AL-KO Toughest Tow Test 2018: Pedders Tow and Load Assessment

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

Vehicle weight from accessories, towing and loads is a significant factor in the safety and performance of your vehicle. Pedders has developed a world-first service, the Pedders Tow and Load Assessment, to assist customers in understanding their vehicle weight now and in the future.

What is weighing you down?

All weight impacts the safety and performance of a vehicle, and that weight will come from one, many or all of the following: Loads & Cargo; People; Accessories; Towing.

NB. All vehicles have a maximum ‘Payload’ which is the original manufacturer’s specification for the maximum allowable load for that vehicle.

What’s your scenario?

We are expecting more and more of the vehicles we own and drive. For example the work ute loaded with tools and equipment during the day will also be mum and dad’s taxi on the weekend and will also tow the caravan, boat or trailer to the favourite holiday destination. Pedders call these your driving “scenarios”.

One of the key features of Pedders Tow and Load Assessment and the unique Weight Matrix Program is that it provides your vehicle weight relevant to the likely driving scenarios that you will face.

Scenario 1, by default, is the car as it is weighed at one of Pedders outlets but a further three custom scenarios are available for the customer to get an understanding of their weight issues in the real world, tailored to their individual driving habits.

From this understanding of your driving scenarios and vehicle weight, your Pedders expert can tailor a solution to ensure greater levels of safety and performance for your vehicle – and ultimately a more enjoyable driving experience.

Brake, Steering and Suspension Check

The priority within the Pedders Tow and Load Assessment is to firstly assess the general health of the vehicle’s brake, steering and suspension systems, which are the most safety-critical systems especially under the stress of additional weight from loads, towing and accessories.

A Pedders Brake, Steering and Suspension Check (valued normally at $28) will be undertaken as a critical part of the Pedders Tow and Load Assessment and will include the following:

Under Car Inspection (Pedders trained specialist technicians will systematically inspect your vehicle’s entire steering and suspension system and other related undercar components from front to rear.)

Shock Absorber Test (Most cars will be subject to a simulated condition, which enables evaluation of your shock absorbers and suspension. For other vehicles we have adequate alternative evaluation methods. As shock absorbers and suspension deteriorate over thousands of kilometres, it is often the case that a vehicle’s safety is gradually compromised via increased braking distances, unstable cornering and various stability concerns.)

Brake Pad & Rotor Inspection (Check and report on the wear and operating condition of these components, removing wheels as required.)

No Obligation Analysis and Written Report (Pedders comprehensive written report shows the current status of all-vital suspension and steering systems. Pedders staff are trained to know how to accurately evaluate the results of the report. So should your vehicle require work to be carried out to ensure its safety and dependability, Pedders will outline for you within a scale of urgency the options available, using only Pedders approved components. This is a no obligation report, so you can decide what suits you best.)

Weight Matrix

The “Weight Matrix” component of the Pedders Tow and Load Assessment refers to knowing your load now and looking at your weight in the future based on your towing and load carrying scenarios.

Front & Rear Weight (Each participating Pedders outlet has a test lane or scales to weight both the front and rear of your vehicle. The results of this vehicle weight form the basis of the first “as-weighed” scenario.)

Initial Accessories & Load Checklist (As part of the initial weighing of the vehicle your current loads and accessories will be listed as the basis of the “as-weighed” scenario 1.)
Towball Weight (Where relevant, participating outlets can assess the ball weight of caravans and trailers as this is an integral part of some weight scenarios. Please discuss the practicality and logistics of this with your participating Pedders outlet.)

Weight Matrix Software Report (The Pedders Weight Matrix Software and Report is a unique world-first program designed to assist you in better understanding your weight issues. Armed with your vehicle’s current weight and expected weight from future scenarios the Weight Matrix software program and report will provide key pieces of information for each different scenario.)

Tow and Load Assessment Report, Advice and Solutions

Following completion of the Pedders Brake, Steering and Suspension Check including weighing the vehicle front and rear plus the loading of your individual scenarios into the Weight Matrix Software Program, your Pedders expert will discuss the assessment and provide advice and recommend solutions. The priority items are any issues found within the Pedders Brake, Steering and Suspension Check as these issues are magnified with the addition of weight. To assist with understanding the Pedders Tow and Load Assessment and in particular the Weight Matrix results a multi-page report can be printed or emailed and may be used by the Pedders expert at point of sale to discuss the findings and recommendations.

NB. Vehicle weight and overloading of vehicles is increasingly becoming a serious problem which has real consequences.

The Effects of Weight on a Vehicle

1. Chassis Dynamics: The Pitch, Roll and Yaw (the front to back, side to side and rotational motion) of the vehicle body over the wheels and in particular the reaction of these movements to driver input. Increased weight changes the speed and magnitude of these movements and creates a greater disconnect between driver input and vehicle response.

2. Suspension Travel: The available upward (compression or bump) and downward (rebound) range of movement within the vehicle’s suspension system. Increased weight (typically seen with rear sagging caused by heavy loads) decreases the available compression travel for normal suspension operation thus increasing the frequency and severity of contact with the bump stops. This causes harsh ride characteristics, ineffective suspension control and increased risk of premature wear and tear on steering and suspension components.

3. Braking Efficiency and Distance: Increased Total Weight creates a magnification of energy and force onto the vehicle’s braking system which in turn generates increased heat and stress. Increasing Total Weight and/or Inconsistent Vehicle Loading has a significant impact on brake performance, braking longevity and most importantly braking distance.

4. Tyre Contact and Steering Effectiveness: Towing and other increased rear end loads cause longitudinal weight transfer which reduces weight over the front axle. The result of this is reduced front tyre contact and grip with the road reducing the responsiveness of steering and braking to driver inputs and more specifically allowing the front of the vehicle to wander or float.

5. Wheel Alignment: This is the correct angle of a vehicles tyres to maximise tyre contact under normal driving conditions. Increased weight causing changes in suspension travel and geometry, which affects the angle of the wheel resulting in the reduction of tyre contact with the road and increased tyre wear. Incorrect Wheel Alignment and Tyre Contact affects all facets of vehicle performance, most importantly safety through diminished steering responsiveness and braking efficiency.

6. Legal Compliance: Every vehicle must operate within the weights tolerance specified by the original manufacturer. Failure to adhere to this deems the vehicle unroadworthy. And has other potential consequences including OH+S and insurance compliance issues.

Weight Matrix Software

An exciting component of the Pedders Tow and Load Assessment is the use of Pedders Weight Matrix, a world-first software program designed to assist you in understanding your individual weight situation.

The Weight Matrix uses a combination of real world, researched and approximated data to provide an accurate estimate snapshot of your vehicle weight specific to your vehicle and your individual towing and/or load carrying scenarios.

The Weight Matrix Program will provide four key pieces of data relevant to the vehicle and for each individual scenario.
1. Weight and Overall Load
2. Payload/Capacity
3. Weight Balance
4. Brake Distance

Recently, CW booked a Tow and Load Assessment (valued normally at $75) at Pedders Suspension – owned by Nick Papasergio – in Wren Road, Moorabbin, Victoria.

The test vehicle was our very own “Hema Map Patrol”, a Toyota LandCruiser Prado.


As part of the comprehensive assessment, Nick entered the load and vehicle weight data into the Weight Matrix software.

This complex software program is designed to provide customers with an accurate but conservative estimate of their vehicle weight and more importantly the impacts of this weight from loads and accessories based on their vehicle.

The Pedders Weight Matrix uses a combination of exact, researched and estimated data to provide customers with an accurate estimate of their vehicle weight, remaining capacity, weight balance and braking distance changes. From information gathered by weighing the vehicle and further information regarding likely weight “scenarios”, Pedders experts can provide a tailored solution to ensure improved safety and performance under load.

Weight Types

The Pedders Weight Matrix references four (4) critical weights:

1. Original Weight – The weight of your exact vehicle (or lightest variant) listed by the original manufacturer when released from new with no load but full of fuel. In some instances, when a manufacturer weight is unknown or not relevant an estimate based on your vehicle will be used.

2. Scenario Weight – Whether as measured in store, normal driving, towing a caravan, load carrying and so on, the unique scenario to which this report refers.

3. Estimated Load – The difference between the “Original Weight” and the “Scenario Weight”. If your vehicle has a Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) limit, legally the estimated load must not exceed this limit.

4. Payload Range/Capacity – The difference between the original kerb weight of the vehicle and the maximum real or estimated GVM or capacity limit of the vehicle. Capacity/Payload used is generally those specified by the vehicle manufacturer but where this weight is unknown or irrelevant and estimated weight may have been used based on Pedders experience of similar vehicles. A Pedders Nationally Certified GVM Upgrade Kit provides additional Payload and where this is available for your vehicle a second set of bars will be shown for your reference.

Weight Balance

Additional to overall weight gain,the shift in weight from original, forward or rearward, due to the addition of loads or accessories, affects the safety and performance of your vehicle. The Weight Balance Illustration provides you a snapshot of the shift in your vehicle’s weight balance relative to each weight scenario compared to original.

Estimated Additional Braking Distance

The addition of weight from loads and accessories has a significant effect on braking performance and longevity as well as safety-critical stopping distances. The additional braking distance illustration shows an appropriate additional braking distance based on the addition of weight from original and assuming all other factors remain consistent.


Scenario: Vehicle as Measured – Toyota LandCruiser Prado (“Hema Map Patrol”)

Vehicle Weight

The following are the vehicle weights:

[table id=1 /]

Accessories and Loads

The following loads and accessories were noted on the vehicle within this scenario:

[table id=2 /]

Important: In the absence of any published data from the original manufacturer, an ESTIMATE of this vehicle’s original front-to-rear weight balance and front and rear axle capacities has been applied.

For this vehicle the front capacity has been set at “150kg” above the original front weight with the remainder of the vehicle’s Payload or Capacity applied to the rear.


Scenario: Vehicle as Measured – Toyota LandCruiser Prado (“Hema Map Patrol”)

This report is designed to provide you with a collation of information and recommendations from the two (2) critical stages within this assessment. Please consider this report in conjunction with the information contained within the:

Pedders Brake, Steering and Suspension Check

The priority within the Pedders Tow and Load Assessment is to assess the general condition of your vehicle. A comprehensive Brake, Steering and Suspension Check has been conducted and reported separately. These components are critical to the safety and performance of your vehicle – especially under the extra stress of additional weight from loads and accessories. It is essential that any repairs or replacement listed within this check be undertaken to maximise the effectiveness of any further weight-related upgrades to brakes, steering and suspension.

Your Vehicle Weight Matrix

Your vehicle has been weighed and assessed at its current weight as well as different driving scenarios. These can be matched to original specifications to provide a snapshot of your vehicle weight issues. The four (4) critical pieces of information from the Weight Matrix Report (comparing original weight and capacity to the scenario listed above) are:

Additional load on vehicle above original weight: 165kg

Allowable load remaining before original GVM limit is exceeded: 390kg

Estimated vehicle weight balance shift: 2% rearward

Estimated additional stopping distance from 100km/h: 5 metres

Pedders Tow and Load Assessment Solution

It is critical to the safety and performance of your tow and load carrying vehicle that items recommended for replacement within Pedders Brake, Steering and Suspension Check be undertaken BEFORE any upgrades.

Every load and every situation is different and that is why Pedders can provide you with a customised load carrying and towing solution that can provide the following benefits:

– Improved Driveability and Chassis Dynamics, especially under load

– Restore and/or increase ride height and suspension travel under load

– Improve Braking Performance, Longevity and Stopping Distances under load

– Improve Tyre Contact and Steering Effectiveness under load

– Restore correct wheel alignment and reduce tyre wear under load

– Provide greater payload for legal compliance (GVM+ vehicles only)

Pedders speciality is matching its wide range of brake, steering and suspension product, plus a range of ancillary load and towing solutions to achieve the best outcome no matter what the problem. It calls it simply, NO BULL!

Results Suspension Test

[table id=3 /]

Results Service Brake Test

[table id=4 /]

Results Parking Brake Test

[table id=5 /]


[table id=6 /]

Brake Test Summary

[table id=7 /]


Peter Quilty
With more than 30 years’ journalistic experience, Peter’s brief predominantly centres on editorial reviews for Caravan World and Camper magazines. A relative late starter to the trials and tribulations of the RV industry, Peter has been making up for lost time caravanning and camping with his family around Victoria. Initially, Gippsland was the primary stamping ground free camping in idyllic bush settings such as Dargo and Licola, beside the Wonnangatta and Macalister rivers respectively. Other favourite haunts also became ensconced on the family camping itinerary – Jamieson in Victoria’s High Country, Whitfield in the King Valley, Princetown on the Great Ocean Road, and Bright in the Ovens Valley.


ebook library

ebook - Upgrade Your Caravan

Our collection of eBooks are a valuable resource for any novice or experienced caravan holiday-maker.


To receive regular towing hints, tips sign up to our newsletter today! Without A Hitch is the place you can turn to for up-do-date information.

For access to our collection of eBooks, simply sign up to Without a Hitch and we will send you access to our online library;



To receive access to our eBook library, regular towing hints, tips sign up to our newsletter today! Without A Hitch is the place you can turn to for up-do-date information.