What are the rules for towing a car behind a motorhome?
If you're considering towing a car, boat or trailer behind your motorhome, but you're not sure what the rules are, you're in the right place. From towbars and how to tow to insurance and licensing laws, we've covered everything you need to know about towing a car behind a motorhome.
In this blog we'll answer the following questions:
- Why would you tow a car with a motorhome?
- What can your motorhome tow? And how can you tow it?
- What are the rules around braked and unbraked trailers or vehicles?
- Do you need special insurance?
- What towbars can be used on a motorhome?
- What are the current licensing rules?
- Can you tow a car with a motorhome internationally?
Why would you tow a car with a motorhome?
Towing with your motorhome can give you extra flexibility when going on holiday. A motorhome is a brilliant base for your holiday, but it is not necessarily very nifty when driving through towns or cities or even winding country roads.
Large vehicles like motorhomes can be difficult to successfully park. If you're planning on driving into a busy city, and parking up somewhere, you might not want all of your belongings sitting in a car park in the centre of a city. Bringing a car along behind the motorhome is exactly the sort of thing you'll want to do if you're planning on roaming around, without the hassle of packing up and manoeuvring a big vehicle.
What can your motorhome tow? And how can you tow it?
What you can tow depends on the maximum towing limit of your vehicle, this can be confirmed by your vehicle's manufacturer. Alternatively, you can work out how much your vehicle can tow by following our guide to working out your towing capacity.
As well as towing capacity, you will also be restricted to a towing width and length. The maximum width your towing vehicle can tow is 2.55 metres. The maximum trailer length towed by a vehicle weighing up to 3,500kg is 7 metres and doesn't include the A-frame.
The best towing vehicles are usually rear-wheel drive, which is what your motorhome is likely to be.
There are multiple options for how to tow your vehicle behind a motorhome, including the following:
- Two-wheeled dollies
An A-Frame is otherwise known as a trailer. A-frames can be used for a variety of different things, including the transportation of other vehicles and large loads. As long as the trailer, or A-Frame, does not go over the towing capacity of the vehicle, you can use them for just about anything.
With this type of dolly, one set of the car's tires, front or rear, is on the ground, while the other end is suspended on the dolly. When using this type of dolly, it is important to know that your motorhome has an adequate braking system, and that the combined weight of the dolly and the vehicle being towed does not exceed the amount the towing vehicle can pull.
If you own an automatic car or a permanent 4x4 it cannot be towed behind a motorhome unless all 4 wheels are off the ground and thereby on a trailer.
What are the rules around braked and unbraked trailers or vehicles?
If you are towing a car weighing less than 750kg, the braking system must still operate correctly and effectively. This applies to all cars and trailers that are being towed and have their own braking system. However, trailers that have a maximum laden weight which does not exceed 750kg do not require their own braking system.
What considerations do you have to make about electrics?
Just like a trailer or bike rack needs to have sufficient towbar electrics for you to legally tow, the same rules apply if you are towing a car or A frame. The car or A frame you are towing should be connected to the towing vehicle's electrics via towbar wiring. This means that all of the lights and signals will still be visible to other road users. Not only that, but the registration of the towing vehicle must be clearly displayed on the back of the A frame or the vehicle that is being towed.
Do you need special insurance?
You don't necessarily need special insurance, you just need to have the correct coverage for car and motorhome. Consider what cover is provided by your policies, as your motorhome policy should provide third party insurance for a towed car whilst it is attached to the motorhome. Any damage that occurs to the car itself whilst being towed should be covered by the car policy, if you have comprehensive cover.
If you are planning on taking your motorhome abroad and towing a car, you need to make sure that the car insurance provides foreign use, and is covered for the length of time you plan to be abroad. Watch out for added premiums, as some private car insurance policies only provide a limited number of days per trip, so we would recommend you arrange for anything longer than this to be added to your policy.
We would also recommend that before you head off on your adventure, to check with your insurance company that you're fine to do so, and covered on all bases. Just in case!
What towbars can be used on a motorhome?
At Witter, we sell a range of Towbars that are suitable for use on motorhomes. Our range of towbars consists of:
Fixed Flange: The towball is bolted onto a faceplate and is permanently attached to your vehicle. This is ideal for serious towing, compatible with accessories and usually the cheapest option.
Detachable Flange: Robust and versatile like the fixed flange, the detachable flange comes with the added benefit of being able to remove the towbar when you are not using it.
Fixed Swan Neck: With a sleeker design, the fixed swan neck is more pleasing to the eye. It is compatible with AL-KO stabilisers, however, you cannot tow and carry bikes at the same time.
Detachable Swan Neck: With the same visual appeal as the fixed swan neck, you are also able to remove this when you are not towing. But, you can't tow and carry bikes at the same time.
Retractable Towbar: When not in use, it can be folded away out of sight in a matter of seconds. Offering the same advantages as a detachable towbar.
Check out our range of towbars today and see what works for your motorhome.
What are the current licensing rules?
The law sets limits on who is allowed to tow, depending on what kind of licence they hold. If you passed your driving test before 1997, you are automatically entitled to drive anything up to 7,500kg, also called a C1 entitlement. You can also drive a trailer up to 750kg on top of that. That means that your total allowed weight is 8,250 kilos. When you turn 70 that C1 entitlement is taken away, unless you have a doctor's note to get it reinstated.
In 1997, the government changed these rules so you could only drive a car or van up to 3,500kg, towing a trailer of up to 750kg (or 4,250kg in total).
In 2013, the government changed the rules again. So, if you passed your car driving test from 19 January 2013, you have the same rule of towing a car or van up to 3,500kg whilst also towing a trailer of up to 750kg (up to 4,250kg in total).
The difference is that you can only tow a trailer over 750kg as long as the combined weight of the towing vehicle and trailer is no more than 3,500kg.
For those who passed their test before 1 January 1997, you can still drive a vehicle and trailer combination up to 8,250kg.
For those who passed after 1 January 1997 you will no longer have to take a trailer towing test and you can tow a caravan or trailer up to 3500kg. To tow anything heavier than this you will need to take an additional test.
Can you tow a car with a motorhome internationally?
The most important thing you can do before towing internationally is to check the towing laws for the country you wish to tow in. While you can tow a car with a motorhome, using an A frame, in the UK this is not necessarily the case in Europe and further afield.
Can you use an A frame in Europe?
You can use an A frame in the UK, however they're not always compatible with modern vehicles and their advanced safety features. Advanced features like emergency braking, regenerative braking, and electronic stability control can actually mean that modern vehicles don't meet legal requirements for towing an A frame. So, while you can use them in the UK, you need to be sure you can legally tow an A frame with your vehicle.
While an A frame is fine to use in the UK, in line with the above guidance, it is not recommended to use one in the rest of Europe. That is because other European countries do not share the same views on A frames as we do in the UK. So, it is recommended that you carry out thorough research into the country you are visiting before travelling to make sure you are abiding by the laws of that country.
The world of towing cars behind motorhomes can be a little confusing, with all the consideration of weights and insurance. But once you've got that all sorted, it'll be well worth it. So, if you're all ready to hit the road, enjoy the journey. A motorhome holiday can take you to places that some normal holidays can't - the motorhome life is waiting for you! As long as you're all clued up on the rules and regulations, and you're prepared for your journey, we're sure you'll have a great time.