Updated 2020

Claims for dual-cab ute towing capacity

Claims for dual-cab ute towing capacity mislead caravan buyers. A dual-cab ute must weigh enough to keep a caravan steady. If not, the caravan tail wags the towing dog.

For close to 40 years, Australia’s trailers exceeding over a laden 750 kg was 72 km/h. The Royal Automobile Club (RAC) advised trailer weights not to exceed that of the tow vehicle. The RAC’s preference was a ratio of 3:4. We now have speed limits of almost 30-40 km/h higher.

It is now common for a 2500 kg dual-cab ute to tow a 3500 kg caravan. That is a ratio of 3.5:2.5. Many vehicle makers specify GCM (Gross Combination Mass). This is the maximum allowed weight of tow vehicle and trailer. In most cases, makers quote the weight of a totally standard vehicle. Here are a few examples. They show that claims for dual-cab ute towing capacity mislead caravan buyers.

Examples that claims for dual-cab ute towing capacity mislead

GCM 6000 kg. Claimed tow capacity 3500 kg. Unladen weight 2247 kg. Payload 952 kg. If towing 3500 kg that plus the ute’s unladen weight (2247 kg) is 5747 kg. This leaves only 253 kg for everything carried. That includes all fuel over 10 litres, driver and passengers. That all but empty 2500 kg ute is towing an up to 3500 kg caravan.

  • GCM 5910 kg. Claimed tow capacity 3500 kg. Unladen weight 1969 kg. Payload 941 kg. If towing 3500 kg that, plus the ute’s unladen weight, is 5469 kg. This leaves 441 kg for everything carried. It is 2401 kg towing 3500 kg.

  • GCM 6000 kg. Claimed tow capacity 3500 kg. Unladen weight 2118 kg. The payload 1082 kg. If towing 3500 kg that, plus the ute’s unladen weight is 5618 kg. This leaves 382 kg for everything carried. It is 2500 kg towing 3500 kg.

  • GCM 5885 kg. Claimed tow capacity 3100 kg. Unladen weight 1955 kg. The payload is 945 kg. If towing 3100 kg that, plus the ute’s unladen weight is 5055 kg. This leaves a payload of 830 kg when towing 3500 kg. It is 2785 kg towing 3100 kg. Still undesirable but not as bad as above.

Few utes remain ‘standard’

That typical 250 kg – 440 kg payload may just suffice for a driver, passengers, plus fuel. Few dual-cab utes, however, remain standard. Many will have a winch (40-50 kg). A bull bar (4-45 kg).

More realistic towing capacity for dual-cab ute towing capacity is 2500 kg.

See also Caravan-tow vehicle-dynamics