Before you buy a caravan or plan a holiday, however, there are certain things you must know about actually towing a caravan. For instance can I tow a caravan with my licence? How do I work out the towing weight? What additional kit might I need to buy?
There is plenty to consider so find out all you need to know in our easy-to-read guide.
Can I actually tow a caravan?
There is no such thing as a 'trailer licence' per se but dependent on the weight of the load you are towing you might need to take an additional category driving test.
From 19 January 2013 drivers passing a category B (car and small vehicle) test can tow:
- Small trailers weighing no more than 750kg
- A trailer over 750kg as long as the combined weight of the trailer and towing vehicle is no more than 3,500kg Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM)
If you want to tow a trailer weighing more than 750kg, when the combined weight of the towing vehicle and trailer is more than 3,500kg, you’ll have to get B+E entitlement on your licence.
If you passed your driving test after 1 January 1997 and have an ordinary category B (car) licence, you can:
- Drive a vehicle up to 3.5 tonnes or 3,500kg MAM towing a trailer of up to 750kg MAM
- Tow a trailer over 750kg MAM as long as the combined weight of the trailer and towing vehicle is no more than 3,500kg
For anything heavier you need to take a category B+E driving test.
If you passed your driving test before 1 January 1997 you’re generally allowed to drive a vehicle and trailer combination up to 8.25 tonnes MAM.
Safety is also a priority and there are a few simple checks towers can complete to help avoid most common accidents according to the Highways Agency.
How to work out towing weight
The maximum weight your car can tow (fully loaded car + fully loaded caravan/trailer) is usually listed in the handbook. Alternatively, you can check the vehicle identification number (VIN) plate on the car – if it doesn’t list a train weight, you should not use your vehicle for towing.
If you're unsure on the types of vehicles to use, you could always read our 'best cars for towing a caravan' guide for a better insight.
Width and length rules
The maximum trailer width for any towing vehicle is 2.55 metres. The maximum length is 7 metres for a trailer towed by a vehicle weighing up to 3,500 kilograms.
Tips for towing a caravan
Here are a few top tips for towing a caravan to help keep you and your caravan safe. There is also a more detailed video on how to tow a caravan below:
- Tow bars must be ‘type approved’. This means it meets EU regulations and is designed for your car. This doesn’t apply to cars first used before 1 August 1998.
- Give yourself more time and space for everything, especially taking corners.
- Road safety group TyreSafe encourages caravan owners to check their vehicle's tyres before setting out on a trip.
- Never exceed 50mph on single carriageways or 60mph on dual carriageways.
- Never carry passengers in the caravan when you’re towing it.
- Your number plate must show your car’s registration number, conform to the relevant British Standard and be illuminated at night.
- Your rear light panel must always be working and visible so check before driving off and keep an eye out for any changes during your journey.
- Any trailer weighing over 750 kilograms, including its load, must have a working brake system.
- If your trailer is unbraked, the maximum you may tow is 750 kg or half the kerbside weight of the towing vehicle – whichever is the lower.
- Try to keep the caravan as light as possible with the heavier items low down and close to the axle.
- To prevent snaking and pitching make sure you have a well-matched car and caravan and try using stabilisers.
For more information on how to tow a caravan, see our video below which was made in collaboration with The Camping and Caravanning club:
What should I pack for my trip?
Forgetting to pack something for your holiday could range from a small annoyance to becoming majorlly detrimental to your trip.
Using our caravan trip checklist you can tick off all of the items you may need as you pack. The list includes many essentials like stabilisers and towing mirrors, and also has a few more luxury items like well-equipped picnic hampers that you might not have thought of taking on your tripto take on day trips out, you might want to check out our online shop.
Remember you will need to have good payload available (the difference between the caravan's empty weight and its quoted maximum permissible weight) to ensure you do not over-load the caravan.
|What to pack in the car||Check||What to pack in the caravan||Check|
|European car kit||Jack|
|Sat nav||Spare wheel/tyre|
|Towing mirrors||Spare keys|
|Tow rope||Corner steady tool|
|Tyre pressure gauge||Corner steady pads|
|Tyre inflators||Levelling blocks|
|Warning triangle||Wheel chocks|
|Jump leads||Spirit level|
|Reflective Jacket(s)/high visibility vest(s)||Nose weight gauge|
|Thermal jackets||Mains lead 230v|
|Jack||Mains adaptor lead|
|Spare wheel/tyre||Mains polarity tester|
|Spare fuses/bulbs||Battery 12v|
|Spare keys||Battery box|
|First aid kit||Battery charger|
|Wheelclamp||Gas cylinder spanner|
|Pillows/cases||Gas hose - spare|
|Hot water bottles||Wheel lock|
|Waste water container(s)|
|Fresh water container(s)|
|Waste water hoses|
|Fresh water hoses|
|Folding table and chairs|