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The Caravaners Guide To Braking Laws...

Article by Steve Smith - Caravans Plus

Most caravans and large trailers are legally required to have brakes. The laws are State based but are generally the same. NSW now has the strictest laws with new requirements for Remote Battery Monitors for breakaway systems, which are discussed later.

Weights. What does TARE, ATM and GTM refer to?

A visual description is the best way to understand the meaning of different weights.

Caravan TARE weight explained

Above: The TARE mass is the weight the caravan was when it left the factory. It is weighted with its jockey wheel and main wheels on the weightbridge. It has no water, no gas or optional accessories that are fitted after manufacture.

Caravan ATM weight explained

Above: The Aggregate Trailer Mass (ATM) is the weight of the caravan plus the permitted payload. It is calculated based on the lowest value of things like tyres, axle capacity etc. The payload includes everything added: water, gas, food, clothing etc. The caravan must be unhitched.

Caravan GTM weight exp[lained

Above: The Gross Trailer Mass (GTM) is the weight of the caravan plus the permitted payload that is supported by the axles. The payload includes everything added: water, gas, food, clothing etc. The towball weight is NOT included.

The GTM is shown on a compliance plate which is usually located on the drawbar or inside the front boot. This is what a roadside weightbridge will check if you get pulled up.

The towball weight will vary depending on what load you have, and where it is stored, so it should be measured when you are fully loaded. Moving heavy items can alter your towball weight.

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No Brakes

If your trailer weights less than 750kg, when loaded, you do not need any brakes.

Override brake laws

Override brakes are permitted when the GTM is under 2,000kg. Mechanical override brakes use the tow coupling to manually pull a cable connected to the trailer's brake drums in much the same way as pulling up the handbrake. Hydraulic override brakes are similar but use hydraulic pipes/fluid between the coupling and brake cylinders.


Electric brakes* laws


Electric brakes are commonly used on caravans and trailers over 750kg but are legally required (*limited alternatives maybe available) on all caravans and trailers with a GTM over 2,000kg.

Electric brakes are automatically applied by the brake controller and can also be manually operated via a manual control on the brake controller which is installed within reach of the driver.

Your tow vehicle will need a brake controller if it does not have one. The catagory below shows what we sell, plus an article to help you decide what features you may need.


Breakaway system laws

All States require that caravans / trailers over 2,000kg GTM also have a breakaway system. A breakaway system is a way of automatically turning your caravan electric brakes on in an emergency. If your caravan was to become uncoupled while towing the breakaway system has a battery that will operate the brakes for at least 15 mins.


Remote battery monitors laws for NSW

NSW now has the extra legal requirement of a Remote Battery Monitor. The monitor must be visible or audible to the driver and indicate that the breakaway system has a charged battery. The laws apply to all caravans registered in NSW.

Remote monitors to can be purchased separately to suit most existing breakaway systems.

BreakSafe Remote Monitor - RM6000Best Seller

BreakSafe Remote Monitor - RM6000

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Tow Secure Wireless Remote Monitor - RX 1000

Tow Secure Wireless Remote Monitor - RX 1000

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Camec Breakaway Battery Monitor

Camec Breakaway Battery Monitor

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$55.95
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Hayman Reese Universal Wireless SMARTCHECK Battery Monitor - Suit Any Breakaway Kit

Hayman Reese Universal Wireless SMARTCHECK Battery Monitor - Suit Any Breakaway Kit

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Currently there is not a remote monitor available for the Tekonsha breakaway system.
If you have a old breakaway system that you can not get a monitor for you may need to upgrade to comply with this law.


External Links

National Trailer Regulations
NSW - Local Rules
QLD - Local Rules
VIC - Local Rules
WA - Local Rules
SA - Local Rules
NT - Local Rules
TAS - Local Rules

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1 Comments

  • comment-avatar

    trevor

    I recently had my 22ft van inspected in NSW. It passed all the requirements apparently. However my fellow caravanners tell me that there is a requirement to have remote control of the trailer brakes in the towing vehicle. I told this to the inspector and he said that this used to be the case but is not now. I do have an adjustable brake controller in the towing vehicle which I adjust to suit the way that the brakes operate. ie. always set to allow the trailer brakes to apply a little bit before the tow vehicle brakes. Am I legal?

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