As we head into another summer season it’s a good idea to write a little about towing laws that you need to adhere to…
Towbar Type Approval
All vehicles manufactured after 1989 must only use a type-approved tow bar. The tow bar needs to be fitted in exact accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. The tow bar must also have a type-approval label attached to it. (often found on the underside of the tow bar or on the electrical socket mounting plate.)
Tow balls must be at the correct legal height (between 350 and 420mm from the ground with the vehicle in a ‘laden’ state) and be approved for use. It is only legal to fit a ball and pin hitch to a commercial vehicle.
The use of a metal drop plate to either higher or lower a tow ball is not legal. To change the height of a tow ball the tow ball must either be moved to a lower, or higher setting on the tow bar or, use a multi-height coupler that has been type approved for use with the towbar. (Usually, these are commercial tow bars with at least four holes in the face plate.)
The lights on your trailer or caravan must be in good working condition and include the following. Brake lights, side lights, indicators, number plate, and at least one fog light. If your trailer or caravan exceeds 750 kg and or 6 meters in length then you must also have reverse lights. The vehicle must also inform the driver if there is a fault with the direction indicators.
Break Away Cables
A break-away cable must be used between the towing vehicle and the trailer/caravan.
The trailer or caravan must display a number plate that is the same as the tow vehicle.
Trailer / Caravan Brakes
All trailers/caravans over the weight of 750kg (when loaded) are required to have working brakes.
It is a legal requirement to have an adequate view of the road behind you. Fit suitable towing mirrors if your trailer or caravan is wider than the rear of your car. (Upto £1000 fine for towing without mirrors.)
Maximum Tow Weight of Vehicle
It’s illegal to tow anything that is over the maximum specified tow weight of the towing vehicle. To check your maximum tow weight look in your vehicle owner’s manual or read the max weight from the vehicle’s VIN plate, see > https://www.ultimatetowbars.co.uk/maximum-tow-weight/
Towing and Driving Licence
If you got your licence before 1 January 1997
You can usually drive a vehicle and trailer with a combined weight of up to 8,250kg MAM. View your driving licence information to check.
You’re also allowed to drive a minibus with a trailer over 750kg MAM.
If you got your licence from 1 January 1997
You can tow a trailer that weighs up to 3,500kg MAM.
Always check your driving licence to confirm you can legally tow.
If your vehicle has a tow bar it is highly recommended that you inform your insurance company. Tow bars are classified as vehicle modification. Failure to notify the insurer could void your vehicle insurance.
The MAXIMUM speed you can tow on any UK road, including motorways, is 60mph. (On a motorway you are only allowed to use the first two lanes.)
If you are towing on a single carriageway then the MAXIMUM speed is 50 mph.
The use of Universal, or Bypass vehicle wiring is one of contention. Although not currently illegal it is questionable if insurance would still be valid if the vehicle was involved in an accident. Although legal from the point of view of the road lights, on many vehicles, Universal Bypass wiring bypasses the towing safety features on the vehicle.
Features such as vehicle sway control, lane assist, PDC control, and other safety features are only activated when a vehicle-specific wiring kit is fitted. For this reason, we recommend everyone to have an approved vehicle-specific wiring kit fitted.
Keep Safe and Keep Towing