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Isuzu Dmax touring 4WD build; a look into what it weighs

A few months ago, I was backed into a corner with the weight of my Isuzu Dmax. It was going to be over weight at the end of the build and no matter what I thought of the only real solution was to get a GVM Upgrade. This was done by ARB using an Old Man Emu suspension package. 4WD Weights can be scary, once you start to look into them!

I refuse to drive a vehicle that is illegal, as the risks are just simply too high to ignore. Our entire build has been done carefully to ensure that we don’t meet any of the 32 ways to make your 4WD illegal!

This particular kit lifts the GVM from 2950kg to 3220kg, and effectively gives you 270kg of additional payload to play with. If you want to know more about it, you can read the post here – Isuzu Dmax GVM Upgrade.

If you want to know all the nitty gritty about our Isuzu Dmax, here’s the full build to check out with heaps of photos: Isuzu Dmax built for touring Australia.

If you want to know what the build cost, you can find out here; Dmax build cost.

Isuzu Dmax offroad

Our Isuzu Dmax, setup for touring Australia

Off the factory floor

The 2016 Dmax off the factory floor is supposed to weigh 1950kg, but this is with no one on board, and only about 10 – 15L of fuel in the fuel tank (this seems to be the industry standard). So, fill the fuel tank up, and you are sitting at about 2000kg (diesel is only 0.8kg per litre), and potentially a little more.

Dmax modifications

Our new Dmax, a few weeks after it arrived

Swapping Ute setups

I removed the tub, which I’d estimate to be about 60 – 80kg, and replaced it with a second hand bull motor bodies canopy, which weighs about 200kg, including the 50L water tank (empty), 120W solar panel, some basic shelving, a ridiculously big (2500W) inverter and a few other bits and pieces.

I put a lot of thought into our Ute Canopy, after not being happy with the one on our Hilux. If you are considering getting a canopy, there are heaps of options and things to think about. Have a read of this and you’ll know exactly what to look for; Buying a 4WD Ute Canopy; the ultimate guide.

Dmax bull motor body canopy

The ‘new’ Bull Motor bodies canopy

What other weight was added


Normally, there are 2 adults, and our 2 little boys in the car. That’s 150kg for the adults, and 25kg for the kids, but also another 25kg for their car seats.

Water tank and solar panel

Fill the 50L water tank up, and you have another 50kg of weight. This is as far forward on the canopy, and sits almost entirely in front of the rear axle. The 200W solar panel weighs 15kg, and is permanently mounted to the roof racks.

Battery and electrical setup

I fitted a 150ah battery to the very front of the canopy, which weighs 45kg. I built an electrical enclosure out of 12mm marine ply, which takes a variety of fuse boxes, a Projecta IDC25 battery charger, several auto resetting circuit breakers and a fair bit of cable. The electrical system, including the cable, and enclosure (but excluding the battery) is about 15kg.

Dmax dual battery

Our battery, located as far forward in the canopy as possible

Fridge slide, drawer system and fridge

I built a box for the fridge slide and drawer system, out of 12mm marine ply. Each 2440 x 1220 sheet is 29kg, and I used nearly two sheets. Add in the weight of the runners (5kg each) and the Oates drawers (2.5kg x 6) and the drawer system empty is about 80kg. The 55L Evakool fridge is about 20kg empty.

EDIT – The 55L Evakool is now gone, and has been replaced with an 85L Bushman Upright fridge.

Installing 12V electrics

Catch can, secondary fuel filter and bigger cranking battery

I replaced the tiny cranking battery with an N70, which is probably 5kg heavier. The catch can and secondary fuel filter are probably 2kg each.

Dmax cranking battery

Amaron cranking battery in the Dmax

AFN Bull Bar, Runva XP11 winch and Bushskinz Bash plates

The AFN Bull Bar weighs about 50kg, the winch 25kg and the Bash plates 45kg. These are 3 plates, made from 4mm mild steel and cover the radiator, sump and transmission (but not the transfer case).

The weight of a Bull Bar is considerable, and one of the major factors I considered when shopping around for the best bull bar. If you want to know what else you should look at, check this out; What to look for in a 4WD Bull Bar.

Bash plates on our Dmax

The bash plates and bar on, and complete

Different tyres and rims

A lot of people don’t realise that when you install bigger tyres, and especially when you go to a more aggressive tread, you can add a substantial amount of weight. I went up in size (54mm bigger) to a 265/75/16, and up in tyre tread, which is an all terrain.

However, in order to counter some of the weight, I swapped from the factory steel rims to the LSM factory aluminium rims. I weighed the different setups (and still have the steel rims and old tyres in the shed) and there’s only 3kg more in weight, so there’s another 15kg (5 tyres and rims). If you want to know more about the legalities of this, have a read of Can you exceed 50mm bigger tyres?

Isuzu Dmax with bigger tyres

Factory LSM alloy rims and 265/75/16 inch Toyo AT2’s

Light bar

I installed a Stedi 42 inch ST4K LED light bar on some aluminium brackets, attached to the roof racks. This weighs about 10kg.

UHF and brake controller

Another couple of kgs in small electronic bits inside the car

Tow bar

A tow bar on your vehicle is not part of the empty weight. I’m told the factory tow bar on the Dmax weighs 55kg, which is a huge amount, and initially I thought it was wrong, but looking at the construction I bet it is correct.

Isuzu Dmax tow bar

The OEM tow bar

Tow ball weight

What ever you add to the vehicle has to come off the payload, and this includes the tow ball weight. Our camper trailer comes in at 1250kg, and the tow ball weight is anywhere between 40 and 100kg, depending on how it is loaded. This is a super important factor and is so often overlooked by people towing. If you want more information, check out What is tow ball weight and why does it matter?

EDIT – We now have a Lifestyle Reconn R2, with a tow ball weight between 80 – 180kg, depending on how its been loaded up

Kalgans Pool 4WD Track

Towing our camper trailer in the Pilbara

Pelican case

In order to keep the ute relatively modular, I opted to use a pelican case up one side, which is about a metre long by 500mm x 500mm. This holds recovery gear, spare parts, the compressor, various camping gear and other nick nacks. I really struggle to lift this when its full; it would be about 70kg.

Small pelican cases

In order to take oils, nuts and bolts, electrical cable, hose clamps and wire/general repair gear neatly, I’ve used the two Elocker cases left over from my old 80 series. When full, these are about 15kg each.


I take a Stanley combination tool set, which is strapped to the top of the big pelican case, and weighs about 15kg. I then take a big tool bag with everything from spanners to screwdrivers, allen keys, taps and drill bits, pliers, die grinder bits, hammers, punches and more. This bag would be about 30kg. I much rather have a good variety of tools around than be wishing I’d brought more.

Dmax ute setup

The ‘chuck it all in’ side

Maxtrax, stroller, fishing rods and other random gear

Add two sets of Maxtrax, a variety of fishing rods, Olivers stroller, 5L of engine oil, an 18V Ryobi Chainsaw, various lights and other bits and bobs, and you have another 60kg.

Total weight

Add the whole lot up, and you get 3100kg (including 150kg tow ball weight), which is pretty much bang on what the weighbridge told us. Given the GVM is 2950, its over the factory GVM. Luckily we have some wiggle room with the GVM upgrade, or we’d be in trouble.

In my mind, I am quite happy. It is heavy, but not ridiculously, and the weight has been balanced as best as possible given it is a dual cab ute. I could have fitted a heap of other gear, but wanted to keep it simple, economical and functional.

EDIT – In 2021, we had a mobile weighing service come and weigh our Isuzu Dmax and Reconn R2, and the results were quite interesting despite being well under many of the weights. You can read more about this in detail here – Mobile Weighing.

It is extremely easy to go over the GVM or GCM, and a lot of people are none the wiser of it. Not sure if you are legal? Have a read of this – Towing capacity; a simple guide to keep you legal.

How has it performed?

We are pretty happy with our Isuzu Dmax. After 3 years of ownership and 50,000km, we have written a full review; Isuzu Dmax review after 3 years. There’s been a few issues, but overall its been a great choice.

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12 comments… add one
  • John Watson December 17, 2019, 6:13 PM

    Thanks for a great well described and practical write-up.
    Very useful and the right amount of detail.
    Just getting started on a set-up for a pre DPF 2016 Ranger.
    I found a CSM canopy body that will go on after pulling the tub off. The tub on the Ranger is quite a bit heavier than the DMax,
    so starting with a little bit of an advantage, but I am sure that I will lose it somewhere else.
    Great article

  • Aaron Schubert December 17, 2019, 6:39 PM

    Hey John,

    You are very welcome mate. Sounds like you are onto a winner already. Just do what you can to keep the weight down and forward, and you’ll have a blast


  • Cam January 26, 2020, 6:37 PM

    Great write up Aaron! I would say 90% of 4wd’s being used as 4wd’s are over limit, especially wagons. Some of the payloads on wagons, even large ones are pityful.

    I am also going through this with our 150 Prado. I bought it already kitted out with some gear on it, and it is over. She is going on a diet as over $4k for a GVM upgrade is extortion, given it is likely that the springs and shocks that would go in would be almost identical to the heavy duty OME already in there….

    It is a real compromise between some bits though, such as contemplating taking out the winch, leaving the hi-lift jack at home and some other recovery gear, only to potentially get stuck with a legal vehicle somewhere! Some of this stuff is nice security when you travel alone remotely, even if you don’t use it!

    Surely some of this has to come back to aftermarket suppliers installing the gear, knowing full well that the $15k worth of gear they just sold someone is only going to send them overweight..!?

    Anyway, good work.


  • Aaron Schubert January 28, 2020, 1:58 PM

    Hey Cam,

    Interestingly there’s rarely onus passed onto the workshops fitting the gear, but at least people are understanding more about the legalities. Some good workshops will have a discussion with you, but most don’t bother.

    I think you may find even with trimming weight you’ll have issues. One thing I would recommend is talking to ARB or a different shop – you may find that an engineer will just sign off the existing gear (probably around $700 to get it done, and much less depending on what state you are in through other independents).

    All the best mate


  • Sean Campbell March 10, 2020, 4:55 AM

    Nice write ups across the page mate. One thing that I have noticed is that people often over look axle and max axle weights.
    Every car has the kerb and max axle weight specified in the handbook, and I was very surprised at what the weights were relative to kerb weight.

    I hope that the figures specified for my car are lower than what is actually bearable by the axles, however I temper this hope with the knowledge of dynamic force impacts whilst 4wding / touring.

    You sure see plenty of cars with destroyed axles on YouTube 4wd shows!

  • Aaron Schubert March 10, 2020, 9:03 PM

    Hey Sean,

    Cheers mate. Yep, something that lots of people forget. You can be under GVM and still illegal with axle weights. Was watching the Explore life channel the other night; snapped diff housing on the Tanami. Not good at all.

    I’m slowly lightening the back of our Dmax, so hopefully this is avoided!


  • Steve March 12, 2020, 9:17 AM

    Nice write up on the dmax build.
    Just wondering what your axle weights are, allowable and actual..?

  • Aaron Schubert March 12, 2020, 5:11 PM

    Hey Steve,

    Honestly, I haven’t weighed the axles individually yet. We keep the weight fairly well distributed though, so I’d be fairly confident its under. Will get it all weighed soon, with the new Reconn R2 loaded and behind it

    All the best

  • Laurence McCarthy May 29, 2020, 4:00 PM

    Another well written article Arron .You are damn right about roof weights you just have to look at some of those back packing vehicles that send a shiver up your spine LOL!

  • Aaron Schubert June 4, 2020, 8:20 PM

    Hey Laurence,

    Yep, I’ve also seen some scary rigs!

    All the best

  • Roland Beerli June 16, 2020, 4:45 AM

    Hi Aaron,
    since we are just the two of us travelling we could remove the back seats that are not needed to gain some payload (I guess 40kg or so) and use the space to load heavier stuff as to distribute the weight.

    Is it legal to remove the back seats, to they have to be there for the rego?

    I am just exploring some options – leave at home what you do not need!


  • Aaron Schubert June 16, 2020, 7:49 PM

    Hey Roland,

    Yep, that’s a good idea. If they are a permanent removal, you are supposed to get it engineered, but if you leave the seatbelts and say its ‘temporary’ you should never have a problem.

    If we didn’t need the rear seats they’d be out for sure. You can build a small false shelf to make the storage easier too

    All the best

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