Welcome to the second instalment of the “Buying Your First Caravan” post series. In this post we are going to be discussing how to find out what a car can tow and whether your driving license has the required entitlements for you to tow a caravan.
Please be sure to read our safe and legal towing disclaimer.
Otherwise, let’s get into it!
How to find out what a car can tow?
Just before I start waffling on, some definitions are in order:
MAM: Maximum Authorised Mass – This is the fully laden weight of the car complete with driver, passengers, luggage and the imposed nose weight (usually measured in kg, and is also known as MPW – Maximum Permissible Mass).
MTPLM: Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass – This is the fully laden weight of the caravan as stated by the manufacturer (this can be found on a plate close to the entrance door) and should not be exceeded under any circumstances. Allowances have been made for essential equipment, clothes and food (usually measured in kg).
MPTM: Maximum Permissible Towing Mass – This weight is given by the manufacturer of the car and is the maximum the vehicle is physically capable of towing (usually measured in kg).
Last one I promise…
GTW: Gross Train Weight – This is the maximum permitted combined weight of the tow car and caravan as specified by the manufacturer (usually measured in kg).
So, to ensure that the combination of the car and caravan is legal for use of the public highway you must ensure that:
* Your tow car’s MAM is not exceeded
* Your caravan’s MTPLM is not exceeded
* Your caravan’s MTPLM does not exceed your tow car’s MPTM
* The combined laden weight of your car and caravan does not exceed your car’s GTW
* The lowest load limit of these four elements is not exceeded:
* The car’s towbar and ball
* The caravan’s drawbar limit
* The caravan breaking system overrun device
* The caravan hitch coupling
Then make sure that the caravan’s noseweight is within 5% – 7% of the actual laden weight of the caravan, this in experience is a safe weight. So, for example, the actual laden weight of your caravan is 1500kg, therefore your noseweight should be 75kg – 105kg (you will also need to ensure that your noseweight is less than the tow car manufacturer’s noseweight recommendations).
Where to find these weights?
If you have the hand book for both your tow car and caravan then you can find them there. You could also obtain this information direct from the manufacturers of the vehicles or from a dealership. Some of the clubs and organisations within the industry may also be able to help you with sourcing this information.
An easy way to go about matching your tow car against a caravan would be visit www.towsafe.co.uk where you can do an online tow match.
And if all that wasn’t confusing enough…
Can you tow at all?
A driving license with B+E entitlement (see example image of license to the right) allows the holder to drive vehicles up to 3,500kg MPW (Maximum Permissible Mass or MAM) and to be combined with caravans / trailers weighing in excess of 750kg MTPLM irrespective of the weight ratio. If you passed your driving test before 1st January 1997 it is likely you will have the B+E entitlement (unless it has been removed due to medical reasons).
Category B only
A driving license with category B only allows the holder to drive vehicles up to 3,500kg MPW (with up to eight passengers including the driver) coupled with a caravan / trailer up to 750kg MTPLM (allowing a combined weight up to 4,250kg GTW). Or, a caravan over 750kg MTPLM provided the MTPLM of the caravan does not exceed the unloaded weight of the car and the combination does not exceed 3,500kg GTW.
To help this to sink in a little easier you may find the visual representation below useful:
How do you get B+E entitlement?
In order to get the B+E entitlement you are required to pass a further practical test. I passed my B+E practical test in August 2012, I will leave that for a future blog post where I will talk about my experience as I’m sure others would find it useful.
If you would like to find out more about anything mentioned in this post then take a look at a few of the resources below:
In this post we have discussed how to find out what you can tow, and we have also gone into detail on the driving license entitlements required to tow a caravan.
Hopefully that will have given you some clarity and answered some of your questions (probably created some more questions!). I’m sure you will have some questions so please do make use of the comments section below.
Thank you so much for reading, and don’t forget to come back tomorrow as we will be looking at how much caravans cost, new VS used and setting your budget.