Vehicle Weight and Towing Explained

December, 2020

GVM, CVM, ATM, GTM, Tare…. what!?

You may be unfamiliar with these car-related abbreviations but they are super important to know, especially if you are towing a heavy load such as a caravan, camper or trailer.

These terms are related to your vehicle and how much weight it can legally carry or tow. If you are unsure how much your vehicle is able to carry, check the compliance plate for the manufacturer specifications.

Tare Mass
Tare mass is the weight of the vehicle straight off the manufacturer line with only 10 litres of fuel.

Kerb Mass
Kerb mass is the weight of your vehicle with a fuel tank of fuel, but no accessories.

Payload is the weight of everything you can carry in or on the car. This includes you, passengers, accessories such as bull bar or tow bar and any cargo load.

Gross Vehicle Mass is the maximum the vehicle can weigh when fully loaded. This is the kerb weight plus the payload.

Gross combination mass is the maximum weight of your vehicle and trailer combined. Add the towed weight to the kerb weight, plus any payload.

Tow bar download is the maximum weight your tow bar can safely handle. Your tow bar should have a placard with the maximum tow bar capacity and maximum tow bar download.

Gross trailer mass is the maximum axle load that your trailer is designed to carry, while the trailer is coupled to your vehicle. It is the trailer weight and trailer payload combined.

Aggregate trailer mass is the maximum towing weight of your trailer as specified by the manufacturer, while the trailer is uncoupled from your vehicle. It is the gross trailer mass plus tow bar download.

Confused?? Let’s use a Ford Ranger XL 4x4 dual cab as an example.

The Ford Ranger has a kerb mass of 2118kg and payload of 1082kg. This means the maximum gross vehicle mass is 3200kg.

The gross combination mass is 6000kg. If you calculate using the kerb weight, you can tow 3882kg BUT that means you have not accounted for any payload such as passenger weight, cargo etc and once you or any passengers hop in, you are overweight.

It is best to calculate by taking the GVM off the GCM, which in this case means you can tow 2800kg.

How can Carz4U help?

Don’t know what 4WD is best for towing? Check out our Best 4WDs for Towing blog here.

If you need to upgrade your tow vehicle, look no further! Carz4U in Perth has hand-selected a large range of quality used cars, utilities, 4x4’s, vans and SUV’s. View our range of used cars, utes and vans today!

This is a guide only. Check your vehicle’s specifications and carry out your own research before towing.