What’s the maximum tray length on a ute?

If you are looking to fit a tray to your Ute, its important that you get something that is going to be functional, legal and sensible.

A lot of people are curious about the maximum tray length on a Ute that should be fitted, and there are actually some regulations around it, and reasons for fitting different length trays.

Traditionally, dual cab Utes always had 1600mm long trays, but this has grown over the last few years, with some people running 1900mm trays as ‘standard’. To be fair, the actual size of dual cabs has also grown, so its generally in proportion, but it doesn’t take away from the importance of fitting the right dual cab tray size for your vehicle.

It’s worth noting that space cabs have much longer trays, at the cost of losing half a seat spacing in the body of the vehicle. Single cabs then have the longest, and lose another half, giving you one row of seating only.

If you are considering installing a canopy, you should read our Ultimate guide to buying a Ute Canopy.

Ute tray length
What’s the maximum tray length?

What’s the regulations for maximum tray length?

If you have a look online, you’ll see that the Australian Design Regulations, or ADR specify that your rear overhang cannot exceed 60% of your wheel base. These are your Ute tray size limits.

To give you a practical example, our Isuzu Dmax has a wheelbase (distance from the centre of the front wheels to the centre of the rear wheels) of 3095mm.

60% of that is 1857mm. Essentially then, it means you are allowed a tray that is 1857mm beyond the centre of the rear axle. Add on the distance from the cab to the start of the rear axles and you’ll get somewhere around 400mm. 

The total maximum tray length in this example then would be 1857 + 400mm, or around 2.2 metres. I can tell you that running a tray this long would be a major mistake in almost every single circumstance, but that’s what the law allows, according to the Ute tray regulations.

Maximum tray length
A Victorian State Forest vehicle with a common size tray

Why would you want a longer tray?

Most people who want a longer tray do so for extra storage room. There can be instances where this is practical, but you should remember that more storage usually means more weight, and that is where your major issue will come. 

What’s the disadvantages of a longer tray?

Harder to fit in a car park

The longer you make your tray, the longer the vehicle will be and the harder its going to be to fit in a regular car park. A lot of Utes today are much bigger than they were in the past already, and they take up enough room as it is.

If we roll with the example above of a Dmax with a 2.2 metre tray, you are going to be looking at a vehicle that’s nearly 6 metres long, which is way too long for your average parking bay, and would make getting in and out a total nightmare. 

Turquoise bay parking
Could you imagine trying to park a 6 metre vehicle?

Poor weight distribution

By far and away the biggest reason for keeping your Ute tray short is for good weight distribution. On a typical dual cab Ute, when you apply weight to the tow ball you apply huge leverage, which lifts the front of the vehicle and transfers weight backwards. 

100kg of tow ball mass is around 144kg of weight applied to the rear axle, and when you fit a long tray, many of them hang out level, or even beyond the tow ball, which means you can be applying even more leverage.

Ever seen a photo of a bent Ute chassis? If not, jump on Google and check them out; it happens all the time and its almost always from a poorly, or overloaded setup. Often they’ll run a heavy canopy with all the fruit, but that’s not always the case.

Harder or impossible to hook a trailer up

The number of times I’ve seen people get trays that are only marginally longer than the factory setup, and still had issues hooking a trailer up, or being able to turn with one on is astronomical. If the tray hangs out anywhere near (or past) the tow ball, you are going to have major issues trying to hook it on. 

Our Isuzu Dmax
The longer the tray, the harder it is to tow something

Easier to damage your trailer or tray when towing and turning

As above, there’s a lot of damaged Ute trays and canopies, along with the trailers that they were towing. This is simply because the longer your tray, the more chance there is for it to hit your trailer when you turn. Essentially the two come together on one side, and it can be an expensive mistake. 

The shorter the tray, the bigger the gap and the better you’ll be able to manoeuvre your trailers, with less (or no) chance of damage.

What’s the best tray length?

Ideally, the standard size tray is what you should go for, unless you intend on loading it up hugely in which case something slightly shorter is better. For most dual cab Utes today anything between 1600 and 1800mm is ideal, with anything longer than that (and even 1800 sometimes) pushing the friendship.

Obviously there are some specific examples where a really long ute tray might be beneficial. If you were moving insulation (or something else light weight) every day with no need to ever tow a trailer, then there’s justification to get the maximum tray length. 

However, if you are like the average Joe, you should seriously consider keeping it at the standard length, or even a bit shorter if possible.

Restored 45 series
The shorter the tray, the better

Our setup

Our Dmax has a 1730mm Bull Motor Bodies Ute Canopy on it, which is as long as I’d want to go. It doesn’t hit our Reconn R2 when we turn sharply, but it gets pretty close, and shorter is better for weight distribution.

What tray length do you run? Why?

Dmax canopy
Our Dmax Canopy is a decent length, but we wouldn’t want anything longer!

Sharing is caring!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Hi Aaron,

    Thanks a lot for getting back to me. We have decided to opt for a space cab instead and found a company that manufactures lighter slide-ons than we initially found. We will definitely get chassis bracing done. So far, I only found a company in Queensland who installs the chassis braces. Do you know a company/an engineer in Perth who can fit the chassis braces and formally sign it off?

  2. Hey Maya,

    Thanks for your kind words. I always shudder when I see a big, heavy slide on camper on a dual cab Ute. By their very design, almost all of the weight you add is going to be on, or over the rear axle, and its not good in terms of staying legal, and ensuring your chassis doesn’t bend like a banana. That said, I’ll make some comments, and link to a post I wrote on chassis bending below.

    What are you intending on using the vehicle for? If you aren’t going to take it on rough roads, you have more flexibility with pushing the friendship. If you do go down this path, I would highly recommend getting chassis bracing done; the steel is only a few hundred dollars from Superior engineering and you need it signed off.

    Do you need it to be a dual cab Ute? Could you get away with a space cab or single cab? These are much, much more suitable for slide on campers. as you can get a lot more of the weight in front of the rear axles.

    1970mm, and 2100mm is realistically too long for a dual cab. I’d be surprised if the standard Hilux tray is over 1800mm, which means even 1970 is a big increase, and 2100 would be designed for a space cab ute, not a dual cab.

    I would join some groups on Facebook, and get accurate weights (including axle figures) from those who are running the same setup. I’ve looked at the travelander options, and even dry they are about 450kg. By the time you add everything in, the weight creeps up hugely.

    When you remove the slide on camper, you’ll probably find that the vehicle rides very hard, and is really stiff. This may or may not be an issue for your comfort.

    I don’t like the idea of these, but if you are careful, you might get away with it on a dual cab. I’ve seen a few of these running around.

    Have a read of this: https://www.4wdingaustralia.com/4×4/is-your-dual-cabs-chassis-likely-to-bend/

    All the best

  3. Hi Aaron,
    Your blog has been a great help in preparing our 4wd adventure in Australia! We are looking into buying a Hilux SR5 dual cab and putting a slide-on camper on it. We won’t do any towing. What are your thoughts on slide-on campers? We are considering two campers: Palomino has one with 1970 mm floor length, Aussie Roadrunner has one with 2100 mm floor length. We will also have our GVM upgraded and will be taking into account the max weight of the axles. Does the length of these campers seem reasonable to you? Thanks and best regards, Maya

  4. Hi Phil,

    1700mm is the ideal length for the Dmax. A lot of people do run 1800mm trays, and its not an issue except for the weight distribution difference, and that the tow ball will be basically level with the rear of the tray.

    Depending on the drawbar length of your trailer, and what might hit when you turn or articulate up and down it may or may not be a problem at all

    All the best

  5. I am considering putting a 1800 tray on my 2014 isuzu with a 1200 canopy with heavier item to the front of the tray and rear section for lighter loose items. I do some towing. Thoughts? Thank you

  6. Hey Gary,

    I had to look up what club cab means – most of the time we call them space cabs, or extra cabs! 2100 sounds fine for that, especially if you keep any heavy weight forward

    All the best

  7. We’re looking at getting an aluminium gullwing canopy for our Triton Club Cab.
    Thinking 2100mm long (1600 canopy + 500 flat tray at rear).
    The flat tray is for carrying 2 pushbikes so nothing super heavy.
    Do you think that sounds reasonable?