Caravan Overhang rules; is your van legal?

I’m always keen to learn something new, and when someone on Facebook commented on one of our photos and suggested that the aluminium box on the rear of our camper trailer made it illegal due to the overhang, I thought it’d be interesting to see what the regulations are, and whether we were actually legal or not.

I don’t know everything, and am more than happy to have things pointed out to me, but I was very curious as to how it could possibly be illegal! I had no idea what the regulations were, but they are actually really simple.

Reconn R2 off road
Someone suggested our aluminium box was illegal, so I decided to check

What’s the limitations?

The rules are actually really simple. Your caravan overhang can be up to 3.7 metres from the centre line of a single axle van, or in the middle of dual axles to the furthest point on the back of the van. Not sure whether to get a single axle vs dual axle caravan? This post covers it in detail.

However, if the distance from the centre of your axle (or axles) to the front storage point of your van is less than this, you have to be under that as well. This is so that vans with a small body (like ours), can’t have a massive 3.7 metre overhang, but it is the ultimate maximum for those with larger vans.

I realise this is hard to explain, so I took some measurements on our Reconn R2. From the centre of the axle, to the front storage point of the camper is 2750mm. That means the rear overhang cannot be more than 2750mm.

Caravan Overhang measurements
Measuring our Reconn R2 overhang to see if its compliant

I ran a tape from the axle back, and got a measurement of 2050mm to the back of the aluminium box, which means its within the law by 700mm. Yes, I could literally put another box that stuck 700mm further out and still be compliant, which is ridiculous.

If you are putting toolboxes and other gear on your van, make sure its going to be compliant, or you could end up in a pickle down the track!

Caravan overhang rules
Measuring the distance to the front storage boxes

Why does caravan overhang matter?

With more caravans on the road today than ever before, there’s a huge number of accidents that happen, and I’m going to suggest that a lot of them happen due to incorrect tow setups, lack of training, poor weight distribution and being overweight in general.

The more overhang you have, the stronger the pendulum is when your van gets a sway up. If you imagine the centre twists a couple of centimetres, by the time that is amplified at the rear of the van, it can be substantially more. 

If you have a van with a big overhang, there’s likely to be some weight there too, and that being flung from one side to the other in a hurry can be the beginning of terrible caravan sway, which often ends in a catastrophic way.

This is asides from the structural, and clearance issues you’d have from excessive caravan overhang, so its worth running a tape over your van and seeing where it sits.

If you have any substantial weight at the rear too (that wasn’t put there by the van manufacturer), its worth checking your tow ball mass, and considering relocating it closer to the axle, or getting rid of it!

Is your caravan overhang legal?

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  1. Hey Beardie,

    You’re welcome, and thanks for the constructive comment.

    It refers to the front load carrying compartment; in other words, where the actual caravan finishes at the front, excluding the drawbar.

    All the best

  2. I find articles such as this very helpful, so thank you for that, but it would be even more helpful if you could include a pointer to one or more official references. I find terms such as “the distance from the centre of your axle (or axles) to the front storage point of your van” to be quite vague, as it’s anything but clear what is meant by “front storage point of your van”, especially given that even the term “storage” is anything but specific. Nevertheless, thanks for the article.