Towing limits and regulations.

Submitted: Friday, Apr 06, 2007 at 21:47
ThreadID: 44064 Views:11359 Replies:10 FollowUps:9
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I have just upgraded my camper for a poptop and am a little confused at the towing regs. I am very keen to comply with the law and would appreciate some help.
Firstly, my Ford Courier has a max towing weight of 1800Kg but a max ball weight of 60Kg - common knowledge (and the manual) state that ball weight should be 10% of the laden weight but this only gives a max towing weight for the van of 600Kg- How does this make any sense? - If I cant maintain 60Kg ball weight, can I upgrade the suspension to allower a higher ball load?
On to the trailer - My camper only listed a Tare weight on the papers but the new poptop shows an aggregate weight also. The Tare is 778Kg but the aggregate weight is 2000Kg - this allows for a 1200Kg + load - well in excess of what it would actually be. Is the aggregate weight a "guess" to stay under the limit for a breakaway braking system? - If this is so, can i get it modified by having the vans aggregate weight measured on a weighbridge before I transfer the rego or will the RTA refuse to change it? -
Ok, on to insurance - If I do have an accident, would the actual weight of loaded van be taken into consideration or would the recorded aggregate weight be taken into account - I ask because the current recorded aggregate weight is 200Kg over the max load permitted by Ford for the courier.
Sorry it is so long winded but I am very keen to get this right as there is too much riding on it to guess.
Thanks in advance for any help,
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Reply By: chips59 - Friday, Apr 06, 2007 at 22:45

Friday, Apr 06, 2007 at 22:45
mate had the same problem when i bought my Windsor rapid. i had a pathfinder then and was told by salesman when i ordered the van i would have no problem as the tow rate of the pathy was 1500kg. but what he didn't tell me is the tow ball weight was 90kg. the van was 1350kg and i thought no worries, then i ordered the off road pack and was not told that it would now be 1475kg. i tried to have the ball weight increased but not possible as that was what Mr Nissan had put on it. no engineer would touch it and no insurance company would cover me if i had an accident. so now i have a GU patrol.
AnswerID: 232078

Reply By: _gmd_pps - Friday, Apr 06, 2007 at 23:16

Friday, Apr 06, 2007 at 23:16
actual weights don't matter for insurance (only when you have an accident and are over the limits .. not under) .. everything is calculated on rated values ..
a new vehicle is in order I guess ...
good luck
AnswerID: 232086

Follow Up By: vv4yno - Friday, Apr 06, 2007 at 23:31

Friday, Apr 06, 2007 at 23:31
Yes - I have been googling and manual reading madly for the last day and it seems my biggest limiting factor is going to be the ball load - It is very poor considering that the courier is a UTE and designed for loads. With a dry van I may be able to fudge the ball weight close to the 60Kg but with the van loaded it is impossible.
Worst part is, its the minister for war and finances's car that is next on the list for replacement so it looks like she will get the new tow vehicle as a daily driver (I just cant give up the ute :)
Does anyone know of a online listing of ball weight limits for various vehicles or is it just a matter of calling every dealer and asking? What I buy is pretty open but I'd prefer to stay away from a large 4WD as I really dont need the running costs so the list of possibles is large and hard to sort.
Ironically, the minister's '95 bluebird SSS can tow the van legally but the 260,000K's on the clock have taken their toll on the engine and it's just not up to the task.
I suppose the only thing I really need to clarify is whether I can adjust the Aggregate weight on the papers to a more realistic value - Not even the minister can load the van with 1200Kgs of stuff.....surely!
Thanks very much for the input so far, the knowledge and experience of the forum members is invaluable.
Thanks again,
FollowupID: 492998

Reply By: Go-N-Grey (WA) - Friday, Apr 06, 2007 at 23:52

Friday, Apr 06, 2007 at 23:52
The 10% ball weight is only a recommended weight distribution.

I have a Van that weighs 2.7 tonne ATM. 10 % = 270kgs. The actual weight on the ball is 120kgs i.e. < 5% of the ATM. That is the manufacturers specs.

The van tows very well with HR hitch behind LC100, and quite well without it
AnswerID: 232092

Follow Up By: vv4yno - Saturday, Apr 07, 2007 at 00:17

Saturday, Apr 07, 2007 at 00:17
I haven't actually measured the ball weight and that is a job for the morning - I cant really adjust it too much except with loading the van but I intend to whack a few large water containers up the back and see what it takes to get a ball weight of 60Kg then I will be off to the weighbridge to find the total weight so I can calculate the ball weight % - Armed with this info I will attempt to get the RTA to change the aggregate weight to a more realistic value (I think with a 778Kg tare the aggregate weight should be around 1200Kg Max)
Then its off to test the towing performance - If it doesn't all add up then I suppose it's off car shopping!. Buying the van was a stretch to the finances - a new car is going to send me to the poorhouse and I want to avoid it if I can.
It's only after all this calculating that I realise that my camper would have been over the max limits for the courier - incidently that towed and braked beautifully behind the courier too even though it had mechanical brakes. - I estimate the ball weight would have been a smidge over 75Kg
I have also noticed the manual states - "ball weight must not EXCEED 60Kg 10% of trailer weight" so under 10% would be legal as long as it tows OK.
If I can get the ball weight under 60Kg and it tows OK I may be alright in the end.
I will post my test results tommorrow.
Thanks again,
FollowupID: 493002

Follow Up By: Member - Rotord - Saturday, Apr 07, 2007 at 09:34

Saturday, Apr 07, 2007 at 09:34
Going under 10% is fraught with danger , and even if it seems to tow all right you may be setting yourself up for when odd circumstances will precipitate a departure from normal stability .

What about a Japanese exchange engine for your other car ? I haven't seen the prices lately , but it may solve your problem for about $1000 . As a 1995 model it is probably worth keeping on the road .
FollowupID: 493024

Follow Up By: DIO - Saturday, Apr 07, 2007 at 10:48

Saturday, Apr 07, 2007 at 10:48
I would suggest that you don't even consider trying to reduce the ball weight by loading up the back end of the van. The result could be catastrophic and cause the van to fishtail erratically - and at the very worst result in a serious accident. Successful van towing is largely about balance and control. These factors are achieved by having a suitable and appropriate tow vehicle (Horse power, torque, towing capacity), suitable and appropiate towing equipment including a Weight Distribution Hitch (WDH), the van or trailer weight within the tow vehicle manufaturer's specification/recommendations, tow ball weight within the van and tow vehicle specifications, and a compotent person driving the tow vehicle, making allowance for the extra weight dragging behind and adjusting driving style to suit all conditions.
Now having said that, many people hitch up and drive off without too much consideration for the above, however it is likely that these will be the same people that end up on the evening news or front page of a local paper after they have become involved in a collison (not accident) with someone or something else because of instability, lack of handling or braking, poor equipment choice or lack of appropriate equipment and failure to adjust their driving to conditions.
Don't be one of THEM. Good luck with your vanning, hope you get it sorted out.
FollowupID: 493033

Follow Up By: vv4yno - Saturday, Apr 07, 2007 at 11:11

Saturday, Apr 07, 2007 at 11:11
Thanks for the tips, certainly good advise.
I have measured the ball weight and it is at 143Kg - 20% of the tare.
Wouldnt loading the back of the van bring the total rig closer to the balance desired?
By my calcs 200Kg at the rear of the van would make the hitch about 90KG and bring the aggregate to 980Kg - this equates to very close to the 10% required.
while i know in general it is discouraged to load the rear of any trailer but looking at the big picture it seems OK.
what do you think?
FollowupID: 493034

Reply By: Member - Arkay (SA) - Saturday, Apr 07, 2007 at 09:23

Saturday, Apr 07, 2007 at 09:23
I had a 1997 Holden Jackaroo with a towing limit of 2500kg and an allowable ball weight per the manual etc. of, I think, 130kg or 140kg. Similar problem to you.
I contacted the manufacturer direct by email and explained the situation. They sent me an email back saying that the 130kg applied normally, but that if I used a weight distribution hitch the limit was 250kg. I kept a printed out version of that email tucked into my owners manual in the glovebox, and towed a Camper Trailer and later an all-up 1940kg tandem caravan with the Jackaroo. They changed the relevent section of the manual on the next model Jackaroo.
You may like to try the manufacturer of your Ford Courier. Good luck.
AnswerID: 232114

Reply By: MEMBER - Darian (SA) - Saturday, Apr 07, 2007 at 10:59

Saturday, Apr 07, 2007 at 10:59
I don't doubt you have done the homework but that 60kg seems incredibly low for that class of vehicle - what is the year, configuration, engine etc of the Courier ? I thought others in that class had about 3 times that ball load spec. There is a lot of bulldust spoken about towing specs by so-called authorities too - quite unfair to we travelling customers who are spending their hard-earned $ and trying to do the right thing - hell - even self promoting, seemingly credible 'experts' promoted by sections of the caravanning industry can end up in court looking somewhat contentious (I say no more). IMO, as others have said, the 10% down is a recommendation for safe towing - but the vehicles printed down load on the ball spec cannot be legally exceeded, without risking prosecution and loss of insurance cover (but of course, only in the case of a bingle ! .... and if someone does their detailed homework on the wreckage ! ).... if there was a serious loss of some sort to a third party, we should assume the wreckage would be studied closely ! Re the reply above.... fancy having to change vehicles after taking advice from a bloody sales person ! Those types should be minced, mixed with tuna oil and used for berley !
AnswerID: 232121

Follow Up By: vv4yno - Saturday, Apr 07, 2007 at 11:20

Saturday, Apr 07, 2007 at 11:20
Hi Darian,
Yes, the ball load is correct as per the manual and I agree it seems incredibly low.
The car is a Ford Courier, 2001 dualcab with a Hayman Reese tow hitch using a two bar equalising hitch. I have emailed Ford as suggested earlier but don't expect a response until after easter - hopefully that will be positive :)
I have measured the ball weight unladen (we haven't moved anything into the van at all as yet) and got 143Kg - well over the 60Kg and pretty high for a 13ft poptop that only has a tare of 778Kg - almost 20%
Maybe I should just buy a hummer and forget all about it :)
FollowupID: 493035

Reply By: Cruiserman - Saturday, Apr 07, 2007 at 15:44

Saturday, Apr 07, 2007 at 15:44
Talk to Hayman Reece. They make a stack of different towbars for the different model 2001 Couriers. Maybe the bar that is on the car is the limiting factor? Some of the HR towbars go up to 180 kg ball / 1800 kg tow. e.g. The R1874 fits "Courier 2WD 4WD C/Chassis & Ute Bodies w/o Bumper/Step Not for Diesel 2WD C/Chassis" from 1999 on and is rated 180/1800kg. HR usually don't rate/plate their bars to more than the vehicle can legally carry. They may have better/newer info than what is in the manual or even a Ford dealer might have.

Check out and look up your particular model or give them a call next week.

AnswerID: 232142

Follow Up By: vv4yno - Saturday, Apr 07, 2007 at 15:57

Saturday, Apr 07, 2007 at 15:57
Cruiserman - Now I feel a dope :)
I had a quick look earlier but didnt notice a capacity plate on the towbar. Now on closer inspection, under the mud, a sticker and a reversing sensor I found the plate - it lists 180Kg ball load limit.
So how does the manual and the bar have differing limits? - The bar is the R1874 as listed on the website and the manual definantly says 60Kg.
I will need to speak to Ford and Hayman Reese to clarify but it may be that I am A-OK to tow with everything the way it is.
If you hadnt mentioned chasing up Hayman Reese I may have ended up with a new car :)
Not totally out of the woods yet but I can see a clearing....
Thanks to all who have offered advise, information and experience so far, I think I just became a forum addict :)
FollowupID: 493065

Follow Up By: Cruiserman - Saturday, Apr 07, 2007 at 16:31

Saturday, Apr 07, 2007 at 16:31
Good news!!! Speak to HR first and tell 'em what you have. They will have the up to date info you need. They may point you to the correct person at Ford to get what you need. The average dealer won't know bleep about ball weights.

FollowupID: 493070

Reply By: vv4yno - Saturday, Apr 07, 2007 at 16:44

Saturday, Apr 07, 2007 at 16:44
I have tried to shoot a message to HR but their webform keeps giving me a page not found error when I hit submit - not sure if the message is getting through so I will give them a call on Tuesday.
I also emailed the RTA about reducing the aggregate weight to a realistic value - the tyres have a 600Kg limit each and the papers say 2000Kg is OK!
I also emailed FORD but I probably haven't asked the right questions - I think HR will be the best avenue for a positive answer.
Will keep the forum posted on how I go
Thanks again,
AnswerID: 232147

Reply By: bob&loz - Saturday, Apr 07, 2007 at 19:09

Saturday, Apr 07, 2007 at 19:09
Recheck your manual as you will probably find that the 60kg only applies when you have a full load in the ute (that is running at max gmv of ute) and the allowed tow ball weight is increased as you reduce the load in the ute. I know this is the case with the Patrol anyway.
AnswerID: 232166

Follow Up By: vv4yno - Monday, Apr 09, 2007 at 07:42

Monday, Apr 09, 2007 at 07:42
Hi Bob,
That may be the intention but the manual doesn't mention anything about other loads where it mentions the ball weight - I would have to agree - 60Kg in a ute that should carry 1/2 a ton+ seems crazy - hopefully HR will shed some more light when I speak to them tommorrow
FollowupID: 493230

Reply By: Ianw - Saturday, Apr 07, 2007 at 19:29

Saturday, Apr 07, 2007 at 19:29
I did the research before buying my duel cab ute. At the time (2005) the Nissan Navara D22 STR could not be beat. Tops in power, tops in towing capacity- 2800 kg, Ball weight 250 kg. Looked at Mazda/Ford Courier but it could not do the job. Same with Hilux. Too low in power etc.
AnswerID: 232172

Reply By: vv4yno - Tuesday, Apr 10, 2007 at 18:49

Tuesday, Apr 10, 2007 at 18:49
I have finally sorted out my towing problems.
Firstly, HR's tow limits are the gospel - the plate on the towbar is the final word (same response I got from ford).
This means I can have a download of 180Kg and tow legally - whoo hoo.
The GVM has been fixed up and now reads 1000Kg - this was done by taking the van to a blueslip inspection station and having a "change of records" completed - no cost from the RTA.
thank god thats all done with!!
Thanks to those that offered advise,
AnswerID: 232597

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