You’ve bought a caravan and you’re excited to get out and explore. What do you need to know about towing before you set off?
Does your driving licence cover towing a caravan?
Towing a caravan is covered by your driving licence if:
- Your caravan weighs less than 750kg
- You have a category B (car and small vehicle) driving licence
If your caravan weighs more than 750kg, then it will depend on when you passed your driving test.
If you passed your category B driving test before 1st January 1997, you can drive a vehicle and caravan with a combined weight of up to 8,250kg tonnes. If you passed your test after 1st January 1997, you can drive a vehicle and caravan with a combined weight of up to 3,500kg.
If the combined weight of your vehicle and caravan is over the limit covered by your driving licence, you’ll need to take a category B+E driving test.
What’s the maximum weight your car can tow?
After figuring out what your licence covers, you’ll need to know what your vehicle is capable of towing safely and legally. This is called the towing capacity.
To work out the towing capacity of your vehicle, you need to know its kerbweight and the maximum weight of your caravan. You can find the kerbweight of your car in the owner’s manual or the V5 registration document. The weight of the caravan is usually listed on a plate near the door frame, but the manufacturer should also be able to tell you.
If the weight of your caravan is 85% or less of the car’s kerbweight, the car will tow it easily. If it’s between 85 and 100%, you’ll need to be careful because the caravan will be difficult to drive. If your caravan is heavier, it won’t be safe to tow.
Is your vehicle and caravan under the maximum width and length?
A vehicle towing a trailer or caravan can be up to:
- 2.55 metres wide
- 7 metres long
Is your vehicle ready to tow a caravan?
Before you set off, you need to make sure your vehicle is ready to tow a caravan. This includes making sure your:
- Tow bar meets EU regulations and is designed for your vehicle
- Tyres are the right pressure and in good condition
- Number plate is visible, conforms to British standards and is illuminated at night
- Rear light panel is visible and working
Is your caravan ready to be towed?
You also need to make sure your caravan is ready for the road. If it weighs over 750kg (including the contents), your caravan must have a working brake system. If there are any heavy items inside your caravan, you’ll need to make sure they’re stored low down and close to the axle.
Are you ready?
Towing a caravan for the first time, or even the first time after a while, can feel daunting. However, knowing a few safety tips can help. These include:
- Making sure you give yourself plenty of time and space for every manoeuvre
- Sticking below 50mph on single carriageways and 60mph on dual carriageways
You might also want to make sure you’ve got breakdown cover that covers your caravan as well as your vehicle. It’s something many motor insurers, including Lifesure, offer as an optional extra.
At Lifesure, we can help you find the right insurance and breakdown cover to suit your needs. Founded in 1971, we specialise in niche areas such as caravans but we also offer a range of good quality insurance policies for vehicles and properties too.