There tends to be a lot of confusion of over what a vehicle can and can’t tow but the answer is quite simple.
Check your vehicle’s plate.
The plate is normally located inside the passenger door or under the bonnet. As shown in the image below, you subtract figure 1 (1,820Kg) from figure 2 (2,930Kg) and the answer (1,110Kg) is the weight your vehicle can tow, or it’s towing capacity.
And remember, this figure is the maximum weight your vehicle can tow, if you exceed this, you are breaking the law. Below are some other frequently asked questions when towing a trailer.
How do I find out what weight my trailer is?
You will find the Design Gross Vehicle Weight (DGVW) of your trailer on its plate, as shown below. You can also contact the trailer manufacturer or their authorised distributor.
What does DGVW mean?
The Design Gross Vehicle Weight (DGVW), also sometimes referred to as Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM), is the weight of the trailer, including the maximum load it can carry, as per the manufacturer’s design specifications.
Do I need a 4x4 or four wheel drive (FWD) to pull a trailer?
No. A two wheel drive is OK provided the weight of the trailer doesn’t exceed your vehicle’s towing capacity.
Is it illegal to tow a three axle trailer?
No. However the weight of the three axle trailer must not exceed the towing capacity of your vehicle and you must have the correct drivers licence.
Is it OK to tow a trailer that’s heavier than my vehicle’s towing capacity if the trailer is unloaded?
It's OK to tow a trailer whose DGVW exceeds a vehicle’s towing capacity provided the combined weight of the trailer and the load being carried does not exceed the specified towing capacity of the drawing vehicle.
My trailer is homemade and has no plate. How do I find out its weight?
All new light trailers sold after 29th October 2012 must legally be plated. You can contact an existing trailer manufacturer in your area and ask them if they will plate it for you.
What licence do I need to tow a trailer?
For light trailers – that is, no more than 3,500 KG - you will need either a B or BE licence.
What is the speed limit for towing trailers?
The speed limit is 80km/h, unless a lower speed limit sign is posted.
Do I need brakes on my trailer?
All trailers with a design weight of more than 750kg must have brakes. The type of brakes needed will depend on the year of manufacture. Please click here for more detailed information.
Does my trailer need a number plate fitted?
No, provided it’s under 750kg. However, by law, the number plate on your vehicle must be visible at all times. So, if the trailer obstructs this, you will need to attach another number plate with the towing vehicle’s registration number on the light trailer as well.
Does my trailer need to be insured?
Insurance queries should be directed to your insurance company.
I’m buying a trailer, what do I need to know?
Since 29th October 2012, all new trailers must be type approved and hold a certificate of conformity. This means that the trailer has met a European safety and quality standard.
Can I tow a double axle caravan with a car?
The weight of a laden (loaded) caravan depends on the vehicle’s towing capacity and your driving licence not the number of axles.
Is it correct that any double axle O2 trailer sold prior to June 2011, only needs a service brake on one axle?
Yes, two-axle O2 trailers sold prior to June 2011 need a service (running) brake on one axle only - the rear axle. Whereas, O2 trailers sold after June 2011 need service (running) brakes on both axles.
Where breakaway cables are used, should they be connected to the tow hitch or to the towing structure?
It is recommended that the cable be attached to the towing structure. Where designated points are not in place on the towing structure, the cable should be put around the towing ball and ensure it is secured.
For trailers with DGVW over 750kg, we use breakaway cables. Should we use additional chains between the vehicle and the trailer?
No. Once breakaway cables are fitted this is sufficient.
Are reversing lights compulsory on trailers?
Please refer to UN-ECE Regulation 48, reversing lights are mandatory on O2, O3 and O4 category trailers (over 750kg) but are optional on O1 category trailers (750kg or less). Reversing lights are compulsory on all new trailers manufactured since 29/10/2012.
This document is for general information only. It does not, and is not intended to, provide legal or technical advice or to represent a legal interpretation of the matters that it addresses.