Even if you tether yourself to a home base, life will always find some risks to throw your way.  Out on the road, and in unfamiliar surrounds, the odds are multiplied.  The dictionary definition of ‘adventure’, apart from being ‘exciting’ and ‘unusual’, also uses words like ‘bold‘ and ‘hazardous‘ and ‘uncertain outcome‘ – all part of what entices us out there.

Personal safety, caravan safety and motor-home safety is paramount if we are to continue to enjoy this lifestyle.  There are a myriad of topics that can be covered under the heading of safety.  On this page we provide you with some links to information that has been researched or experienced by others, particularly those with expertise in their field.  

Scroll down to: 

  • Navigating the 3500kg tow vehicle myths                       
  • What about Bent Utes?  
  • Do Air-bags cause vehicles to bend?                              
  • Turning Vehicle Signs?    
  • Power Supply Plugs and Leads – FAQ                                

Links to other Safety article reads

Caravan Stability
by Collyn Rivers
Towing Guide
Let's Go Caravan & Camping'
Towing Hints
Stay on Track Outback
A Qld Police Road Safety Initiative

Headlights On
Road Safety Campaign

Sharing the Road

Ambulance Cover
State by State

Navigating the 3500kg tow vehicle myths

There is much speculation and discussion around about the towing limitations of some of the more popular utes and twin cabs.  Unfortunately, manufacturers have given these vehicles a tow rating, and have not necessarily been transparent about the true capacity. 

Yes, legally you can tow a caravan or trailer weighing at 3500kg, (including the ‘ball weight’) but, what the advertising does not mention, is that any load you place in the tow vehicle, beyond the driver and a full tank of fuel, will actually reduce the legal tow capacity.  Once you start to add items like bull-bar, extra battery, camping gear, tools or passengers, you could end up with a much lower legal rate of around 2800kg or less!.  

The only way you can protect yourself from becoming illegal is to read the fine print, the owners manual and the tow placard on the vehicle.  Some consumers have found out the hard way.  Either at the weigh bridge or by assessment by an insurance assessor.  Others have their supposedly 3500 rated vehicle ‘bend’ due to overloading.  Either with a heavy tow, by loading up the tray, or a combination of both.  All because they accepted the media advertising, the sales pitch and failed to acquaint themselves with the manual.

Here’s some links for further reading

Ask The Expert: How To Navigate Tow Vehicle Limits? – Without A Hitch

Why most modern UTE tow ratings are bulls#!t – CLUB 4X4

The truth about 3500kg tow ratings –

Tow ratings are just marketing hype | 4X4 Australia


What about ‘Bent Utes’?

There have been many theories and opinions regarding the bending characteristic of bent utes, mainly, twin cabs.  A subject that is, at times, hotly debated on social media forums, with many who have their opinions or have been incorrectly advised.  Why do they bend?

Without going into repetitive detail, these bent vehicles are overloaded!  Owners expecting too much of a good thing.  Todays ute or twin cab is basically two vehicles built on the one chassis.  The front bit, cabin and the back bit, the tray or load area.  Unlike a wagon or sedan style vehicle, which has a mono body, many utes and twin cab have two bodies.  A mono body vehicle uses the whole vehicle, chassis and body for strength, whereas the utes and twin cabs only have the strength in the chassis. There is no continuous body to give the vehicle the extra strength.  The missing the body bit between the tray and the cab is the weak link and down at the chassis, this point acts as a fulcrum or flex point.  No extra body work to support the chassis as in a mono body vehicle.  This now being the weakest point, is where they bend.

All that stuff in the tray or the slide on camper or the added trailer or caravan is not going to be forgiven by that weak point.  Suspension type has been proven not to contribute to the equation.

This type of vehicle has been designed to carry up to a particular load and no more, but owners are still asking more of their vehicle expecting them to perform beyond their capabilities and wonder why the manufacturer will not accept responsibility when clearly it has been the owners fault. 

Bent Utes | Chassis | 4X4 Australia

Bent Dual Cab Utes – RVeeThereYet

Why do Dual Cab Utes Bend…? – RVeeThereYet


Do airbags cause vehicles to bend?

You may see this as an advertisement for Airbag Man but given the results of an independent report, the content is objective. 

We highly recommend you consider reading this as part of any research on this topic.  The following is a reply to an airbag question on a Facebook page:

A cracked or bent chassis can only occur with Excessive Load (Over Loading) and positioning of load as well as vehicle operation.

See below PDF Download from 3rd party engineers who have completed a chassis analysis report on how bent chassis can occur. This was tested with and without air suspension installed.

With over 20 years of Airbag Man and working with air suspension and thousands of satisfied customers we have never come across our air suspension being the cause of a bent chassis.

Our airbags are positioned where the vehicle manufacturer expects the bump stop impact load to be taken.

“If you fit airbag suspension to your vehicle it will bend the chassis”

“Fitment and use of Airbag Man air helper suspension WILL NOT adversely affect the vehicle chassis”
Vehicles with and without airbags have experienced chassis damage.
Excessive load and or an unusual operation is usually the cause vehicle or chassis damage.

The Analysis Report:…/AirbagManChassisReport.pdf

Weight Distribution and Airbags:


Turning Vehicle Signs

If your vehicle (meaning the towing vehicle together with the trailer and projecting load) is 7.5 metres long or longer, you may have the sign “DO NOT OVERTAKE TURNING VEHICLE” displayed at the rear of the rearmost vehicle. This can be either a separate sign or the words can be incorporated on either the left hand marking plate only, or both left and right plates. By having this sign attached to the rear of your vehicle, other following vehicles must give way to you.

Please note that if your vehicle (meaning the towing vehicle together with the trailer and projecting load) needs to straddle lanes or turn from an adjacent lane in order to turn left or right at intersections, and it is 7.5 metres long or longer, you must have the sign “DO NOT OVERTAKE TURNING VEHICLE”.  Not having “DO NOT OVERTAKE TURNING VEHICLE” sign on these vehicles does not give you the legal right to utilise more than one lane in which to conduct your left or right turn.

The “DO NOT OVERTAKE TURNING VEHICLE” sign must not be displayed in certain jurisdictions where a vehicle (or combination) is less than 7.5m long.  Source

For a PDF copy of the regulations, use this link



Power Supply Plugs and Leads

A few other Frequently Asked Questions 

The following answers were provided by Caravan Industry Association (Qld)

Q.    What are the regulations regarding the use of 10 Amp power plugs?
A.    All leads supplying power to a caravan must be 15 Amp sourcing their power from a 15 Amp outlet.  (However, if sourcing from a 10 amp domestic supply, a 10 Amp to 15 Amp safety device such as an Ampfibian device is acceptable.)

Q.    Are all power supply leads to be 15 Amp?
A.    10 Amp leads cannot be used to supply power to a caravan or motorhome.

Q.    Some park owners/managers in various states are claiming plugs are to be the transparent type to allow inspection without dismantling and the lead to be “tagged” in order to be legal and be used onsite.  Is this claim true?
A.    There is no law that our Workplace Health & Safety consultants can establish that   requires a transparent plug.
 There is no law at this point in QLD (or any other state, we believe) requiring a privately  owned lead to be tested and tagged.  It is highly recommended though.   A park owner does however have the right, and, duty to refuse supply to a lead if he/she believes it may be unsafe. 

Q.    If broken down on the side of the road and carrying out some repairs eg.    changing a wheel or something similar, then you are required to wear a reflective vest.  True or false?
A.   There is no law requiring private individuals to wear reflective vests as far as we can ascertain.

Under the Workplace Health and Safety Act, there are various categories of “Workplace” so different requirements can be in place for different situations.    

No Boundaries thanks CIA (Q) for their time and information.

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