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What is the speed limit while towing in Australia?

Towing a caravan or boat can be a complicated procedure, but luckily most states don't impose a speed limit while driving with a

Towing a trailer is a complicated business. Just ask anybody who has tried to reverse a trailer through a gateway or any other restricted space. But beyond the physical, there's also a few legal witches' hats to dodge, and some of those have to do with the legal speed at which you can tow a trailer, caravan, camper-trailer, boat or horse float. And, typically, they vary from state to state.

The good news is that there's a certain degree of uniformity across the states and territories, so there isn't a breakdown of towing speed limits by state, and, in most cases, the legal towing speed of your conventional trailer/caravan combination is at the legal posted limit.

The exceptions are Western Australia where the absolute limit for a towing vehicle is 100km/h, even if the limit for that section of road is 110km/h. Other than that, the maximum towing speed is the posted limit.

There really isn't a towing speed limit in the NSW, but the state has a 100km/h absolute maximum on all rigs with a combined mass of greater than 4.5 tonnes. While that sounds like a fair bit, a modern four-wheel-drive towing a big boat or caravan can easily exceed that figure, so a trip to the local weighbridge is a good idea before you hit the road and cruise along at 110km/h on the freeway.

Tasmania also has a caveat that states any combination of more than 12 tonnes are subject to specific speed limits, but below that, the posted limit applies.

Is there a towing speed limit in Victoria/South Australia? Nope, you can go as fast as legally allowed.

The over-riding rule with all of this, however, is that all states and territories demand that you, at all times, drive safely and drive according to the conditions. Which is another way of saying that even if you were within the speed limit, but the rod was icy or visibility was poor, you could still be breaking the law by technically driving dangerously.

Meantime, just as different manufacturers apply different towing weight-limits to their vehicles, so do some insist on their own towing speed limit. For instance, Subaru's official line is that nobody should tow with its vehicles at more than 80km/h. Ford Australia has a sliding scale speed limit while towing according to the weight of the trailer. For loads of 2700kg or more (a pretty big caravan) Ford says the limit on its Territory SUV should be 80km/h. For a 2300kg load, the Ford-specified limit is 85km/h, and for a 1600kg towed load, Ford recommends keeping things to 95km/h or less.

The bottom line is that you should consult your owner's manual before hitching up. Even then, the view taken by your insurance company on this matter may not correspond with the manufacturer's advice, but it just might, so it's worth checking with your insurer first if you intend to ignore the advice in the owner's manual.

It's also important that you know exactly what towing equipment is fitted to your vehicle as a lot of it was optional. Both Holden and Ford, for instance, offered factory towing packs for their full-sized cars which were made up of more than a dozen different pieces of hardware. A car without these kits cannot tow the same loads as the same car with the towing kit fitted, but might not necessarily affect the car towing speed limits.