Every vehicle has a different towing capacity depending on the make or model. If you are towing a caravan for a holiday, the trailer for carrying and moving items, or another car that has broken down, it’s important that you know your cars towing capacity.
Remember to include the weight of the caravan or trailer and anything else that you are towing to the overall weight. Sixt has provided this guide to help our customers understand the rules of a car’s towing capacity.
Towing capacity and Kerb weight
The towing capacity of any vehicle is measured by the towing capacity and the kerbweight.
The kerbweight of a vehicle is the total weight of a vehicle with the standard equipment, motor oil, coolant, a full tank of fuel but it does not include passengers or any other load. To find out your cars kerb weight look in the vehicle handbook.
The towing capacity should be no more than 85% of the kerb weight. It is important to know that if your trailers combined weight is more than 750kg or more than half your car’s kerb weight, the trailer will also need to be fitted with brakes.
If you are towing a caravan, these can vary in weight but in general, a car with a towing weight of 2000kg should be enough. But make sure that you check the towing capacity of your car first. If you have a large caravan then you will probably need a large car to tow it safely, so bear that in mind.
In general: your car manual should have the kerbweight and with this, you simply need to know the maximum mass of the caravan or towable object. If it is less than 85% you should be fine. However, if it is close you should have experience towing such large objects beforehand.
In January 2013 the laws on towing changed and this placed new restrictions on drivers based around when your licence was issued.
If you passed your test after 19th January 2013 then the limit on what you are allowed to tow with a category B licence is now 750kg as long as the total weight of the car and what you are towing weighs no more than 3500kg.
If you passed your test after 1 January 1997 but before 19 January 2013 then you are allowed to tow a trailer of up to 750kg as long as your vehicle weighs no more than 3500kg. You can also tow a trailer that weighs more than 750kg as long as the trailer in no more than the kerb weight of the vehicle and up to a combined weight of 3500kg.
Anybody who’s licence was issued before the 1st January 1997 can drive a vehicle and tow with something of the combined weight of up to 8,250kg. They will also be able to drive a minibus whilst towing a trailer of up to 750kg.
Other things to know
- There is a speed limit when you are towing of 60mph on motorways and 50mph on single carriage roads.
- The maximum width of a trailer should be no greater than 2.3m and 7m in length.
- If you fit a tow bar to your car, it has to be designed for use with that car and it has to meet EU regulations.
- If the trailer that you are towing is wider than your car then towing mirrors should be fitted.
- If you are towing a caravan, try to keep the weight as light as possible and if you have any heavy items in there keep them low down.