Staying safe when towing

Staying safe when towing

Anytime you’re thinking about towing a trailer, caravan or horsebox, there are a number of checks that you need to complete before you set off. If you don’t complete these checks and you are caught driving a vehicle which is in a dangerous condition you could be fined up to £2,500, be banned from driving and get 3 penalty points.

Below are the checks that you need to ensure you do before every journey so that you are staying safe when towing.

Tow ball and connection


  • The trailer is correctly coupled to the tow ball or pin

  • The coupling height is correct

  • The 7 or 13 core cable and plug isn’t damaged

Breakaway cable

A breakaway cable is a device that is connected between the towing vehicle and trailer. If the towing vehicle becomes unattached to the car, then the breakaway cable should pull tight which engages the trailer’s brakes, causing the trailer to stop.


  • The cable doesn’t have any damage

  • There’s enough slack, so the brakes don’t accidentally get applied by the cable

  • The cable won’t drag on the ground when you’re driving

Wheels and tyres

You need to make sure you check the tyres on both the car and the trailer.


  • There’s no cuts or bulges

  • They are inflated to the manufacturer’s specification for the load being carried

Check each tyre has a tread depth of at least 1.6mm:

  • Across the central three-quarters of the breadth of the tread

  • Around the entire circumference of the tyre

Additionally, you need to check that the wheel nuts & bolts are tightened correctly and that mudguards are securely attached to the trailer.

The lights and indicators also need to be properly checked to ensure that there is no damage, and the lights work properly.

Load and weight limits


  • The trailer isn’t overloaded

  • The load is evenly distributed

  • The load is secure

The weight limits for your car can be found on the vehicle manufacturer’s plate or in the car’s handbook.

Trailer with no braking system:

Check that the loaded trailer:

  • Must not be over 750kgs

  • Should not weigh more than 50% of your car’s weight

Trailer with braking system:

The car and loaded trailer cannot weigh over the second weight shown on the manufacturer’s plate.

When driving

It is important that you stick to the speed limit on any given road. Should your trailer begin to swerve, ease off the accelerator and slowly reduce your speed. This could be a sign that:

  • You’re going too fast

  • The trailer is loaded incorrectly

Also, don’t brake quickly around bends & corners, as this can cause the trailer to become unstable. You should also allow plenty of space and reduce speed when approaching a hazard.

For more information on safety checks that need to be completed when towing with a car and everything covered in this article click the link below.

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