Towing with license after 1997

Aug 9, 2019
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Hi. Could I just confirm with anybody who knows for sure. I have a driving license after 1997. I also have a Skoda Octavia estate with a GVW of 1978kg. Does that mean that I can tow a caravan with an MTPLM of 1522kg without any test or anything else? I can join them up and away I go? Thanks
 
Nov 11, 2009
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nick17112 said:
Hi. Could I just confirm with anybody who knows for sure. I have a driving license after 1997. I also have a Skoda Octavia estate with a GVW of 1978kg. Does that mean that I can tow a caravan with an MTPLM of 1522kg without any test or anything else? I can join them up and away I go? Thanks

If your figures don’t exceed 3500kg the answer is yes. But you need to look at the cars specification for maximum towed load. Also guidance is such that newcomers should have a caravan MTPLM that is around 85% of the cars kerbweight. I suspect your proposed outfit exceeds that guide.
The cars maximum towing specification relates to its ability to perform a number of hill starts on a 12% incline. It bears no relation to how good or safe it is towing a large slab sided unruly aluminium box on the motorway in windy conditions with HGVs and fast moving traffic around you.

So whilst your sums are correct I think you need to relook at the overall suitability.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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nick17112 said:
Hi. Could I just confirm with anybody who knows for sure. I have a driving license after 1997. I also have a Skoda Octavia estate with a GVW of 1978kg. Does that mean that I can tow a caravan with an MTPLM of 1522kg without any test or anything else? I can join them up and away I go? Thanks

Hello Nick,

Your post 1997 licence Cat B entitles you to drive a vehicle towing a caravan up to a combined MAM not exceeding 3500kg.

You have correctly identified the combined MAM is the cars GVW of (1978kg)+ the caravans MTPLM (1522kg) . Providing you have the correct figures then your combined MAM is exactly 1500kg. That is (just) within your driving entitlement.

But then there is the issue of whether the car is actually capable of towing such a heavy trailer? The car will have a GTW figure on its data plate. You must ensure your car and caravan do not exceed that weight limit.

The car manufacture will have also quoted a maximum towed weight limit in its specifications, this figure is often mistakenly taken to mean it's safe to tow a caravan of this weight, when in fact all it means is the car with a trailer of this weight is capable of starting on a 12% gradient. It does not mean the car will safely tow a caravan of this weight.

Whether it's a good idea to try to tow such a large caravan with your car is not clear, as you don't tell us the cars specification or Kerbweight. My concern is the caravan's MTPLM is large, and your towing ratio (100 X caravans MTPLM / cars Kerbweight) will very close to or over 100%.

Caravans are probably the most difficult type of trailer to tow behind a car. Their sheer size makes them very sensitive to gusts of wind, and due to their leverage they can impose some big forces through the tow coupling to the tow vehicle. Smaller light weight cars can more easily lose control of the caravan with dire consequences. Because of this the UK caravan industry has issued guidance which suggests novice caravanner's should aim for a towing ratio not exceeding 85%, and only as experience builds should they consider anything bigger, and the advice suggests never exceeding 100% towing ratio.

My but feeling is to say whilst your licence may allow you to drive your proposed outfit, the outfit is likely to be at the limit or possibly exceeding it's mechanical specifications, but from a safety perspective it is not advisable as it will be outside the caravan towing recommendations.
 

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Nov 12, 2009
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otherclive said:
nick17112 said:
Hi. Could I just confirm with anybody who knows for sure. I have a driving license after 1997. I also have a Skoda Octavia estate with a GVW of 1978kg. Does that mean that I can tow a caravan with an MTPLM of 1522kg without any test or anything else? I can join them up and away I go? Thanks

If your figures don’t exceed 3500kg the answer is yes. But you need to look at the cars specification for maximum towed load. Also guidance is such that newcomers should have a caravan MTPLM that is around 85% of the cars kerbweight. I suspect your proposed outfit exceeds that guide.
The cars maximum towing specification relates to its ability to perform a number of hill starts on a 12% incline. It bears no relation to how good or safe it is towing a large slab sided unruly aluminium box on the motorway in windy conditions with HGVs and fast moving traffic around you.

So whilst your sums are correct I think you need to relook at the overall suitability.

ProfJohnL said:
Hello Nick,

Your post 1997 licence Cat B entitles you to drive a vehicle towing a caravan up to a combined MAM not exceeding 3500kg.

You have correctly identified the combined MAM is the cars GVW of (1978kg)+ the caravans MTPLM (1522kg) . Providing you have the correct figures then your combined MAM is exactly 1500kg. That is (just) within your driving entitlement.

But then there is the issue of whether the car is actually capable of towing such a heavy trailer? The car will have a GTW figure on its data plate. You must ensure your car and caravan do not exceed that weight limit.

The car manufacture will have also quoted a maximum towed weight limit in its specifications, this figure is often mistakenly taken to mean it's safe to tow a caravan of this weight, when in fact all it means is the car with a trailer of this weight is capable of starting on a 12% gradient. It does not mean the car will safely tow a caravan of this weight.

Whether it's a good idea to try to tow such a large caravan with your car is not clear, as you don't tell us the cars specification or Kerbweight. My concern is the caravan's MTPLM is large, and your towing ratio (100 X caravans MTPLM / cars Kerbweight) will very close to or over 100%.

Caravans are probably the most difficult type of trailer to tow behind a car. Their sheer size makes them very sensitive to gusts of wind, and due to their leverage they can impose some big forces through the tow coupling to the tow vehicle. Smaller light weight cars can more easily lose control of the caravan with dire consequences. Because of this the UK caravan industry has issued guidance which suggests novice caravanner's should aim for a towing ratio not exceeding 85%, and only as experience builds should they consider anything bigger, and the advice suggests never exceeding 100% towing ratio.

My but feeling is to say whilst your licence may allow you to drive your proposed outfit, the outfit is likely to be at the limit or possibly exceeding it's mechanical specifications, but from a safety perspective it is not advisable as it will be outside the caravan towing recommendations.

Both of these quoted replies offer very similar advice.
 
Aug 9, 2019
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The Octavia Estate is reported as one of the best towing cars so why would it not be suitable for towing a fairly light 4 berth? It’s towing capacity is over 2000kg. Sorry what car is more suited to tow a fairly small ish caravan. Thanks

Plus most of the caravans I have been looking at are around 1300 kg not my allowed 1522kg
 
May 24, 2014
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Just to be clear Nick17112, when you started the conversation, you were referring to caravans with an MTPLM of 1522, and as the others have said, its only just within the allowances of your licence. Your last post refers to caravans of 1300kg MTPLM which is a better match for the vehicle you mention, but you have moved the goalposts somewhat.

What is the kerbweight of your car. Its already been pointed out that "guidance" advises that your caravans MTPLM is around 85% of your cars kerbweight.

Unfortunately, there is much more to think about than the simple £3500kg figure that you are permitted, such as the 85% guidance, the cars maximum towing allowance, the weight that your towball can take (specified in the cars handbook), will the caravan meet that figure.

Nobody suggests that as Passat isnt a good tow vehicle because it is, but you must work within its cababilities and legally binding specifications. Exceeding that is not only foolhardy and dangerous, but would also likely invalidate your insurance.

Referring back to the 85% guidance, it is the advised target figure for a newbie, you can in theory go to 100% but you should never exceed that. As a new caravanner with a 100% ratio, i would suggest that combo would be foolish.

In short, if you want a large heavy caravan, then bite the bullet and take the test...................it isnt difficult.
 
Feb 23, 2018
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nick17112 said:
Sorry that was my bad, in my original post I meant with a maximum of 1522kg as that makes the total of 3500 with my cars GVW

In theory you can tow the above combination - as per the restrictions of the B licence. But it does depend on your car's weights and limits. (I also have a post 97 licence)

Think of towing a caravan like carrying a fence panel: Not particularly heavy, but awkward. If the wind catches it you're going over! Hence, not exceeding 100% of the cars Kerb-weight or the lightest the car is likely to be when matching a caravan. You could tow a trailer with a solid block on it of the same weight, but it would not impact the behaviour of the car like a caravan can.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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nick17112 said:
Sorry that was my bad, in my original post I meant with a maximum of 1522kg as that makes the total of 3500 with my cars GVW

Nick as both myself and others have said the makers towing limit bears no relation to the cars real world ability to tow a caravan safely. My 170ps Superb 4x4 is heavier than your Octavia but still has a 2000 kg makers towing limit. Answer me why?
I suggest you look at the CAMHC, CCC and PC annual tow car tests. The Octavia always does well but not at the caravan weight that you initially quoted but at lower weight caravans. Looking at those annual test reports will give you a far better idea of what your car may tow. What Octavia is it? I had a petrol Forester with 2000 kg makers limit. But sold it to buy the Superb as it’s engine struggled with a 1300 kg van. But I’ve no doubt the Forester could have passed the 12% incline test with 2000kg on the back.
 
Aug 9, 2019
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The Kerbweight of my car is 1354 kg. I will look for a caravan around 1100kg-1200kg and I’m sure that will meet all requirements as I’ll be under my 3500kg by a considerable amount and very close to my 85% of Kerbweight
 
Nov 11, 2009
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That would make for a nicely balanced outfit. Have a look at the annual tow test reports as they will give an idea of suitable vans too.
 
Mar 27, 2011
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I’m late to read this topic and I’m pretty sure it’s sorted but for my own info can someone explain what I’m missing, I must be working something out wrong, with a vehicle weight of 1978 and van weight of 1522 which were the figures quoted by the OP, it was then said in various replies to be a bad match, surely these weights gives a ratio of just about 77% so not anywhere near the 85% recommendation, I am aware that consulting the cars V5 to see what’s quoted is still required but why would those weights if they were correctly quoted and were within the cars limits be an unsafe match.

BP
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Beehpee said:
I’m late to read this topic and I’m pretty sure it’s sorted but for my own info can someone explain what I’m missing, I must be working something out wrong, with a vehicle weight of 1978 and van weight of 1522 which were the figures quoted by the OP, it was then said in various replies to be a bad match, surely these weights gives a ratio of just about 77% so not anywhere near the 85% recommendation, I am aware that consulting the cars V5 to see what’s quoted is still required but why would those weights if they were correctly quoted and were within the cars limits be an unsafe match.

BP

Was it vehicle kerbweight or gross vehicle weight? The guidance ratio of 85% relates to kerbweight. Otherwise if you were quoting kerbweight your ratio looks okay.

PS Sorry I thought you were seeking advice. The OP quoted his cars GVW not its kerbweight. If you read the thread you will see the Octavia kerbweight is a lot lower.
 
May 24, 2014
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I’m late to read this topic and I’m pretty sure it’s sorted but for my own info can someone explain what I’m missing, I must be working something out wrong, with a vehicle weight of 1978 and van weight of 1522 which were the figures quoted by the OP, it was then said in various replies to be a bad match, surely these weights gives a ratio of just about 77% so not anywhere near the 85% recommendation, I am aware that consulting the cars V5 to see what’s quoted is still required but why would those weights if they were correctly quoted and were within the cars limits be an unsafe match.

What was being considered is that because the OP had a kiddie licence (after 1977), his stated outfit was right on the edge of his legal MAM of 3500kg. Also, I reckon he was giving us his gross vehicle weight, and not the kerbweight. The point that was also being made was that just because a handbook says the cars maximum towing weight is xxxx, it doesnt necessarily mean it will be a good towcar at the maximum weight which is why the kerbweight ratio is a better guide.
 
May 7, 2012
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Assuming the caravans MTPLM is within the limit of the car you can tow legally on your figures. You would be at or near the limit recommended for experienced towers though, so something a bit lighter would be a better idea. You do not give the cars kerb weight but never have an MTPLM exceeding that.
The two clubs and the NCC suggest an MTPLM of no more than 85% of the cars kerb weight is best for beginners. It is not a legal limit, and the Skoda is regarded as a good tow car, but I would hesitate to go over 90% if you are new to towing.
Just to explain the manufacturers towing limit is based on the cars ability to restart on a 12% hill and not on safety. Towing say a broken down car around town is acceptable at those weights, but at 60 mph on a motorway with side winds and lorries and coaches you need a margin of safety to allow the car to control the caravan.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Raywood said:
Assuming the caravans MTPLM is within the limit of the car you can tow legally on your figures. You would be at or near the limit recommended for experienced towers though, so something a bit lighter would be a better idea. You do not give the cars kerb weight but never have an MTPLM exceeding that.
The two clubs and the NCC suggest an MTPLM of no more than 85% of the cars kerb weight is best for beginners. It is not a legal limit, and the Skoda is regarded as a good tow car, but I would hesitate to go over 90% if you are new to towing.
Just to explain the manufacturers towing limit is based on the cars ability to restart on a 12% hill and not on safety. Towing say a broken down car around town is acceptable at those weights, but at 60 mph on a motorway with side winds and lorries and coaches you need a margin of safety to allow the car to control the caravan.

The OP/ Nick has given the Octavia kerbweight at 1354 kg
 

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