The Risks of Exceeding Your Towing Capacity

Trailers are a great way to make your car even more useful. Whether you’re going camping or headed to the worksite, companies offering towing Brisbane wide say that it’s important not to exceed your vehicle’s towing capacity. The weight of your caravan or trailer will have a major effect on how your car handles on the road. That means there are a few serious risks that come with exceeding your vehicle’s towing capacity.

Vehicle Towing Capacity

Your vehicle’s towing capacity is the maximum amount of weight that it can pull safely and legally. Towing capacities are determined by carmakers in conjunction with the road authorities in your area. Every vehicle has a different towing capacity that is calculated based on the weight of the vehicle, the engine, how powerful its brakes are and a range of other factors. Your car has three important ratings that apply to towing:

  • Braked Towing – Large trailers (such as caravans and boat trailers) sometimes come with their own brakes. The braked towing capacity is the total weight you can tow when the trailer has brakes.
  • Unbraked Towing – This is the total towing capacity when you’re towing a trailer that doesn’t have brakes of its own.
  • Tow Ball Weight – This is the weight that pushes down on the tow ball. Trailers are balanced to minimise the weight placed on the tow ball, and it’s especially important not to exceed the maximum tow ball weight specified by your car’s manufacturer.

You can find your car’s braked and unbraked towing capacities listed in the owner’s manual. These numbers can also be found stamped on the plate in the driver’s door jamb and on the carmaker’s website.

The Risks of Towing Over Capacity

Towing any trailer changes the way your car handles and brakes. Even at the best of times, the driver of a tow vehicle needs to be cautious about the changes to the way their vehicle handles. Towing over capacity exacerbates the effect that a trailer has on your vehicle and makes it incredibly unsafe to drive.

Towing over capacity carries several major risks to you and to other road users:

  • Heavy trailers can swing and sway, causing you to lose control of the vehicle.
  • Heavy trailers may overload your brakes, making it difficult to stop or causing the brakes to fail.
  • The weight of the trailer makes your vehicle harder to control and it may drag your car off the road if you lose control.
  • Towing over capacity makes your vehicle difficult to control in poor weather.
  • Overloading your tow ball with a heavy trailer can cause the front wheels of the vehicle to lift when driving uphill or over difficult terrain.

Is Towing Over Capacity Illegal?

Yes – towing over capacity is illegal in most Australian states. A car and trailer that exceed the maximum weight limit are immediately deemed unroadworthy. Because of the dangers that come with towing over capacity, police are often keeping an eye out for overloaded cars and trailers. If you live in Australia then the current fines for towing over capacity are as follows:

  • Queensland – $287 and three demerit points
  • New South Wales – $469 and three demerit points
  • Victoria – $238 to $1580
  • South Australia – $343 to $ 591
  • Tasmania – $130 to $735

Regardless of where you live, having your vehicle deemed unroadworthy will also void your car insurance. That means your insurer is unlikely to pay for any damages if you do find yourself in an accident while towing over capacity.

Tips to Avoid Towing Over Capacity

The driver of a tow vehicle is responsible for ensuring that the car and trailer aren’t overloaded. While you can’t change your vehicle’s rated towing capacity, companies offering towing Brisbane wide recommend a few things you can do to avoid unsafe and over capacity towing:

  • Check your vehicle’s weight and towing capacity before buying a trailer, caravan or boat
  • Install a high quality towbar and tow ball
  • Use a weighbridge to check how much your car and trailer weigh when fully loaded
  • Monitor the condition of your trailer’s tyres, brakes and suspension
  • Monitor the tyres and brakes on your towing vehicle to check for excessive wear
  • Increase your tyre pressures when towing heavy loads
  • Don’t overload your car or trailer with passengers and other gear
  • Invest in a braked trailer or a dog trailer that has two axles to handle heavier loads

If  you’re ever unsure about the weight of your trailer then it’s better to err on the side of caution. Towing over capacity comes with serious risks and the potential for large fines, so put your own safety first and avoid overloading your vehicle and trailer!

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