Many caravanners have purchased a dual cab ute to tow a caravan – me included. While brands and models vary, most are similar in load and towing capacity. The introduction of the American utes has however, opened up the field slightly in recent years but are not immune to the sales hype.

The typical Japanese dual cab ute on the roads towing a caravan will typically have a GVM (Gross Vehicle Mass) of approx. 3,200 kgs and a GCM (Gross Combined Mass) of 6,000kgs.

So, what does that mean. 

It simply means that you cannot legally load your ute to an extent where the ute itself, and the load it is carrying can exceed 3,200kgs as defined by the manufacturers GVM. (Includes driver and passengers)
Your vehicle will be overloaded and unroadworthy if you do.

It also means that you cannot tow any trailer or caravan so that the combined weight of the loaded ute, driver, passengers, and towed trailer / caravan combined weigh is more than 6,000kg, the GCM weight defined by the manufacturer.

The kerb weight is typically 2,200kgs. (approx.) This gives a total load capacity of approx. 1,000kgs. (3,200 minus 2,200 equals 1,000) More than adequate for most jobs except towing.


These utes are marketed as being able to tow a caravan up to 3,500kg, and yes, they can – officially. The caravans of this weight should also typically have approx. 350kgs of weight on the tow ball to help unsure good and safe towing practice.

If the Gross Combined Weight (GCM) is 6,000 kgs and you are towing a caravan weighing 3,500kgs then that only leaves 2,500kgs for the total weight of the ute, driver, passengers, accessories, and its load. (6,000 GCM minus 3,500 van weight equals 2,500 left over in the GCM)

Adjust the figures for the weight of your caravan.

THEREFORE: – while towing a large caravan you can only load your ute so that the total weight of the fully loaded ute and passengers does not exceed the remaining GVM, in this case 2,500kgs.

The legally allowed weight of the ute has now dropped from 3,200kgs to 2,500 kgs a reduction of 700 kgs less load allowed in the ute. (adjust the figures for your own caravan weight etc.)

As the ute weight will remain the same then the reduction in allowed ute weight MUST come off the load you put in it. In this case the 1,000kg load capacity has shrunk to just 300kg. (1,000 less 700 loss of GCM allowance equals 300)

IN SUMMARY a 2,200 kg (kerb weight) ute will have only 300kgs left for people, all accessories, added extras (2,200 plus 300 equals 2,500) and load to tow a 3,500kg caravan and leave NO allowance for safety to stay under the 6,000kg manufacturers legally binding GCM. (2,500 plus 3,500 equals 6,000)

Towing a 2,800kg caravan will leave 3,200 kgs left or, the original GVM allowed for the ute, but with no safety margin. The heavier the van, the less in the ute and vice versa.

REMEMBER: – the ‘load’ weight includes all driver and passengers, the bull bar, roof racks, and do not forget the f/glass canopy, drawers, and any other accessories. Your fridge, booze, tools, and recovery gear are also load.

These utes have a large tray, and it is extremely easy to see the big space and fill it with ‘stuff’ and easily overload your vehicle.

Overloaded vehicles are unsafe, unroadworthy and your insurance probably excludes cover for unroadworthy and overloaded vehicles.

The dual cab utes can be a great vehicle, however, like any vehicle they all have limitations on load carrying capacity. In this case it can be deceptive if you do not do your homework.

Please do your sums and get you rig weighed to help ensure that your insurance will pay out in the event of an accident.Stay safe everyone.

Copyright – Ken Wilson

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