers in my younger days. Ringing the manufacturer for a customer or arranging for a customer to meet the manufacturer's representative at the dealers was a normal part of the job.

Most owners tend to load their cars fairly well but alarm bells always start ringing when things like slide-on campers or heavy weights on the tow ball come into it. Fully loaded slide-ons are notorious for overloading the rear end of cars and overloaded rear ends on utes in particular are notorious for bending chassis.

I went on a long Outback trip with about eight or nine other cars a few years ago.. One was a new extra cab with a superbly built custom made aluminium slide on. The roof tilted up at the rear and the bed was over the roof of the car. The rear end was too low so the owner lifted it first with heavier springs then air bags. All of these parts were readily available from aftermarket companies so the owner thought that was the right way to go and was not expecting any problems.

It did not bend its chassis that time but it did about twelve months later.

This link does not involve a slide-on but the result was the sameBENT C The owner of this car had carefully weighed everything that he put in the car. From memory it was about 200 kg under the maximum but look at what he had on the far end of it. There was 120 kg on the tow bar that had been slightly lengthened. Then there was the two spare wheels and their carrier hanging off the back. You then have to add whatever was in the back of the car behind the axle.

It was not weight that bent that car, it was a combination of leverage on the rear end plus mass and the forces generated by mass in motion.

Anything behind the axle is sitting on a lever i.e the distance from the axle back to wherever each object is. If you keep adding weight to the area behind the axle you would eventually force the rear end down so far the front wheels would lift off the ground. It is leverage that is doing that and you can't stop it by installing heavier springs or air bags.

Weight is just a measure of the pull of gravity. We see it as a figure on some scales. You can buy a kilo of something but you can't buy a kilo of weight.

Mass on the other hand is the amount of material in whatever is giving you a weight reading on scales. Your bathroom scales might take 120 kilos for example so if you placed a 120 kg block of concrete on them, they would read 120 kilos and no damage would be done to them. If you picked that block up though and dropped it onto them, they would most likely be smashed beyond repair even though the weight of the block has not changed. The damaged has been caused by the material in that block falling and building up momentum then being brought to a sudden stop.

The same thing is constantly happening to the rear end of a car. As the front and rear wheels rise and fall suddenly, particularly on rough roads, the rear end of the chassis is constantly rapidly lifting whatever is sitting on it or stopping it suddenly when it falls.

That is the normal procedure for any car and the chassis or the rear axle housing will cope with it if it is within the design limits of the car. If it is not then things can and do break.

This is what you have to think about. You have to not only think about keeping the car within its weight limits as specified by the manufacture but you have to pay a lot of attention to where you place material in it. The forces generated by that material when it is in motion is the key to the whole thing.

Getting advice from somebody who understands all of this and is not trying to sell you something is the way to go.

Another thing to keep in mind is a tray back ute will roll off the assembly line as a bare cab/chassis with about ten litres of fuel in the tank. The weight of everything you add to it after that must come off its carrying capacity. That includes whatever body is fitted to it, like a flat tray or whatever, plus fuel, accessories, driver and passengers before you start loading the tray or the cabin.
FollowupID: 881545

Reply By: Geckoz - Friday, May 19, 2017 at 20:21

Friday, May 19, 2017 at 20:21
Hi Kristin
I build Slideon campers and I get a lot of good feed back from customers that have Isuzu Dmax Utes,
I haven't heard of any problems with them.
AnswerID: 611224

Follow Up By: Kristin S - Monday, May 22, 2017 at 07:54

Monday, May 22, 2017 at 07:54
Thanks Geckoz. Quite a few people have recommended the DMax so I will look into them.
FollowupID: 881320

Reply By: Idler Chris - Friday, May 19, 2017 at 22:51

Friday, May 19, 2017 at 22:51
I have a Gecko slideon on a D-Max space cab. Spent over 100 nights in it last year travelling around Oz and expect over 120 nights this year. Its a home away from home. If you want reliability look at the various Forums of each make. You will be hard pressed to find anyone with a D-Max issue.
This is on the Boggy Hole track last year.

What other people think of me is none of my business.
Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message

AnswerID: 611230

Follow Up By: Kristin S - Monday, May 22, 2017 at 07:56

Monday, May 22, 2017 at 07:56
Thanks Idler Chris - I will check the DMax forums - and have a look at the Gecko as well :)
FollowupID: 881321

Follow Up By: Idler Chris - Monday, May 22, 2017 at 08:11

Monday, May 22, 2017 at 08:11
Hi Kristin, Its a bit hard to put all the details here, but if you would like I am more than happy to talk to you about my setup and why I choose what I have. Just send me a PM (private message) and I will get back to you with my phone number.
What other people think of me is none of my business.
Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message

FollowupID: 881323

Reply By: Baz - The Landy - Saturday, May 20, 2017 at 07:13

Saturday, May 20, 2017 at 07:13
Hi Kristin

Reading the responses you'll have plenty to think about.

We travel with a Toyota 79 Series with a TVAN. The TVAN is our second and find they are fantastic for remote outback travel, but they won't be for everybody. Mind you, you can pick up a very good second hand one for a good price if patient.

However, my two bob's worth!

Consider very carefully anything that is going to be attached to the vehicle, it will become a pain if you want to be in one place for a few days. Better to go a camper trailer.

Others will differ, but having had a rooftop tent previously (still got it in the shed), they are good if you travel every day, but for long term on the road with longer stops - the risk is you'll become frustrated.

Good luck and enjoy...

Cheers, Baz - The Landy
AnswerID: 611235

Follow Up By: Michael H9 - Saturday, May 20, 2017 at 07:22

Saturday, May 20, 2017 at 07:22
I agree. Towing a camper trailer is a non event and will only stop you from going into the roughest of places. Meanwhile you have far more storage room to play with and more axles to carry the weight.
FollowupID: 881260

Follow Up By: Bushranger1 - Sunday, May 21, 2017 at 08:32

Sunday, May 21, 2017 at 08:32
Having owned a camper trailer for years & hitting the road for 2 years we decided a slide on was best.
We got fed up with going out on day trips then having to come back to camp at night when there were other lovely spots we could have spent the night.
I guess everyone is different that's why you can buy everything from tents to motor homes.
FollowupID: 881289

Follow Up By: Baz - The Landy - Sunday, May 21, 2017 at 10:30

Sunday, May 21, 2017 at 10:30
One of the best pieces of travel advices I have received came from my mother-in-law!

"There are so many beautiful places in Australia, if you find a place you like just stay and enjoy it, the other places will still be there tomorrow..."

Great advice I always reflect on.

FollowupID: 881291

Follow Up By: Bushranger1 - Sunday, May 21, 2017 at 18:47

Sunday, May 21, 2017 at 18:47
G'day Baz,
You must have a wise Mother in Law.
All I get is "seen one tree seen em all. Don't know why you spend all that time in the bush"!

Need I say she has seen every TV show many times over.
Anyway digressing.

FollowupID: 881297

Follow Up By: Kristin S - Monday, May 22, 2017 at 08:03

Monday, May 22, 2017 at 08:03
Hi Baz - Indeed! I do have PLENTY to think about!! And a whole bunch of conflicts now!

We do want to stop in one place for a week or so each time - hubbie is obsessed with photography and will spend hours setting up his tripods . I'm interested in observing animal behaviour and you have to sit still and be very patient for that (and have an excellent fly-net over one's hat)!


FollowupID: 881322

Follow Up By: Bushranger1 - Monday, May 22, 2017 at 16:30

Monday, May 22, 2017 at 16:30
Hi Kristin,
My wife is into Bird watching & I am into Wildflower photography so we stop A LOT!
We don't plot in one spot for long but after years of owning a camper trailer I reckon the snail has it right with his house on his back hence our decision for a slide on this time around.
Sometimes we would only drive a few KM up the road for a Bird watch & get annoyed that we had left our camp set up & have to go back to it instead of just stopping where we were hence our decision for the slide on.
Well that's the theory anyway & we have ordered the vehicle now so there is no turning back. :-)

FollowupID: 881335

Sponsored Links

Popular Products (11)