This week we have been discussing trailer driving in the SEIB horse trailer insurance team and what to look for in a car for towing a horse trailer. The car used for towing needs to be capable of towing the trailer and its load legally and safely. It is important to have an understanding of the rules and regulations regarding towing vehicles or you could be putting yourself, your horse and other road users at risk, not to mention breaking the law.
The MTC (Maximum Towing Capacity) is set by the vehicle manufacturer and is the maximum weight that a car is legally able to tow. This figure can be found in the car owners’ manual or on the vehicle identification plate (VIN). The loaded weight of the trailer you are intending to tow must not exceed the MTC of the car.
MAM is a phrase that comes up frequently, this means Maximum Authorised Mass. Following changes to UK towing rules on the 16th December, and the inclusion of category B & E on all driving licences, drivers may tow a trailer with a MAM of up to 3,500kg. More information can be found on the Government website about this law change.*
The MTC of the towing vehicle does not need to be the same as the MAM of the trailer. Just because a trailer has the capacity to hold a heavier weight, there is no requirement that the car has to have the MTC of the maximum weight of the trailer. If you are towing a two-horse trailer, with just the one horse in it, weighing 2,000kgs in total, provided the car has an MTC of 2,000kgs than that is within the legal requirement.
Irrespective of legal weights of cars and trailers, many people choose a car with four-wheel drive to tow a horse trailer. There is no legal requirement in the UK to tow with a four-wheel drive vehicle, but it may provide a smoother ride, and increased peace of mind. Also, a four-wheel drive will prove very useful should you need to tow your horse off road and park in a field at a show.
The car you intend to use for towing will need a correctly fitted tow bar. It is possible to have a tow bar supplied and fitted by an approved garage but many people intending to use a vehicle for towing are likely to buy a vehicle with one already installed.
It is important to be aware that particularly with more modern cars, the electric socket pins can vary. Some cars will have single 7 pin electric sockets, some double 7 pin and it is popular for modern cars to have 13 pin electric sockets. The car socket needs to be compatible with the end of the electric lead for the trailer.
Did you know?
- When towing a trailer on single carriageway the speed limit is 50mph
- On a dual carriageway the towing speed limit is 60mph
- All trailers over 750kgs must have working braking systems
SEIB have been arranging horse trailer insurance for over 50 years. This experience allows us to tailor policies to suit your circumstances and ensure that you and your horses are covered should the worst happen.
*Despite it not being a legal requirement to take a B + E Trailer test, SEIB strongly recommends that anyone looking to tow for the first time, or who hasn’t towed in a while should take training from a qualified B+E driving instructor.