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What is my trailer towing capacity?

In order to tow safely and legally, you must tow within your car's towing capacity, which is the maximum amount of weight your vehicle is able to tow as recommended by the manufacturer.

Your vehicle’s towing capacity must be greater or equal to the Aggregate Trailer Mass (ATM) (combined weight of the trailer and its full load capacity when it’s not coupled to a tow vehicle).

There are three main items you need to check to determine your vehicles tow capacity.

  1. Vehicles maximum tow capacity as recommended by the manufacturer. Your vehicle's towing capacity figures should be listed in the owner's manual and they should also be easily tracked down within vehicle specification sheets or sourced from a vehicle manufacturer's website. This is listed as two separate figures, braked or unbraked towing (vehicle maximum tow capacity) which refers to tow capacity of the vehicle when towing trailers with or without brakes.
  2. The maximum capacity of the tow bar fitted to the frame your vehicle which can usually be found on the tow bar compliance plate.
  3. The tow ball rating which is stamped on the tow ball.

Your towing capacity is limited to the lowest rated towing related part. For example if you manufacturer rates your car to 3000kg, the tow bar is rated to 2000kg and your tow ball is rated to 3500 kg, then your towing capacity is 2000kg as per the tow bar weight capacity.

This information is intended as a guide only as there are other factors that can affect your towing capacity including:

  • Load of the tow vehicle (passengers, luggage etc). The vehicle-and-trailer combination always has to weigh within the Gross Combined Mass (GCM) limit that is the maximum your vehicle-and-trailer combination can legally weigh.The GCM can be found in your owners manual or from the manufacturer.
  • Load positioning to ensure the load is distributed in a way that will keep the towing vehicle stable and safe to drive.
  • Aggregate Trailer Mass (ATM) (combined weight of the trailer and its full load when it’s not coupled to a tow vehicle). This can be found on the Kennards Hire equipment page under the specifications tab by adding the trailer weight and load capacity.
  • Ball load (how much weight a trailer imposes on your tow ball when it is hitched to your vehicle and the jockey wheel is not taking any weight). Ball load is 10% of the Aggregate Trailer Mass (ATM).
  • Gross Trailer Mass (GTM) is the weight of a fully loaded trailer imposed on the trailer’s axle when coupled to the tow vehicle.
  • In New Zealand every light vehicle and trailer combination must be capable of stopping within a distance of seven metres from a speed of 30km/h. In effect, this means that the maximum allowable weight of an unbraked trailer is limited by the weight and braking ability of the vehicle being used to tow it.

For more information please consult your vehicle manufacturer, local roads and traffic authority or feel free to contact us to assist you in determining your towing capacity, alternative check out the NZTA Safe Towing Guide.