Caravan Safety

General towing safety information supplied by the Recreational Vehicle Manufacturing Association of Australia. (RVM Australia


Ensure that your tow-vehicle can safely and legally tow your new purchase... confirm all ratings.

Ensure that your dealer explains the Warranty Policy in detail, especially any exclusions or special conditions.

Ensure that your dealer explains the proper operation of all appliances and equipment, and that you fully understand all safety issues.

Ensure that you study the dealer’s Pre-Delivery Inspection check-list, and thoroughly inspect the vehicle for any faults. The Pre-Delivery Inspection should include:

  • Brakes and lights work correctly.
  • All components are secure and correctly operable (such as latches and hinges).
  • All surfaces are free of defects, scratches, bubbles, blemishes, sharp edges, etc.
  • The toilet and shower, and all taps, operate correctly, with no water leaks.
  • All appliances operate on all power sources; all 12 and 240-volt lights operate.
  • All prescribed safety warning labels are fitted.
  • The vehicle ID plate has all of the prescribed information, and is properly affixed.
  • The tare mass shown on the VIN plate is accurate, and it, and the legal load carrying capacity, is advised in writing.
  • The ball-loading at tare mass conditions is advised in writing.
  • There is documentation that the electrical system has been tested and approved.
  • There is documentation that the gas system has been tested and approved.
  • The manufacturer’s, and/or this RVMAA, Handbook is present.
  • All supplier Owner Handbooks and Operating Instructions are present.

A road test, using your intended tow-vehicle, should be conducted, to ensure that the unit tows in a satisfactory manner.

If intending to use a weight distribution hitch (WDH) this should be set up for the road test.


Your RV is fitted with electric or mechanical brakes. These brakes may from time to time need adjusting. It is suggested that all RV’s be returned to the dealer after approximately 2000km to check the brake adjustment. If brake adjustment is required during or prior to this time you should contact the nearest dealer or your original RV manufacturer to ensure that this brake adjustment is carried out by an authorised person. THIS IS A SERVICE FUNCTION NOT A WARRANTY ITEM.

If this RV is fitted with electric brakes you should consult the electric brake handbook as supplied with the RV at the initial time of delivery.

The warranty card on the brakes should be filled out and returned to the brake supplier in order that your warranty is registered.


The electric trailer brakes perform a similar function to the brakes on your car. The major difference is that the car brakes use hydraulic pressure to expand the brake shoes, whilst the trailer brakes use an electro magnet and lever system. Activation of the electric brake is via a controller mounted inside your towing vehicle.

The controller provides both manual application of the trailer brakes or automatic braking synchronised to that of your towing vehicle (when you push the brake pedal in the car, the brakes on the trailer are also activated via the brake controller.)

When the controller is activated high capacity electro magnets are energised and attract to the inside surface of the brake drum. Due to the rotation of the drum, the magnets move the lever arm in the same direction. This movement causes the actuating block at the top of the brake to push the front shoe against the drum.

The force of the front shoe in turn pushes the back shoe into contact with the drum.

Brake performance is proportional to the load of the towing vehicle and the trailer.



Once properly installed and adjusted the brake controller’s can be operated both automatically and manually. When the brakes are applied the controllers electric circuit is operated automatically. As the tow vehicle slows down a sensor inside the controller reacts to the deceleration and increases the power to the trailer brakes, thus providing smooth and proportional braking of the trailer. For manual operation, the controller is provided with a sliding control. This activates the stop lights and the brakes, and the indicator light on the front of the controller panel glows from dim to bright the further the control is moved, indicating an increase in braking power.


There are several different types of brake controllers sold, some with motion sensors and some without a motion sensing device. If a brake controller without motion sensor is used the trailer brakes will not be applied in proportion to the vehicle and smooth synchronised braking will not be achieved.

More detailed information on the operation of the controller is available in the installation instructions contained with each unit.


Electric trailer brakes when used and adjusted properly provide many kilometers of smooth, dependable braking operation.

Electric trailer brakes must have a complete electrical circuit, any broken or poor wire connections will prevent or interfere with the flow of electrical power resulting in poor or no braking.

All electrical wiring joints should be of a type to ensure positive connection.

On new trailers a break-in period may be required to achieve maximum braking performance.


The brakes on your towing vehicle are designed to stop in a safe effective manner, similarly the electric brakes fitted to your trailer are designed to effectively stop the weight of the trailer to which they are fitted.

It is important that the performance of the brakes on both the towing vehicle and the trailer are balanced so that neither are overloaded. If the correct balance is not obtained between the braking systems, then overheating of either system may occur with a deterioration in brake performance. Correct brake balance is obtained when the trailer brakes have a slight lead over the brakes on the towing vehicle. This can be accomplished by the adjustment of the controller in the towing vehicle. When correctly adjusted there will be no sensation of the trailer pushing the vehicle, nor any excessive pull during braking.


In order to maintain the safe reliable stopping power of your brake system it is most important that the brakes be serviced at regular intervals.

The following list of general maintenance items should be carried out as a periodic maintenance check.

  1. Brake Adjustment Procedure
    It is essential that any brake adjustment is performed strictly in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

  2. Brake Drum/Hub
    The brake drum should be checked for excessive wear in accordance with the periodic maintenance check list on page 17 of the RVMAA owners handbook.

Note: Anytime the drum is replaced a new magnet should also installed.


It is advisable to regularly have a thorough check of the chassis on your Recreational Vehicle. This includes the running gear, suspension, tyres, wheels and brakes and coupling. The chassis is such an important part of your RV you cannot afford to overlook the general maintenance and serviceability of the chassis for the long term viability of your holidays. If in any doubt you should take the RV to your nearest authorised dealer or repairer to ask for a chassis inspection.


Corner stabilisers are designed so that they stop the RV from tipping towards one end as you walk inside the vehicle. They should be lowered to the point where they touch the ground in a firm manner without taking any weight of the vehicle. Remember THEY ARE NOT JACKS and should never be used to take even partial weight of the vehicle. As you move inside the vehicle from end to end you cause more weight to be applied to the stabiliser. Therefore you should never use force on the stabiliser handle to force the stabiliser to the ground thereby taking the weight of the vehicle. Stabilisers that are bent due to excess weight being applied to them are NOT COVERED UNDER WARRANTY


Couplings should be regularly checked for any sign of loose bolts connecting the coupling to the chassis as the two leading bolts on the coupling are always under a lot of strain and it is important that these bolts be regularly checked to ensure that they are tight. It is not advisable to grease the ball of the coupling as this can lead to a build up of dust and thereby create a lot of wear due to abrasion. A silicone spray from a pressure can will be sufficient lubrication for the ball. Light machine oil will also be effective without accumulating dust which could cause excessive wear.


Door locks are usually made from plastic and should not require any lubrication. However, you should continually check to ensure that your door lock is operating properly and after closing the door that the door is not likely to spring open during travel. This can lead to the door being torn off the vehicle or could cause an accident. So continually check to see that the door lock functions properly.


240 V electrical wiring must only be altered or changed in any way by a certified licensed electrical contractor. Do not attempt any 240 V wiring changes without consultation with an electrician. In the case of any 12 V problem, this can be easily diagnosed by an auto electrician and again it should only be carried out by an authorised auto electrician.


Do not make any changes to the circuitry or add on fixed appliances without first consulting the manufacturer. All electrical additions must be carried out by a licensed electrical contractor. Any gas additions or alterations must again be carried out by a licensed gas contractor. Your local dealer can help you with the names of suitable contractors to carry out any of this work.

Any work carried out by persons other than those authorised above will void the warranty on your Recreational Vehicle. It is also illegal.

In the case of recreational vehicles you should not connect the 240 V supply until the camper or poptop is fully erected. If power was connected before these items are erected, any internal lights that are left switched on may cause damage or a fire to the vinyl or canvas section of your poptop or camper trailer.

Don’t risk a tragedy spoiling the fun times the family is looking forward to. Not when the safety solution is so simple.

By taking care with any use of electricity(just like you would at home) and connecting a safety switch to watch over every electrical outlet in the van, you can relax and make the most of every night and day you’re away.

  • Wear rubber or synthetic soled shoes for extra safety in damp areas.
  • Disconnect any appliance that “trips”the safety switch (and have the appliance looked at by a licensed electrical contractor before using it again).
  • Only use approved one-piece15amp power leads to connect the van to the electricity supply provided.
  • Ensure no electrical item scan become wet (especially dangerous on wet annexe floors).
  • Show the children any potential hazards around the camping ground(no kite flying near overhead wires!).
  • Never attempt to connect more than one supply to any one supply socket.
  • Never ever attempt your own electrical repairs


This controller is fitted in your car and is usually of the pendulum type. That is the type that recognises when you apply the brakes in your car and applies an equal amount of braking to your RV automatically. Electric brake controllers should only be serviced and maintained by an authorised auto electrician and you should refer to the manufacturer’s warranty book for further information on servicing this piece of equipment.


Gas cylinders generally have a life of ten years after which time they have to be restamped and certified by an authorised company to ensure that your gas cylinders are in a safe condition. Where possible, in exposed salty conditions, they should be covered to avoid the build up of rust and you should always ensure that the valve on the gas cylinder is turned off when storing your RV for any length of time. Cylinder valves must always be closed when the vehicle is in motion.


Never attempt to find a gas leak with a match. You should only detect gas leaks with soapy water and observe any bubbles that are caused by the liquid being applied to the gas joint. Gas leaks can occur due to vibration, particularly underneath the vehicle or where pipes can be damaged by stones or rocks. In the event of you smelling any gas you should immediately

  1. Extinguish all open flames, pilot lights and smoking materials.

  2. Keep bystanders away.

  3. Do not touch electrical switches

  4. Shut off the gas supply at the cylinder valve.

  5. Open doors and any other ventilating openings.

  6. Leave the area until the odour clears.

  7. Have the gas system checked and leakage source corrected by an authorised gas installer before using the system again.



For all vehicles fitted with gas cylinders or appliances the following procedures must be followed:

  1. Close appliance valves before opening cylinder valve.

  2. Check connection at the appliances, regulators and cylinders periodically for leaks with soapy water or its equivalent. This should be done at least annually.

  3. Never use a match of flame when checking leaks.

  4. Close cylinder valve when appliances are not in use

  5. In the event of an accidental gas leak, close cylinder valve and ventilate the RV until air is clear.

  6. Never use cooking appliances for comfort heating.

  7. In the event of fire, immediately close cylinder valve.

  8. Close valve and fit sealing plug to all spare cylinders not connected, whether full or empty.

  9. All additions or alterations to the LP Gas system must be performed by an authorised person. (Consult your LP Gas supplier)

  10. Appliances must not be altered without authorisation of the manufacturer.

  11. Everyone must familiarise themselves with the odour of unburnt LP Gas to assist in the early detection of leaks.

  12. All permanent ventilators, flues and vents should be checked regularly to ensure that they are clear.

  13. After disconnecting a gas cylinder ensure gas line to regulator is covered with tape to stop dirt from entering the gas lines.


The handbrake is located on the coupling on the front of your RV and it is essential that you remember to release this handbrake prior to traveling on every occasion. Should you fail to do so it will cause overheating of the brakes and the hubs and this could deteriorate the grease in the bearings and cause bearing failure as well as overheating of the brakes may cause a fire. IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT THE RELEASE OF THIS HANDBRAKE BE CARRIED OUT PRIOR TO TRAVELLING.


In the laden condition it is imperative that the park brake lever engages and secures the brakes in the 5th or 6th notch of the coupling from the towball end - not closer. Failure to adjust the cable tension in this manner will, through suspension movement on both independent suspension and beam axle with leaf springs, cause the brake shoes to be partially actuated and excessive heating of the brake and drums could occur. Prolonged use, if incorrectly adjusted, will cause initially the back (secondary shoe) to overheat to the extent of disintegration of the brake lining and will result in deterioration of brake performance until eventual brake failure.


All Members of the RVMAA are required to supply a suitable, approved (to the latest issue of Australian Standard AS 2693) jack with every caravan or camper-trailer they produce. A matching spare wheel/tyre, and suitable wheel-nut brace, must also be supplied, under the RVMAA’s Code of Practice & Compliance Standards.

The use of a jack requires extreme care to be exercised.

Ensure the dealer explains the correct procedure for using the jack, before undertaking your first journey, and that written instructions are supplied.

All caravans and camper-trailers are required to have a suitably-located “specified jacking point” on each side of the chassis. This is to securely locate the top of the jack, so as to prevent it from being dislodged in any direction.

Never rely on a jack. Never allow anyone to have any part of their body under a
vehicle when it is supported by a jack.

Never attempt to use the jack unless it is supported on a firm and level base.

Always ensure that the caravan/camper-trailer is coupled to the tow-vehicle, and wheels are chocked, before using the jack


In the case of pneumatic tyres on jockey wheels, these should be pumped up to a pressure which maintains the tyre in a condition that avoids a flat surface on the bottom of the tyre. If left under inflated long term damage to the tyre could result. The pressure depends upon the weight carried on the draw bar. It is advisable to keep that tyre pumped to a pressure which avoids the bulging of the tyre on the bottom.
It is possible to grease the internal thread of the jockey wheel. This can be done by removing the jockey wheel from its clamp and unwinding the jockey wheel so that the top section of the jockey wheel comes away from the bottom tubular section and you can then grease the internal thread of the jockey wheel.


It is compulsory in most states of Australia to fit rear vision mirrors whilst towing a caravan. These mirrors should allow you to see down the side of your caravan. When purchasing mirrors it is important to select a type that allows minimum vibration to the mirror whilst traveling. If fitting the type that attach to your car’s external rear vision mirror ensure that you can adjust your car mirror whilst the trailer mirror is fitted.


Many caravans are being used for travel off the bitumen. Due to the variable nature of road conditions these caravans must be designed accordingly and be fitted with appropriate equipment.
When traveling on the dirt safety checks including wheel nuts, tightness of suspension bolts and wheel bearings need to take place more often than when traveling on the black top.


UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD YOU EXCEED THE MAXIMUM ALLOWABLE PAYLOAD FOR YOUR CARAVAN. Standard payload for single axle caravans is 300kg and for tandem caravans 400kg.
These payload figures include the mass of water and gas. The total amount of mass carried in the water and gas must be deducted from 300 or 400kg payload capacity.

The balance is the amount of allowable mass that you can put into the RV without exceeding the manufacturers specification.

Note: These are the minimum design payloads as per the RVMAA Code of Practice. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCE SHOULD YOU CARRY MORE THAN THE TOTAL ALLOWABLE PAYLOAD, OTHERWISE YOUR WARRANTY WILL BE VOID. Apart from the warranty you could cause a serious accident by overloading tyres, springs, axles or brakes. IT IS ALSO ILLEGAL. It is strongly recommended that if an owner cannot determine the mass of his personal payload the vehicle should be weighed with all personal items included together with the tank full of water and the gas cylinders full of gas.


A pressure regulator is fitted to the gas cylinder. It will not be necessary to adjust the pressure of that regulator at any future time. Should you feel the regulator needs adjusting it must be carried out by an authorised gas installer who has the necessary equipment to readjust the regulator.


The major concern is not how fast you can travel with your RV but how safe can you travel. Irrespective of road speeds signs, you should travel only as fast as the road conditions, wind speed & direction, rain, type of tow vehicle etc., permit. NEVER travel in excess of the towing speed regulations for each state of Australia. NEVER exceed any speed limits stated by the tow-vehicle manufacturer.


Stoves must be operated in accordance with the stove manufacturers printed instructions as supplied to you when the RV is originally delivered. Ensure that when RV’s are stored that all appliances are turned off and cylinder valves closed.


The suspensions fitted to caravans are becoming more sophisticated. Latest developments include independent units using leaf springs, torsion rubber, coils and air bags. These developments aim to provide improvements in ride and handling especially under outback conditions. Use of shock absorbers is becoming more common. Maintenance of these units needs to be carried out in accordance with
manufacturers specifications.


It is important to take advice from your RV dealer as to the type of towing equipment and tow bar that should be fitted to your car. It is essential that the tow bar has a rating at least equal to the aggregate trailer mass of the vehicle being towed.

Weight distribution hitches in many cases are a distinct advantage and these should be used in accordance with the recommendations of your RV dealer.


Selecting the correct tyres for a caravan or camper-trailer is the most important consideration, with regard to safety and vehicle handling/stability/reliability/durability.

Tyres must be marked “Made in Australia”, or have an “E-Mark” or (U.S.) DOT marking.

The law requires the tyres to have a Speed Rating of at least 120 km/h, which relates to the symbol “L” on the tyre sidewall. A rating in excess of this provides a good safety margin.

More important is the Load Rating... especially when caravanners inadvertently over-load their vehicle.

It is imperative that the load-carrying capacity of any tyre is always greater than the load that it will be carrying when the vehicle is fully-loaded. Because caravans and trailers may be over-loaded on occasions by their owners, there needs to be a good safety margin provided.
Example Tyre Markings LT-P 205 / 75 R 15 98 Q
LT = Light Truck P = Passenger Car
205 = Width mm 75 = Aspect Ratio
R = Radial 15 = Rim Diameter (“)
98 = Load Rating Q = Speed Rating
The “axle group” - wheels, tyres, axle (including wheel bearings), and suspension
- should be a “matched set”, so that when the ‘van/trailer is fully-loaded, each
component should be loaded to around 80% of its rating. Tyres should never be
regularly subjected to their stated maximum load capacity; however, they should not
be loaded to only 40-50% of their rating.

The correct tyre pressures - as specified by the tyre manufacturer - should be used at all times. The same pressure should not be used for both the unladen and fully loaded conditions.

The correct pressure - to suit the particular loading - will ensure the optimum ride and handling, and the best possible tyre life. The Tyre & Rim Association has a Manual that lists the correct tyre pressure, for all tyres sizes, for all loadings.

The only way to accurately know the tyre loading is to use a certified weigh-bridge at both the unladen and fully-loaded conditions.

T – T – T Ratings should always be considered when purchasing tyres, for safety
and $-value.

The Treadwearrating is a comparative number to indicate the wear-resistance of the tyre, when tested under standard conditions. The higher the number, the better; 100 is a typical number.

The Traction rating indicates the ability of the tyre to “stick to the road”, when tested under standard conditions, on a straight wet surface. The ratings, from worst to best are C, B, A & AA.

The Temperature rating indicates the tyre’s ability to withstand and dissipate heat, when tested under standard conditions. The test is for the tyre to be at the correct loading and pressure. The ratings, from worst to best are C, B, & A.

It is important to regularly inspect all tyres for any damage... both the tread and the sidewalls.

It is most worth-while to have the wheels/tyres properly balanced before heading off on a trip.

Tyres are marked with 6 TWI or Δ marks around the edge of the tread. These are tread wear indicators, which are moulded 3mm-high strips across the bottom of the tread grooved. When the strips are visible right across the tyre, the tyre are worn out... and illegal.

Tyres do age... even though they may appear to be in excellent condition with plenty of tread left, manufacturers do recommend that they be destroyed and replaced after a number of years; 6 years is a typical figure.

The manufacturing date is moulded into the tyre as a 4-number code. e.g. 5209 means the tyre was manufactured in the 52nd week of 2009.

It is important to understand the information provided on the Tyre Placard (which is included in the VIN Plate). If something is not clear, or you have reason to question any figure, always ask the manufacturer.


  • Check that the wheel nuts on all wheels have been tightened to the manufacturer’s specification for wheel nuts. These should be tightened with a torque wrench to the correct torque and they should be tightened after each_ 100km for the first 400km and they should be checked every 1000km or six months.
  • Ensure that the water tank has been filled and that the locking cap is secured.
  • Check that all traffic lights on the vehicle are operating correctly from the car.
  • Ensure that the refrigerator door lock is secured in place.
  • Ensure that the gas cylinders are secured.
  • Ensure that the rear vision mirrors on your car are correctly adjusted.
  • Check that electric brakes on your caravan are working.
  • The jockey wheel must be removed from its clamp and stored in the boot of the caravan or locked in the traveling position if of a swivel mount type.
  • Ensure that front and rear corner stabilisers are in the up position.
  • Ensure that the handbrake on the caravan has been correctly released.
  • Ensure that the 240 V electrical lead is disconnected from the caravan.
  • Ensure that the safety chains are correctly connected between the caravan and the car.
  • The 12 V power lead for the caravan lights must be correctly connected and the towing _aids or level rides must be correctly connected and adjusted.
  • Ensure that the roll out awning is stored away and locked in the travel position.
  • TV antenna should be securely stored.


All corner stabilisers should be oiled or greased regularly to ensure they operate smoothly. Handbrake adjustment should be maintained via the turnbuckle between the handbrake lever and the cable. This cable should not be over tightened as it may cause brakes to overheat and in turn this could cause bearing failure. With your caravan fully loaded the hand brake ratchet lever should engage the 5th or 6th notch from the tow ball end of the coupling. If the ratchet lever engages any notch closer to the tow ball end of the coupling than 5 or 6 then the brake cable is “too tight”. If the cable tension is “too tight” it may apply the caravan brakes when the suspension compresses. This applies to independent suspensions and beam axles with leaf springs. This “too tight” or incorrect adjustment could cause overheating of brake shoes and damage to your brakes and bearings. Brake cable adjustment should be carried out via the turnbuckle and ensure that the lock nut is tightened after adjusting the turnbuckle.

When the caravan is not in use it should be stored preferably undercover but if not undercover then a suitable amount of air should be allowed to circulate inside the caravan to avoid dampness and mildew from starting inside the vehicle. The refrigerator door should be left ajar so that air can circulate in the refrigerator. The gas cylinders should be turned off. The electrical lead should be disconnected. In the case of the vinyl on poptops or the canvas on campervans and tent trailers these should be occasionally aired to maintain these items in perfect condition. In the case of campervans and tent trailers where they are packed up in a wet condition they should be thoroughly dried out at home before storing them away permanently. Where an caravan is left for a long period of time it should be jacked up so that the weight is not permanently on the tyres. Tyres can maintain a flat spot if they are left with full weight of the caravan and particularly if the tyres lose some air this would tend to make the tyres unbalanced and unsatisfactory for future use.


It is essential that your caravan is never over-loaded, and that the ball-loading is always around 10% of the mass of the caravan. Heavy items must be secured, and positioned low down and as close as possible to the axle(s), and never at the extreme front or rear of the caravan. Prior to going on a trip, you should use a weigh-bridge and have the total mass of the caravan - and the ball-loading - accurately measured.


It is essential that when carrying out the hitching and unhitching operations you should do so without interruption as this can lead to some essential items being missed, such as the handbrake being left on or safety chains not being correctly attached. When carrying out this operation you should run through a check list similar to the following.

  1. Ensure that the coupling is correctly seated over the top of the ball and the handle above the coupling is down in the correct position.

  2. The 12 V electrical plug is connected between the caravan and the car securely and safely.

  3. Ensure safety chains are attached to the vehicle in such a manner to allow normal lateral movement between the caravan and the car.

  4. Load leveling devices or level rides must be correctly attached.

  5. The jockey wheel must be removed from the clamp.

  6. Release the handbrake.

After this hitching operation has taken place it is essential to walk around the vehicle to ensure that the electrical lead has been disconnected, that the water supply hose and drainage hose have been disconnected and that the door is closed.

That all windows and hatches are in the lock position. That the step from outside the door is either retracted or is stored in the front boot. That all lights are operating correctly, such as blinker lights, stop lights, tail lights etc.

The awning on the side of your recreational caravan is completely retracted and locked. The rear and front corner stabilisers are completely retracted and that any chocks are removed from the wheels.

Double check the inside of the vehicle to ensure that the refrigerator door is locked ready for travel. That all cupboard doors are closed securely. That any loose items inside the vehicle and cupboards are properly stored so that they cannot roll around or do damage whilst traveling Items such as television sets, microwaves, VCR’s should be securely fastened in place and that exterior television antennas have been removed prior to travel.

Ensure to turn off all internal light switches 12 V and 240 V prior to traveling as reconnecting of the 240 V or 12 V lead may bring lights on and this could particularly damage the vinyl on a poptop.

When about to travel on the highway you should first test that the brakes, particularly electric brakes, on your caravan are operating. This can be done by actuating the manual switch on the brake controller located inside your car to ensure that the caravan brakes will operate independently and that when you travel the normal caravan braking operation will be automatically supplied from the brake controller of your car.

Before carrying out any alterations or repairs to your caravan it is advisable to firstly contact the dealer to ensure that any work that you carry out does not void the warranty on your caravan.

It is recommended that an electrical lead with a safety switch fitted into the lead be used at all times. Some caravan parks do not have safety switches fitted at the caravan park site pole. Circuit Breakers are not safety switches. Safety switches have a test button fitted. If your caravan does not have a safety switch fitted on the inside of the van near the power inlet it is strongly recommended that such a safety switch
be fitted by a licensed electrical contractor.


The GTM (gross trailer mass) and ATM (aggregate trailer mass) are ratings… supplied by the caravan or camper-trailer manufacturer.

ATM Rating: The total permitted mass of the laden caravan when carrying the maximum load recommended by the manufacturer. This includes the mass imposed on the tow-vehicle.

GTM Rating: The total permitted mass of the laden caravan transmitted to the ground by the caravan tyres, when carrying the maximum load recommended by the manufacturer, when coupled to a tow-vehicle. This rating must not exceed the axle-group (wheels/tyres/suspension/axle) rating stated by the chassis manufacturer.

Tare Mass: The actual mass of the caravan with all OEM equipment fitted, with empty water tanks and empty LPG cylinders, and without any luggage or personal effects.

RVMAA manufacturers are required to weigh each RV they make, before it leaves the factory, and have the Tare Mass stamped on the vehicle.

Ball-loading: The ball-loading is the actual load (or force), in kg, that is exerted onto the tow-bar of the tow-vehicle at any time. It is an accepted Australian RV industry “standard” that the ball-loading should always be 8 -15% of the caravan mass.

RVMAA manufacturers are required to measure the ball-loading when they determine the Tare Mass, and provide this figure with the vehicle (to ensure that sales personnel can provide the actual figure to prospective customers). This is an important duty-of-care responsibility.

After the vehicle is sold, it is obviously the responsibility of the driver to always ensure that they maintain a safe ball-loading, and load their vehicle so that heavy items are positioned near the axle(s), and not at the extreme ends of the vehicle.

Load-carrying Capacity: The total permitted load (kg), stated by the manufacturer, that may be legally carried in the caravan or camper-trailer. It is the difference between the ATM Rating and the Tare Mass. Note: Any options or accessories added by a dealer, or the owner, will obviously reduce the available load-carrying capacity accordingly.

The GVM (gross vehicle mass) and GCM (gross combination mass) are also ratings
supplied by the tow-vehicle manufacturer. “Combination” means the tow-vehicle plus the caravan/trailer.
The Ball-loading exerted onto the tow-vehicle is part of the load-capacity of the tow-vehicle;this load is applied quite some distance behind the rear axle. Along with ensuring that you do not exceed the GVM Rating of the tow-vehicle, it is important that you do not exceed the Rear-axle Rating of the tow-vehicle.

The tow-vehicle - and the tow-bar - must both have a Towing Rating that exceeds the ATM Rating of the caravan/trailer.Note: This is an RVMAA Code requirement.

The tow-vehicle - and the tow-bar - must both have a Maximum Ball-load Rating that exceeds the actual ball-loading of the caravan at any time.

***** It is the responsibility of the driver to always ensure that they do not ever exceed any of these Ratings when they have the caravan or camper-trailer partly or fully loaded.

Recreational Vehicle Manufacturers Association of Australia

Compliance - Vehicle Safety

All RVs must comply with the Motor Vehicle Standards Act (1989) and must have a valid compliance plate or trailer plate fitted. They must also comply with relevant Australian Design Rules (ADRs) and Australian Standards.

The maximum permitted width of 2500 mm includes all accessories such as awnings and fittings, but does not include mirrors or side lamps/reflectors.

Each vehicle must have documentation stating that electrical and gas appliances and installations have been tested and approved by an accredited electrician or gas-fitter as prescribed by the Australian Standards or state/territory legislation.

Motorhomes and Campervans

All new motorised RVs (previously never registered in Australia) that have seating, sleeping, cooking and storage facilities must have SSM/CPA (second-stage manufacture compliance plate approval), even if no additional seats have been added.

Vehicles that have been previously registered, and have been converted to an RV, must have a valid engineering certificate confirming that the modified vehicle has the correct category rating and sufficient load-carrying capacity, and fully complies with all applicable regulations. lf a manufacturer also has first-stage compliance approval, the RV must also comply with all additional legislated requirements.

Caravans & Camper Trailers

All caravans and camper trailers (under 4.5 tonne ATM Rating) must comply with the requirements of VSB-1 (Vehicle Standards Bulletin No: 1), or the applicable ADRs. Each caravan and camper trailer must be fitted with a trailer identification plate, as prescribed, which must contain the required information.

Vehicle Mass and Load-carrying Capacity

New caravan owners must be advised of the Tare Mass of their vehicle, along with the Ball Loading at the Tare Mass condition. The Tare Mass must be stated on the trailer plate, along with the ATM Rating.

The manufacturer specifies the ATM Rating for each caravan or camper-trailer. The RVMAA requires a minimum design load-carrying capacity of 250 kg for single axle units up to 1500 kg ATM Rating, 300 kg for larger single axle units, and 400 kg for tandem axle units.

lf a customer orders any dealer-fitted options or accessories, the additional mass must be added to the specified tare mass.

lf options have been added to the vehicle, or if there are any reasons to believe the Tare Mass has been increased, the unit must be re-weighed and have an updated trailer plate fitted if necessary. Any increase in the mass of a unit must be approved by the manufacturer.


It is recommended that owners take their vehicles to an RVM Australia accredited service technician for maintenance and repairs. If an accredited technician is not available, customers are encouraged to engage a properly-trained technician to work on their vehicle.

RVM Australia accredited service technicians are bound by the RVM Australia Code of Ethics, and must ensure that
all quotations and workmanship are in accordance with accepted high standards of business

Additional Information

Additional tips for safe towing can be found at the following links:

Authentic Reliability

As beautiful as Australia is, it's a vast and unforgiving country. So it makes good sense to ask for AL-KO Authentics parts and accessories for your caravan, box or boat trailer.

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The Manufacturers Choice

Not only have AL-KO Authentics been specially designed for Australian conditions, AL-KO has been market leader for over 60 years. You can't get more reliable than that.

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