Home » Industry News » ADRs & Regulations » Safety Chain and Tow Hooks: An Engineering Perspective

Safety Chain and Tow Hooks: An Engineering Perspective

by | Aug 25, 2023 | ADRs & Regulations, Industry News | 0 comments

Are Hooks Legal for Towing a Caravan?

Short Answer: Using a tow hook to connect your safety chain is not marked as legal.

Tow hooks are sometimes referred to as sling hooks, hook n slings, safety latches, or sliding hooks.

Engineering Perspective on Tow Hooks

Safety Chain falls under ADR 62, which outlines the Australian Standard for Mechanical Connections between Vehicles.

Since 2019, the Department of Transport has maintained that “the safe connection of a trailer to a vehicle is only as strong as the weakest link.”

Safety latches and sliding hooks have been specifically designed for lifting loads. It’s important to note that it’s not that tow hook aren’t intended for bearing weight, but that it lacks the design to accommodate the natural movement of a safety chain. This is precisely why 4WD enthusiasts recommend using a Bow Shackle over a D-Shackle, to allow for that left-to-right, up-and-down articulation.

Couplemate™ Engineers do not recommend the use of safety latches and sliding hooks when towing a caravan, boat trailer, or camper. Instead, you should opt for rated shackles (like a hammerlock).

How To Select Rated Shackles

Example of a Bow Shackle with a WLL (Working Load Limit)

Example of a Rated Shackle.

The safest way to select safety chain shackles is to buy one that has the Working-Load Limit (WLL) engraved.

The BLL must be at least 1.5 x the ATM. The general way to work out what WLL you need by using your trailer or caravan ATM. If you multiply the WLL number by four, it needs to either meet or exceed your ATM.

In the example image, “WLL1.5T” is inscribed. This means that the WLL of that shackle is 1.5 tonnes (or 1500kg), which means it can handle an ATM of up to 6 tonnes (6000kg).

Please see the following table for more ratings

  • 0.75t Dee Shackle = 3.0t ATM Caravan
  • 1t Dee Shackle = 4.0t ATM Caravan
  • 1.5t Dee Shackle = 6.0t ATM Caravan
  • 2t Dee Shackle = 8.0t ATM Caravan

For more depth on shackle selection, Couplemate™ recommends consulting the Department of Transport’s Guide on Safe Towing.

Difficulties with Attaching Safety Chain

One key reason why people use tow hooks is that they are far easier to attach.

This does relate to the topic of accessibility, as some conditions (like arthritis) can make attaching your safety chain a challenge. If you are struggling, Couplemate™ recommends using a larger D-Shackle or Bow Shackle instead of a hammerlock (butterfly clips).

As long as the shackle is adequately rated and fits your safety chain, opt for a larger pin. This will make it far less difficult for you to attach and undo your caravan’s safety chains while staying legal and safe.

Getting Help with Trailers & Towing

If you need help, our sales team is available to help answer any questions.

Contact us here.


Submit a Comment

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