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Is My Car Suitable For Towing

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  • 06-02-2023
Is My Car Suitable For Towing

Are you asking: Is my car suitable for towing? MotorHome Towbars offer mobile towbar fitting for Lincoln And Lincolnshire. Find out how you can check if your car is suitable for towing and which vehicles are not approved for towing. 

How Can I Check If My Car Is Suitable For Towing?

If you own a trailer or caravan, having a car that has the capacity to tow the appropriate weight is vital both for your and other motorists' safety. Knowing what weights your car can tow is vital, especially when buying a trailer or caravan, as this is the main factor determining what size and weight you can actually tow and use.

Ensuring your caravan or trailer is within the weight allowance of your car means you can tow safely and in accordance with the road laws here in the UK. Therefore, if you're at all unsure what your car's towing limit is, it's always best to check with the manufacturer's handbook your car was issued with. This will tell you the specific tow limits of your particular model of car. 

What Weight Can My Car Tow?

What does towing capacity mean?

Every car has a maximum weight and maximum speed that it can safely and legally tow.

When you purchase a trailer or caravan, you'll want to ensure your towing vehicle is up to the job and that the weight of the towed vehicle doesn't exceed your car's Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) or its maximum towing capacity.

It's these two figures that determine what a car can safely tow, and you can usually find them listed in your driver's manual.

Again, these figures will be different for car models produced by different manufacturers, so don't assume yours is the same as someone else's because you have a similar-sized car.

Your car's maximum towing weight will usually be listed in two parts: braked and unbraked. You'll also want to pay attention to your car's kerb weight or gross vehicle weight. This is the weight of your car with a full tank of fuel but without any drivers, passengers or luggage aboard.

Is My Car Suitable For Towing?

If the trailer or caravan you're thinking of towing exceeds this kerb weight by over 750kg, you must fit it with brakes. You'll also want to consider the maximum width of trailer or caravan your car can tow. It's also important to remember that the maximum towing capacity in your driver's manual will include the weight of the trailer, caravan, horsebox or other car tows.

Therefore, when calculating how much weight your car can tow, don't forget that the weights of the towed vehicles are already included. Alternatively, for a more definitive way to determine the towing weight, you can always buy a set of towing scales. 

This way, you'll know exactly what everything weighs and whether your car's maximum capacity can handle it. The combined MAM for your caravan might also be referred to as the MTPLM, representing the "Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass".

This is the maximum weight your caravan is permitted to weigh when it has all your luggage and home comforts onboard. Remembering to spread the load evenly throughout your caravan or trailer is just as important. This allows for smooth and trouble-free towing. You should never overload a particular side or tyre of your towed vehicle, as there will usually be maximum axle loads attributed to each end of your vehicle. 

How Do I Find Out My Car's Towing Capacity?

How Do I Find Out My Car's Towing Capacity?

Again, the maximum towing capacity for your car determines the weight of the trailer or caravan you can legally tow.

However, while this figure is the legal towing limit for your model of car, it may not be the easiest or most comfortable ride when you take things right up to that limit.

Towed vehicles with large flat surfaces or that are box-shaped are particularly uncomfortable to tow, especially if you are at the absolute limit of your towing capacity.

One of the most obvious places you can find your car's maximum towing capacity is your vehicle's handbook. However, if you've misplaced your handbook, you can calculate the figure from the VIN plate on your car. The first line of your VIN plate is the maximum allowable mass of your vehicle, while the second line is the maximum train mass.

Simply subtract the first line from the second to calculate your maximum towing limit. Experts who know how to tow trailers and caravanning club members usually recommend that those who aren't that experienced should keep the fully laden weight of their trailer or caravan below 85% of the tow car's kerb weight. 

Funnily enough, this is colloquially known as the "85% rule", and while it is a good way to get to grips with towing, it isn't a strict legal limit enforced by UK law.

This also makes it much easier to calculate whether your trailer or caravan can be towed by your car. You only need two numbers: your car's kerb weight and the Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass (MTPLM) of your caravan. 

Simply multiply your car's kerb weight by 0.85 to get the percentage, and if the MTPLM of your caravan or trailer is less than or equal to that figure, your car can safely and easily tow that caravan or trailer. Again, this is only a rough guide for novice caravaneers or towers.

While you can legally tow a trailer or caravan between 85% and 100%, only the most experienced towers should attempt to tow such a heavy vehicle. 

If the MTPLM weight of your caravan exceeds the kerb weight of your car, then you should definitely not try to tow it. Calculations that come to this conclusion are usually known as "outfit matching", and you should avoid it at all costs.

What are the best cars for towing a caravan?

Not all cars have the power and capacity to tow a caravan or trailer, especially small family cars and hatchbacks, which definitely won't be up to the task. Suppose you're unsure whether your car can tow your trailer or caravan, or you definitely know it can't.

In that case, it's best to familiarise yourself with the types of cars that can and perhaps think about swapping your small car in for one more powerful if possible. 

What is the kerb weight of my car?

Car owners can usually find the kerb weight of their vehicles in their owner's manual, on the metal plate fixed to the door sill or sometimes in their V5 registration documents from the DVLA. In the latter case, you'll find it in the section marked "G: Mass In Service".

What is the weight of my caravan?

You can find your caravan's weight printed on a metal plate near the door frame and also in the owner's handbook. However, if you aren't sure about either, contacting the manufacturer is the next best option, as they should know everything about your caravan. 

What Are The Best Cars For Towing A Caravan?

Which Vehicles Are Not Approved For Towing?

Again, not all cars are able to tow large vehicles, like horseboxes, caravans or trailers. High-performance models, sports cars, small commuter cars, hatchbacks and hybrids will all struggle when towing trailers, caravans or other heavy vehicles, even if they are fitted with a tow bar. Therefore, they will typically be deemed unsuitable for towing by the manufacturer.

Check your VIN plate to determine if your car isn't suitable for towing as per the manufacturer's recommendations. If your car is too small or not powerful enough to tow, the second line where your gross train weight would otherwise be listed should read empty or be a zero. Without this, there should only be three lines of numbers on the table on your car's VIN plate.

Are you looking for towbar fitting in Lincoln or the surrounding areas of Lincolnshire? We offer mobile towbar fitting and adaptations. We would love to discuss this with you.