In a previous post we looked at the legal aspects of the combined weight of your vehicle and trailer (click here to take a look the post). However, there’s an obvious extra thing to worry about when considering the weight of the load you intend to tow; can your car actually cope with it?
Your combined weight might be ‘legal’ (at least in terms of what’s allowed by your licence) but this can, in theory, allow you to hitch a load of around 2000kg (over two tonnes) onto the back of a Mini Cooper. Hitching a load this heavy to a vehicle this small may well be illegal, despite being ‘allowed’ by your licence. More importantly, a load like this is unsafe, as a car this small is typically not designed with appropriate mechanical allowances to deal with a load this heavy (e.g. the brakes are unlikely to be able to cope).
Most cars have a maximum weight they can tow which will ordinarily be listed in your handbook or specification sheet. The vehicle’s ‘gross train weight’ may be also listed on the vehicle identification number (VIN) plate on the car. You’ll typically find this under the bonnet or inside the driver’s door.
The gross train weight is the weight of the fully-loaded car plus fully-loaded trailer and must not be exceeded. If your VIN plate doesn’t list a train weight, you should not use your vehicle for towing.
For a rough guide to what your vehicle may be able to tow you can pop along to a website such as this one (click this link to see the results for the mini cooper’s maximum towing capacity). However, your own vehicle documents, or the VIN plate, will provide more accurate data.
If you exceed this weight limit not only are you breaking the law, you are also endangering yourself, your passengers, and other road users. Your car’s brakes, gears, and other mechanical components have been designed to cope with a specific weight, it will behave in dangerous and unexpected ways if you go beyond what it can cope with.
If you would like any advice about towing weights, and/or you would like to feel safer when towing your trailer, please get in touch to discuss trailer training refresher sessions by clicking this link.
Information checked against details listed at www.gov.uk and found accurate as of 02.02.17