You might think towing a caravan is simpler than driving a motorhome or campervan, while this is true is some cases there is still a lot to know about towing a caravan. If you are looking to tow a caravan with L plates there is plenty you will need to know before you get started.
Unfortunately, you cannot tow a caravan with L Plates, if you are looking to tow a caravan you would be required to pass your driving license and upgrade your license. Depending on the size of your caravan you may be required to take an alternative test for larger towing weights.
In this article we are going to go through the different questions you may have if you are looking to tow a caravan on L plates, what you should do and what legal documents you need to enable this.
Towing Permit: What Can You Drive Legally?
As licenses change from time to time there are new and
Drivers Who Passed Before 1997
You must have a full driving license to tow any type of caravan, and if you pass the test before 1997, you are entitled to drive vehicles and caravans with a maximum weight of 8.25 tons.
This maximum authorized mass, or MAM, means you can find enough coverage for most things, including large 4×4 vans or vans that pull caravans or small boats. To reach the limit, you may need to drive a 7.5-ton truck-although if the truck is fully loaded, it limits the caravan’s weight to three-quarters or a sizeable American RV pull.
Drivers Who Passed After 1997
For drivers who passed the test after January 1, 1997, the MAM limit is 4.25 tons, and only a 3.5-ton tractor can limit the caravan to 750 kg. If you must tow a caravan over 750 kilograms on a driver’s license after 1997, the total MAM of the vehicle and caravan will be reduced to 3.5 tons.
To make matters more complicated, the caravan MAM must also be lower than the vehicle’s weight. However, this need not be too worrying because most car towing on caravan towing combination is within these parameters.
How Much Does It Cost to Upgrade A Towing Permit?
Assuming you passed the test after 1997 but want to tow something with a MAM higher than 4.25 tons, you can pass an additional car and caravan driving test during the normal working week to upgrade to tow qualification at the cost of £115.
In the evening, at the end of the week or on bank holidays, you can spend £141. It is called BE test, and it is carried out through the DVSA bus and truck test centre.
There is no legal requirement to study professional courses in advance. However, if you choose to take classes at a professional driving school, you will find yourself spending between £600 and £700 to get the privileges, which may even be more after paying the test fee.
UK Towing and Caravan Regulations
These are some of the rules and regulations that need to be taken into consideration when you are looking to tow a caravan.
The Width and Length of the Caravan
The maximum width of any caravan is 2.55m, and the maximum length of a caravan towed by vehicles under 3.5 tons is 7m (although if you are towing one, the A-frame is omitted). If your tractor is a MINI or Range Rover, the same size rules apply.
Approved Tow Bar
All tow bars installed on vehicles registered after 1998 must be type-approved to comply with EU regulations and have a design suitable for your vehicle.
Approved towbars will have a label or license plate with an approved vehicle’s approval number and details.
According to the law, you must have sufficient visibility of the road behind you. Therefore, if your station wagon or large overhead caravan obstructs your view (that is, wider than the rear of your vehicle), you may need to install a retractable mirror.
If you are stopped, and the police think you cannot see correctly, you will get three permit points and a fine of £1,000 (maximum).
If your trailer or caravan weighs more than 750 kg when loaded, the law requires a braking system to be installed and in good working condition. This also applies to cars towed on a Type A car; the law treats the towed car as a caravan and must have a workable braking system.
When towing a damaged vehicle at low speed, the doll used in the rescue vehicle will be exempted by government guidelines. Unless the required braking standards are met, they must not be used for general towing.
Caravan Number Plate
You must display the same license plate on the caravan as on the tow bar. If driving at night, the license plate must be illuminated. If you want to tow multiple caravans, please fix the license plate on the rear caravan.
Road legal trailers must have two red sidelights at the rear, two red brake lights, amber indicator lights, and a pair of triangular red reflectors.
Caravans wider than 1.3m must also be equipped with fog lights. Trailers built after 1990 (except for marine caravans) must also have white mirrors at the front unless their width exceeds 1.6m, in which case front row lights must be used.
Towing Weight and Vehicle Towing Capacity
It is crucial to understand the limitations of the device. The car’s towing capacity will be listed in the owner’s manual. You must still look at the specific number associated with the model; the maximum towing weight will vary greatly depending on the engine and gearbox combination.
If you don’t know what the caravan can handle, or if your load will exceed the caravan’s limits or legal requirements, then you cannot know the vehicle’s maximum towing capacity.
You need to find out all the information to ensure you are in the law’s right position before hitting the road. Newly built caravans should have a license plate with weight and loading information. If you have an old caravan, you may need to take it to a local weighbridge.
You also need to know the maximum allowable caravan nose weight that the vehicle can handle. This is the weight of the caravan pushed down onto the tow bar.
You can measure it by placing the brake wheel of a fully-loaded caravan on the bathroom scale. If the nose’s weight is greater than that of the tow bar, the caravan’s weight must be redistributed to balance the luggage better.
Remember, the caravan club’s best recommendation is that the ideal nose weight should be 7% of the full load weight, but if your caravan is heavy, don’t worry about whether the nose weight should be lower than the recommended seven to meet the tow bar design limit.
It is also important to balance the nose with the weight as close as possible to the axle, because from a stability point of view, excessive weight at the rear of the caravan may be dangerous.
However, all tow vehicle and caravan combinations are different, and if you are not satisfied with these aspects of towing, it is best to consult a professional.
Are There Any Size Caravans That Can Be Towed on L Plates?
The owner’s manual usually limits the total weight of the car and its load. This is called the maximum authorized mass (MAM) and is sometimes referred to as the designed gross vehicle weight (DGVW). It covers the weight of the vehicle, fuel, passengers, and all loads on the roof rack. The manual will also provide the vehicle’s empty weight, that is, the vehicle’s weight without any passengers or load.
To know your caravan’s load that can be towed on the L plates, subtract the empty weight from the MAM. For example, if the MAM is 2010 kg and the empty weight is 1535 kg, the load that can be carried is 475 kg.
This can also be understood in terms of percentage. So, if the caravan’s maximum mass is 85% or less than the total vehicle’s curb weight, the vehicle will easily drag or tow the caravan. If the maximum mass is between 85%-100% of the vehicle’s curb weight, this may be more difficult to tow, and in fact, should only be done by experienced caravanners.
What Do I Need To Do To Be Able To Tow A Caravan?
Before Towing: Get the Correct Driving License
Your ability to tow a caravan or trailer legally will depend on your driver’s license. The category rights on your driver’s license will determine the type of caravan you can tow.
It’s of utmost importance that your driving permit covers you for towing your caravan, as it’s in stark contrast to the law. Your caravan insurance may become invalid if you are not authorized by driving license to tow your caravan.
If you obtain a car driving license before the end of 1996, you will be entitled to drive a caravan and vehicle combination up to 8250 kg MAM (maximum authorized mass) until the license expires. If you want to continue towing, there will be some different regulations by your 70th birthday.
Please refer to your driver’s license datasheet for more information.
If You Have A Class B Permit and Passed the Test Before January 1, 1997, You Can Drive:
Towed equipment: Any equipment whose combined maximum authorized mass (MAM) does not exceed 8,250 kg (exceeding this weight will require additional testing before 1997). However, our recommended weight ratio between caravan and the towing car is 85%.
Rigid Motorhomes Without A Caravan: Any of These Motorhomes with MAM Not Exceeding 7,500kg.
Rigid Motorhomes Without A Caravan: As long as the total MAM of the caravan and the motorhomes does not exceed 8,250kg, no further testing is required, but we recommend a weight ratio of 85% between the trailer and the tractor.
If You Have A Class B Permit and Passed the Test on Or After January 1, 1997, You Can Drive:
Towable Outfits: Your MAM limit is 3500 kg, and the caravan MAM must not exceed the vehicle’s unloaded weight (it is strongly recommended to maintain a ratio of 85%). If you want to exceed this MAM, you need to pass an additional E test.
Rigid Motorhome Without A Caravan: Before Passing the LGV Test, Your MAM Is Limited To 3,500 Kg, After Which You Will Be Eligible For 7,500 Kg MAM.
Rigid Motorhomes Towing A Caravan: As long as the caravan does not exceed 750 kg and the MAM combination does not exceed 4,250 kg, you do not need to perform other tests on this type of outfit. However, if the caravan MAM exceeds 750kg, the first point applies to vehicles weighing less than 3500kg. Otherwise, the LGV test and E test are required.
The caravan test in London (UK) is usually called the B+E test or C1+E test (if you want to use a caravan to drive a 7.5-ton car).