GVM Upgrade – what’s involved?

Well, what a process this has been! We purchased our 2013 Avida Esperance in 2016. It had done 33,000km at the time. As we have traveled we have added things to it such as an extra water tank, removed the tiny 150W inverter and installed a 1000W inverter, added a couple of 12V points and fitted a washing machine under the lift up bed. We have also taken out the microwave and are having a cupboard made to fit in the space it left behind. We have also had the large bottom drawer in the kitchen rebuilt and fitted with heavy duty runners as the ones that were original were just not up to the job.

We have made these changes as we have found over time that we prefer to camp in more remote places, mostly off the grid. Nothing beats being in a fabulous spot all by ourselves camped by a river, on a point overlooking a lake, next to a beach where we can hear the waves crashing or just in the bush where we can sit around our little fire pit.

To camp like this we needed the extra water, the larger inverter and we never used our microwave as it required 240V power. Instead we used it as a bread bin! It is much better to have the useful cupboard space instead.

Another thing we have purchased, but are yet to use, is a second cassette for our toilet. We bought it as we didn’t want to be camped in a great spot and be forced to pack up and go just to empty the cassette. We find we only get 3-4 days out of one cassette as we use our toilet all the time. We are now limited by the amount of fresh water we can carry but as we now have 180L on board. At roughly 15L per person per day this means we can camp out for 5-6 days. We can even stretch this to a week if we are really careful with our water usage.

Now having made all these changes we were concerned that we would now be overweight. The GVM on our registration is 4495kg and the tare is 3790kg. That only leaves room for a small payload of 705kg and this has to include us, all our water, our fuel, food and clothing, wood, tools, my kayak, the washing machine, wine, our two heavy ebikes on their rack and all the other stuff we think we need. On our last trip we were able to test our thoughts as we came across an unmanned weighbridge in SA that is free for travellers to use. This was too good to pass up and as we drove onto the weighbridge a digital display on a pole in front us gave our weight as 4890kg. Almost 400kg overweight. We had just filled up with fuel and water in the previous town so this gave us a really accurate measurement of what we truly weigh most of the time. It was time to investigate upgrading our GVM.

Silly me! I thought this would be a reasonably straightforward process. When Avida import the Iveco chassis they build the motorhomes on they can choose to have the lower 4495kg rating or the higher one of 5200kg. The Iveco 50C can be rated at either. I’m guessing it is to enable the motorhome to be able top be driven on a car licence that they choose the lower rating. However then you come across the same problem we find ourselves in.

I researched the internet to find out what to do to upgrade the GVM and there was lots of information but most of it was conflicting. OK so first up I contacted Avida, the manufacturer of the motorhome. They helpfully replied and said I need to contact Iveco and gave the contact details. I then contacted Iveco and they forwarded my details to the nearest local Iveco dealer which just happens to be in Wagga Wagga 200kms away. The fellow there was helpful and completed an online form which then was sent to Iveco who then sent a Rating Confirmation Letter saying that the vehicle could be rated at either weight. The dealer suggested I take this to Service NSW along with the rego papers and they should be able to process the change. This Rating Confirmation letter cost $231.

Well going to Service NSW was an experience……..NOT. The lady I spoke to there had no idea what was needed and had to contact another department. Apparently they were all at a meeting so she suggested she give me call when she knew what the process was. I did some further research of the Service NSW documentation and found that I may need an engineers certification. After asking the mechanic who looks after our motorhome who in our area is certified to do an upgrade to Light Rigid he gave me the name of a local engineer.

Luckily, when I called the engineer, he was coming to Griffith in a few days and would call out to our place and do the compliance check. He did this, took lots of photos and would send the certificate and modification compliance plate once completed. This was duly sent along with an invoice for $650.

Next step was to take all the documentation to Service NSW along with a completed Change of Details form and have it processed. Sounds simple really! Alas a rule change has meant that ALL vehicles over 4.5t now have to have National Heavy Vehicle plates and the plates were on the motorhome which was down at the mechanics. So off to the mechanic to get the current plates and back to Service NSW. Finally GVM upgrade was processed and new NHV plates were issued.

The next step was to get a heavy vehicle pink slip. Our mechanic was able to do that and as the motorhome was in for a service he was able to do the pink slip at the same time.

Back again to Service NSW and rego was renewed for another year. When we get back from our next trip I will need to order an Auxiliary plate for lour bike rack.

As the motorhome will be rated as Light Rigid I will need to upgrade my licence to Light Rigid as well. Richard already has a Light Rigid Licence so I am able to drive it was long as Richard is in the vehicle ‘supervising’. This might be OK most of the time but there are occasions where I drive it on my own so an upgrade to my licence is needed. This involves sitting for an online Driver Knowledge Test at your local Service NSW. I downloaded the test questions from their website and practised the online test a few times before booking a test time online. I’m happy to say I passed that one with 100%. Really the only questions that I needed to learn were the ones related to trucks, loads, heights etc. The other questions are really just general road knowledge and if you’ve been driving for as long as I have you should know those already.

The next step is the Driving Test and that is booked at the time you pass the Driver Knowledge Test. You can take the test in your own vehicle so was able to do it in the motorhome. I’m happy to say I passed the test and now have a Light Rigid licence.

What a long winded process but I’m happy it is done now and we can travel knowing we are within our legal weight limits.


9 thoughts on “GVM Upgrade – what’s involved?

  1. What a great in-depth storey and information provided thankyou very helpful.

    I’m assuming light rigid upgrade equals more expensive pink slip, green slip, roadworthy, registration and insurance though please advise thankyou 🙂


    • Thanks. It was a bit of a process. I haven’t actually compared the costs however the feeling of security knowing we are now NOT overweight was worth any extra. We were 400kg overweight previously and now we know we have 200kg or more to spare. It is a very comfortable feeling. We recently went over a weighbridge in SA and, fully loaded, we weighed in at 4890kg. Plenty of spare kg’s to get to our GVM of 5200kg.

      Not only do you risk paying hefty fines for being overloaded but the chance of having our insurance voided because we were knowingly overloaded makes paying any extra worthwhile.


  2. I have a 2014 Avida esperence
    I am the 3rd owner I have had mine weighed recently and was 45 kg over
    I have 2 -90 litre water tanks which were empty , a half of tank of fuel and was the only person in the vehicle
    I had no food , drinks, or clothing
    In the vehicle so I have to upgrade to light rigid
    I checked with an engineer who advised me I need to upgrade
    My licence before he could do the gvm upgrade so I booked a 4 hour training course to be followed by a driving test I asked the engineer and the trainer if I could do the test in my motor home and they both said yes
    After doing my training lesson we went in to do paper work before doing the test and was advised that I couldn’t do the test because my vehicle was registered under a car licence so I have booked in to do a test on 3/1/2023
    I would suggest a large percentage of Avida esperence owners who are driving on a car licence are overloaded
    When you got your gvm upgraded did they physically do anything to your motor home and did you get a mod plate certificate
    Also can you tell me how much it cost
    I have been quoted $400 to get mine done but that seems too cheap.
    Your thoughts would be appreciated.


    • Hello Keith,
      Yes, I think you are right about a lot of Esperances being overweight. We had no idea we were until we found that weighbridge and found we were 400kgs over.

      Upgrading took a few weeks but we are so glad we did it. Nothing had to be done to the motorhome and the Engineer issues the modifications plate. His fee was $650. We also paid $231 to get a Ratings Confirmation Letter from Iveco via a local dealer.

      I did my driving test in the motorhome AFTER it had been upgraded.

      Hope this helps.


      • Thanks for your reply.
        When you went for your driving test did you have to do a 90 degrees left hand reverse park around a corner


      • No I’m glad I didn’t have to do that! Although I did have to do a reverse park. I did say to the test officer that’s it’s a bit silly really as when will I ever do a reverse park but as the licence covers all light rigid vehicles a reverse park is a requirement. Tip: remember to put your hazard lights on before you start your reverse park as most motorhomes don’t have beepers like trucks do and you have to warn people you are reversing!


      • Thanks for your info. I was told by my trainer that I could go for my licence in my motor home provided it was over 4500kg so I filled both water tanks and made sure I had a tank full of fuel . I got a mate who has a heavy rigid licence to drive my motor home to the transport department and I followed him in his car. When we got there he got in his car and drove home.I did my 4 hours training then went in to the office to do paperwork before going for my licence only to be told I can’t do the test in my motor home because it is registered as a c class vehicle . I have to get my gvm upgraded and get new mod plates.not happy because the guy doing the gvm upgrade and modplates told me I have to get my licence first.so I had to empty my water tanks to get back under 4495kg and take my l plates off so that I could legally drive home.
        So 2 days later I got the gvm upgrade and new modplates and back to transport department they said you need to get a cos which is a certificate of inspection. Try getting that at this time of the year.anyway so after contacting 11 different places I finally got someone to do it the following day so back to the transport department and guess what after 10 minutes I got my new
        Plates and now after spending $1400 I can go for my light rigid licence booked in January third.
        Sorry to bore you and thanks again
        Regards keith


      • Oh dear. You can do the test as long as the motorhome is registered as Light Rigid. Just filling your water and fuel tanks wont work as that doesn’t change the registration. Now your rego has been changed to the upgraded GVM you’ll be able to do your test in it. Good luck with your test in January


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s