How to tow proof your car

Our top tips for towing with your car

Depending on what exactly you may be towing, different equipment and techniques may be used. For example, drivers may choose to use either a towing pole or a slightly more flexible towing rope instead. Regardless, keeping the task safe and legal should always remain a priority. Even with the large number of driving safety gadgets available on modern cars, motorists still have a lot to think about to keep themselves protected.

As Peter Rodger from the road safety charity IAM explains: “Whether you’re towing a speedboat, a horsebox, a caravan or another car, there are certain rules which must be applied. It is important to recognise the challenges which come with having to control not just one vehicle, but two.”

Here are our tips for safe towing with your car.

Preparation for towing

Before you even start you should keep track of the weight of the towed vehicle. The total weight should not exceed 85 per cent of the car’s kerb weight. An excessive amount of weight can easily result in instability for the car towing.

Furthermore, always check the unit you are towing is secure before pulling away, and check again after a short distance. Look for anything loose, disconnected, missing or broken among the equipment you’re using.

Check that your extra rear lights for what’s being towed are all connected and fully functional. Get somebody to help while you test the brakes and indicators. As well as additional lights, you will also need an illuminated number plate at the rear of the unit.

Check the pressure of all tyres before you set off, bearing in mind those of the towed unit as well as your own vehicle.

If you’re unsure about any of the rules for equipment and maximum towing weight, the Government has outlined these regulations online at gov.uk .

Driving a car while towing

When driving a car that’s towing something, the stopping distances and the space between you and other vehicles should be increased appropriately, allowing for the extra weight you are carrying. It’s also wise to allocate more time to overtaking, positioning yourself for turns, parking manoeuvres, pulling into traffic streams, changing lanes and joining and leaving motorways.

Remember to check your mirrors frequently. Since you will probably lose the use of your rear view mirror when towing, it means extended door mirrors prove to be very useful indeed. Extended towing mirrors may not be a legal requirement, as it depends on whether whatever is being towed is wider than the vehicle being used. Nevertheless, with the extended mirrors you will have a better feel for overtaking and reversing.

Be wary that reduced speed limits usually apply when towing vehicles, and remember to extend courtesy to vehicles following you by allowing them to pass. Even more care should be taken when towing a car in strong winds.

Inside a car being towed

If a car is being used to tow another vehicle, then the driver of this towed vehicle will need to be just as careful and as quick to react as the one doing the pulling.

Drivers of a towed vehicle should watch for the brake lights and indicators of the vehicle towing so they can react to any manoeuvres in plenty of time. Whoever is in the towed car should actively steer and brake in co-ordination with the car in front to avoid accidents.

Try to keep some tension in the towrope or towing pole at all times since this will minimise jolting between the two cars involved in the towing process. This can be done by applying light braking pressure while in the car being towed. This is particularly useful when using a towrope as it will help keep it out of contact with the road surface and prolong the rope’s life.