If you are planning to tow a caravan or trailer, it is very important to know what your car is capable of. Before buying a caravan or trailer, you will need to check whether your car is able to tow equipment and, if it is, you will have to make sure the equipment is within the weight allowances set out by your vehicle’s manufacturer. Towing capacity will vary between makes and models of car so, to ensure you are towing safely and legally, it’s vital you check your individual car’s limits.
How do I find out my car’s towing capacity?
To find out what your individual car’s towing capacity is, you will need to locate the Vehicle Identification Number plate (VIN plate). Generally, this will be found in a door frame or under your bonnet and can be identified as a sticker or metal plate with a table of numbers on it. Your vehicle’s handbook will tell you where you can find your VIN plate. It should be noted that your vehicle’s handbook and online manufacturer information about towing capacities aren’t necessarily specific to your car, and so you shouldn’t solely rely on these when looking for your car’s towing capacity.
The VIN plate’s table of numbers will comprise of 3 or 4 weights, and it is here that you can find out how much weight your own vehicle is able to tow. Most vehicles will have 4 rows of weights:
– Line 1: the gross vehicle weight – this is the maximum authorised mass (MAM) of your vehicle, including passengers, fuel and loads
– Line 2: gross train weight – this is the combined MAM of your vehicle and any trailer
– Line 3: maximum front axle load
– Line 4: maximum rear axle load
To find out the weight of trailer or caravan you can tow, you simply need to subtract the line 1 weight from the line 2 weight. For example, if your VIN plate’s line 1 is 2,500 kg and line 2 is 4,500 kg, your car’s maximum towing capacity will be 2,000 kg eg.
4,500 kg – 2,500 kg = 2,000 kg
Vehicles which aren’t approved for towing
Not all cars are designed for towing. There a various types of car which won’t be able to tow anything; performance cars, sports cars, small city cars and some hybrids are not deemed suitable by their manufacturer for towing. If your car isn’t approved for towing, the value in line 2 for gross train weight will either be zero or removed completely, leaving you with only three values on your VIN plate’s table.
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