Monthly Archives: February 2018

Is your car up to towing a caravan?

A caravan is a hefty piece of kit – it can weigh anything from around 1500kg to 3500kg or more, and so it’s important to make sure that your existing (or prospective new) vehicle can handle the load. What’s more, it’s a good idea to leave a little room for manoeuvre rather than have a car/caravan combination which is near the max.

If you’ve seen any of the ‘caravan’ episodes of Top Gear you’ll know that, when things go wrong with caravans, it’s not pretty. However if you’re a caravan newbie, reading all of the information online to help you work out safe – and legal – car/caravan combinations, you’d be forgiven for thinking you need a PhD in physics. There’s a lot of jargon involved, although the concepts are in fact fairly straightforward.

Interestingly, when it comes to the law, there are in fact no legislated ‘safety margins’ as such for caravans (or ‘trailers’ as they are referred to in the legislation) in Australia – there are simply maximum towing weights for all vehicles and maximum laden weights for all towed vehicles, including caravans, and maximum combined weights.

The Caravan Council of Australia, however, advises that in all cases ‘the laden tow-vehicle should weigh 30% more than the laden caravan/trailer’.

To fully understand what is ‘legal’ and what is ‘recommended’, it’s important first of all to understand the jargon. Here are some of the terms you will hear bandied about…

Tare Mass
This refers to the weight of a vehicle or caravan when it is empty (ie ‘unladen’). It is specified by the manufacturer and includes those fluids (eg oil/coolant/fuel in the tank) that the vehicle would need to run, but does not include driver/passengers/luggage or any aftermarket additions.

Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM)
This refers to the maximum permissible weight of the vehicle/caravan ie how much extra load it can carry before exceeding its limits. GVM for a towing vehicle must include any extra weight put on the vehicle via the towball (see below).

Aggregate Trailer Mass (ATM)
This refers to the maximum weight of a caravan when it is being towed. It is the tare mass plus any other load in the caravan itself. This rating is set by the caravan manufacturer. It only applies when the caravan is in motion, not when it is parked, and needs to include the weight of any accessories added after purchase, and the weight of any onboard gas and/or water etc.

Tow Ball Download (TBD)
This refers to the weight of the caravan transferred to the towing vehicle via the towball. It must be included in the calculation of GVM for the towing vehicle above to determine whether it (the towing vehicle) is within its permitted maximum weight. As a very general guide, TBD is normally around 10% of the total weight of the caravan.

In addition the towing vehicle will have the following important specifications (listed in the manual or on vehicle specifications, which can normally be found on the manufacturer’s website)…

Maximum Braked Towing Capacity – this is the weight limit for a caravan equipped with brakes
Maximum Tow Ball Download – as above
Gross Combination Mass (GCM) – the maximum combined weight of the vehicle and caravan

If you are in the process of buying a caravan of course it’s very important to be aware of these limits and to heed the association’s advice. If you get a combination which maxxes out the towing vehicle’s specifications, you will considerably increase fuel consumption and maximise the load on the chassis and suspension, not to mention the tyres and brakes. You will also have little room for manoeuvre on steep hills, and during high winds and other challenging driving conditions.

For these reasons, a smart option is to choose the caravan you like first and then choose the most appropriate towing vehicle!

Whether you’re getting just a caravan or a caravan and new vehicle to tow it, give us a call at Ezilend and we’ll of course help you sort out the finance…

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Playing the game at the dealership

If you’ve ever bought a new car from a dealership you’ll probably know the routine. Financing the new car is of course very important, and our advice is to shop around for a loan before you go into the dealership. Feel free to give us a call here at Ezilend and we can get your finance sorted, so you can go into the car dealership with finance ready to roll.

car dealership

Although finance is pretty important, there’s more to it than that (and read our previous article on this here – Keep your wits about you before taking up dealership finance). In fact it’s a game that plays out along very similar lines, irrespective of which car you’re interested in.

Phase one is of course to do your research. Don’t just read the reviews, have a good look on all of the car sales sites and see what prices various dealers are putting on the car you’re after. That way you can make sure that when you choose the dealer/s to go into, you have a good idea what you should be paying. And if you’re planning on trading in your current vehicle, do the same research on it too, so you know if you’re being offered the right trade-in value.

Phase two is walking into the dealership. The process is very much choreographed once you’re in and it’s a psychological battle as much as anything. Of course today the internet gives the buyer a lot more power – you can research every last detail, but don’t underestimate the lure of that brand spanking shiny new car sitting right in front of you, literally begging you to pull out your hard-earned on the spot. Resist the temptation. Let the car salesman (or just as likely saleswoman) go through the process. There may be various offers and incentives put your way – just remember the research you did, and ideally visit a few dealerships for the brand you’re after to make sure you’re getting the best deal. This does take a bit of time though – expect to spend 1-2 hours in each dealership.

Car dealerships rely on the initial excitement and a well-honed strategy of starting with a high price and coming down, often linked into a ‘promotion’, which normally ends the day after you go in. You may often get a ‘this price is only valid today’. This is very rarely true, however – if you are able to forward plan your purchase – it’s a great idea to buy either at the end of the month, or the quarter, or best of all at the end of the financial year. This is when stock must get moved on.

Should you get the extras?

Once you have identified the dealer offering the best price, and the car is definitely the one you want, you will be shuffled off to see the last person – the person who will talk to you about all of the essential ‘add-ons’ you should take with your new car. For many dealerships the margin on the car is very small, so they’re interested in extra income from add-ons and, of course, from the income from the ongoing service schedule you will need to keep to, to make sure your warranty remains valid (a new car warranty is not in fact invalidated if you take your car elsewhere to be serviced, although it can complicate matters should you make a claim).

Add-ons generally fall into three categories…

  • Paint protection
  • Upholstery protection
  • Tinted windows

…and sometimes a service to fix those occasional dints and scratches that it’s generally not worth claiming on insurance. Are these extras worth the money? There’s no clear answer to this. Here are the pros and cons…


  • If you get the add-ons at the dealership you just take the car back in if there are ever any problems related to that add-on
  • It’s all done for you before you pick up the car – no need to take it in later to have the work done
  • If you are financing the car it’s easy to add the extra cost into the entire car loan
  • You can be fairly certain that the work will be done to a reasonably high standard – the car brand will not want to be associated with any problems relating to the add-on down the line


  • the add-on may not be necessary – it is a new car after all
  • getting add-ons done at point of sale at the dealership can be more expensive that getting the same job done at an external company

To an extent the dealership relies on the fact that you probably don’t know about latest paint protection technologies, or how much it would cost to get the same treatment elsewhere, so again… a bit of research goes a long way.

Once you have – quite literally – negotiated your way through the buying process, don’t forget the other stuff you need to organise just before you pick up the car… make sure you’ve swapped your insurance over to the new car, and don’t forget to take your toll tag out of your old car and inform the toll company of your change of vehicle. Then you can relax, and enjoy your new wheels!

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