4×4 News & Tips

  1. Airbags.
  2. Tyres.
  3. Towing Rules QLD.

Queensland puts high-risk Takata airbag vehicles on notice

Minister for Transport and Main Roads
The Honourable Mark Bailey

Notices will be sent to owners of about 3000 vehicles with faulty Takata airbags this month notifying them their registration will be cancelled.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said despite several warnings from Transport and Main Roads (TMR), some owners had not taken action to replace the dangerous airbags.

“If one of these airbags is deployed following a crash, sharp metal fragments can fly out and hit vehicle occupants, potentially injuring or killing them,” Mr Bailey said.

“We have been working with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission since 2018 to get 600,000 vehicles with these faulty airbags off Queensland roads.

“The initial focus from manufacturers and TMR was on the highest risk ‘alpha’ airbag vehicles.

“TMR completed action against these vehicles last year and cancelled registrations for a small number.”

Mr Bailey said if the vehicle registration was cancelled, the remaining portion of registration fees would be refunded.

“TMR is now taking action against the remaining Takata fleet, which is subject to the Federal Government’s compulsory recall,” he said.

“Vehicles owners who have so far failed to replace defective airbags have already been sent a courtesy letter and, if they do not have the airbag replaced, their registration will be cancelled next month.

“My message to those drivers is simple; you are not only putting your own life at risk, but you are also risking the lives of any passengers in your vehicle if you continue to drive with faulty airbags.

“That is why it is so important to have your airbag replaced.”

For more information, visit https://www.qld.gov.au/transport/vehicle-safety/airbag-recall/airbag-safety-recall


Media contact: Toby Walker – 0439 347 875


Tyre pressures are your greatest ally for improving off-road capability and comfort. You’ll go further off-road, and do it a lot easier. And that means you’ll be more relaxed behind the wheel, and there is less strain on your vehicle and on the environment.

Early years of off-roading was spent in underpowered vehicles, old Land Rovers mostly. They didn’t have bulk power, locking differentials or traction control to help take on tricky sections of track. We could only play the cards we had, and that was playing with tyre pressures and being crafty with the line we chose.

It was a good way to learn: the lower your pressures go, the more capable your vehicle becomes. The old, worn out lug tyres managed to grip and hold traction on some pretty challenging parts of track, instead of spinning and bouncing.

The basics of it are pretty simple: the lower your tyre pressures are, the larger the contact patch each tyre makes with the ground. Lower pressure lets the tyre become much more pliable as it moulds to the terrain, and you’re left with significantly more mechanical grip.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re driving on mud, rocks, sand, dirt, snow or through water; lowering your tyre pressures to a certain degree is always a good idea. Generally speaking, the harder the challenge, and the slower you are driving, the lower your pressures can go… to a point. Rolling a tyre off the bead on the Beach gave me my starting point for too low.

So, what’s the best pressure for you? Recommending specific tyre pressures for each-and-every person out there is difficult, because of all the variables. Vehicle size, weight, wheel/tyre combination and driving style all play a part in what kind of pressures are safe to run off-road.

The best advice you can get in terms of finding your own sweet spot is experimentation and practice. With a decent quality air compressor and accurate gauge at the ready, take some time to try out a few different pressures to see what feels the best from the driver’s seat. If you’re slipping around the place or getting bogged, that’s probably your vehicle telling you pressures are too high. And you’ll notice when you do get it right, your 4WD will feel much more capable and comfortable.

So, we can all agree that lowering tyre pressures are king off-road. There are some risks to be aware of, however. And it’s also entirely possible to go too low and do some serious damage.

There are two big issues to be aware of: heat build-up, and rolling a tyre off the bead. Both scenarios are easily managed, as long as you’re aware of them when you’re driving and setting your pressures.

The Heat.

Heat build-up happens when you’re driving at too high a high speed with low tyre pressures. Other than your handling and braking being seriously compromised, the sidewalls will be continually flexing in and out where the tyre bulges at the bottom.

Flexing makes friction, and friction makes heat. That’s the perfect recipe for heat build-up, if left unchecked, which contributes to irreversible damage to the tyre’s construction. Keep going, and you’ll likely get full-blown delamination. To avoid this, be prepared and able to air up as well as air down. And don’t go too fast while your tyre pressures are low.

If you’re unsure, it’s probably worth spending the time to air up a bit. If you hop out of the car and the sidewalls of your tyres are hot to touch, that’s a surefire indicator you’ve got too little air, you’re driving too fast, or both. Your tyres are getting hot, and doing this for long periods will do damage.The Bead

The other issue, rolling a tyre off the bead, is handled by your driving style. While big steering and throttle inputs aren’t going to impact anything on-road with normal pressures, there is a big difference when you let out some wind. While the much-celebrated sand-flying, rooster-tailing photograph of a sharp turn at speed on the beach is hard to escape, (especially in the media) it’s a Bad idea.

Tyres are joined to the wheel at the bead, forced together by the air trapped inside. Less air pressure inside means there is less force keeping the wheel and tyre together. Low pressures and steering sharply will literally prise the tyre and wheel apart, so don’t do it.

Don’t bury the go and stop pedals if you can help it either. Tyres have been known to spin on the wheel at low pressures. It’s not a show stopper, but it will annoyingly put your wheels out of balance. That means your car will now drive like crap, and you’ll have to spend your time and money at a shop getting it fixed.

If you change your driving habits enough, which means going easy on big throttle, braking and steering inputs, you’ll almost completely eliminate the risk of rolling a bead. It’s still possible, but highly unlikely when you take it easy. Steer slowly and progressively, and apply your throttle and brakes even more so. You’re not in a hurry anyway, right?

So how low do I go?

Lower is better. It’s hard to recommend a blanket pressure for people to aim for, because of all of the variables surrounding vehicles and drivers. However, a rough guide might help to to get you started. There is a big caveat with this guide, however.

Find out what works with your vehicle and application, keeping in mind every wheel/tyre combination, vehicle weight and wheelbase can all makes a difference. Going towards the lower end of the scale will reap more benefits, but will also increase the risk of heat build-up and popping a bead.

The 4×4 rough guide to off-road tyre pressures

High-speed, smooth dirt: 28+ psi

Easy conditions: Unsealed, rocky and rough roads: 22-28 psi

Medium conditions: firm sand, low-speed dirt, mild ruts and washouts: 18-24 psi

Hard conditions: Rock crawling, soft sand, thick mud, big ruts, washouts and rock steps: 14-20 psi

This guide should only be considered as a starting point. Everyone has their own setup and driving style, along with their own preferences for pressures. And of course, don’t leave home without a decent air compressor and quality gauge/deflator, which will let you adjust and experiment with your own pressures. And finally, don’t forget the recovery gear and shovel, as well.  Just in case.


Failure to abide by the towing regulations, including maximum loads, may result in a fine, or in the case of an accident, refusal of the insurance claim, and the possibility of further legal action.

Important: The following information is based on Queensland regulations. Other States and Territories may have slightly different rules.

Rules about what you can tow

Vehicles with a Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) of less than 4.5 tonnes can tow a trailer with an Aggregate Trailer Mass (ATM) up to:

The lesser of:

  • The tow vehicle manufacturer’s recommended maximum towing mass,
  • or,
  • The tow vehicle’s towbar rating

When towing capacity is not specified

If the vehicle manufacturer has not specified a towing capacity, for vehicles built before 1992, Queensland regulations allow the towing of a trailer:

One and a half times the un-laden mass of the towing vehicle, if the trailer is fitted with brakes or,

If the trailer is not fitted with brakes, 750kg Gross Trailer Mass (GTM)

Trailer mass terminology explained

ATM, GTM and Tare Weight    

The maximum weight of a trailer is specified as either its Aggregate Trailer Mass (ATM) or Gross Trailer Mass (GTM).

  • ATM is the combined weight of the trailer and its full load when it is not coupled to a tow vehicle.  
  • GTM is the weight of the fully loaded trailer imposed on the trailer’s axle when it is coupled to the tow vehicle.

GTM will always be less than ATM as some of the trailer weight is transferred to the tow vehicle when the trailer is coupled to it.

All new trailers, including those that are home made, built since August 1989 are required to have a plate listing, amongst other things, the trailer’s Aggregate Trailer Mass. Some trailer plates will also show the Tare Weight (the un-laden weight of the trailer) and the GTM.

Trailers built before August 1989 may carry little or none of this information.

Your tow vehicle must have sufficient capacity to tow the fully laden trailer.

Trailer Ball Load

Ball Load is the amount of weight the fully laden trailer imposes (vertically) on the tow bar of the tow vehicle.  Trailer Ball Load is not a specification defined by the trailer manufacturer – it is the actual weight imposed on the rear of the tow vehicle and as such is a function of the trailer’s axle position and the manner in which it is loaded.

While there is no requirement to list a trailer’s Ball Load, it can be measured at a weighbridge by disconnecting the fully laden trailer from the tow vehicle and resting only the trailer’s draw bar (via the jockey wheel) on the scales. Alternatively, some caravan dealers have special ball mass scales for this purpose. 

Some caravan plates show Ball Load at Tare.  This is the ball load when the caravan is empty.  It is not helpful in determining the ball load of the laden caravan. 

Ball Load can be measured at a weighbridge by disconnecting the fully laden trailer from the tow vehicle and resting only the trailer’s draw bar (via the jockey wheel) on the scales. Alternatively, low cost ball mass scales are available for this purpose.


Payload is the trailer’s carry capacity.  It’s the difference between its Tare Weight (un-laden weight) and its ATM. Payload is important for all trailers, however it is critical to campers and caravans, many of which have quite limited carrying capacity to start with.  Modifications and additions to the trailer can very quickly eat into its carrying capacity and result in an overloaded trailer, or the inability to legally carry necessary items. 

Tow vehicle specifications:

Towing capacity

The maximum trailer load will be specified to ensure the combination is safe, controllable, and that it will not significantly shorten the life of the vehicle’s body and mechanical components.

Vehicle handbooks generally provide the following information:

  • the maximum weight of the trailer without brakes, that can be towed by the vehicle, 
  • the maximum weight of a trailer with brakes, that can be towed by the vehicle,  
  • the maximum tow ball load, and 
  • any conditions (such as speed) relating to towing or additional equipment required  

The maximum towing weight specified by the vehicle manufacturer equates to the trailer’s ATM.  However some vehicle manufactures confuse matters by specifying towing capacity in terms of Gross Trailer Weight, which is another way of saying it, refers the trailer’s Aggregate Trailer Mass.  Do not confuse the term Gross Trailer Weight with Gross Trailer Mass as in this regard they are different things. ATM and GTM are defined above as well as in the relevant legislation.

Tow ball load

Tow Ball Load is the proportion of the trailer weight that is applied (vertically) to the rear of the tow vehicle. A vehicle’s Ball Load specification will be found in the vehicle’s handbook and will be listed as a weight in kilograms or as a percentage of the trailer’s ATM. 

Ball Load specifications are often around 10% of the maximum towing mass specification however, this isn’t always the case – some may have a lower Ball Load of around 5% while others are more than 10%.


Gross Combination Vehicle Mass (where given) is the maximum allowable weight of the trailer, tow vehicle and the load (including passengers) in the tow vehicle and trailer.

Tow vehicle Axle Load

A Maximum Axle Load specification is sometimes given for vehicles, such as utilities, that are capable of carrying a load over the rear axle in addition to the load imposed by the trailer (the Ball Load).  

Towing speeds

Some vehicle manufacturers impose reduced speed limits when towing.  This may be across the board or it may be when the weight of the trailer exceeds a certain limit. Where such limits apply, this typically means that the vehicle is restricted to a maximum of approximately 80km/h, so it’s important to factor this into your purchase decision, particularly if you are intending to tow a trailer long distances. 

Tow bar specifications

All tow bars made from 1992, an many made before, will have a plate attached that lists the maximum towing weight, the maximum ball load, and the make and model of vehicle the bar was designed for.

The vehicle’s specifications will always be the maximum the vehicle can legally tow, even if the tow bar is rated for a higher load.  However if any of the tow bar specifications are lower than those given for the vehicle, the tow bar’s specification will override the vehicle’s specifications.

It is common to find tow bar specifications that differ from those given for the vehicle. This usually occurs where the bar is made for a number of different models in the range, or where light and heavy-duty tow bars are offered for the vehicle. 

Trailer information, design rules and legalities

Vehicle Standards Bulletin 1 is the ‘rule book’ for Australian trailer builders. It contains all the information you need to know about light trailer dimensions, lighting, brakes and much more. 

 Where to find towing specifications


The trailer ID plate will list at least the ATM and sometimes more information.

For trailers without an ID plate check the registration papers.

Note that additions and modifications can greatly affect trailer weights and we would always recommend confirming specifications by having the trailer weighed.

Tow vehicle 

Owner’s manuals will contain the vehicle’s towing specifications.   Be warned that towing specifications can change from model to model, year to year and even within the same model range. If you have any doubt about the accuracy of the information, we recommend confirming it with the vehicle’s manufacturer.

Tow bars

The tow bar specification plate will contain the necessary information.

For older, unmarked towbars a towbar manufacturer or installer may be able to assist. 


Leave a Reply