GVM (Gross Vehicle Mass) actually refers to the vehicle rather than the caravan. However, in the world of caravanning, GVM is still very much an important caravan weight term.
Here we cover everything you need to know about GVM weight for your car and caravan set-up.
If you’re not sure if your current car will be a suitable tow vehicle, find out if your car can tow a caravan.
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GVM Weight Explained
What is the GVM Weight Meaning?
GVM (Gross Vehicle Mass) is the maximum allowable weight of the vehicle including passengers, luggage, accessories and Tow Ball Weight.
The GVM, which is set by the manufacturer, states the maximum weight that the vehicle is allowed to be at any time and must not be exceeded.
In terms of caravan GVM meaning, this is the weight of the fully loaded tow vehicle and includes the Tow Ball Weight of the caravan when hitched up.
Why Does GVM Include Tow Ball Weight?
The reason that the GVM includes the Tow Ball Weight is that once the caravan is hitched up to the rear of the car, the weight of that tow ball is now effectively resting on the back of the car.
Where to Find Your GVM
The GVM of your car should be stamped on the vehicle’s VIN plate. If you can’t locate it there, you can find it on Redbook.
How to find your vehicle’s GVM on Rebook:
- Search for your car’s make, model & year
- Locate your exact car from the matches
- Scroll down to ‘Overview’
- Click on ‘Specifications’
- Open up ‘Dimensions & Weights’
- “Gross Vehicle Mass” should be listed (along with some of your vehicle’s other weights)
What Does GVM Weight Include?
The GVM includes everything that makes up the weight of the fully loaded vehicle, plus the weight of the tow ball if there is a caravan or trailer hitched up.
This includes all accessories, modifications, luggage, full tank/s of fuel, plus the driver and passengers.
GVM includes the weight of the vehicle plus:
- Full tank/s of fuel
- Tow Ball Weight (if there’s a caravan or trailer hitched up)
How to Find Out if You’re Under Your GVM Weight
Given that the GVM is a figure you are not allowed to go over, it’s important to ensure that your car is under that weight.
To find out if you’re under your GVM, you’ll need to head to a Public Weighbridge with your fully loaded car and weigh it.
How to Weigh Your Vehicle
Make sure the car is loaded up and ready for travel, so that you’ve got everything on board that you would have in its heaviest scenario.
This will include full fuel tank/s and jerry cans, food, water, luggage, 4WD gear, camping gear, regular passengers, plus any mods and accessories that have been added to the vehicle.
How to weigh the car’s GVM:
- Ensure the vehicle is fully loaded with full fuel tank, regular passengers, accessories, luggage etc.
- Drive the car onto the weighbridge
- Record the weight
- If travelling with a caravan – add your Tow Ball Weight to the figure above
- This total figure needs to be lower than the manufacturer stated GVM
How to Find Your Tow Ball Weight
If you will ever be travelling with a trailer or caravan, you’ll need to know your Tow Ball Weight so that it can be added to the car’s fully loaded weight. The two combined weights must be lower than the GVM weight, as stated by the manufacturer.
There are a few ways to measure caravan tow ball weight, but the two options below are the easiest.
OPTION 1: Ball Weight Scales
One of the most convenient ways to measure your caravan tow ball weight is with a set of Ball Weight Scales.
Having your own set of Ball Weight Scales is handy because every time you add, subtract or shift your load inside the caravan, the ball weight will change.
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OPTION 2: Using a Public Weighbridge
- Drive only the car onto the weighbridge
- Leave the caravan hitched up, but make sure the caravan is not on the scales
- Write down the weight (Weight A) → This is the car’s weight including the tow ball weight
- Unhitch the caravan off the scales
- Drive the car only back onto the scales
- Write down the weight (Weight B) → This is the car’s standalone weight
- Tow Ball Download = Weight A (car weight) – Weight B (car weight with tow ball weight)
What to Do if You’re Over Your GVM
If you’ve weighed your car and found that it’s over its GVM, you’ll need to remove weight from the car until you can get it under the manufacturer-specified GVM.
The GVM is the maximum weight that the car is allowed to be at any given time (including the Tow Ball Download from the caravan).
First up, take out any unnecessary luggage. Depending on how overweight you are, you may even need to consider removing some accessories from the vehicle.
Once you’ve removed as much weight as you can, go back to the weighbridge and re-weigh your car. Hopefully, you’re under your car’s specified GVM weight now.
If all else fails, you can look into getting your GVM increased, however along with that will often come a list of required underbody upgrades.
Increase Your GVM
It is legal to get the GVM increased on a car as long as you go through a reputable company with government-approved certification.
If you’re buying your car brand new and want to get the GVM upgraded, it’s easier to get it done before the compliance plate is added. Since the car has never been registered before, the manufacturer can increase the GVM based on what components are fitted. An upgrade to the suspension may be required for it to satisfy the engineers requirements.
For vehicles that have already been road registered, the process is a bit more involved.
GVM Upgrade Process:
- WEIGHTS – A certified installer will weigh your vehicle to find front & rear axle weights, plus individual wheel weights
- UPGRADES – You’ll be instructed on what needs to be upgraded to support the GVM increase (e.g. uprated shocks & springs)
- APPROVAL – Once you’ve satisfied the requirements, the certified installer can issue the GVM upgrade and add your new compliance plate to the vehicle
GVM Weight FAQs
GVM is the maximum weight that the car is allowed to be when fully loaded, while tare is the weight of the completely empty car or trailer.
GVM and towing capacity are two completely different measurements. GVM is the maximum weight that the car is allowed to be when fully loaded, while towing capacity is the maximum weight that the car can legally tow.
Yes, GVM is the maximum weight that the car is allowed to be and includes full fuel tank/s, jerry cans, luggage, accessories, modifications, driver and passengers.
Yes, GVM includes payload as it is the maximum weight of the fully-loaded vehicle, which includes all luggage, accessories, passengers and fuel.