Five Things To Be Aware of Before Towing A Caravan

Five Things To Be Aware of Before Towing A Caravan

A caravan is a ticket to freedom. All you need to do is load up the things you’d like to take with you, find a campsite, and then embark on a road trip to get there. 

After the initial cost of purchasing the caravan, it’s an inexpensive way to travel. It’s also a relatively simple way to holiday and gives you an easy way to travel around the UK and into Europe. That being said there are things to be aware of before towing a caravan.

Whether it’s your first time towing a caravan or it’s something you’ve done many times before, there are many things to consider. It’s worth ensuring you’re up to speed with the latest regulations and general best practice to ensure your safety and the safety of those around you. 

Here are five things to be aware of before towing a caravan:

  • The licence you require 

Since late 2021, all drivers are now permitted to tow a vehicle and a trailer with a maximum authorised mass (MAM) of up to 3,500kg, without the need to take a car and trailer driving test. 

Prior to the regulation changes, it was necessary to undergo extra training and take a test before being able to hit the road if you had passed your driving test after 1st January 1997. This is no longer the case.

Whilst no additional test is needed to tow a caravan, it is never a bad thing to undergo additional training prior to towing a caravan for the first time.

  • The vehicle you are using to tow the caravan 

Put simply, not every vehicle can tow every caravan. This is something that you should be aware of before purchasing a caravan and then going on to tow it. 

You can determine the weight of the caravan your vehicle can tow by identifying its towing capacity. The maximum towing capacity may be listed on the V5C logbook or on a plate/sticker on the car itself (usually inside the driver’s door frame). 

The towing capacity may be published within the handbook of the vehicle. 

Towing capacity can also be calculated from the weights on the vehicle’s VIN plate:

  • On your VIN plate, line one is the gross vehicle weight, this is the Maximum Allowable Mass (MAM) of the vehicle including occupants, fuel and payload. 
  • Line two is the gross train weight, this is the combined maximum allowable mass of the vehicle and a trailer. 
  • Simply deduct line one from line two and you have the vehicle towing limit.

For safe towing, it is recommended that the fully laden weight of the caravan is no heavier than 85% of the kerb weight of the tow car.

To calculate this, you only need to know two key figures: the kerb weight of the car and the maximum mass of the caravan (called ‘maximum technically permissible laden mass’, or MTPLM).

If the mass of the caravan is 85% or less of the car’s kerbweight, the car will tow it with ease.

However, if the caravan is heavier than the car, then it is strongly recommended not to use it to tow that caravan. This calculation is known by experts as ‘outfit matching’.

  • The tow bar you are using 

It’s vital that you are using an appropriate tow bar for towing a caravan. The tow bar you are using needs to be ‘type approved’ so it meets the necessary regulations and also needs to be designed specifically for the vehicle you are using it with.

If you fail to use the correct tow bar, and consider the power of your vehicle and the weight it will be towing, there could be serious consequences. This could see you losing control of the caravan on the road. You could also find yourself faced with a fine of up to £2,500 and possible penalty points on your driving licence.

  • The number plates you are displaying 

By law, you must display the registration plates of the towing vehicle on the caravan you are towing. In addition to this, these must be illuminated at night and cannot be obscured.

  • The speed limits for towing a caravan

It’s important to be aware about speed limits when towing a caravan. Everything you know about speed limits in a car changes when you have a caravan attached to your vehicle. 

When towing a caravan, you can drive at a maximum speed of 50 mph on single carriageway roads. This increases to 60 mph on dual carriageways and motorways, unless a lower limit is in force.

Questions about towing a caravan

Whether you are new to caravanning or you haven’t towed a caravan for a while, if you’re looking to buy a caravan and require some assistance, we are here to help. 

Our friendly team will be happy to answer any questions you may have. You can call our Daventry branch on 01327 703371 or our Hitchin branch on 01462 452856