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How To Measure Tow Ball Weight?
How To Measure Tow Ball Weight?

How To Measure Tow Ball Weight?

June 30, 2021
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Measuring your tow ball weight is just one factor toward knowing your overall towing weight. Before you hitch up your camper trailer, hybrid camper, or teardrop camper, you should understand all the key weights associated with towing.

We recommend purchasing a tow ball scale. The TowSafe tow ball scale is only $89, and represents great value and peace-of-mind for all RV owners. You can buy it from our store.

tow ball scale
Tow Ball Scales by TowSafe

Step-By-Step Guide to using a Tow Ball Scale

  1. Park your RV on flat even ground
  2. Chock both your wheels
  3. Drop your jockey wheel to the floor to support the RV’s weight
  4. Apply the RV handbrake
  5. Place the tow ball scale under the ball/hitch of your RV
  6. Slowly wind up your jockey wheel so the weight is loaded onto the tow ball scale
  7. Check the loaded weight before you load your RV
  8. Next, load your RV and re-check the loaded weight
  9. Ensure it meets your vehicles safety standards
  • What is Tow Ball Weight?

    Tow ball weight, also referred to as tow ball mass, is the weight pushing down on the tow ball by the coupling of the RV being towed.

    Maximum weight for your tow ball is specified by both the vehicle and trailer manufacturer. Typically, it is 10% of the Aggregate Trailer Mass (ATM). You must use the lesser of the two limits. For example, a dual cab ute with a maximum tow ball (TB) weight of 350kg towing a caravan with a maximum TB weight of 220kg must not exceed 220kg.

    This is a key reason to purchase tow ball scales. Vehicles can also be weighed at public weigh bridges or by a mobile weighing company.

  • How should I load my RV?

    Typically, when you load your RV in front of the axle, it will affect your TB weight. We recommend heavy items be placed over the axles, while lighter items be placed equally between the front and rear of the RV.

  • What will happen if my tow ball weight is too high?

    If you load too heavy a weight in front of the axle, you'll end up with a high tow ball weight. This will affect the handling of your tow vehicle. You may find that the steering wheel feels light or is easier to turn. This is because there is less traction on the road from your tyres. The nose of your towing vehicle will point upwards and the tail will lower. This may result in a fatal crash.

  • What will happen if my tow ball weight is low?

    As long as your TB weight is within the manufacturer guidelines, you'll be safe. The only thing to consider is weight distribution. Are your heavy items stored over the axle? Does the RV look level on the road attached to your tow vehicle? Don't load heavy items behind the axle near the rear, as this will lead to trailer sway.

    Double check this and you're good to go.

heavy towball photo
Tow Ball too Heavy
loading zones
Heavy Items to be stored in the Green Zone

What is the best camper trailer hitch in Australia?

First, and foremost, you must make sure your towbar is rated to Class 4 if you want to tow a heavy load, like a camper trailer or hybrid camper. You can buy them through our store.

What is a Class Four Towbar?

Class four towbars are primarily used for heavy-duty towing, as most are rated up to 3500kg. If you are hauling something big and heavy, such as a boat, horse float, caravan or car trailer, you will need a class four towbar. Weight distribution hitches are also compatible with this class of towbar.

hayman reese 50mm towball hitch
Hayman Reese 50mm towball hitch

Types of Towbar Couplings to consider

As a general rule, we see a diverse range of couplings for the caravan, camper trailer and hybrid camper market in Australia.

 

For the most part, if the camper trailer is an on-road trailer, it usually has a 50mm ball coupling, as the trailer has no need to articulate across uneven terrain.

 

In the semi-offroad category of camper trailers, we often see Polyblock Couplings. They are relatively easy to use and offer a reasonable degree of articulation. I’m personally not a fan of them as they can perish over time due to our harsh climatic conditions.

 

In the heavy duty category, McHitch, Alko, Hitch-Ezy, and Cruisemaster’s DO35 Hitch Coupling are products well rated and 100% suitable for those wanting to tow across the toughest of tracks.

 

The Cruisemaster DO35 has been the preferred choice for many RV owners, and with good reason.

Other towing considerations

Medium weight items should be stored below window height. The lightest items can be stored in the overhead lockers. It is also a good idea to check where the caravans water tanks are located. When full, these can significantly affect the TB weight and your combination’s stability on the road. Each RV listing on our website states the weights.

 

Your TB weight counts as part of your Gross Vehicle Mass when towing, so it is best to keep this in mind to ensure your vehicle is not overloaded. Typically, the tow ball weight should be 10% of the trailer’s laden weight.

 

Check out the towing glossary page to understand what GCM, ATM, TARE, GVM, Payload, and TBM mean. These terms all relate to towing your RV. Understanding these terms and knowing your weights will determine whether you meet safety standards and all legal requirements. Read our GVM article here.

 

These tips brought to you by rvsafe.com.au

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