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Can I Tow a Caravan?
Obviously you already know that if you want to transport your caravan somewhere, you’re going to need to tow it.
But the question is – can you tow it?
Are you allowed? Qualified?
What do you need to do to make that happen?
This guide will tell you everything you need to know about towing – so you can buy that dream caravan, hook it up to your vehicle, and begin roaming the British countryside.
Can I Tow a Caravan with My License?
The answer is different for everyone.
It depends on when you passed your driving test. If you were issued your license on or after January 1st 1997, then the following rules apply:
- You can drive a car or van up to 3,500kg maximum authorised mass (MAM) towing a trailer of up to 750kg MAM
- You can tow a trailer over 750kg MAM as long as the combined MAM of the trailer and towing vehicle is no more than 3,500kg
If you were issued your license before January 1st 1997, then the following rules apply:
- You’re usually allowed to drive a vehicle and trailer combination up to 8,250kg MAM
It says ‘usually’ because this might not apply to all licenses issued at this time.
The best thing for you to do is visit the Gov.uk website, enter your driving license details, and the website will tell you what you can tow.
If the total combined weight of your vehicle and caravan is higher than you’re allowed – then you will need to take a test.
Car Towing Capacity – How to Work It Out
Each individual car has a towing capacity – a limit of how much weight it can tow.
To work yours out, you need two things – the kerb weight of your car (which you can find in the owner’s manual), and the MTPLM (maximum technically permissible laden mass) of your caravan.
If the mass of the caravan is higher than the car’s kerb weight, then it cannot toe the caravan.
If the mass of the caravan is less than 85% of the car’s kerb weight, then it should toe without any problems.
If the mass of the caravan is between 85% and 100% of the car’s kerb weight, then caution is advised, and only experienced caravan towers should consider towing this caravan.
Taking the Caravan/Trailer Driving Test
If the combined weight of your car and caravan exceeds the limit on your license, as explained above, then you will need to take the trailer driving test.
In this sense, a caravan is considered to be a trailer.
You can book the test, also known as the ‘B+E’ test, online at the Gov.uk website.
Again, it’s a good idea to check here whether or not you need to take the test.
It involves demonstrating that you can drive safely in different road and traffic conditions, with a caravan or trailer towed to the vehicle.
This section of the Gov.uk website shows you exactly what you need to know and do in order to pass the test.
And here’s a brief guide as to what you can expect on the day:
There are six parts to the driving test:
- An eyesight check
- ‘Show me, tell me’ vehicle safety questions
- Reversing your vehicle
- General driving ability
- Independent driving
- Uncoupling and recoupling the trailer
The test lasts approximately 50 minutes.
B+E Test Cost
The cost of this test will depend on when you take it.
Weekday tests cost £115.
Weekday evening, weekend and bank holiday tests cost £141.
If you’ve never towed a caravan before, however, you will also need to factor in the cost of lessons.
Learning how to properly drive with a caravan in tow is absolutely essential. It’s not something you can just do.
If you’re a complete beginner – you will need somewhere between 18 and 22 hours of lessons. Which could set you back anywhere between £600 and £750.
Do I Need Specific Equipment to Be Able to Tow a Caravan?
Yes – there are several items you must buy in order to legally tow your caravan.
Your tow bar needs to be ‘type-approved’ – meaning it meets all the required regulations.
A type-approved tow bar will have a label that features an approval number, and details of the vehicles it is approved for use on.
You need suitable tow mirrors that give you an adequate view of the road behind you.
Without proper mirrors, you can be fined up to £1000 and given 3 penalty points on your license.
If your caravan weighs more than 750kg, which, in all likelihood, it will – then it needs a working brake system.
These brakes must be in good working order.
The back of your caravan must display the same number plate that is present on your driving vehicle.
If any of the above items do not meet the required safety standards, or if you’re not using them correctly, you can be fined up to £2,500 and be banned from driving.
Towing Tips for Caravans
If you’re not careful, towing a caravan can be dangerous.
Especially on motorways.
Here are a few tips to ensure you and your caravan remain safe for the duration of your journey:
- Take it extra slow when going around corners. Make sure you give yourself the necessary space.
- Try to keep any items being stored in the caravan during transportation on the floor and close to the axle.
- Consider using stabilisers to prevent snaking and pitching.
- Always check your tyres have enough air in them before every journey (both on the car and caravan).
Follow this advice, and you should have no problems towing your caravan.
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