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Small Car towcar advice - Fiat Panda/ Fiesta etc

Trailer Tent

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#1 Robin2000

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 10:08 AM

hi, we are new to the tenting scene. We have a conway trailer tent. We tow this with a 11 year old Skoda Octavia (no issues there) . Max weight laden on trailer vin plate is 440 kg. Trailer is unbraked.

Looking for a new second car - i get the wifes "hand down" for towing every 5 or 6 years, hence the Octavia, but she now wants a small car for economy and nipping about, and with this in mind we want to be sure whatever she gets will pull the trailer tent in the future. Like anything, with age, the Octavia will be slowly retired from our longer distance holidays!

With the likes of a Fiat Panda/ Mazda 2/ , this is rated as a max tow weight of unbraked weight of 400 kg. Our trailer tent has a max laiden weight of 440kg (it is unbraked) . I assume the bare ex works trailer tent is only around half of this weight and with a awning packed on the floor perhaps another 30 or 40 kg. So i assume it weighs on the road perhaps 300 kg, - and as we all know with a basic trailer tent, apart from a couple of water tanks and a camping gas bottle, once folded up there isnt any room for anything else! Unless i filled the trailer up with bricks i cant see how it could ever reach max 440kg weight with the camping stuff that fits inside.

However, if i had a tow car with this 400kg rating, and a trailer VIN plate stating a higher 440kg laden, Am i breaking any laws? I am unsure of the law regarding this. Am i allowed to tow ? Would i only be breaking the law if the trailer was found to be over 400kg (max tow car weight)

Conway Spirit model - which is the "same" as a Challenger/ clipper/ sunncamp/ etc. as far as i can see. Any advice welcomed. - Yes i know a bigger car is "better" but i cannot see us changing for a heavier trailer due to storage restrictions and fuel costs.

Thanks in advance for advice.

#2 Gareth

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 08:12 PM

I think that if you exceed the maximum towing weight for your car (whether the trailer is braked or not, irrespective of whether it is an ACTUAL weight or a THEORETICAL weight based on the plate) you are:
a) breaking the law
b) invalidating your insurance.

I'm glad to be corrected if wrong, though.

Thing is, 11 years isn't terribly old for a towcar and if it is well-maintained and in good condition, there's no reason why you couldn't tow happily with the Skoda for a good long while yet.
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#3 FishyDave

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 06:30 PM

I was hoping someone else would answer this, as it's a point that's always confused me too. Is it the actual weight that matters, or will you be prosecuted simply because the plated weight on your trailer exceeds the maximum for your towcar?

There are small cars out there with higher unbraked limits. The Clio is around 530Kg as I recall. I would be more comfortable shopping around and finding a car that can legally tow the trailer at its maximum plated weight.

#4 Brassneck

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 08:53 PM

If i understand it right, its this:

Working on the cars plated weights. Say car weighs 1000 Kgs. Its braked tow is 500 Kgs. Unbraked is 400 Kgs. Train weight is 1600 Kgs. So it can tow either trailer as neither would push it over 1600 Kgs train weight, as long as the car and its occupants and luggage dont push it over the 1600 Kgs train weight.
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#5 Gareth

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 04:31 PM

I believe that should one be stopped by the Police or VOSA, then the first thing they would do is a little mental arithmetic based on the weight plates.
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