What Can My Car Tow?

Whether you are towing a horse box, caravan, boat or a car upon a trailer, it’s crucial that you don’t exceed your car’s towing capacity. Within this article, we walk you through everything you need to know with regards to what your car can safely and legally tow.

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what can my car tow
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The ability to tow with your car makes it instantly more practical but it’s important that you are towing safely and legally. Regardless of what you are towing behind your car, there are many rules set out by the UK government that you’ll need to follow and the weight your car can tow is arguably the most important rule of them all.

Whether you have just fitted a tow bar to your car or you have purchased a caravan, below we walk you through what your car can tow, the rules you need to follow and how to calculate your car’s towing capacity.

What Does Towing Capacity Mean?

The towing capacity of a car is the maximum trailer weight that it can safely and legally tow. It’s important to note that the weight of the trailer is a combination of the trailer itself as well as the load that it’s carrying. If you are found to be exceeding the towing capacity of your car with a heavier trailer, it could lead to a fine as well as points on your license. Therefore, it’s crucial that you find out your car’s towing capacity, which we discuss below.

What Weight Can My Car Tow?

In terms of finding the towing capacity of your car, it’ll be stated in your car’s handbook but it can also be calculated from the VIN plate. In order to calculate the towing capacity of your car from the VIN, you must subtract the first figure (gross vehicle weight also referred to as MAM) from the second figure (gross train weight).

However, in order to make towing safer, there is a calculation designed by experts that’s known as the 85% towing rule. It isn’t a legally enforceable rule but it’s a very popular calculation that can be used as a guide to improve towing safety.

Towing Capacity Calculation (85% Towing Rule)

To calculate the towing capacity of your car using the 85% towing rule, you’ll need to find out the kerb weight of your car. The kerb weight can be found in your car’s V5 within the specification section and it’s referred to as “Mass In Service“.

If you’ve lost your V5 or you simply want reassurance that the weight stated is correct, you could visit a local weighbridge to get the exact kerb weight of your car for complete peace of mind.

Once you’ve found the kerb weight of your car, you can calculate the towing capacity (using the 85% rule) by multiplying the kerb weight by 0.85. Below are three examples of the towing capacity calculation.

  • Volkswagen Golf GTI (2018) – 1,409 KG x 0.85 = 1,197 KG
  • Mercedes E Class (2009) – 1,885 KG x 0.85 = 1,602 KG
  • Mercedes GLS 350D (2018) – 2,475 KG x 0.85 = 2,103 KG

As you can see from the above calculations, heavier cars are the best cars to use for towing heavier trailer loads.

how much can my car tow

Can My Car Tow A Caravan?

Caravans are the most popular things to tow with your car and to determine if your car can tow a caravan is dependent upon its total weight. This means that you need to account for the weight of the caravan itself as well as any luggage in the caravan such as suitcases, bikes and anything else that weighs a significant amount.

Although you can find the caravan’s weight on its plate (usually inside the door frame) or within the handbook, it can be difficult to approximate its total weight. Therefore, we would recommend visiting a local weighbridge for complete peace of mind. This will give you an exact figure, which you can then compare against your car’s towing capacity.

Other Towing Restrictions To Follow

As well as your car’s towing capacity, there are other towing restrictions you want to keep in mind that include:

  • Maximum towing speed of 60MPH on motorways and 50 MPH on dual carriageways
  • Maximum trailer width must not exceed 2.55 metres
  • Maximum trailer length must not exceed 7 metres
  • You must use towing mirrors if the trailer is wider than your car
  • You must display a matching number plate on your trailer

For further details regarding towing restrictions, you can read more at gov.uk.

Can I Tow A Trailer On My License?

As long as you have a valid driving license, you are able to tow a trailer on a standard car license. However, the date to which you passed your driving license will determine the maximum trailer weight you are allowed to tow.

For example, if you passed your test before the 1st of January 1997, you are able to drive a vehicle and trailer combination of up to 8,250 KG (MAM). With regards to those that passed their test on or after the 1st of January 1997, the towing rules changed as of December 2021. The changes now mean that you are allowed to tow a trailer up to 3,500 KG (MAM). Prior to the rules changing in December 2021, those that passed their test on or after the 1st of January 1997 could only tow a trailer up to 750 KG (unless they passed the required trailer tests).

Conclusion

Hopefully our guide to what your car can tow has provided you with all the information you require. We strongly recommend using the 85% towing rule as a guide but as mentioned above, it isn’t an enforceable rule in the UK.

If it’s your first time towing a trailer, we would strongly advise that you get some training. Towing isn’t as straightforward as it looks, especially when it comes to reversing and parking your car with a trailer attached.

If you require further information with regards to towing capacities or towing in general, feel free to get in touch and we will try to provide our assistance where possible.

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