by Collyn Rivers
Caravan Tare Weight
Caravan 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, caravan 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.
Tare Weight issues arise
A caravan‘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 caravan chassis. The caravan‘s weight ex-dealer, is often higher.
Most caravan 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.
A caravan maker typically allows 250 kg (550 lb) for single axle caravans under 1500 kg, and about 300 kg for larger/heavier single axle caravans. Caravans 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 Caravan Industry Association of Australia, warns: ‘items fitted to the caravan 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 caravan maker’s specified maximum weight (uncoupled), with full allowed load. It is a rating assessed by the caravan 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 caravans under 1500 kg, it is 250 kg. For dual axle caravans it is 350 to 450 kg. It applies also to fifth wheel caravans. There is no legal requirement except ‘fitness for purpose’.
Caravan 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 caravan after purchase.’
Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM)
This is the loaded caravan weight when coupled to the tow vehicle. It excludes the weight on tow vehicle. The GVM is legally a maximum rating set by the caravan maker.
How to avoid caravan tare weight issues
To avoid caravan 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 caravan 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.
Resolving caravan 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.
The above applies to all trailers below 4500 kg (9920 lb) – including fifth-wheel caravans.
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