The Risks of Towing Over Capacity

Whether you’re packing your tools for a workday or hooking up your caravan for a road trip, a trailer is a great way to make your car even more useful. Trailers come in dozens of varieties and thousands of sizes. That means you’ll always be able to find a trailer that can carry your boat, camping gear, work equipment and just about anything else you need to move. – but what happens when towing over capacity?

When you’re ready to hit the road there’s more to think about than simply hooking up your trailer and getting started with towing. The way you pack a trailer and its total weight can have a dramatic effect on the way your car handles. The risks of towing over capacity aren’t small, so we’re going to look at what can go wrong and how to stay safe while towing.

What is Towing Capacity?

Towing capacity is the maximum amount of weight your car can tow safely. The towing capacity of every car is different. In most cases, the towing capacity of your vehicle is set by the manufacturer and the government body that’s in charge of road safety. They work together to test vehicles and calculate a safe, legal towing capacity that ensures you’re always in control of your car.

You should be able to find your car’s towing capacity in the owner’s manual, on the plate in the driver’s door jamb or on the manufacturer’s website. Your car’s towing capacity will be listed as two different numbers:

  • Unbraked towing capacity. This is the total weight you can tow if the trailer doesn’t have brakes of its own.
  • Braked towing capacity. This is the weight you can tow if the trailer has its own brakes.

Can You Tow Over Capacity?

It’s both unsafe and illegal to tow a trailer that exceeds your car’s maximum towing capacity in Queensland. Towing over capacity dramatically changes the way your car handles. That means towing heavy loads can cause the trailer to swing and sway, pulling the vehicle out of control. 

You aren’t just in danger of losing control of your car. Towing over capacity carries a few other risks as well:

  • Overweight trailers can overload your brakes and cause them to fail
  • A swinging trailer can drag your car off the road, endangering you, pedestrians and other drivers
  • Heavy trailers change the way your vehicle handles, making it more difficult to control on the road and in poor weather

What Happens If You Tow Over Capacity?

If the safety risks of towing over capacity aren’t bad enough, don’t forget that it’s also illegal. What happens when you tow over capacity is that your car and trailer are immediately deemed unroadworthy and you may be fined by police. The current penalty for exceeding your vehicle’s towing limit in Queensland is a $287 fine and three demerit points. Being deemed unroadworthy also voids your car insurance. Comprehensive car and trailer insurance only applies to cars that are safe to operate. If you have an accident while towing over capacity, it’s unlikely that your insurer will cover the damage.

How to Avoid Towing Over Capacity

As the driver of a tow vehicle, it’s your responsibility to ensure that you aren’t towing more than your car can handle. While you can’t increase your car’s towing capacity, there a few things you can do to make sure you aren’t towing over capacity:

  1. Check your vehicle’s kerb weight and towing capacity
  2. Install a quality towbar and hitch
  3. Visit a weighbridge to find out how much your trailer or caravan weighs
  4. Keep an eye on the condition of your trailer’s tyres
  5. Inflate your tyres to the towing pressures recommended in the owner’s manual
  6. Avoid overloading your car and trailer with passengers and gear
  7. Invest in a dog trailer with two axles to distribute the weight more evenly

Need to Move a Trailer? Get in Touch with Harvey’s Towing Today!

Towing a trailer requires a little bit of skill and practice, but you can do it yourself if your vehicle is rated to handle the weight. When it comes to towing over capacity, and If you do need to tow a trailer that exceeds your capacity, contact our Towing Brisbane Northside team and ask for our help. We don’t just tow cars, trucks and motorbikes, our fleet is equipped to move almost anything. We’re happy to help tow even the largest trailers, caravans and other equipment. Simply contact us online to make an appointment or phone 07 3297 0911 if you need our 24/7 towing service!