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Jul 15, 2020
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you are limited to a gross train weight of 3500Kg and with the GLC taking nearly 2500Kg of that you will be towing a very small and light caravan!! If you passed in 1996 or earlier then you don't have a problem as grandparent rights rule.
So based on the pre 1996 rule for the driver, would I be right in thinking that a 2,586kg tow vehicle could legally tow a 3,402kg trailer?

I saw some information which I believe was just an advisory to have the trailer not exceed 80% of the tow vehicle weight, ie not exceed 2,069kg in the above example. Does anyone happen to know if that is an advisory or a legal restriction?

Do those numbers/restrictions work across Europe too?

Additionally, I read that a regular passenger car shouldn't be used to tow if a caravan is over 22' long and over 22' should be towed by a truck. I don't know if the GL range are documented as trucks; I know my ML350 was. It was an excellent tow vehicle and I'm sure the GL's should be even better.
 
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Not sure how a US licence covers the driver for U.K. rules you would need to check with the DVLA For example in U.K. being over 70 I can’t drive a MH above 3500 kg without expensive annual medical check and disclosure. But I can drive one in South Africa on my licence, but not China.

Tye 85% ratio is a guide for those new to caravans. It’s that the MTPLM of the caravan should be 85% of the cars kerbweight. It’s quite an old recommdation and doesn’t really take account of modern car improvements such as ESC or caravan ATC.. It’s very contentious as you may have seen in a prolonged and sometimes heated recent thread.

You will need to check Europe’s rules in each country. Presently a U.K. van legal in U.K. can travel throughout EU. Germany has different weight\ speed rules for caravans as does France. I suspect many Merc GL owners could be offended by thinking they drive a “truck”. There are a number of different U.K. classifications. For example some double cab pick ups have a different classification and speed limit for some roads solely due to their fitted equipment. So a higher spec is heavier and accordingly depending on its weight may have a reduced speed limit on some roads. Again a recent thread has discussed this.

The Caravan and Motorhome Club sell some very comprehensive Europe touring guides that cover masses of campsites but also the rules for U.K. drivers taking their outfits to EU. Worth getting a copy.
 
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Not sure how a US licence covers the driver for U.K. rules you would need to check with the DVLA For example in U.K. being over 70 I can’t drive a MH above 3500 kg without expensive annual medical check and disclosure. But I can drive one in South Africa on my licence, but not China.

Tye 85% ratio is a guide for those new to caravans. It’s that the MTPLM of the caravan should be 85% of the cars kerbweight. It’s quite an old recommdation and doesn’t really take account of modern car improvements such as ESC or caravan ATC.. It’s very contentious as you may have seen in a prolonged and sometimes heated recent thread.

You will need to check Europe’s rules in each country. Presently a U.K. van legal in U.K. can travel throughout EU. Germany has different weight\ speed rules for caravans as does France. I suspect many Merc GL owners could be offended by thinking they drive a “truck”. There are a number of different U.K. classifications. For example some double cab pick ups have a different classification and speed limit for some roads solely due to their fitted equipment. So a higher spec is heavier and accordingly depending on its weight may have a reduced speed limit on some roads. Again a recent thread has discussed this.

The Caravan and Motorhome Club sell some very comprehensive Europe touring guides that cover masses of campsites but also the rules for U.K. drivers taking their outfits to EU. Worth getting a copy.
In the UK, vehicles up to 3500 kg MAW are restricted to towing trailers up to 7m (23') in body length, not overall length - no passenger vehicles exceed 3500 kg so a truck is needed - this excludes normal European pickups as they're under 3500kg - a few US twin-wheel pickups have been imported to the UK and may qualify but many of them are down-plated to 3500kg to allow them to be driven on a car licence. Trucks over 3500 kg have lower speed limits and may require a limiter. That restriction doesn't apply in most of the rest of Europe where longer trailers can be towed by cars.
 
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Jul 15, 2020
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The Caravan and Motorhome Club sell some very comprehensive Europe touring guides
I've added that to my list of tasks. Thanks.


In the UK, vehicles up to 3500 kg MAW are restricted to towing trailers up to 7m (23') in body length.
.......
That restriction doesn't apply in most of the rest of Europe where longer trailers can be towed by cars.
This is all good knowledge.

How about if someone comes over from the EU, say for example, towing a 25' caravan. Might they get stopped before they can even leave the continent, might they get stopped/checked upon arrival at a UK port, or are vehicle length checks usually not particularly strict?

I am wondering if a caravan is only visiting for a period of time if it is held to the same set of rules as if it were UK owned or registered ? I guess I will be spending some time on the Department of Transport web site and have a dig around in there.

Either way, I think I might have to set my target length at 23' maximum just to be on the safe side.
 
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I've added that to my list of tasks. Thanks.




This is all good knowledge.

How about if someone comes over from the EU, say for example, towing a 25' caravan. Might they get stopped before they can even leave the continent, might they get stopped/checked upon arrival at a UK port, or are vehicle length checks usually not particularly strict?

I am wondering if a caravan is only visiting for a period of time if it is held to the same set of rules as if it were UK owned or registered ? I guess I will be spending some time on the Department of Transport web site and have a dig around in there.

Either way, I think I might have to set my target length at 23' maximum just to be on the safe side.
An international convention applies to visitors to the UK for less than 6 months, when driving a vehicle registered in the home country - this would apply for example to a German driving his car/caravan to the UK but not to an American buying/hiring a car in the UK.
 
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Any uk manufactured caravan for the domestic market will be a max length of 23 feet.
European built Caravans, Hobby, Fendt etc. built for their own markets may exceed this length. The Nomadic Parasites seem to get away with it........
The 85% “rule” is an advisory, aimed at the novice tower. Often derided its a sound bit of advice that if followed will lessen your chances of getting into a ‘snake’ situation through inexperience. The closer your caravan gets to weighing as much or more than the tow vehicle the risk of snaking increases significantly.
 
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How about if someone comes over from the EU, say for example, towing a 25' caravan. Might they get stopped before they can even leave the continent, might they get stopped/checked upon arrival at a UK port, or are vehicle length checks usually not particularly strict?
They definitely won't get stopped before they leave the Continent because it's none of their business to check whether UK rules and regulations covering technical issues are met. I made some enquiries a few years ago at the Department for Transport and they told me that theoretically trailers over 7m body length towed by vehicles under 3500kg are not allowed into the country (countries do have the power to enforce such restrictions if they consider that local conditions warrant them), but the chances of being denied entry are pretty remote.

So based on the pre 1996 rule for the driver, would I be right in thinking that a 2,586kg tow vehicle could legally tow a 3,402kg trailer?
Only if the max. allowable gross train weight is 5988kg or more - which is unlikely

An international convention applies to visitors to the UK for less than 6 months, when driving a vehicle registered in the home country - this would apply for example to a German driving his car/caravan to the UK but not to an American buying/hiring a car in the UK.
It's 12 months actually if not a permanent resident to the country. Until Brexit, a holder of an EU issued licence does not have to swap it for a UK licence even if living in the UK because the driving licence categories of all EU licences are the same.

.
 
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I really appreciate all the comments here and hopefully I haven't somehow hijacked the original posters thread.

I've now started going over some of the information on the DoT site and it looks like there is plenty of reading to be done. I'm particularly focused on the "international convention" topics. Braking systems, specifically worded as American, soon came to my attention and fortunately I believe I would be 100% compliant with that one.

Back to the OP and the question of towing with a GLC250d, I don't know if you can get leveling bars and anti-sway bars in the UK. If you can, I would highly recommend them. Although I appreciate that probably most people tow for a lifetime without them.

I think my ML350 would be reasonably similar to the GLC250d, albeit much older, and I towed an 18' US trailer tens of thousands of miles year round with never a single issue.
 
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Back to the OP and the question of towing with a GLC250d, I don't know if you can get leveling bars and anti-sway bars in the UK. If you can, I would highly recommend them. Although I appreciate that probably most people tow for a lifetime without them.
On our side of the Atlantic towbars and couplings have to be type approved. Anything that could affect the rear axle load of the towing vehicle would not receive type approval so that rules out levelling bars. Anti-sway bars have almost disappeared in Europe in favour of frictional dampers integrated in the coupling as it is easier to fulfil type approval requirements with them. Active electronic stabilsers which automtically deploy the trailer's braking system in the event of instability are also becoming increasingly popular. They can be combined with frictional stabilisers to provide the best possible protection against instability.
 
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frictional dampers integrated in the coupling
I had a look online and wonder if I am correct in thinking the damper is a material mounted inside the receiver part so that it effectively causes a braking motion against the tow ball? An example that I saw was a Winterhoff item that looks similar to brake pad material. I assume there will be a way to slacken or tighten it as needed or would that not be a user adjustable option?

However, I also saw a number of what appeared to be small gas struts none of which clearly showed quite how they are attached or function. For example the "Alko euro coupling damper".

I don't really need to know all the details but anything mechanical intrigues me. As you look around the world it's amazing what great ideas are common in one place and unheard of in another.

Looking at "active electronic stabilisers", I came across AL-KO. Are they typical of the type of device that you are referring to? Some of the information appears to relate to the overrun type mechanism, while other information indicates direct interaction with electronic braking in the caravan. I haven't yet figured out how it could work mechanically unless there are more parts than I have seen so far. The electronic brake versions appear to be very straight forward. Having said that, so far, the electronic brake AL-KO systems all appear to be in Australia only.

I certainly like the idea of active electronic stablisers and it makes much more sense to me than an anti-sway bar. I had no idea they existed for caravans until your post, so a big thanks for that.
 
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Yes, the frictional dampers are basically brake pads that clamp tight around the towball. The gas struts that you saw have nothing to do with stability, but they dampen the fore/aft motion that at the same time controls the overrun brake. Without them the trailer brakes would come on and release again all the time, totally uncontrollably.

AlKo have by far the biggest share of the market as far as electronic stabilisers are concerned, but there are a couple of others, like BPW's iDC system and the father of them all, the LEAS system, but they all work on the same principle. They detect lateral acceleration of back of the trailer and if that exceeds a threshold value they mechanically apply the trailer's brakes lightly through an electric actuator, just enough to pull it straight again.

Electric brakes for trailers are very rare in Europe because they require some sort of proportional input signal from the towing vehicle. On the other hand they must also be fail safe and apply the trailer's brakes in the event of inadvertent separation from the towing vehicle while in motion. As there aren't any provisions for transmitting necessary signals in the standard factory-fitted electrical system of the towing vehicle to the trailer, this would have to be retrofitted. However, any such retrofitment would amount to a technical modification that needs to be approved by a vehicle testing authority and documented in the vehicle registration papers. Simply because of the administrative work involved, this makes electrical brakes a rather unattractive option, quite apart from the fact that it limits towing vehicle and trailer to just one specific combination without the ability for any interchange of the trailer with another towing vehicle not so equipped. For that reason, mechanical overrun brakes are the norm for trailers under 3500kg. Over that, trailers do need an independent braking system, but this is usually in the form of an air brake.
 
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Nov 6, 2005
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I really appreciate all the comments here and hopefully I haven't somehow hijacked the original posters thread.

I've now started going over some of the information on the DoT site and it looks like there is plenty of reading to be done. I'm particularly focused on the "international convention" topics. Braking systems, specifically worded as American, soon came to my attention and fortunately I believe I would be 100% compliant with that one.

Back to the OP and the question of towing with a GLC250d, I don't know if you can get leveling bars and anti-sway bars in the UK. If you can, I would highly recommend them. Although I appreciate that probably most people tow for a lifetime without them.

I think my ML350 would be reasonably similar to the GLC250d, albeit much older, and I towed an 18' US trailer tens of thousands of miles year round with never a single issue.
ML350 is quite different to the GLC, much bigger/heavier - remember that maximum noseweights (tongueweights) are much lower in Europe & UK than North America or Australia - in Europe & UK a noseweight of 5-7% of trailer weight is considered acceptable but is likely to give less stability than the 10+% typical elsewhere.

Weight distribution hitches are virtually unknown here, and generally not reconmmended by vehicle manufacturers. Anti-sway is dealt with in Europe & UK by the common use of a friction stabiliser built into the hitch which clamps onto the 50mm ball.
 
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They would actually be illegal.
How so? The Scott-Halley spring stabiliser was a form of Weight Distribution as well as "sway control" - there were many copies of the Scott-Halley once its patents ran out.
 
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How so? The Scott-Halley spring stabiliser was a form of Weight Distribution as well as "sway control" - there were many copies of the Scott-Halley once its patents ran out.
They affect load distribution between the axles to levels that that were never taken into account by the vehicle manufacturer in design and development and are therefore not covered by whole vehicle type approval. Such a system could have vehicle structural and handling implications because it imparts a moment between the towbar and the trailer chassis. There would have to be an agreed industry standard that defines the maximum and minimum level of weight distribution which the vehicle (and towbar) manufacturer can use as a basis for approval testing first, just like there is for the integrated frictional stabilisers that are common today.
 
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They affect load distribution between the axles to levels that that were never taken into account by the vehicle manufacturer in design and development and are therefore not covered by whole vehicle type approval. Such a system could have vehicle structural and handling implications because it imparts a moment between the towbar and the trailer chassis. There would have to be an agreed industry standard that defines the maximum and minimum level of weight distribution which the vehicle (and towbar) manufacturer can use as a basis for approval testing first, just like there is for the integrated frictional stabilisers that are common today.
I'm not convinced that third-party after-market accessories are subject to whole vehicle Type Approval - at least not in most of Europe although TUV may impose that in Germany.
 
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As an accessory itself it is not subject to mandatory approval, but fitting it can have implications to the whole vehicle and that would affect whole vehicle type approval. The vehicle and towbar manufacturers have full product liability for their products and any technical modifications that could affect their performance need to be approved by the manufacturer or else vehicle type approval is null and void.
For integrated stabilisers, manufacturers work with the levels as defined in ISO 11555-1, but there is no equivalent for blade type stabilisers.
 
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Hitch stabilisers are part of the trailer/caravan so need to be covered by its Whole Vehicle Type Approval - but a blade stabiliser or weight distribution hitch is an accessory that fits between , so can't be subject to Whole Vehicle Type Approval.
Any technical change that affects the vehicle as a whole from the state as it was type approved needs to be approved. This doesn't mean that the whole vehicle has to be type approved once again, but it does mean that documentation must exist confirming that the modification does not in any way prejudice the integrity and performance of the vehicle in question. Without it, who can be held accountable for material failure or overall safety of the towing vehicle and trailer combination? The manufacturer of the accessory could argue that he is only responsible for his product and not for any collateral damage caused to the vehicle as a result of fitting or using the accessory. He could, for example, say that it is up to the person who bought the accessory to convince himself of the suitability for his particular application or that damage to the towing vehicle is outside his scope.
 
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AlKo have by far the biggest share of the market as far as electronic stabilisers are concerned, but there are a couple of others, like BPW's iDC system and the father of them all, the LEAS system,
Thanks. I'll check them all out and see where I get to with stabilisation.
 
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ML350 is quite different to the GLC, much bigger/heavier -
I suspect I am quite out of touch with the current Mercedes line up. I was thinking the GL's were in general a continuation of the ML series. There are quite possibly significant differences between the US and UK variants too. I just noticed the tow hitch weight for the GLS in Europe is a fraction of the listed number for the similar US model.
 
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I suspect I am quite out of touch with the current Mercedes line up. I was thinking the GL's were in general a continuation of the ML series. There are quite possibly significant differences between the US and UK variants too. I just noticed the tow hitch weight for the GLS in Europe is a fraction of the listed number for the similar US model.
Mercedes-Benz changed it's naming convention a few years ago - "GL" is now used for all SUV/CUVs with suffices to indicate size range - so GLA is a CUV based on the A-class, GLC is a SUV/CUV based on the C-class and GLE is a SUV based on the E-class which is equivalent to the old ML - the GLS sits above that.

Most, but not all, European caravans have a hitch limit of 100 kg (220 lbs) although some are 150 kg (330 lb) - in consequence, most cars/SUVs sold in Europe have much lower noseweight limits (maximum tongueweight) than in USA. As an example, my VW Touareg, which is comparable to a Mercedes-Benz ML/GLE, has a 3,500 kg (7,716 lb) towing limit with a 140 kg (308 lb) noseweight limit - the same model in the USA has a towing limit of 7,700 lbs and maximum tongueweight of 600-770 lbs.
 
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The reason why higher noseweight limits are specified for North America is that the conditions under which these are determined by the manufacturer are different. Regulations in Europe require towbar systems to be tested for 2 million stress cycles under controlled conditions. To the best of my knowledge, no similar Federal Safety Standards exist and the manufacturers are free to specify what they feel appropriate.

Road and traffic conditions are somewhat different between our two continents. Because roads here are often winding and narrow and the traffic heavy, calling for frequent braking and acceleration and perhaps even evasive manoeuvres, towbar systems probably encounter a much higher frequency of peak loads in Europe than on the highways in North America where one can drive for hours almost in a straight line at the same speed.

It is also far more common to use sedans to tow caravans (travel trailers) in Europe than in North America. These, by virtue of their design, do not allow very high noseweights so trailers and towbars are designed accordingly to take such structural constraints into account.
 
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Mercedes-Benz changed it's naming convention a few years ago - "GL" is now used for all SUV/CUVs with suffices to indicate size range - so GLA is a CUV based on the A-class, GLC is a SUV/CUV based on the C-class and GLE is a SUV based on the E-class which is equivalent to the old ML - the GLS sits above that.
That makes a lot of sense, and easy to remember, once you know.
 
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I think that if we are going to continue to digress from the original topic of the discussion, for the benefit of the OP all replies after #7 should be moved as a new topic under a more appropriate title.
 

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I think that if we are going to continue to digress from the original topic of the discussion, for the benefit of the OP all replies after #7 should be moved as a new topic under a more appropriate title.
Done!
 
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