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.
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.
Here’s the full build, with photos and all the nitty gritty you need: Isuzu Dmax built 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.
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 body 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
What other weight was added
Normally, there are 2 adults, and our little boy in the car. That’s 150kg for the adults, and 15kg for Oliver, but also another 15kg for his car seat.
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.
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.
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.
AFN Bull Bar, Runva XP11 winch and Bushskinz Bash plates
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?
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
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.
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 towball weight is anywhere between 40 and 100kg, depending on how it is loaded.
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.
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.
Add the whole lot up, and you get 3030kg (including 100kg tow ball weight), which is pretty much bang on what the weighbridge told us. Given the GVM is 2950, its over the factory GVM by 80kg. 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.
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 – A simple towing guide to keep your 4WD and trailer legal.