Caravan Course Courses

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Using our Car + Trailer:

Number of Hours Training:

DVSA Test included:

Full reversing exercise taught:

Coupling exercise taught:

Suitable for students with some experience:

Suitable for novice students:

Suitable for competent drivers:

Vehicle and caravan towing weights explained

Once you have obtained the relevant licence you need to drive your vehicle and tow your caravan, you will then need to ensure your vehicle weight can tow your caravan with all your luggage and equipment in it.

What are the legal requirements when towing a caravan?

Before purchasing and towing a caravan you need to make sure that you have the correct driving licence to drive your vehicle and tow a caravan. You will also need to have a valid MOT, Tax and insurance for your vehicle.  Your caravan does not need to have an MOT but it should ideally be serviced annually to make sure that it is roadworthy.  You do not need insurance for your caravan by law, but it is recommended especially cover for theft or damage.

What licence do I need to tow my caravan?

The two main licence categories needed to tow a caravan are B and B+E.  Sometimes if the towing vehicle is over 3.5Tonnes then a C1+E licence would be needed.  For this guide, we will focus on category B and B+E licences.

Depending on when you passed your licence test for your car (category b) will depend on the vehicle weight and caravan you can tow.  See below for the combinations you can drive:

Category B (Car Licence)

If you passed your test before 1 January 1997

You are usually allowed to drive a vehicle and trailer combination up to 8,250kg maximum authorised mass (MAM)*

If you passed your test on or after 1 January 1997

You can drive vehicles up to 3,500kg MAM with a trailer up to 750kg

You can also tow heavier trailers if the total MAM of the vehicle and trailer is not more than 3,500kg.

*MAM – the maximum authorised mass mean:

Maximum authorised mass (MAM) means the weight of a vehicle or trailer including the maximum load that can be carried safely when it’s being used on the road.

It may also be known at gross vehicle weight (GVW), it may be listed in the owner’s manual or on the VIN plate of the vehicles.

For example,

If you passed your licence before the 1st January 1997 it is likely that you are able to pull an average caravan weighing in the region of 2,500kg using a towing vehicle of 3,000Kg.  However, it is essential that the weight of the trailer or caravan does not exceed the towing vehicle weight.

If you passed on or after 1st January 1997 it is unlikely that you will be able to tow the average caravan on this licence.  Unless for instance your towing vehicle is 2,000kg, this would leave you 1000kg to be able to tow.  This is because the MAM of the vehicle and caravan cannot exceed 3500kg.

In this instance It would be recommended to increase your licence to a B+E to ensure that you are able to tow your caravan with your towing vehicle.

B+E Licence

Once a B+E licence has been obtained you can then drive a vehicle with a MAM of 3,500kg with a trailer.  The weight of the trailer is dependent on the B+E ‘valid from’ date shown on your licence.

If the date is:

Before 19th January 2013 – You can tow any size trailer (providing it weighs less than the towing vehicle)

After the 19th January 2013, you can tow a trailer with a MAM of up to 3,500Kg.

By obtaining the B+E licence you will be able to safely drive a standard vehicle and standard caravan.

How do I work our my vehicle's towing capacity?

The towing capacity of a vehicle is the maximum weight that it can legally tow.  However, although its legal it may not be safe or comfortable, especially if you are new to caravanning.

The towing capacity is usually published in the handbook of the vehicle or on the VIN plate which can be found in a variety of places on the towing vehicle.  To work out the towing weight using the VIN plate you need to take deduct line one from line two and this will give you the towing limit.

 

Safe towing weights

If you are a novice or are new to caravanning it is recommended that you should keep the fully laden weight of the caravan no heavier than 85% of the kerb weight of the tow vehicle. This is known as the 85% rule and whilst it is not legally enforceable it is recommended.

To calculate the 85% rule, you will need the kerb weight of the car and the maximum mass of the towing caravan (called ‘maximum technically permissible laden mass or MTPLM).

Once the 85% rule is applied the towing vehicle will tow the caravan with ease. Only experienced drivers should increase this percentage to between 85% and 100%. Anything over 100% and the caravan will be heavier than the car, this is known as ‘outfit matching’ and should be avoided.

How to find the MTPLM of my caravan?

This is normally listed on a plate near the door frame and can also be found in the owner’s manual.

The manufacturer should also be able to tell you this.

How to find the kerb weight of the vehicle?

You can find the kerb weight of the car in the owner’s manual; it may be on the VIN plate or on the V5 registration document labelled under ‘G: mass in service’)

How should I load my caravan safely?

It is recommended that you should place heavier items such as water and tinned food over the axel. Medium items such as luggage on either end and then light items in the top of the caravan such as blankets and cushions.

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