Buying a towcar

4x4 towcar pulling a caravan up a hill

Choosing the appropriate car to tow your caravan will ensure that your towing experience is enjoyable and relaxed - as well as being safe and legal.

To tow a caravan safely, your towcar needs to be heavier than the fully-laden caravan with sufficient power to maintain steady progress on gradients of up to 1 in 8 (12.5%). Depending on when you passed your driving test, you might need to upgrade your driving licence to tow a larger caravan.

Do I need a special licence to tow a caravan?

Most drivers are legally allowed to tow some form of caravan on their standard licence.

Passed your test before January 1997?

You can drive a car and trailer whose combined weight (Gross Train Weight or GTW) is below 8250kg.

Passed your test after January 1997?

You’ll need to take an additional B+E towing test if you want to drive a car and caravan whose GTW exceeds 3500kg.

What caravan can I tow with my car?

Most of these guidelines concern maximum weight limits for both car and caravan and how to safely load both vehicles. Don't forget we also have our very own car and caravan matching service if you're in search of a new towcar.

The most important factor to remember is that the kerbweight (partially laden weight) of the car should at least be equal to and ideally exceed the fully laden weight of the caravan.

It’s important that you safely load both your caravan and your car. For optimum towing performance, we recommend to aim for a maximum towed load of no more than 85% of the car’s kerbweight for beginners and perhaps up to 90% for experienced towers. Never exceed 100%.

For example, if your car weighs 1750kg with a full tank of a fuel and a driver, ideally, your caravan’s maximum laden weight (often referred to as MTPLM – Maximum Technically Permitted Laden Mass) shouldn’t exceed 1487.5kg (85%) for beginners and 1575kg for experienced towers.

Most cars have upper weight limits determined by the manufacturers and some have restrictions on the maximum weight they may tow.

In their brochures, manufacturers will typically state that their vehicles are capable of towing a load that exceeds our recommended towing ratios. Whilst this would not be illegal, we would not recommend towing anything heavier than the car’s kerbweight.

The connection between weight ratio and stability has been proven through our own testing of cars and caravans, a wealth of member feedback and scientific research. The 85% ratio allows the widest choice of compatible cars and caravans without compromising safety or comfort.

When we perform an outfit match assessment for you, this is usually based on a ‘worst case scenario’ of the car’s kerbweight (i.e. the lightest the car can be) and the caravan’s MTPLM (i.e. the heaviest the caravan can be).


A car's kerbweight will normally be found in the handbook - if not consult your dealer. The maximum allowable weights of the car, each axle, and the combined weight of the outfit (car and trailer) are shown on a plate on the car - usually under the bonnet, or on one of the door pillars.

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Top questions

Do you have an outfit matching service?

Yes, we offer a full online outfit matching service to members. Alternatively, speak to one of our experienced Technical Advisors on 01342 336 611 for further advice.

Do you offer towing courses?

We run two different caravan towing courses, both are open to non-members as well as members. Improve your manoeuvring skills, even if you tow a trailer or horse box.

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