Updated – May 2020
Travel Trailer Tare Weight
Travel Trailer Tare Weight issues mainly arise about what’s included and what’s not. Water is not, nor may be optional extras. This article reveals all.
Legally, travel trailer Tare Weight is called Tare Mass. For the purposes of this article you can regard ‘Mass’ as the same as weight. It refers to it accordingly.
A typical Compliance Plate. Tare Mass here is 2280 kg. The ATM (see below) is 2680 kg.
Travel Trailer Tare Weight issues arise
A travel trailer‘s Tare Weight is what it weighs when it leaves the factory. It should include everything specified at the time of ordering. This weight must show on a Compliance Plate attached to the travel trailer chassis. The travel trailer‘s weight ex-dealer, is often higher.
Most travel trailer makers produce standard products. It is dealers who may provide and install all optional extras, even if order specified. Such options include air conditioning, solar, batteries, etc.
Travel Trailer Tare Weight issues – personal allowance
A travel trailer maker typically allows 250 kg (550 lb) for single axle travel trailers under 1500 kg, and about 300 kg for larger/heavier single axle travel trailers. Travel Trailers with two axles typically have 400 kg.
Few buyers know that Tare Weight excludes the (1 kg/litre) of water. There may be several tanks, totally 80 to 350 or more litres. It includes the weight of one 9 litre gas cylinder – but not its (approx 9 kg [20 lb]) of gas. While less common now, Tare Weight may even exclude drawers and mattresses.
The Travel Trailer Industry Association of Australia, warns: ‘items fitted to the travel trailer after it leaves the manufacturer’s factory are not considered to be part of the Tare Mass.’ The industry does not keep this secret, but vendors will rarely tell you this when you order.
Aggregate Trailer Mass (ATM)
The ATM is the travel trailer maker’s specified maximum weight (uncoupled), with full allowed load. It is a rating assessed by the travel trailer maker. The ATM is based on chassis strength, tyre and axle loadings etc. You must not exceed this weight. The difference between Tare Weight and ATM is the Personal Allowance. It is all that can be added.
The personal allowance is an industry recommendation. For single axle travel trailers under 1500 kg, it is 250 kg. For dual axle travel trailers it is 350 to 450 kg. It applies also to fifth wheel travel trailers. There is no legal requirement except ‘fitness for purpose’.
Travel Trailer Buyers Guide informs ‘that may well include ‘gas, water, food, drink, personal items, pots and pans, crockery, cutlery, clothing and any accessories added by the owner of the travel trailer after purchase.’
Travel Trailer Tare Weight issues – Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM)
This is the loaded travel trailer weight when coupled to the tow vehicle. It excludes the weight on tow vehicle. The GVM is legally a maximum rating set by the travel trailer maker.
How to avoid travel trailer Tare Weight issues
To avoid travel trailer weight issues, insist a legal contract includes options within Tare Mass. Unless you do, extras are legally within the ‘personal allowance’. Ensure the contract specifies every optional extra. Require all to be included in the Tare Mass. Ensure the contract requires the travel trailer be weighed in your presence. Do this on a Certified public weighbridge. Furthermore, compare that weight against claimed Tare Mass. There will be minor discrepancies – but within 1% or so. Resolve any discrepancy before you finalise paying. Furthermore, see the buyer-oriented Caravan Council of Australia’s contract buying form/
Resolving travel trailer Tare Weight issues
When you buy through a dealer, that dealer must legally resolve issues. The dealer may attempt to pass this off to the maker. It is your choice to agree or not. Take attempts to deny responsibility to the Dept of Consumer Affairs in your state.
If the tow vehicle can cope with adding weight, consider increasing ATM. This may need strengthening suspension, increasing tyre and brake size etc. Moreover, increasing ATM over 2000 kg (4400 lb) requires you to fit power brakes. To do this you need a Certified Engineer’s approval.
Have the Caravan Council of Australia arrange this for you: http://www.caravancouncil.com.au/#!contact/cluw
The above applies to all trailers below 4500 kg (9920 lb) – including fifth-wheel travel trailers.
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