ball down weights for towing

Submitted: Thursday, Dec 05, 2002 at 01:00
ThreadID: 2536 Views:6814 Replies:11 FollowUps:8
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this should cause a stink. are you aware of the importance of down ball weight? i just learned the hard way and at great expence to. the disco i had could tow 3.5 tonnes but only had a down ball permit of 150kgs . how about jeep - toyota and patrole. all leagal are we? do our vans and trailors weigh , at the ball , within the down ball weight in our hand books ? i dont think so . now why hav'nt you told your insurer or do you think they are stupid. they will accept your payments but look out if you need to claim. how long before the authorities realise that so many accidents are caused by people towing against the law or are only the authorities in nsw interested in reducing the road tole that can be contributed to this cause. land rover australia was most kind to me after i became aware of my problem in september i saught their assistance to be told that i should either sell my caravan or get a new car - the 1999 discovery was not capable of a ball weight greater than 150kgs. so i got a new car . a pajero did 2002 and its great. my spotless 1999 disco auto was only worth $18-20000 as a trade in on a new td5 se at stewart webster so there we are. how about you. by the way to insure the new pajero with alianze was only $450 full comprehensive - the disco with them through land rover was $650. some difference - commission maybe? would love to hear your comments on this much overlooked subject until it hits you in the pocket. merry christmas to all
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Reply By: OziExplorer - Thursday, Dec 05, 2002 at 01:00

Thursday, Dec 05, 2002 at 01:00
For a start, what they claim you can tow, and what you can legally tow are two completely different things.
With a load distributing hitch like a Haymanreece may have meant you could have towed legally within the limits of your vehicle.
Now that all towbars have to carry a compliance specification plate has certainly ensured people are or should be more aware.

Personally, the thought of towing 3.5 tonnes with a Disco would be frightening.

The police today are only interested in revenue raising by catching speeding motorists, so nobody need bother about legalities of towing because they never check or bother. You can just look out everyday to see all the dangerous trailers being towed every day. No different to all the trucks that are not roadworthy and being driven around.
AnswerID: 9339

Reply By: Truckster - Thursday, Dec 05, 2002 at 01:00

Thursday, Dec 05, 2002 at 01:00
Nissan have reviewed the towball weights on the GQ.....

Also Stewart Websters are well known for giving nothing for trade ins.. Mate was a spanner man there for a while.
AnswerID: 9341

Reply By: P.G. (Tas) - Thursday, Dec 05, 2002 at 01:00

Thursday, Dec 05, 2002 at 01:00
Anyone who has done any serious towing with a car or 4WD will have learned early, you need around 10% of your trailers total weight on the towball. I was caught a beauty! 98 Prado World Cup model, towing capacity - 2,500kg, ball weight - 120KG! But I am sure I was told it was 250kg!Check the hitch, DEFINATELY 120KG! GRRRrrrrr! Look at another Prado's hitch...and... 250kg! After a little bit of investigation I finally found out what was going on. My towbar was manufactured by Trailboss in QLD (and distributed by a sold to me by a reputable national 4WD supplier), that model I had did in fact have a 120kg ball rating, Trailboss also make the "genuine" Toyota towbars and they have a 250kg rating! A minor change in design made all the difference!
I asked my insurance company about the problem and was told " ... if you exceed the specified ball weight of the vehicle or towbar manufacturers specifications, we are not bound to honour any claim(s) you may make". In the end, after I bought a "genuine" hitch (even the bolt holes lined up) the Prado was not comfortable towing the van, so off it went, in came the 100 series RV with a 3,500kg hitch and 350KG ball weight, not a problem (the towbar ratings were the first thing I checked!). Hope this helps all. Cheers!
AnswerID: 9346

Reply By: Graham - Thursday, Dec 05, 2002 at 01:00

Thursday, Dec 05, 2002 at 01:00
Tow Ball weight is something that has become a matter of much discussion over the past few years, and it's only been the last couple of years that some vehicle manufactures have considered much at all.(Nissan & Mitsubishi are 2 that have made some changes, even to past vehicle specs. on some models) Not only is ball weight important but so is the load capacity of vehicles... many 4x4's loaded up for big trip would exceed the GVM before any van or trailer was hitched up. 600kg paylod wont let you put much more than 4 passengers and thier luggage in most vehicles....

Have a look at some of the discussion on the caravan forum a moth or 2 ago.. at

Also some good info at


AnswerID: 9355

Reply By: John - Friday, Dec 06, 2002 at 01:00

Friday, Dec 06, 2002 at 01:00
The Ball Weight on the Kaymar on the Back of my Troopy is 350kg's from memory, But the "Legal" ballweight I can aply to the towball in NSW is 120kgs........
I am sure this is the same across the board for ball weights.
The weight stamped on the Towbar is only an indication of how much Weight the manufacturer says his bar is capable of standing.....this of course has nothing at at to do with what you are allowed legaly to apply to it..
Check with your local RTA.

AnswerID: 9379

Reply By: Member - Cruiser1 - Friday, Dec 06, 2002 at 01:00

Friday, Dec 06, 2002 at 01:00
I'd be a bit worried if people were actually getting close to 350 kg on their tow bars. That's over half your load capability for many vehicles!

The old ten percent rule is still a useful guide but it can be taken to extremes. Surely when you are towing a 3.5 ton van you're looking at multiple axles and different weight distribution? How many cars/fourbees do you see on the road with their noses (and lights!)pointing at the tree tops because of overloaded towbars? How much steering control do they have? Time for a bit of common sense, methinks.......
AnswerID: 9381

Follow Up By: Axel + Karen - Saturday, Dec 07, 2002 at 01:00

Saturday, Dec 07, 2002 at 01:00
Cruiser, common sense went out the window when the ego of mine is bigger than yours came in,,,
FollowupID: 4768

Follow Up By: P.G. (tas) - Saturday, Dec 07, 2002 at 01:00

Saturday, Dec 07, 2002 at 01:00
G'day all, time for a little clarification! There are two totally different things we are talking about here. 1. G.V.M. Gross Vehicle Mass. This is the all up weight of the vehicle fully laden, ie, my 100 series RV petrol has G.V.M. of 3,180 kg, it weighs 2,640 kg full of fuel and tools ready to roll. That leaves a payload of 540 kg (passengers and luggage). 2. G.C.M. Gross Combined Mass. This is the combined weight of the fully loaded Cruiser and fully loaded trailer, in this case the cruisers G.C.M. is 6,680kg (here in Tassie). This means I can both legally and safely tow a 3,500kg trailer with this vehicle. To tow a 3,500kg trailer, about 350kg is required on the ball for stability. At this time a weight distribution hitch must be used and this help keep the rig level and stops the headlights spot lighting possums. Here in Tasmania, and I have been told this is a "national" rule, The maximum weight you are allowed to tow is either, Manufacturer's recommendation, or, towbar manufacturers recommendation or 1.5 times the unladen vehicle weight, whichever one is the LEAST! Please advise me if this is different where you live. To load a 2,500kg trailer with 120kg on the ball will be criminally dangerous to say the least. Hope this clarifies the situation for all. Cheers.
FollowupID: 4771

Follow Up By: Member - Cruiser1 - Sunday, Dec 08, 2002 at 01:00

Sunday, Dec 08, 2002 at 01:00
P.G, Those figures might look great, but in your own words, if you have a payload of 540 kg, then ANY weight on the towbar reduces your payload by that amount. So whether you have 150, 250 or 350 on your bar, you are reducing your carrying capacity. Your vehicle is carrying that weight!

Too many people believe that payload only refers to stuff they stick inside their vehicle, conveniently forgetting about roofracks, bullbars, winches, longrange tanks, etc. etc.
FollowupID: 4802

Reply By: winaje - Saturday, Dec 07, 2002 at 01:00

Saturday, Dec 07, 2002 at 01:00
Peter, interesting problem, and I know this comes too late... I would be interested to know how LandRover can say that the permitted ball weight is only 150 kg when their genuine towing tongue placard states that the maximum is 250k??? I say this as a DII TD5 owner, and also the owner of the Australian DII Yahoo group, so I am at least partially qualified to criticise their stupidity. There has got to be some way to get a legal ruling on things like this. As an aside, my Disco will comfortably, although now illegally, tow an 11 metre 3500kg van without any problem.

Bill Church
AnswerID: 9387

Follow Up By: Peter - Sunday, Dec 08, 2002 at 01:00

Sunday, Dec 08, 2002 at 01:00
Hi Bill my disco did a good job but i can assure you that a 1999 series 1 has a ball weight of 150kgs. call bill kelso of hayne and reece . he knowns because it was his company that assured me that with their gear my disco had a ball weight of 250kgs but then changed the story by saying that they refered to series 2 - i was just refering to a 1999 discovery. as you say -does the job but illegially. affraid that as a father i could not go on the road without having done everything possible to ensure the safety of myself my family and other road users and at least if all else fails i will have the backing of an insurance company to meet my obligations. why should i expect their backing if i cheat - old saying you can fool others but you cannot fool yourself merry christmass regards peter

ps. have a new pajero did its great - non of the disco teething problems like water in the oil-headlights falling out-oil leaks and that was week one. quite a supprise have nothing to complain about except that it is slow to refule but then i get 10k to the ltr not 3k per ltr in the v8 - bit of a difference .
guess what mitsubishi will fix the slow fill problem for me free of cost . what a shock after the treatment i have lived with from both land rover australia - stewart webster and haynes & reese.
FollowupID: 4775

Reply By: PETER - Sunday, Dec 08, 2002 at 01:00

Sunday, Dec 08, 2002 at 01:00
to pg tas. what is the ball weight of your vehicle. forget all the other crap you are not legal in australia if you exceed the ball weight as specified by the manufacturer of your vehicle. if you have insurance call the company and ask if or if not you are covered.

your calculations are great and no doubt you are a carefull man - we are not talking about being silly or funny we are talking about being legal and it is just a person like you that believes he has all the answers that cost people like me thousands of dollars. we tend to believe blusterers that know it all - never again will i fall in the fat . before you solve the problems of the world please check your facts merry christmass
AnswerID: 9399

Follow Up By: P.G. (tas) - Monday, Dec 09, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Dec 09, 2002 at 01:00
G'day Peter. The static ballweight for my 100 series is 350kg. The word static meaning downward weight on the towball WITHOUT any weight distribution devices.

Cruiser1 mentioned earlier that the weight placed on the towball should be deducted from the total load. That is correct, UNLESS, a weight distribution hitch is used. These devices place half their rating back onto the trailer axle(s) and the other half to the front axle of the tow vehicle. eg, my adjustable 750lb (340kg) weight distribution (Hayman Reece) hitch can transfer 170kg back on to the trailer axle thus removing that amount of weight from the towball, allowing for more luggage in the vehicle. Hayman Reece make several different rated distribution hitches for specific applications. A little while ago a few caravan manufacturer's were designing big tandem axle caravans with front bedrooms. In order to do this the axle sets were moved rearward. This gave a spacious interior, sleek external lines and over 300kg ball weight! Many people were caught out by this and today those designs are now longer generally available (special order now I'm told) because only some full size Nissan's and Toyota's are legal to tow them. One caravan dealer told me I could tow these vans with a Falcon Wagon "set up properly"! Good thing I did my homework!

John wrote that he believed the maximum ball weight in NSW is 120kg. I doubt that is true, for if it was it would not be safe to tow a trailer weighing much more than 12-1,300kg.

The 10% rule will show itself to be just that, a rule. Less than around 10% and a heavy trailer on the towball will try to push the back of the tow vehicle around, more than around 10% will have the back sinking, the front rising, light wandering steering and the headlights starting to look for possums in their natural habitat! By the way, who actually adjusts their headlights with their trailer on the towball?

An interesting side note is when I add the maximum specified axle weights (manufacturers figures 1,550kg front & 1,950kg rear) of my 100 series together, it exceeds my G.V.M. by exactly 350kg. Isn't that interesting!

By the way I am not being silly or funny about what I wrote! Blusterers like me get these facts by going straight to the proper sources and listening to what I'm told, reading relevant legislation, road rules and ADR's! I do stay away from retailers! Vehicle Manufacture's (Toyota), Towbar Manufacturer's (Trailboss & Hayman Reece), and Transport Tasmania are only too happy to pass on the relevant information. I suggest if you ever get away from your computer monitor and drive your 4WD around a bit, you could get the same relevant information for yourself! Merry Christmas to you too.
FollowupID: 4818

Reply By: Bob & Lorraine - Sunday, Dec 08, 2002 at 01:00

Sunday, Dec 08, 2002 at 01:00
ref Pajero slow fill. have NM DID and have had new filler neck fitted by Mitsubishi at no cost and it works like a beauty..
AnswerID: 9416

Follow Up By: Peter - Monday, Dec 09, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Dec 09, 2002 at 01:00
got a shock at my 711 servo the other day he has had fast fill fitted to each bowser except one. the fast fill would never fit into my tank so i am looking forward to the change over at my 7500 k oil change. glad yours is fine regards
FollowupID: 4819

Reply By: PETER - Monday, Dec 09, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Dec 09, 2002 at 01:00
Hi PG TAS thanks for all your concern and interest . you have covered all the ground and i am well aware that an obvious expert such as your self would have done the obvious and contacted their insurance company. what is their opinion. here it is stated by every authority - even haine and reese that the weight distributition system does not alter the ball weight of the vehicle - that is specified by the manufacturer. dont get flustered pg just get the facts merry christmas
AnswerID: 9452

Follow Up By: P.G. (tas) - Monday, Dec 09, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Dec 09, 2002 at 01:00
Hello again Peter.

Did I check with my insurance company (AAMI) .... Absolutely, today (just in case something had changed I didn't know about) ..... and ...... I have 100 percent coverage, Australia wide with up to the maximum ball weight permitted for the vehicle!

As I stated, my 100 series has a manufacturers rated ball weight capacity of 350 kg. My 100 series has a Towhitch manufacturers plate says the maximum rated ball weight is 350kg. Now unless I missed something major along the way, if both vehicle and towhitch manufacturers say I can have a ball weight of 350kg and Transport Tasmania tell me they reply on what is stamped on the plate affixed to the towbar, why wouldn't an insurance company cover me?

A weight distribution hitch merely levels the outfit and remove up to 170kg from the ball, allowing for more luggage, as I wrote in my last reply.

And expert? NO, If you read my first threat properly you would realise I was caught with the Prado. Never again! These days I check EVERYTHING twice, buy once and NEVER take notice of Sales people! CHEERS.
FollowupID: 4821

Reply By: P.G. (Tas) - Monday, Dec 09, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Dec 09, 2002 at 01:00
PS Peter.

It might be a good idea to use this forum as it was intended, to get general advise and other peoples experiences.

If you want detailed legal advise check with the relevant manufacturers, road authorities YOURSELF!

Mery Christmas.
AnswerID: 9458

Follow Up By: Rodeoowner - Monday, Dec 09, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Dec 09, 2002 at 01:00
Goodonya PG. I too am with AAMI and the answer to the questions I ask are always...'if it's legal according to Transport Tas, it's OK by us'. I have always found them very good to deal with and don't tend to inflict their perception of the law onto their customers. Cheers and Merry Christmas!
FollowupID: 4828

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