I?ve tried a forum search, but nothing specific came up for me?..
I?m looking into the minefield that is maximum permissible towing weights. There?s all sorts to think about ? Kerb Weight, Towing Weight, Gross Train Weight blah blah blah?..
The towing car would be a 1997 Passat Tdi 110bhp. I believe the kerb weight is 1375kg and the towing weight is 1500kg.
I?m going to be towing a VW Beetle (no idea what that kerb weight is as most the bonnet, nose, front and rear wings are fibreglass, not steel). If it comes in at less than 750kg, I believe I can use an un-braked towing dolly. Does anyone know if this is correct?
If the weight of the Beetle is greater than 750kg, I need a braked trailer. Now then, this is where things get fuzzy for me. Can anyone tell me what the maximum braked weight I can tow with my Passat would be?
Also, how can I weigh the Beetle? Take it to the local tip and ask nicely if I can run over their weighbridge??!
I can imagine that Mr Traffic Plod would have difficulty understanding all this, even if I was stopped!!
How do I work out what I can tow??! -
From my laymans understanding, you have three different weights to consider:
1) The Legal Maximum
2) The Technical Maximum
3) The Sensible Maximum
Calculated as follows:
1) The Legal Maximum is from the Train Weight value, this is the total the car, contents and towed load can weigh. So you'll need to find the weights of the car, Beetle and trailer, plus estimate for your luggage and passengers.
2) The Technical Max is the weight Volkswagen believe the car is capable of moving from a standstill up a step hill without damaging the Passat.
3) The Sensible Max is usually consider to be that the towed load (trailer + Beetle weight) should be <85% of the weight of the towing vehicle.
I'd expect you'd be safe on all three counts towing a Beetle with your Passat.
2) is the weight Volkswagen give as max tow weight and this is how is calculated.
3) The 85% rule generally is more relevant for caravans which are a totally different animal. Car trailers & loads can generally be 100% as they have no top hamper or windage.
Others have answered the weight question. If the Beetle to be towed is an original, rear-engined example, I advise towing it facing backwards ie with the weight of the engine between the trailer wheels and the tow hitch. This will give better weight distribution and reduce the effects of instability. Keep the trailer hitched when you put the car on it to avoid the whole thing see-sawing, make sure your lights work to avoid annoying your fellow motorists and make sure the car is firmly strapped on to the trailer ramps by the wheels to avoid losing your cargo. Good luck.
Stranger in a strange land
Is the 100% rule for trailers the actual legal maximum, or just safe guidelines?
In the classic car world people commonly fetch another non-runner of the same kind they own already, on a trailer. Obviously the towed weight then exceeds 100% because of the weight of the trailer. Is that actually illegal, or just not advisable?
Thanks for that, Truckosaurus. I see how the Gross Train Weight is calclated, but who says what the maximum permitted value is? Is there a published list for all cars going back to the year dot, or is there an absolute maximum applicable to all cars?
The 85% rule is more than just a rule of thumb. If you get pulled by plod and you have exceeded this your probably going to be in trouble. Check your Passats handbook, it will advise on towing weights. There are two weights normally for braked and unbraked trailers.
You also need to consider the nose weight maximum. This is the downforce on the tow ball.
I certainly wouldn't advise hitching up the maximum you can get and trying to drive up steep hills. This is hardly scientific and very hit and miss. Presumably you want your clutch to last the entire journey.
Lastly,if you have too much weight on the back your braking distance will be dangerously long, your brakes will cook and fade and the trailer will push you downhill.
\"Nothing less than 8 cylinders will do\"