Light trailers and caravans
Building small trailers
For information on building small trailers (less than 4.5 tonnes aggregate trailer mass) see VSB1 Building Small Trailers on the Australian Government Department of Infrastructure and Transport website.
Light vehicle towing and trailer regulations
There are a number of regulations that relate to how trailers (GVM 4.5 tonnes or less) are to be loaded and towed by a vehicle.
Read factsheet MR 25 Light Vehicle Towing & Trailer Regulations (GVM 4.5 tonnes or less) for information on how to use trailers effectively and safely.
Safety tips - towing a caravan
- Allow for the extra length and width of your caravan when entering or passing traffic.
- Apply the accelerator, brakes and steering smoothly and gently to avoid caravan sway, especially in wet or slippery conditions.
- Avoid applying the towing vehicle's brakes if the caravan starts to sway or snake.
- Slow down when larger vehicles pass in either direction to reduce swaying of the caravan caused by wind buffering.
- Keep to the hard road surface where possible as the wheels that enter a soft edge may cause the caravan to sway excessively with possible loss of control.
- Maintain an increased distance between you and the vehicle in front to allow for a longer stopping distance.
- Engage a lower gear in both manual and automatic vehicles to increase vehicle control and reduce brake strain when travelling down hill.
- Pull over regularly, where areas are provided, to allow following vehicles to overtake.
- Slow down when travelling over bumpy roads or at rail crossings.
- Reverse with a person outside the vehicle watching the rear of the caravan, if possible.
- Be aware that towing is more stressful than normal driving and more likely to cause fatigue, therefore more rest stops should be planned.
- Use your side and rear view mirrors to give you good visibility along the full length of the towing vehicle on both sides.
- tyre pressure is correct on the caravan (including spare wheels) - if in doubt, check with your local tyre dealer
- the tyres on the caravan have legal tread depth and the tyre casings are not cracked or perished
- wheel nuts on the caravan are all tightened to the manufacturer's specifications
- coupling socket and ball match each other in size
- coupling is correctly and securely fastened
- safety chains are correctly connected
- caravan light connections are secure and that all lights work
- lights, number plate and registration label are clearly visible
- load distribution between towing vehicle and the caravan are correct and properly balanced, front to rear and side to side
- wheel chocks and jack stands are working in case tyre changes are required
- gas cylinders in your caravan are turned off and that the refrigerator door is closed
- any roll-out awning is stored away and locked in the travel position
- front and rear corner stabilisers are in the up position
- hand brake of the caravan has been correctly released
- check the caravan wheel bearings are correctly adjusted and lubricated
- where brakes are fitted check the brakes are operating correctly on all axles of the caravan
- roof hatches, windows and stone shields are secure
- 240v electrical cord has been disconnected and stored away
- TV antenna is in the travel position
- limit the amount of load in the boot of the towing vehicle
- ensure that there are no loose items in either the caravan or the towing vehicle that could upset the balance of the caravan or injure vehicle occupants should they become unrestrained
- remove the jockey wheel from its clamp and store it in the boot of the car or caravan, or if it is a swivel mount variety, lock it in the travelling position.
During the trip
- couplings and chains are still correctly fastened
- caravan brakes are operating correctly and wheel bearings are not overheating
- during rest stops, to hold the back of a hand near each caravan wheel to feel if an even amount of heat is coming from each wheel. High temperatures may indicate sticking brakes, or wheel bearing failure
- caravan connections are still secure and that the lights are working
- tyres are inflated to the correct pressure
- all items in the towing vehicle and caravan are still secure and have not come loose
- any roll-out awning is properly locked in the travel position
- side mirrors give a clear view of the road behind the caravan.
The loaded mass of your caravan must not exceed any of these:
- the capacity of the tow bar
- the maximum towing mass specified by the towing vehicle's manufacturer
- the maximum ball weight specified by the towing vehicle's manufacturer.