Australian A-frame Rules and Regulations

Many people traveling Australia in motorhomes elect to take a second vehicle with them. For 8 years we achieved this by carrying a Mini Moke inside our motorhome. This proved to be a great way of having a second vehicle without the need to tow. However the Moke has its limitations and we have recently decided to forgo the convenience of the Moke in favour or a four-wheel-drive vehicle.

This will not fit inside the motorhome and so it must be towed. We have chosen an A-Frame over a car trailer for a number of reasons. Before going down this track I spent quite a lot of time researching the quite complex rules and regulations that each state enforces regarding A-framing a vehicle.

Below is a table presenting the most important of these regulations for each state. (I could not find any published information of the requirements for Tasmania). Many of the regulations are common sense (like “It must be safe to tow the vehicle” OR “The A-frame must allow for an adequate amount of angular movement between the two vehicles” ) and these have not been included in the table. I strongly recommend that you obtain a copy of the complete regulations for each state and check for compliance before towing in that state.

ACT/NSW

VIC

QLD

SA NT WA

Must display two indicator, two brake, two tail lights and two  reversing lights at the rear of the towed vehicle

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y
Must light the number plate of the towed vehicle Y Y Y Y Y Y
May use towed vehicles own lights OR a portable board Y Y Y Y Y Y
Removable sign with the words “VEHICLE UNDER TOW” Y
Must operate the towed vehicles brakes if towed vehicle > 2 tonne Y Y
Maximum total length (both vehicles) 19m 19m 19m 19m 19m 19m
A-Frame must be marked with manufacturer name and rating. Y Y Y Y
Must have safety chain(s) fitted
(Size requirement and number of chains differs with weight of vehicle and state)
Y Y Y Y Y Y
A-Frame must be marked with both vehicles VIN number Y Y
Weight ratio – towed vehicle : towing vehicle none 1:3.5 1:3.5 1:3.5 1:3.5 1:3.5
Maximum distance between the two vehicles 4m 2m 2m 2m 2m
Maximum turning circle diameter 25m 25m 25m 25m 25m 25m
Maximum speed 100k 100k
Park brake must hold both vehicles on a 12%  gradient Y Y Y Y Y Y

Minimum stopping distance requirements –

<2.5 tonne 12.5m @35km/h

>2.5 tonne 16.5m @35km/h

Y Y Y Y Y Y

 

Other important information about A-framing in each state

 

Certification :

 

NSW :

Persons contemplating the use of an A-frame towing device must obtain an engineering certificate from an RTA recognised engineering signatory

 

VIC :

“Unless the A-Frame is a proprietary item that has been designed and is appropriately marked as being suitable for the make and model of the towed vehicle, the A-Frames and connecting hardware, including the connection of the A-frame and safety chains to the towed vehicle, must be certified by a VASS Signatory.”

QLD : None

SA : None

NT:

Unless the A-Frame is a proprietary item that has been designed and is appropriately marked as being suitable for the make and model of the towed vehicle, the A-Frames and connecting hardware, including the connection of the A-frame and safety chains to the towed vehicle, must be certified by a recognised engineering signatory.

 

WA :

Obtaining the assistance of an Engineering Signatory to confirm that an “A”-frame towing vehicle combination and “A”-frame coupling apparatus meet the requirements of this Information Bulletin is recommended.

 

This bulletin provides a guide for the individual seeking approval for the simple (un-braked) “A”-frame towing of a small motor vehicle. Persons who wish to tow vehicles equipped with proprietary or individually constructed systems incorporating braking of the towed vehicle will need to seek advice from their respective Road Transport Authority.

 

 

Regarding A-framing in other states :

NSW :

“A-frame towing may not be acceptable in other states or territories. Owners should check directly with the relevant road authority of their state/territories requirement.”

VIC :

Persons who tow a registered motor vehicle in accordance with this information sheet will be able to tow legally in all States and Territories.

 

QLD :

Persons living in other states will need to check with the Road Transport Authority in which their vehicle is registered to determine individual state requirements for the towing of vehicles with “A” frames.

 

SA : None

NT : None

WA :

Persons who tow vehicles in accordance with this bulletin will be able to tow legally in all States and Territories. However, in order to ensure that potential problems with enforcement officers are minimised, it is recommended that a copy of this bulletin, together with any reports, approvals or other documentation, is carried in the vehicle at all times.


 

Conclusion :

While there is some consistency in the regulations and requirements across most states, some requirements vary wildly between states. This of course makes life very difficult for interstate travellers wishing to A-frame a second vehicle as they travel the entire country.

Interestingly some states proclaim that meeting their requirements will allow the setup to be used in all states and territories, while other states do not and recommend seeking approval from each states authority.

Some states require an engineering certificate for the entire A-framing combination (towing vehicle, towed vehicle and all of the connecting hardware and safety chains. To further complicate this requirement, they specify that the engineering certificate must bear the signature of one of their approved engineers.

With the exception of the requirements of some states to have an engineering certificate for the combination, it should not be too difficult to equip and setup a vehicle for legal A-framing in all states.

I suspect that having done this, any issues experienced with enforcement officers would relate to some degree to the mood of the officer encountered on the day.

Have you had an encounter with an enforcement officer in regards to towing with an A-frame? If so we would all like to hear about your experience. Please leave a comment in the “leave a reply” box below.

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8 Responses to “Australian A-frame Rules and Regulations”

  1. Peter Jackson Says:

    Hi Gav & Tracey,
    Pleased to hear that you guys are travelling well, regular reader to your Web Site. We have chosen the tilta trailer with Suzuki Jimny on board. Last year on our travels we witnessed on 2 ocassions people A Framing and not being able to reverse there way out of sticky situations. Their are points for and against everything though. When you guys are away from the bus your not advertsing your absence with an empty trailer. Have fun best wishes.

    Peter Jackson

  2. Peter MIlliken Says:

    Hi Gavin & Tracey
    l am very interested to read your reasons for preferrence of an A-Frame to a Trailer for towing your 4×4. l have been following your web site now for about 12 months and find it very informative, firstly about your all your travels, also the very handy do and don’ts as well as the articles concerning motorhomes generally.

    Peter

  3. Hobo Says:

    Hi Peter,
    I have had a number of people ask the same question – the answer may not be very helpful…

    For us the opportunity presented its self for us to purchase an almost complete package at a reasonable price – and given the alternative of building or having a trailer built, it was the most sensible way for us to go.

    We did make a list of pros and cons for each option …

    A-Frame vs car tralier

    Pros
    – Simpler and cheaper (when compared to a well-constructed trailer)
    – Nothing much to store when the vehicle is not being towed
    – No “we are not home” trailer to advertise our absence
    – Very fast and simple to get off the bus (1 minute).
    – The total length of our setup shrinks (to 11m) when we take the car off the back
    – Will handle corrugated roads better than a trailer
    – Lighter than car/trailer option
    – No additional registration/insurance

    Conns
    – Hard on the towed vehicle – running gear turning as towed – tires etc
    – A few stories of legal issues (although these can be dealt with)
    – Almost impossible to reverse more than a few meters (trust me on this … I have tried)
    – Deep sand is a problem (found this out ourselves)
    – The a-frame brackets are designed for one make/model of vehicle only – large expense to change vehicle type
    – Only some vehicles can be a-framed – so a limited choice of second vehicle
    – With the Vitara we must stop and run the Vitata engine for 1 minute every 300km to lube the transmission

    In my opinion – if money was not part of the equation (and it always is) I would prefer a very robustly constructed – bullet-proof trailer. However, having seen a number of car trailers that have either broken or been severely damaged on bad roads, I am very happy with our choice.

  4. JEFF Says:

    I HAVE RECENTLY GONE AND PURCHASED AN [ A FRAME] HITCH N GO OVER THE TRAILER, AS I BELIEVE THERE ARE MORE PROS THAN CONNS. HOWEVER,, ONE” VERY MAJOR” POINT HAS BEEN OVERLOOKED. THAT IS ”’COST ” OF AN A FRAME IN N.S.W.
    ” A FRAME” WAS SUPPLIED/ BUILT ACCORDING TO N.S.W. LAW REQUIREMENTS AND FITTED FOR $ 3,600 = ENGINEERS CERTIFICATE $ 1,600= AS AT 3/15 TOTAL.$ 5,200= WOW.
    WHEN SOME STATES EG, SA CAN MAKE THERE OWN A FRAME $ 000 ENGINEERS CERTIFICATE” NOT REQUIRED” $ 000
    WOW. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS COUNTRY, ? ANSWER A VERY GREEDY $$$$$$$ N.S.W. STATE GOVERNMENT.

  5. Hobo Says:

    I agree 100%.
    When we upgraded our towed car to a newer model, I went to the company that supplied the a-frame and asked for new brackets for the new vehicle. They wanted $1200 for the two small brackets. I told them which station to get off at! Just greed.

  6. Rod bates Says:

    Gday has anyone had a A frame issues by police in nsw it appears they are the only ones with towed vehicle brakes being required I have A frame towed from wa to tas with no issues however am concerned about travelling through nsw. My unit is a 9500 – 10400 GVM. GCM 15000 can legally tow 4.5 ton trailer my truck now motor home and a Nissan patrol 4/4 1800kg.? So I well and truly meet the max gcm rule
    Cheers rod bates

  7. Al Mac Arthur Says:

    After reading all your story’s i have decided to go with an A frame ,I was thinking of a dolly to tow my Toyota work mate .After looking at the width of a dolly behind my Coaster ,The A frame winds .
    Thank you all.
    A R Mac Arthur

  8. garry softley Says:

    I have a 2000 gu Nissan patrol would like to A-frame it behind a 8.5 ton motorhome.
    does anyone know if this possible
    thanks
    garry

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