What can I tow?

Before you head off to buy a trailer tent or folding camper you will need to have an idea of what your car can tow.

In most cases, trailer tents are relatively light, so it’s likely your car will be able to tow one, but it’s always worth checking, especially if you have a smaller car.

If the trailer tent has no brakes this can add a further complication.

Before you head off to buy any sort of trailer you will need to have an idea of what your car can tow. Start by looking in the handbook to establish what the towing limits are, some small cars and sports derivatives may not be permitted tow anything. If you haven’t decided on your tow car have a look our Towcar awards section.

When matching cars to caravans we recommend to novices that they try to have a weight ratio where the fully laden weight of the caravan is no more than 85% of the kerbweight of the towing car, we recognised that trailer tents and folding campers are generally a more manageable tow but it remains sensible to keep a trailer lighter than the towing car. The towing limit published in the handbook may be less than 85%, in this instance the lower limit takes precedence. Read our guide to weight and payload.

Matching your car to a trailer tent or folding camper

What you can tow is governed by two factors, not only does the vehicle have limits,  your driving licence has limits too.

Typically with trailer tents and folding campers these limitations are less of a concern than with caravans and other larger trailers, however it remains prudent to check.

To find out whether the car and trailer are a sensible match, find the car's kerbweight in the handbook or check with a dealer you simple multiply the kerbweight by 0.85, this will give you the 85% figure that ideally a trailer should not exceed, especially If you're a novice at towing. It is also important to check the weight plate (or VIN plate) of a car, there will be a maximum train mass, this is the maximum allowed of the vehicle plus what it is permitted to tow, this must never be exceeded regardless of any result of a calculation based on 85%.

Even if you have a good match you must check your driving licence permits the combination. Prior to January 1st 1997 a driving licence allows the driving of a car, a car plus trailer, goods vehicles and minibuses up to 15 seats, since that date, you only pass a test for vehicles up 3500kg with a limited trailer provision, a so-called B licence. If the trailer is up to 750kg then this is permitted with a B licence with any vehicle up to 3500kg. However, should the trailer exceed 750kg, then the sum of this trailer plus the maximum allowable mass of the car cannot exceed 3500kg.

Trailer tents without brakes

If you choose a trailer tent without brakes, you need to check another limit too. By law, an unbraked trailer must not exceed half the unladen mass of the towing vehicle or the unbraked trailer limit set by the manufacturer, whichever is the lower must be adhered to.

If you are concerned you may be near this limit, you can take your loaded, unbraked trailer tent to a local weighbridge to find out just how heavy it really is.

For more information

If you’d like to find out more about driving licences or matching your car and a trailer tent or folding caravan, check out the Matching Car and Caravan Data Sheet on our Data Sheets page. Please don’t be put off by the title, most of the details on the Data Sheet are just as relevant to trailer tents and folding campers as to caravans.

Now you know what your car can tow, find out more about the types of trailer tent and folding camper available.

Club Care Insurance

Covered to tow? Club Care’s comprehensive trailer tent insurance policy gives you insurance cover on the move.

Trailer Tent Insurance