Motabars Guide to Loading a Trailer

two tents and a car with bike rack

Safe loading of trailers is essential for keeping you legal, protecting your load, and ensuring you are towing on the open road responsibly.

Here are some guidelines so you can be confident you are loading and towing correctly.

Correct towing weight

It is illegal and also unsafe to overload your trailer. It can be confusing when calculating your combined trailer and load weight. It may help to understand the terminology:

Gross Vehicle Weight Rating – this is the maximum weight allowed of both your trailer and its load. You’ll find the GVWR on the VIN plate on your trailer.

Gross Axle Weight Rating – this is the maximum distributed weight that can be supported by the axle of your trailer.

Payload Capacity

This refers to how much weight your trailer can safely tow. Overloading your trailer will put additional strain on the wheels and suspension, making the trailer harder to control. It will also add undue pressure onto the tyres and increase the risk of blowout.

Your payload capacity can be calculated by subtracting the weight of the trailer when it is empty from the GVWR, and then multiplying this figure by 80%.

You may need to visit your local weigh station to check your trailer weight.

Loading your trailer

Whether you have an enclosed or open trailer, the guidance for distributing the weight of your load is the same, and should be adhered to, to avoid whipping and sway when in motion. 60% of the cargo weight should be positioned in front of the trailer (towards the towing tongue or gooseneck), and 40% at the back of the trailer.

Place the heaviest items at the front and on the bottom, and lighter items in the rear of the trailer at the top.

Ensure all items are packed closely together to prevent shift during transit and secured as tightly as possible. Do not place small items above the side of the trailer box if it is an open trailer.

Loading motorcycles, vehicles or plant or machinery

There are a few rules here for loading safely. Ensure the trailer is affixed securely to the towing vehicle prior to loading and ensure both are on even ground. Check the ramps are securely in place. Ideally, you should have another person to help you guide the vehicle onto the trailer safely.

Motorcycle trailers have a front wheel chock for additional stability. It is recommended to keep your bike in neutral and push it onto the trailer. Use ratchet straps to secure it down.

Unloading a motorbike is best carried out by either sitting astride the bike and using the brakes to slowly lower down if you have a full width ramp, or, if you have a single track ramp, have one person on each side to guide the bike down.

Safety checks

We recommend safety checks are carried out before you load your trailer and that the trailer is regularly serviced by an NTTA approved service centre. These include:

  • Checking tyre pressures and signs of wear, including on the spare tyre
  • Checking wheels are secure – tighten wheel nuts if necessary
  • Checking that the coupler is secure and locked
  • Adjusting your wing mirrors if necessary
  • Making regular safety checks throughout your journey
  • Testing your tail lights
  • Checking the loaded weight is within the trailer’s payload capacity (see above).
  • Checking also that your towing vehicle is also roadworthy, and tyres and brakes are in good working order

If you have any concerns at all about which trailer is right for you, how to affix a trailer to your vehicle and connect the electrics, or any other queries, please feel free to drop in or call us here at Motabars, we’d be happy to help and advise.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.