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Towing weights explained

When asking for your vehicle to perform the extra duties involved in towing, you must consider the extra effort required from the engine and brakes in pulling and stopping the extra load, particularly on occasions such as hill starts and emegency stops. There are also the loads imposed on the tow bar and the bosy where the tow bar is attached. The vital consideration to all this is weight - excess weight means strain and strain can mean trouble.

Licences issued from 19 January 2013

From 19 January 2013, drivers passing a category B (car and small vehicle) test can tow:

small trailers weighing no more than 750kg
trailers weighing more than 750kg, where the combined weight of the towing vehicle and the trailer isn’t more than 3,500kg
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 pass a further test and get B+E entitlement on your licence.

You’ll then be able to tow trailers up to 3,500kg.


Licences held from 1 January 1997
If you passed your driving test after 1 January 1997 and have an ordinary category B (car) licence, you can drive either:

a vehicle up to 3.5 tonnes or 3,500 kilograms (kg) Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) towing a trailer of up to 750kg MAM (with a combined weight of up to 4,250kg in total)
a trailer over 750kg MAM as long as it is no more than the unladen weight of the towing vehicle (with a combined weight of up to 3,500kg in total)
For anything heavier you need to take a category B+E driving test.


Licences held before 1 January 1997
If you passed your car test before 1 January 1997 you are generally entitled to drive a vehicle and trailer combination up to 8.25 tonnes MAM.

This is the weight of a vehicle or trailer including the maximum load that can be carried safely when it’s being used on the road.

You also have entitlement to drive a minibus with a trailer over 750kg MAM.


Towing heavier combinations
If you want to tow heavier combinations, you’ll have to first apply for provisional entitlement to the new C1+E entitlement. You’ll then have to pass the category C theory test and C1+E practical test.

Once you’ve done this you can drive vehicles and trailers with a combined weight of up to 12 tonnes MAM

Car towing weight and width limits
Most cars have a maximum weight of what they can tow. It’s usually listed in the handbook or specification sheet.

Alternatively the vehicle’s gross train weight may be listed on the vehicle identification number (VIN) plate on the car. This is normally under the bonnet or inside the driver’s door. The gross train weight is the weight of the fully loaded car plus fully loaded trailer and must not be exceeded.

If your VIN plate doesn’t list a train weight, you should not use your vehicle for towing.

Don't exceed the maximum weight, because it could be dangerous - and it's illegal.


Width and length
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 3.5 tonnes (3,500 kilograms).


Trailer brakes
Any trailer weighing over 750 kilograms must have a working brake system.

Some smaller trailers also have brakes, although these are optional.

Any brakes on a trailer or caravan must be in good working order.

Number plates
You must display the same number plate as your towing car on the trailer. If you tow more than one trailer, fix the number plate to the trailer at the back.

This list is not exhaustive and laws do change, please check the latest Government towing legislation (November 2013)

The following weighbridges are located in the Warwick area.


Warwickshire County Council,
Princes Drive,
Leamington Spa
CV31 3PH
tel: 01926 430775
Capacity (tonne): 50
Dimensions (approx): 15.2 m x 3 m 50 ft x 10 ft
Opening times:

1 April - 30 September
9.30-15.15 Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday
9.30-18.15 Wednesday
8.30-17.45 Saturday and Sunday

1 October - 31 March
9.30-15.15 Monday to Friday
8.30-16.15 Saturday and Sunday

Fee: £6.00

Warwickshire County Council,
Trading Standards Service,
Old Budbrooke Road,
Warwick, CV35 7DP
tel: 01926 414040
Capacity (tonne): 60
Dimensions (approx): 19.5 m x 3 m 64ft x 10 ft
Opening times: Monday to Thursday 08.00- 16.30
Friday 08.00 - 16.00
Fee (at April 2012): first weighing 10.00 each and additional weighings 5.00 each

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