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Towing Limits – Actual or potential

We have had a number of questions and discussions on towing limits. For example, if your vehicle has a towing capacity of 1000kg, but you are towing an empty trailer weighing 850kg, but the trailer is capable of a MGW of 3500kg, how do you stand – is this legal or illegal?

In order to assist / clarify, enclosed is an extract from a VOSA e mail, which clarifies that it is the actual weight, not the potential weight. Rightly they flag the point that this is separate to licence requirements.

Email from VOSA

Hope this helps!

In response  to your email I would like to confirm that when a vehicle is towing a trailer, it is the actual weight of the vehicle, trailer and load which is important in determining a vehicle’s compliance with legal weight thresholds, not the potential carrying capacity. Therefore it would be irrelevant whether the maximum permitted weight of the trailer was above that which the car can tow, it is only the ‘in use’ weight which can be considered.

Obviously this seeks to clarify weight thresholds only as other considerations may preclude for example category of driving licence held.

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