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Towing Trailers and Caravans. Weight Limits.

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Joined: 15 Jan 2005
Posts: 7184
Location: South Kent
PostPosted: Sat Jan 21, 06 1:27 pm    Post subject: Towing Trailers and Caravans. Weight Limits.  Reply with quote    

This is my understanding of the present UK position

Driving Licenses (from http://www.dvla.gov.uk/drivers/dl_towing_trailers.htm )

- If you passed your 'car' driving test before 1/1/1997, you are "generally" licensed to drive a car and trailer with a combined permitted maximum weight of up to 8.25 Tonnes. You are also licensed to drive a minibus with a trailer exceeding 750kg. (Note that 'Construction and Use' considerations will limit the legal "roadworthy" combinations.)

- however, for newer licensed drivers the limits are somewhat lower . Such drivers are limited to "Category B" - and there are two ways of being within Category B:
1 - A car (ie 8 seats maximum) with maximum permitted weight of up to 3.5 Tonnes maximum combined with a trailer of less than 750kg maximum permitted weight
2 - A car with a trailer of over 750kg maximum permitted weight *provided* that
--- the max permitted weight of the trailer is less than the *unladen* weight of the tow car
--- the combined maximum permitted weights of car and trailer does not exceed 3.5 tonnes

Thus for example, a recently qualified driver is *not* allowed to drive a trailer with a 2 tonne max permitted weight. (The towcar would have to be heavier than the 2 tonne trailer, making the combination's maximum permitted weight exceed the 3.5 tonne limit.
To pull such a trailer, a recently-qualified driver would need to pass an additional test.

"Construction and Use" (roadworthiness) considerations

- not every vehicle can legally be fitted with a towbar. The Ford Ka is just one example of a vehicle not designed to, and thus not allowed to tow a trailer.
- for a trailer *without* its own brakes, its the trailers *actual* weight that matters. That weight mustn't exceed 750kg, OR half the "kerb weight" {Euro-style, see below} of the towing vehicle OR exceed the towing vehicle's towing limit.
- a trailer with brakes can be up to the vehicle's towing limit. It is an offence to drive a vehicle while exceeding its "towing limit" - though there is an exception for towing a broken down vehicle to the nearest place of safety.

- the vehicle's "towing limit" is purely determined by the manufacturer and must be marked on the chassis. (It should also be in the handbook, and maybe the brochures).
The towing limit might be quoted as the GTW (Gross Train Weight) or directly as the Gross Trailer Weight (GTW again!) Beware!

- the Euro harmonised version of "kerb weight" includes a nominal 68kg driver, 7kg of baggage and a 90% full fuel tank. The earlier British version specified "ready to drive, with a full tank" (but no driver). The difference can be significant in determining exact limits!


Note that for roadworthiness its the *actual* weights that matter, whereas for driving license purposes it is the manufacturer's maximum *permitted* weights.

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Joined: 29 Oct 2004
Posts: 12908
Location: North Devon
PostPosted: Sun Jan 22, 06 8:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Thanks Dougal, that is really useful

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