Every trailer, including caravans and camper trailers, are required to be fitted with a special ‘plate’ that provides crucial information about the trailer, including its Tare mass.
Under the Motor Vehicle Standards Act, which was the regulatory framework governing Australia’s RV manufacturing industry – this plate was commonly referred to as a ‘vehicle plate’ or ‘compliance plate’. However, the manufacturing and importation of RVs is now governed by the new Road Vehicle Standards Act, which came into force earlier in 2021. The RVSA refers to this plate as the Secure Vehicle Identification.
Much of what it requires manufacturers to include remains the same as what the MVSA required. At the same time, there have been revisions to Vehicle Standards Bulletin 1 – Trailers With an Aggregate Trailer Mass of 4.5 Tonnes or Less. This is a document that guides manufacturers as they adhere to the Australian Design Rules.
Therefore, now is a good time to have a look at what Revision 6 of VSB 1 says must be included on the Secure Vehicle Identification plate.
VSB 1 requires that the vehicle plate is “durable and permanently attached” (by welding or riveting, for example). The information on the plate needs to be permanently embossed, indented, etched or engraved in English, using block letters, with numerals that are a minimum of 2.5mm high.
On top of this, the manufacturer’s name, trailer model, date of manufacture, and its vehicle identification number – a unique 17-character number that meets ADR 61/03 – must also be permanently marked on the trailer plate.
Note: VSB 1 points out that some state and territory registering authorities require a VIN to be stamped onto a substantial part of the trailer (such as the drawbar) for registration purposes.
Trailers with a GTM of 3500kg or less must also be fitted with a tyre placard that includes the following at minimum:
- The tyre size;
- The tyre load rating;
- The speed rating; and
- Cold inflation pressure.
The tyre placard should be made of “durable material and positioned where it can be easily seen”. According to VSB 1, though, it is permissible for this tyre information to be contained on the main vehicle plate, rather than for a separate placard to be fitted.
Under the MVSA, the vehicle plate was required to contain a statement certifying that the trailer complied to the MVSA. Additionally, it had to carry a statement certifying that the tyres fitted to the trailer had a speed category of “not less than ‘L’ 120km/h”.
Under the RVSA, this statement is not required on the Secure Vehicle Identification plate.
Naturally, VSB 1 requires the trailer’s weight ratings and its unladen mass to be included. These are: the vehicle’s Tare (unladen) mass, its Aggregate Trailer Mass (the maximum permissible design weight of the van), and its Gross Trailer Mass (the maximum permissible design weight that can sit just on the van’s wheels – i.e., it doesn’t include the ball weight).
Notably, VSB 1 does not require manufacturers to include the van’s unladen ball weight or its group axle capacity. Nonetheless, this information is usually provided by the manufacturer anyway, since it is crucial information for the trailer’s owner to know.
If the unladen ball weight and group axle capacity are not provided, we strongly encourage you to seek it out.
Vehicle manufacturers and importers (including those of caravans and campers) are now required to record each model they produce or import on the ‘Register of Approved Vehicles’. A breach of the Road Vehicle Standards Act occurs if an actual vehicle specification (such as Tare mass) does not match the details entered on the register.
MEET THE AUTHOR
Max Taylor has been caravanning since he was a kid and was the editor of some of Australia’s most well-known RV publications for almost 10 years.