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Towing, why the big numbers aren’t the whole story

Towing, why the big numbers aren’t the whole story

July 9, 2015

We love to play hard in our Mitsubishi 4WD’s whether it be taking the boat down to the water or heading out on a caravan holiday or even taking the horses and float to the forest. But overloading your vehicle can be dangerous and understanding exactly what your tow car can do is one of the most important lessons to learn.

We’ve had a go at simplifying it for you!


A headline grabbing towing capacity claim doesn’t reveal the full story. Most vehicles can only tow their maximum braked trailer weight with a light load otherwise they exceed their design limits for weight. And that is the asterisk which usually sits behind those bold 3500kg claims.

Towing, why the big numbers aren’t the whole story

First things first, let’s have a look at the vehicle specs, comparing the 16MY Triton and a competitor. In order to calculate true and balanced towing capacity we need to crunch some numbers.

The most important number to work out is the maximum payload. The maximum payload is what extra weight can be on or in your car when you’re towing the maximum braked towing capacity, ie the number that is being claimed in advertising.

Assuming the two drivers above are looking to tow the maximum they can tow with their respective vehicles we can work out what the maximum payload is.

There are two factors maximum payload is determined by, Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM1) or Gross Combination Mass (GCM2). Both GVM and GCM are limiting factors as neither of those numbers must be exceeded when towing.

From these two limiting factors the lowest calculated number determines the available payload. In the above case looking at the 16MY Triton GLS in Manual Transmission the remaining payload is 603kg, almost double what competitor A can still carry at 341kg.

Then have a think about how many people you want to take with you. In our scenario we’re taking 4 men weighing 80kg each and a child, weighing 40kg. This brings the remaining payload down to 243kg in the Triton and it pushes competitor A above its certified GCM limit by 19kg.

We then need to pack in fishing rods, an eski, a tackle box, all the things which help make it a great day on the water. Say this weighs a combined weight of 40kg’s our Triton still has 203kg of weight available. While competitor A slips further into the red being overloaded by 59kg.

Now our Triton driver has a pretty successful day out on the water. He and his mates have a great day catching 10kg of fish. So on the drive home they still have 193kg of payload available. Whereas over in Competitor A’s ute they are now over by a whopping 69kg. Let’s hope they don’t encounter a weigh bridge on their way home!


The Mitsubishi Triton is all about balanced and safe towing. Providing you stay within the specified maximum trailer limit, tow vehicle capacity as per your owners manual and use the recommended towball load you will never exceed the maximum combination weight, leaving you to focus on what’s important, catching fish and having a great day out with your mates!

To find out more about Triton visit the Triton showroom. NB: For more information on some of the terms used here have a read through our towing know how FAQ’s.

1 — Payload = GVM - Kerb Mass – Towball download at ATM

2 — Payload = GCM - Kerb Mass - ATM.

Disclaimer: Content is correct at date of publishing. Vehicle related content in this article refers to 16MY Mitsubishi Triton.