Are you planning to tow a caravan or a trailer? If so, you’ll need to assess whether your vehicle can legally and safely tow the intended load. This is easier than you may think and involves just a few simple calculations.
Our experts have put together a Towing Capacity Calculator for your reference. Don’t forget to double-check your vehicle’s towing capacity and the proposed tow weight before your journey.
Use our simple Towing Capacity Calculator to work out your vehicle’s towing capacity.
Kerb Weight of Vehicle x % of Kerb Weight = Towing Capacity
To find out % of kerb weight see our table break down below.
Our experts have put together a Towing Capacity Graph for your reference. Don’t forget to double-check your vehicle’s towing capacity and the proposed tow weight before your journey.
|% of KW||Weight of Caravan|
The term ‘towing capacity’ refers to the maximum weight your car can tow legally and safely. Pulling a weight that exceeds this can cause the load to swing - and you may also lose steering control. If you are inexperienced with towing, it’s recommended that the tow load should be no heavier than 85% of kerb weight.
You may find your vehicle’s kerb weight listed in the owner’s manual, on a plate situated on the door sill – or on your V5 registration document under ‘Mass in Service’. Alternatively, you may find the kerb weight listed on the manufacturer’s website – or by contacting them directly.
You can also find information about your vehicle, including its revenue weight on the DVLA website. Revenue weight is the same as ‘Gross Vehicle Weight’ (i.e., the vehicle’s weight when fully laden with passengers, luggage, fuel and fluids).
You may find your caravan’s weight listed in the owner’s manual, on a plate near the door frame, on the manufacturer’s website – or by contacting the manufacturer directly.
Aside from checking the tow weight, you should also ensure that the maximum width of the trailer does not exceed 2.55 meters and the maximum body length does not exceed 7 meters. This length does not include the A-frame towing coupling or the draw bar at the front.
You no longer need a towing license to tow a trailer or caravan. The law changed on 16th December 2021, enabling all drivers who passed their test after January 1st 1997 to tow trailers up to 3,500kg MAM (Maximum Authorised Mass). Those who passed before 1997 were unaffected.
Your Gross Towing Weight (GTW) should not exceed your vehicle’s towing capacity. Regulation 100 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 also states that: “… a vehicle should not be used or loaded in such a way that it endangers either those using the vehicle or other road users.” The Regulation also states that drivers are responsible for ensuring loads are suitably secured, so that they are not likely to fall (or be blown) off the vehicle. Loads falling from vehicles can be counted as evidence of breaching Regulation 100 – and may result in the driver receiving points on their licence or other penalties.
The ‘85% rule’ is often cited when discussing towing weight. If you are inexperienced with towing trailers, many experts suggest that your trailer’s fully laden weight should be no more than 85% of your towing vehicle’s kerb weight. This is an optional guideline and not legally enforceable.
As you may expect, larger trucks and SUVs are better suited to towing heavier loads than smaller vehicles – and often come equipped with 4-wheel drive, which provides better traction than all-wheel drive.
The Land Rover Discovery 4, Hyundai Santa Fe, Skoda Kodiak, Volvo XC60 and BMW 5 Series Touring are all renowned for their towing capabilities. However, most full-size SUVs weigh 2700kg or more, making them comfortably heavier than any standard caravan (and therefore more than capable of towing them without any issues).
It is also worth bearing in mind that diesel models tend to outperform petrol equivalents in the towing stakes; this is down to their greater torque. As such, reliable diesel SUVs with a good towing capacity can hold their value well in the second-hand market.
Curious about your current vehicle’s market value? Don’t forget you can get a free online car valuation in 30 seconds or less with webuyanycar!
If your caravan is heavier than your car, you cannot use it as a towing vehicle. Checking the weight of your car against a caravan is sometimes known as ‘outfit matching’. You should always take this into consideration before purchasing a caravan.
Remember, if you have your heart set on a caravan that is too heavy for your current vehicle to tow, you can sell your car the simple way at your local webuyanycar branch.
Aside from being illegal, towing a weight exceeding your towing capacity puts a strain on the engine, tyres, brakes and suspension - and risks significantly damaging your vehicle.
You may face penalties such as points on your licence if you are found to have excessively or dangerously loaded your vehicle by the police or the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).
According to UK traffic laws, when towing a caravan on a motorway, you must not exceed 60mph. On single carriageways, a 50mph limit applies to drivers towing caravans. Speed limits of 50mph and below apply as normal.
To ease the flow of traffic, drivers towing caravans cannot use the outside lane on motorways with three or more lanes. On any road with two lanes or less, the usual rules apply to towing drivers.