Claims for dual-cab ute towing capacity mislead caravan buyers

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by Collyn Rivers – 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 (1650 lb) 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 (5500 lb) dual-cab ute to tow a 3500 kg (7715 lb) 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 (13,000 lb). Claimed tow capacity 3500 kg (7700 lb). Unladen weight 2247 kg (4954 lb). Payload 952 kg (2100 lb). If towing 3500 kg (7715 lb) that plus the ute’s unladen weight (2247 kg [4950 lb]) is 5747 kg (12,690 lb). This leaves only 253 kg (558 lb) for everything carried. That includes all fuel over 10 litres, driver and passengers. That all but empty 2500 kg (5500 lb) ute is towing an up to 3500 kg (7715 lb) caravan.

  • GCM 5910 kg (13,030 lb). Claimed tow capacity 3500 kg (7700 lb). Unladen weight 1969 kg (4340 lb). Payload 941 kg (2075 lb). If towing 3500 kg (7715 lb) that, plus the ute’s unladen weight, is 5469 kg (12,057 lb). This leaves 441 kg (972 lb) for everything carried. It is 2401 kg (5293 lb)

    towing 3500 kg (7700 lb).

  • GCM 6000 kg (13,000 lb). Claimed tow capacity 3500 kg (7700 lb). Unladen weight 2118 kg (4670 lb). The payload 1082 kg (2385 lb). If towing 3500 kg (7715 lb) that, plus the ute’s unladen weight is 5618 kg (12,385 lb). This leaves 382 kg (842 lb) for everything carried. It is 2500 kg (5500 lb) towing 3500 kg (7700 lb).

  • GCM 5885 kg (12,975 lb). Claimed tow capacity 3100 kg (6830 lb). Unladen weight 1955 kg (4310 lb). The payload is 945 kg (2080 lb). If towing 3100 kg (6835 lb) that, plus the ute’s unladen weight is 5055 kg (11,150 lb). This leaves a payload of 830 kg (1830 lb) when towing 3500 kg (7700 lb). It is 2785 kg (6140 lb) towing 3100 kg (6835 lb). Still undesirable but not as bad as above.

Few utes remain ‘standard’

That typical 250-440 kg (550-970 lb) 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 [88-110 lb]). A bull bar (4-45 kg [8.8-99 lb).

More realistic towing capacity for dual-cab ute towing capacity is 2500 kg (5500 lb).

See also Caravan and tow vehicle dynamics

Collyn Rivers is a semi-retired automobile research engineer.  He is the author of seven books, five of which are about making RVs and solar work optimally.

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How to Choose and Buy an RV

Solar that Really Works! covers the design, installation and use of solar in cabins, camper trailers, caravans, fifth wheelers, campervans and motor homes.

eBook versions

Paperback version

Prices for the paperback version including delivery can vary dramatically.  RVBooks recommends you shop around.  We've included a number of reputable booksellers you may wish to consider. Any bookshop, whether online or bricks and mortar, can order copies of How to Choose and Buy an RV. Just ask.
ISBN: 978-0-6487945-5-4.

The Caravan & Motorhome Book

The Caravan & Motorhome Book covers every conceivable aspect of campervan and motorhome usage. If you own a camper van or motor home, you'll want this book.

eBook versions

Paperback version

The book retailers set their own prices which can vary substantially. We'll aim to keep a selection of the better prices above.

Any bookshop, whether online or bricks and mortar, can order copies of The Caravan & Motorhome Book. Just ask.
ISBN: 978-0-6483190-5-4.