Tow Ball Weight

Submitted: Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 00:41
ThreadID: 86512 Views:8940 Replies:6 FollowUps:20
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I have a question that hope u guys can settle. On avaerage most vehicles are allowed to have a certain amount of weight on their tow ball. Now I know some vehicles have very low amounts of towball weight compared to their towing capacity, but on average most I have seen are approx 10%, such as older Mitsi Challenegers, can tow 2500kg and towball weight 250kg.

I have been getting 2 different opinions from quite a few people I know.

Opinion 1/ That a towed Van/Trailer/Boat should not have a towball weight over 10% of the Tow Vehicle, plus of course must not go past the manufacturers maximum towball weight. eg: if you have 1500kg in 8X5 Trailer, behind a 2005 Pajero the towball weight can not exceed 150kg (10%) of maximum tow rate of vehicle?

Opinion 2/ That a towed Van/Trailer/Boat should not have a towball weight over 10% of the item being towed. eg: if you have 300kg in 6X4 Trailer, behind a 2005 Pajero the towball weight can not exceed 30kg (10%) of the weight of the item being towed ?

Hope everyone understand the question :-)

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Reply By: gbc - Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 06:04

Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 06:04
10% of the trailer's mass as downball weight is the old rule of thumb so that people load their trailers front heavy.
Have a look at something like a kimberly camper fully loaded and the towball downweight is much higher than 10%. This isn't a terrible thing unless your vehicle is precluded from towing them (350 k.g. is common)
Properly set up tandems can balance on their wheels and the towball will not hit the ground. The downweight of these tandems vary's according to the relative height of your towball.
I would suggest that well less than 10% on the smaller trailers isn't a good thing. Somewhere around 10% is perfectly fine, and well over is putting a lot of strain on the trailer a frame - some are meant to do it, some aren't.
Bottom line, set the trailer up correctly, then choose the tow vehicle for the parameters.
AnswerID: 455316

Follow Up By: snoopyone - Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 08:11

Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 08:11
Any tandem van that has a correct ball weight will hit the ground if no Jockey wheel fitted. If it doesnt DONT buy it

The ideal weight is between 10 and 15%. Also the axles on a tandem are usually set back past centre to assist with tracking and to stop end sway.

European vans which are built differently have lighter ball weights but are also of a lighter construction and have kitchens and other heavy parts over the axles.
Aussie vans tend to have kitchens at the front or back and therefore need heavier ballweights to remain stable.

There was a famous case in SA a few years ago where several people were killed and the van broke off the car and travelled several hundred feet before crashing. It should have dug the A frame into the ground and stopped Obviously the Brakesafe didnt work either.

Later on it was sitting in a police yard perfectly level with no Jockey wheel.
The conclusion was that it had been modified on construction and virtually had no ball weight at all.. Or had been loade badly as well. A very dangerous situation

My van at 2850 Atm has a ball weight of 300kg and travels nicely.

You have to choose a vehicle that is capable of towing the van that you buy, plain and simple.
FollowupID: 728238

Reply By: snoopyone - Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 08:21

Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 08:21
On reading the OP again I would say.

Firstly both of the assumptions are incorrect

Manufacturers rate vehicles using various criteria Type of suspension, type of vehicle construction, whether auto or manual etc.

As far as ballweight is concerned as I already said between 10-15% of the TRAILER WEIGHT is the accepted norm.

So a MINIMUM of 10% is the accepted norm

You should not exceed the tow vehicles rated capacities.

Eg as far as the 10% of the tow vehicles weight being maximum, well a

100ser Cruiser weighs 3260kg fully loaded and has an allowable ballweight of 350kg

So if you had a trailer full of gravel you can have any ballweight up to the vehicles capacity.

Might bend the trailer frame but still legal

Understand ?????
AnswerID: 455330

Follow Up By: Notso - Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 09:59

Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 09:59
That brings up an interesting point,

The maximum weight of the Cruiser is 3260, so does the 350kg, if that's what you are putting onto the ball, get taken off that 3260 when you are considering towing with the Cruiser, leaving the maximum the vehicle can weigh at say 2910? Not much payload left if that's the case.
FollowupID: 728244

Follow Up By: snoopyone - Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 10:20

Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 10:20
Yes it always does in any vehicle.

The towball weight always forms part of the payload of the towing vehicle.

How many actually know that or even think about it may vary.

Those who observe it may be even less LOL.

I had to leave my roofrack and some other stuff behind to be legal.

My ball weight is actually 300kg The vehicle and towbar limit is 350kg

Dont know how these ones with tinnies on the roof Outboard and fuel on the rack underneath etc would get on if they had an accident.

Am surprised thay some rigs actually move with all the gear they stick in them.

Saw one the other day with 10 jerry cans on the roof rack DUH.

Even a Cruiser has a 200kg limit INCLUDING THE WEIGHT OF THE RACK (41kg) Which also comes out of the payload limit

So you may have to leave the wife at home ROFL

Cruiser has payload of 672kg so fuel 145 litres = about 135kg, towball 300kg You and mum say 160kg leaves 77kg for roofrack (empty41kg) leaves 36kg for your lunch

If you have a bull bar and spare wheel carrier, .a set of drawers and all your tools you will be overloaded and illegal and havent even left home yet.

Oh the joys of Caravaning.
FollowupID: 728246

Follow Up By: The Landy - Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 11:35

Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 11:35
People usually get away with it up until the time there is a serious accident. In the case of more serious accidents the police and accident investigators will usually go over the vehicle with a fine toothcomb to make sure it was loaded within manufacturers specifications, and conformed in all other respects.

If you have been grossly negligent in the loading, the consequences, apart from any accident ,can be quite dire for the driver, and can possibly include criminal charges.

I actually have a ‘load card’ for longer trips where I take more gear that I do a quick calculation on the vehicle weight to make sure I am safe (and legal), a legacy from my flying days...

But I guess many work on the ‘she’ll be right’ principal.

Cheers, The Landy

FollowupID: 728250

Follow Up By: - Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 13:21

Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 13:21
Here in SA there is a fair amount of public anxiety at the moment, because the state government is introducing new fines for "un-roadworthy" vehicles.

So, if you get pulled up for having ONE blown brake light (you may have 2 or more that do still work), you will be fined $120- on the spot and have a defect notice affixed to the windscreen, which cannot be removed until you go to the one and only government checking station at Regency Park. Of course, when you get there, you can be ASSURED that the worthy public servants there will go over your vehicle with a fine-tooth comb in order to find any other minor/major problems.

This is so, so obviously more about raising revenue than anything to do with road safety (as the remaining brake lights will obviously still alert other drivers to the fact you are braking etc).

So, with that in mind AND the fact that here in SA there are a large number of roadside vehicle checking/weighing stations that I have yet to ever see OPEN, it is (in my opinion) only a matter of time before the money-hungry government folks realise there is money to be made from all those poor unsuspecting sods who are towing vans etc on their big lap of OZ. They could have an absolute field day; I reckon every 2nd 4x4, commodore/falcon etc with a trailer/caravan would not pass the "test". It's a bit scary.

FollowupID: 728254

Follow Up By: SDG - Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 18:01

Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 18:01
From other forums I have read, in SA, cars have been known to be defected for having the white H on their gear knob worn off. I remember years ago having a spider in my gear knob.
FollowupID: 728275

Reply By: splits - Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 10:03

Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 10:03
The owner' handbook in my Lux says a maximum towing capacity of 1800kgs and between 5 and 10% of the trailer weight on the tow ball. Anything more than 10% would be outside Toyota's specifications. I was also told by Toyota not to tow at all on soft dry sand. I am not sure why but it may have something to do with this type of surface causing an increase in the tow ball weight.

When you apply the brakes on a car, the wheels drag the car back and the front drops. Sand will definitely hinder the forward progress of wheels and therefore drag them back. Many other off road surfaces may do the same but to different degrees. The draw bar may then go down increasing the tow ball weight.

If this does happen, and I can't why it would not, then it may be a contributing factor in so many dual cabs bending their chassis in deserts and on beaches.

I think the best way to decide what to do is discuss it with both the car and the trailer manufacturer and include different road surfaces in the discussion.
AnswerID: 455335

Follow Up By: snoopyone - Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 10:26

Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 10:26
The reason not to tow in soft sand would be increased resistance on the drive line more than ball weight..

Additional weight behind the rear axle is a contributing facor in bent chassis as is the fitting of airbags which puts all the loadbearing point in one place instead of two as in leaf springs.

I wouldnt like to tow any Aussie made van with a ballweight of less than 10%.

FollowupID: 728247

Follow Up By: S.A. Blaze - Thursday, May 26, 2011 at 00:54

Thursday, May 26, 2011 at 00:54
Thanks to the input from everyone, but to be honest I'm more confused than when I started.

Splits, I will give you a standard setup and you can tell me if I'm reading this right. Your Toyota you say has a towing capacity of 1800kgs and say you then go down to T-Van, (just for and example) and purchase this product, lets say the Tanami, Tare Mass 966kg.

So now with it completely empty and at tare weight you tow it home, I believe by what you said you can not go above 10% of the item being towed so the towball weight must be under 96.6kg ? I would be totally amazed if that was the towball weight of these units, I know 2 fairly strong guys can't lift the jocky wheel off the ground.

Now I only used your followup and the Tvan Tanami, just as samples. I am very sure their are numerous 700kg to 1000kg tare weight campers and vans that are way over 100kg straight out of the factory.

I think its time to ring the traffic division and see if I can get this answered because I know, which ever way it is, there are huge amounts of drivers that have taken it the opposite way. I will post what I am informed..

Cheers and thanks guys
FollowupID: 728385

Follow Up By: snoopyone - Thursday, May 26, 2011 at 08:29

Thursday, May 26, 2011 at 08:29
You will find that the traffic dept have no rules on ball weight NSW certainly dont.

The manufacturer of the vehicle specifies that so you would be better ringing their technical dept

Toyota for instance in the Landcruiser handbook recommend 9-11% on the ball but also allow up to 350KG ballweight.

So following that logically you can tow 3500kg with 10% on the ball

You can also tow 3000kg STILL WITH 350kg on the ball

or 2000kg with 350kg on the ball.

Not that you would but get the drift.

The 10% is a recommendation.

The 350kg maximum is a rating and should not be exceeded.

To quote the handbook Page 125.

The trailer cargo load should be distributed so that the tongue load is 9 to 11% of the total triler weight, not exceeding the maximum load of 350kg.

It doesnt say it MUST be 9-11%.

You are interpreting the thing incorrectly and you should check with the manufacturer.

As said earlier my van is 2850KG and has a ball weight of 300kgWell under the maximum allowed but also over the 10% It is still within the maximum allowable.

FollowupID: 728404

Follow Up By: - Saturday, May 28, 2011 at 09:33

Saturday, May 28, 2011 at 09:33

I reckon Snoopyone has summed it up as well as anybody could/has.

You won't get "done" for having an excessive ball weight UNLESS the scalies put your rig on the bridge and the 4x4 (with van attached) tips the scales at more than your GVM ....and/or the combined total of the weight of all 6/8 axles exceeds the tow rig's GCM.

Unfortunately, I have noticed an anomoly with SA rego labels on my current and previous rigs (ie: the ChevPatrol and the Landbruiser).....both of them have the GCM and the GVM shown on the label as the same figure!!! So an over-zealous official could book you for towing ANY trailer as the GCM they register on their weigh bridge would exceed the figure shown on the LABEL. If you knew where to look, however, you would see the GCM on the compliance plate and hopefully be able to convince the inspector that the office people had made a blue.

FollowupID: 728591

Follow Up By: S.A. Blaze - Monday, May 30, 2011 at 01:55

Monday, May 30, 2011 at 01:55
Gday Roachie,

Up till about 3 weeks ago I would have totally agreed with you. Problem is at a local Caravan selling yard they had a mini Show Day, with local car resellers, camping stores etc showing their wares. They also had a Traffic Officer who goes around to these sorts of things and does a yap about the law. He put my brother into a spin and a few others there by inferring that if you had a T-Van for example weighing 1,100kg then your maximum Towball weight had to be under 10% IE 110kg. Lots of rigs would fail this, and he also added that they are about to start heavily testing towball weight and even deminstrated the draw bar scales they use.

At present i am waiting to hear back from SAPOL Traffic division and have contacted a number given to me by some local boys in we will see what happens.

FollowupID: 728786

Follow Up By: snoopyone - Monday, May 30, 2011 at 08:40

Monday, May 30, 2011 at 08:40
Just goes to show that not all cops know the rules either

This from a reply from the NSW RTA

Your vehicle must have a compliant tow bar fitted and it must be correctly rated,the RTA do not have any requirements on "ball weight".

From QLD roads Technical officer

Thank you for your query to the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads (the department) with regards to the towing requirements for vehicles. I have been requested to respond on behalf of the department.

The key question to ask is:

Has the vehicle manufacturer specified Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) and Gross Combination Mass (GCM) rating for a towing vehicle? Vehicles of category MA, MB, and MC are not required to have GVM rating. Vehicles of any category other than N are not required to have GCM rating.

1. If the manufacturer has specified GVM and GCM rating for a towing vehicle, then it can be loaded up to its GVM (including any vertical load on the coupling joint) and the trailer it is towing can be loaded such that the load on the trailer's axle group does not exceed the lesser of: (a) trailer's GTM and (b) the difference between GCM and GVM ratings of the towing vehicle.

2a. If not, then that creates two possibilities. If the manufacturer has specified GVM but not the GCM rating for a towing vehicle, then it can be loaded up to its GVM (including any vertical load on the coupling joint) and it can tow a trailer loaded equal to or less than the towing vehicle's Rated Towing Capacity. Rated Towing Capacity must be specified by the vehicle manufacturer*. The total trailer mass (including any vertical load on the coupling joint) must not exceed the Rated Towing Capacity of the towing vehicle. This interpretation is consistent with the interpretation used in ADR 61/02 Vehicle Marking Maximum towing capacity (i.e. the ‘Aggregate Trailer Mass’ for which the towing vehicle is designed) (kg)

2b. If the manufacturer has specified neither GVM nor the GCM rating for a towing vehicle, then please seek manufacturer's advice about the Rated Towing Capacity and also the maximum vertical coupling load that the towing vehicle is rated to take.

The ADR definition of Rated Towing Capacity, as quoted below, applies only in cases where the manufacturer of the towing vehicle has specified both GVM and GCM ratings for that vehicle.

RATED TOWING CAPACITY - the lesser of either;
- the rating given to the towing equipment fitted to the motor vehicle or,
- the difference between ‘Gross Combination Mass’ and ‘Gross Vehicle Mass’.

Read 2A which applies.

I rang him and he confirmed what I have been saying as being correct.

Nowhere does it state anything about what the officer said.
In fact NSW directly contradicts him.

Any van apart from European vans, with LESS than 10% ball weight would be very unstable and would tend to snake in some situations.

Dont know hwere the cop got that from but Im glad hes not from around here as all towing guides suggest 10-15% towball weight as a norm.
FollowupID: 728793

Reply By: OREJAP - Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 10:55

Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 10:55
I notice in your post that you mention two different Mitsubishi vehicles. To get the facts on towing with these vehicles I would contact Mitsubishi Motors Australia via an E mail. I can only state to you what my 2009 Pajero can tow according to MMAL. First of all Mitsubishi rate the towing capacity of the Pajero on the European formula which equates to 6%. Any weight on or over 1300kg & a WDH MUST be used. Towing up to 2500kg the pajero ball weight must not exceed 250kg. Anything over that & up to 3000kg the ball weight reduces to 180kg. There are obviously different towing capacities listed by vehicle manufacturers & consulting the owners hand book is also an aide. My friend who owned a Nissan Patrol GU Diesel auto was towing a full van which weighed in at 2680 tare & well over 3 tonne loaded....had an awful shock when he read his handbook to discover the vehicle was legal up to 2500kg. It wouldn;t take much for an astute Insurance investigator to discover the towing capacity of a vehicle & the weight of the van!!! & if you are over your legal manufacturers limit.... $60,000 vehicle....$50,000 van.....claim denied....hmmmm lots of $$$$$ lost.
AnswerID: 455337

Follow Up By: snoopyone - Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 12:51

Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 12:51
Yep exactly.

I had a Grenade auto and bought a van which had an ATM of 2700kg.

Cost me $23,000 to upgrade to a Cruiser to be legal.

Pays to read the handbook FIRST LOL
FollowupID: 728252

Reply By: snoopyone - Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 12:58

Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 12:58
As an aside a PA Challenger can only tow 2270kg
AnswerID: 455341

Follow Up By: S.A. Blaze - Thursday, May 26, 2011 at 01:00

Thursday, May 26, 2011 at 01:00
Yep Soopy I know that one :-) It was a typo, I own a PA Challenger, and thought to do the original post with a vehicle more people are used to I would use a Pajero, just typed Challenger out of habit... LOL
FollowupID: 728386

Reply By: jvb1 - Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 14:36

Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 14:36
try this loading of utes, it is only for utes i think but will give people an idea of how to come up with a figure.
PS dont know how accurate it is but use it as a guide.

AnswerID: 455346

Follow Up By: snoopyone - Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 14:43

Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 14:43
Thats Ok for the few it does but lots of others that it doesnt.

EG a wheel and tyre for a 100ser weighs 42kg

Most tradies would be over 80kg as well.

Some beer guts would weigh that. LOL

FollowupID: 728261

Follow Up By: jvb1 - Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 14:49

Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 14:49
I had a look at a maloo ute and cant put much in the back of that one. But it makes one think of what you can load in a vehicle, remembering the payload is (I think forgive me if wrong) the weight of everything, ie wife, kids, fuel, roo bar ect ect ect. This has changed the way I pack our prado and trailer when travelling.

FollowupID: 728262

Follow Up By: Mark S (cns) - Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 16:41

Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 16:41
Interesting that they don't include spare wheel or A/C in the kerb mass of a vehicle that comes with this no matter what?
Eg I checked mine (D-max) and had to add this in, which affected payload!
I guess it is only a guide, not gospel.....
FollowupID: 728269

Follow Up By: snoopyone - Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 17:25

Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 17:25
The weights for a 100ser TD give the

Tare weight as 2477kg

The kerb weight as 2588kg and the payload as 672kg which when added to

the kerb weight gives the GVM of 3260.

It gospel not a guide

Get caught over it and have an accident and overloading can be attributed to the cause and goodbye insurance.

Same with a van Exceed the rated ATM at your peril.
FollowupID: 728273

Follow Up By: tasobb - Friday, May 27, 2011 at 20:38

Friday, May 27, 2011 at 20:38
Thats it!! I'll have to trade in the missus and get a lighter,more up to date one. so I dont break the law ,you
FollowupID: 728554

Follow Up By: Member - Krakka - Saturday, May 28, 2011 at 07:53

Saturday, May 28, 2011 at 07:53
Hahahaha.....................nice one tasobb!!!
FollowupID: 728578

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