Guide to Towing: Everything You Need to Know About Towbar Fitting & Towing a Caravan
PLYMOUTH TOWBAR FITTING EXPERTS
Whether you’re planning on towing a caravan for a Summer staycation or simply want to tow a trailer to the local tip, our guide to towing is a must-read!
TYPES OF TOWBAR
As we’ve detailed in our ‘Types of Towbar’ blog, there are several different towbar varieties on the market. We fit and supply flange, swan and detachable towbars, offering an option to suit most requirements.
It’s really important to find a towbar that’s suitable for your vehicle, suits your needs and fits your budget. For example, if you want to tow on a regular basis or plan to invest in a towbar mounted cycle carrier, then a flange towbar would be a perfect choice for you. If your vehicle has parking sensors, then a swan or a detachable towbar would be your best bet.
The next thing to consider is the electrical connection. Depending on the type of towbar you opt for, you’ll be able to choose between a 13 pin, single 7 pin or twin 7 pin electrical connection. If you’re exclusively towing a trailer, then single 7 pin electrics will be all you need. Twin 7 pin electrics are suitable for caravans built before 2008 and are typically fitted in addition to a single 7 pin connection. The 13 pin socket is in essence, the two 7 pin versions merged into one. It’s the standard in most EU countries and is replacing the soon-to-be phased out twin pin socket.
There are a number of rules around what you are legally permitted to tow, but the good news is, they’re simple to understand!
If you passed your driving test on, or after 1st January 1997 and have a category B license, then you are permitted to drive a car or a van with up to 3,500kg MAM (maximum authorised mass) and tow a trailer of up to 750kg MAM. You can also tow a trailer over 750kg MAM providing the combined MAM of the trailer and the vehicle does not exceed 3,500kg. You can also drive a car and caravan with a combined MAM of up to 3,500kg.
However, if you passed your driving test before 1st January 1997 and have a category B license, the rules are slightly different. Your license typically entitles you to drive a vehicle and trailer with a combined weight of up to 8,250kg MAM. You can also drive a car and caravan with a combined MAM of up to 8,250kg.
These licenses permit you to drive and tow:
- rigid motorhomes with a trailer
- rigid motorhomes without a trailer
- towed outfits
- a car and caravan
If you need to tow anything heavier, then you must take the car and trailer driving test.
If you’re unsure of whether your license permits you to tow a caravan or trailer, you can check your driving license information on the gov.uk website.
ADVICE AND LEGAL REQUIREMENTS
In order to legally tow a trailer or caravan in the UK, the tow bar you have fitted to your vehicle must be ‘type approved’. Type approved towbars feature an approval number and the vehicle it’s approved for use on, which can be found on a sticker or plate attached to the towbar. There are some exceptions to this rule as if you’re towing using a vehicle that was manufactured before 1st August 1998, your towbar doesn’t need to be type-approved.
Similarly to the rules that govern cars, vans and motorcycles, there are a number of legal requirements for towing. For example, you must:
- NEVER exceed speeds of 50 mph on a single carriageway or 60 mph on a dual carriageway.
- ALWAYS make sure your number plate is visible, shows your car’s registration and is illuminated at night.
- NEVER have passengers inside the caravan whilst it’s being towed.
- ALWAYS have a working and visible rear light panel.
- NEVER drive without towing mirrors. If you do not have a full view of the road behind you, you may be liable for a £1,000 fine or be issued penalty points on your license.
- ALWAYS check that your caravan and/or trailer has working brakes.
CHECK YOUR VEHICLE’S TOWING CAPACITY
This is one of the most important parts of our guide to towing and yet, it’s one that many people don’t bear in mind.
Before you go out and purchase a caravan, it’s absolutely crucial to check the maximum weight your vehicle can tow. You can typically find this in the V5 document. If you don’t check the maximum weight, you could buy a caravan that’s too heavy for your car to tow, which is a rather costly mistake to make! When you buy a new caravan from a dealership like ours, this is a pretty simple task. However, if you buy a second-hand caravan from an auction site or online seller, it can be a little trickier.
WHY CHOOSE TAMAR CARAVAN CENTRE FOR TOWBAR FITTING IN PLYMOUTH?
We have a fully equipped, AWS-approved caravan service centre on-site, staffed by a team of talented and experienced engineers. With towbar fitting appointments available six days a week, competitive prices and free, no-obligation quotes, we’re Plymouth’s leading towbar installers.
What’s more, we exclusively offer dealership quality equipment without the markup, so you’ll never pay over the odds when you choose us. We’re invested in quality and only supply and fit towbars from leading manufacturers, such as Westfalia, Tow Trust, Witter, PCT and Brink.
We’ve also been in the caravan industry for a long time, so we’ve got the advantage of knowing exactly what our customers are towing. This means we’re ideally placed to offer advice and recommendations about which towbar best suits your needs.
GUIDE TO TOWING
With years of experience in fitting towbars, our team know a thing or two about how to tow safely! Here are our top tips for safe and easy towing:
- Try to keep your caravan or trailer as light as possible. If you are transporting heavy items, place them low down and close to the axle.
- If you find your load is prone to snaking or listing, invest in stabilisers to minimise movement.
- Give yourself more time and space to manoeuvre – particularly when taking corners or changing lanes.
- Inspect the tyres on your car, caravan and/or trailer before you begin your journey.
- Go on short journeys to build your confidence in towing, before embarking on a long trip.
FIND OUT MORE
If you would like to schedule a towbar fitting appointment or have a question that wasn’t covered in our guide to towing, you can call us on 01752 341133. Alternatively, you can email the service centre team through our contact form. We will get back to you as soon as we can!
You can also stay in touch with us via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to get the latest news and updates on reopening and our services. You can also take a look through our caravan tours, maintenance tutorials and how-to guides on YouTube, or via our Help & Advice page.