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How much weight can a 4wd carry?

How much weight can a 4wd carry and what is GVM and GCM and are they important?

Even the best laid plans can go astray. As we prepared for our lap around Australia and getting “the Dutchman” ready for a 3-month adventure starting in Queensland, we were excited to get on the road. We’d aimed to leave the Gold Coast, June 27 and start anti-clockwise making our way to Gladstone, with free camping near Calliope River.  From Gladstone to Rockhampton and then carrying on to Mackay with loose plans to find somewhere to camp, and then on to Cairns, we were excited to hit the road. The van wrapping with our Bushwakka branding took a little longer than we anticipated. So we made the decision to leave Monday, June 28, after a breakfast with the Bushwakka team.

The first snag of our lap around Australia

Day two of our trip we hit our first snag. We dropped into our dealers and good friends in Rockhampton and decided to weigh the rig. Surprise! It was a bit overweight (300kgs to be exact), not the caravan, that was all fine thanks to Nathan at Caravan HQ, but the Chevy Truck needed to go on a diet. For safety and legal reasons, we decided we need to strip out the canopy, lose the oven, perhaps the piewarmer and the coffee machine and take on the challenge of dropping the GVM (Gross Vehicle Max—maximum total mass of a fully loaded motor vehicle as specified by the vehicle manufacturer)

We put the call out to our community of followers on social media and enlisting the help of the team at Adventure Gear in Rockhampton, Day 3 was spent trying to strip the Dutchman’s canopy, alas without much success. After removing all of the gear that would allow us to free camp and travel around Australia, sadly we simply couldn’t make it work. Pete and his awesome crew at adventure gear never stopped trying, but unfortunately it meant we had to return to the Gold Coast to regroup. A rather emotional decision and a lesson we’ve learnt the hard way, but nevertheless we want to do things right. 

So how much can weight can a 4WD carry and why does it matter?

The weight allowance for a 4WD can be found in the owner’s manual or generally found inside on a weight placard on the inside driver’s door. The GVM takes into account the Kerb Mass plus all of your 4WD accessories such as your Bushwakka Extreme Awning, bull bars, winches, roof racks and tow ball download. It also includes the weight of the passengers, any water you are carrying, fuel, recovery gear, food, fishing gear and so on.

One way you can reduce the amount of weight is to tow a trailer or a caravan. It’s a good option to be able to distribute some of the weight to the back if there’s room for that. We opted for an amazing caravan from the team at Carvan HQ on the Gold Coast.  When it comes to weight, we have no problems in that department.

Whether you’re towing a trailer or a caravan, you must also make sure the total weight of your 4WD and your caravan meet manufacturer’s maximum weight as well. This is known as the GCM. 

Most modern vehicles the GVM tend to be low and the addition of roof racks can result in them ending up being classed as overweight. To overcome this you should always consider the weight of your 4WD upgrade accessories. This is why when we’ve manufactured the Bushwakka Extreme Camping Awnings, it’s been important to us to keep awnings as light as possible.

Why does 4wd weight matter?

When your vehicle exceeds the GVM, should you be involved in an accident or need to make an insurance claim, it’s a strong possibility your policy will be void. Alternatively, you’re putting yourself at risk for having your vehicle impounded or facing fines for being overweight. Better to be safe than sorry. Not to mention 4wd weight matters because it affects the way the vehicle hands on and offroad. 

How to reduce the weight of your GVM?

When you’re 4WD is overweight, how can you reduce weight is a very good question. GVM upgrades are available, but what do you do if you already have an upgrade but still don’t meet the legal specification for load capacity? With the help from Adventure Gear in Rockhampton, Peter and his crew stripped the Dutchman’s canopy and looked at the options. How does one decide between having a fridge and essentials like the coffee maker?

What happens next?

Unfortunately after spending the night in Gladstone, we’re going to head back to the Gold Coast. We’re not going to give up, we’re going to regroup and reevaluate on how we can reduce the weight of The Loots’ Dutchman and try again. We’ve come too far to be defeated. Once we’re back on home ground we can try to put our heads together with the rest of the Bushwakka team and try and downsize the load weight while still carrying everything we need for three months.

Stay up to date on our lap around Australia and what happens with our GVM and GCM (Gross Combined Max) by following us on No_Wakkas_Walkabout or @bushwakka_australia

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