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How do I work out what I can tow??! - DieselBoy
Morning All,

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!!

Cheers all,

How do I work out what I can tow??! - Truckosaurus
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.
How do I work out what I can tow??! - Truckosaurus
ps. don't bother with a towing dolly, it'll be safer to just hire a proper trailer from a local place, look in the Yellow Pages.
How do I work out what I can tow??! - tr7v8
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.

How do I work out what I can tow??! - Clanger
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
How do I work out what I can tow??! - DieselBoy
So, excuse my ignorance, but as long as the weight of Beetle plus trailer is less than 1375kg (which is the kerbweight of the Passat), everything is hunkey-dorey?

Cheers, and thanks for the tip about loading the Beetle backwards..

How do I work out what I can tow??! - Cliff Pope
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?
How do I work out what I can tow??! - Truckosaurus
The only 'legal' weight is that the whole combo doesn't exceed whatever the Gross Train Weight is for the car.

The 85%/100% guideline is just a rule-of-thumb.

The following link says that for trailers <3500kg there is no law regarding the weight of the trailer vs tow vehicle other than the train weight as mentioned.

How do I work out what I can tow??! - Cliff Pope
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?
How do I work out what I can tow??! - v8man
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\"
How do I work out what I can tow??! - Truckosaurus
The Gross Train Weight should be displayed on the Vehicle itself somewhere I believe.
How do I work out what I can tow??! - PhilW
Some useful figures on this site - go to "kerbweights" and look up your car - gives max towball weight, kerbweight, 85% etc

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