Choosing the Right Car for Your Camper Trailer

So, you’ve made the decision to purchase a camper. Good one! Now it’s time to focus on your car– probably the most important part of your camper trailer adventures.

Mars Campers are so lightweight and easy to tow that in most cases, the car you have won’t need upgrading and will be fine to tow your trailer with (unless you’re still driving your Hyundai Getz).

Although you may not need a certain car to tow a Mars Camper weight wise, you need to think about the ways in which you’ll use your camper and how your car fits in.

The off-road capabilities of the camper are endless, so you need to make sure your car is up to the challenge.

Truck in snow

If you’re spending the money and taking the leap to purchase a new camper, you’re signing up to create lifelong memories with your family and see as much of this beautiful country as you can.

You’ve just dedicated yourself to good times and years and years of adventures– invest the time and energy into making sure all the bits and pieces are up to scratch and ready to go so there’s nothing but good times ahead for you and your family.

If you have just purchased a camper trailer, you’ll know that it’s an exciting time and there’s lots to think about and prepare for. While getting ready for a camper trailer holiday is mostly fun and games, there are still some technical aspects you need to get right to make sure that you are getting the most out of your car and your trip.

There are also some pesky legalities to consider, yep there’s some laws around towing and it’s crucial that you are all over them before you leave. You don’t want something as silly as this putting a damper on an amazing holiday or long-term getaway.

Most importantly, you need to make sure you are safe. Remember, although setting yourself up for the road with all the bits and bobs may seem time consuming and expensive, they pay off quickly (both literally and figuratively)

Let’s go through some of the most important things you need to know when choosing the right car to tow your camper trailer.

First up, let’s talk about determining the weight of your camper and your car to make sure it fits in with the regulations. It can sound on the tricky side, but once you have the hang of it, the formula will become second nature!

Mechanic working on car

Pop your problem-solving cap on for a moment and read on. Mars can help you with all these specifics or read more about it here.

You need to figure out four things: Aggregate Trailer Mass, Gross Trailer Mass, Gross Combination Mass and Tow Ball Mass.

Aggregate Trailer Mass (ATM)
ATM, referred to as the Aggregate Trailer Mass, is the maximum rating the trailer can legally weigh once everything is loaded into it. When your camper is loaded, it must not exceed the ATM rating.

Here’s how to find your ATM:
ATM = tare mass (weight of the trailer) + maximum loads (luggage, passengers, water, fuel and accessories) + Tow Ball Mass (we’ll get to that)

Gross Trailer Mass (GTM)
GTM is the rating when the loaded camper trailer is hitched to the vehicle. It must not be exceeded.
You can calculate your Gross Trailer Mass by the Aggregate Trailer Mass minus the Tow Ball Mass.

Working out Gross Combination Mass (GCM)
The Gross Combination Mass rating is determined by the total weight of the car and trailer combination plus the entire contents and passengers loaded.
GCM = GTM + GVM (Gross Vehicle Mass)

Tow Ball Mass (TBM)
You’re almost there! Lastly, there is the Tow Ball Mass rating which is the amount of weight a camper trailer applies to the tow ball of the vehicle. This is essentially knowing about the tow bar capacity of your vehicle. This is one to look out for because a manufacturer may state that a vehicle can legally tow, say up to 2,500kg, but it may only have a 1,500kg towbar fitted, which may limit the camper trailer you decide to buy.

By doing the homework before you buy your trailer or thinking about any car upgrades you might be ready to make, you will be better equipped in deciding which tow vehicle to go with and vice versa.

Off-road adventures

We know, you know that your Mars Camper can go just about anywhere. But can your car do the same? Think off road. Can your car easily get through rocky terrain, through sand and possibly snow, water, creeks. For all of the surfaces that your camper is built to tackle, your car needs to be too.

For each situation you find yourself in, there is specific care that you need to take to make sure that you have the right tyre pressure, and that you can fit through certain spaces and come out the other side unhinged and unscathed!

Road view from car mirror

When it comes to your tyres themselves, knowing where you are travelling ahead of time will help determine the type of tyre you will need. Most people opt for light truck tyres for any off-road travel but be warned that they will wear down over time. All terrain tyres in this case may be a good compromise, especially if you plan to use your tow vehicle for regular daily driving as well.

Having all sorts of tyres also means that you can let your journey take you where your heart desires. You’ve gotten yourself a trailer that lets you go wherever you want, why be restricted by your car?

Our top picks for towing a camper trailer

We’ve put together a list of cars that we like for getting a camper trailer around. We have considered things like go power and fuel efficiency. Having a car that uses as little petrol as possible is good on any given day, however when you’re doing a lot of driving it can be the difference between staying on the road longer and heading home.

  • Mazda CX-5. This car is lightweight has a pretty decent fuel efficiency. It’s got plenty of space for all your passengers without having the kids in the backseat knee deep in cooking utensils and containers of toys.
  • 150 Series Prado. Although not the newest car on the market, this car goes the distance and is popular amongst campers around Australia. This car has a great off-road capability.
  • Kia Sorrento. This is a favourite, and a great option because it isn’t too big for everyday life. It’s a great car to have for both life on the road and day-to-day.

Think about the long term

While buying a camper trailer may be a costly investment initially, it really does pay itself off as you’re able to create years and years’ worth of memories for your family. But will your car go the distance? once you factor in all the other day to day things your car is used foe, from swimming lessons to weekend catch-up’s and everything in between, camping may seem like a small part of your family’s life. However, it’s worth considering your trailer and what it needs to be able to properly get your family from A to B.

Feet on car dashboard

Of course, there are so many important things to think about when buying a new car. Is it safe? Will it fit everyone? Is it economical and fuel efficient? Will the sand from everyone’s shoes be easily cleaned? But when it comes down to it, these are the questions you will have to ask when it is time to make sure your car is ready and rearing to tow your camper trailer all over the country.

Next Steps

Ready to make the next move? Take a look at which camper suits you. The Mars Campers team is always willing to help you with enquiry about which car is best and all about towing recommendations.

CTA - Camper Trailer Buyers Guide