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Is it hard to tow a trailer and do you need a license?

Is it hard to tow a trailer and do you need a license?

Apr 26, 2021

As with anything, towing a trailer takes skill and practice. Your first time around isn’t necessarily going to be easy, though provided you approach it carefully and follow the correct guidelines, you shouldn’t run into any problems.

But do you need a license to tow? In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know about towing, the appropriate guidelines, and what you can get away with on a regular licence.

Let’s begin with some essential information:

  • All vehicles for towing must be compliant with all relevant standard for registration. They must also be roadworthy at all times.
  • Rear number plates and lights should never be obscured by the tow bar when you do not have a trailer connected.
  • All towing vehicles must have a quality tow bar and the relevant couplings for your desired type and capacity.
  • Your vehicle must be fitting with electrical sockets for lighting.
  • You must have brake connections if the trailer in question is fitting with electric or power brakes.
  • You may need extra mirrors when towing a larger trailer.
  • If your vehicle has an automatic transmission, then you will likely need extra transmission oil cooler.
  • In order to tow heavier trailers, some vehicles may need structural reinforcement / or special suspension and transmission options to keep it safe. Your vehicle handbook will specify limits.


Is it hard to tow a trailer?

Again, towing a trailer isn’t especially difficult, but you should be careful and aware at all times. Driving carelessly with a trailer attached is asking for trouble. However, if you are worried that you might not be good enough, understand that so long as you follow the guidelines to the letter, you shouldn’t have any problems with towing a trailer at all. Especially if you are within the weight and capacity limits for your vehicle in question.

Any reputable plant trailer manufacturer will provide information on your towing limits, and what type of vehicle is recommended to handle the job.

You should also bear in mind that it is not uncommon for trailers to jerk the back of the vehicle around. In addition to that, they can begin to sway or ‘snake’. In such an instance, it is always tempting to slam the brakes on, but you should avoid this and only do so in extreme cases. Your best bet, is to gently apply the trailer’s brakes if it can be done so separately; otherwise, maintain a steady speed, or even accelerate slightly, until the swaying finally stops.

Do you need a license to tow a trailer?

You can get away with towing a trailer on a regular driving licence, however, there are some restrictions.

  • You can only tow 1 trailer a time
  • You should never have anyone travelling in the trailer that you are towing
  • You must always secure and cover the load that you are carrying, ensuring that it does not overhang
  • Bear in mind that learner drivers and provision motorcycle riders are NOT allowed to tow anything
  • P1 car licence holders are allowed to tow small trailers with a weight of up to 250kg unloaded weight
  • You must allow for the trailer’s tendency to ‘cut-in’ when taking corners and curves
  • Ensure that you allow longer distances when braking, joining traffic, or overtaking
  • When reversing with a trailer attached, you should have someone outside the vehicle assisting you
  • Avoid any sudden changes of lane or direction when towing
  • You should always look further ahead than usual so that you can react to any changes in traffic or road conditions safely and with good time
  • Brake, steer, and accelerate smoothly
  • Use a lower gear when you are driving downhill with a trailer in order to give you more control and reduce strain on the brakes
  • Slow down well before you enter a corner or a curve
  • Always take care not to hold up any traffic unnecessarily
  • Plan regular rest stops and shorter travel distances as towing can be tiring and stressful at times


How fast can you drive while towing a trailer?

This really depends on where you are. Although there are no specific restrictions on speed when towing a trailer, you should never exceed the posted speed limits on the roads. You should be mindful of traffic and weather conditions and drive that little bit slower than you would without a trailer. As a rule of thumb you should never exceed 100 kilometres per hour.


Can towing a trailer damage a transmission?

Towing, even over short distances can take its toll on the transmission of your vehicle. First things first, you must ensure that your vehicle is suitable for towing a trailer. If you exceed the recommendations, you will only cause unnecessary damage to your vehicle. So, provided you maintain your vehicle and refrain from committing common towing errors, you shouldn’t end up with any costly damage to your transmission.

What’s the longest trailer you can pull without a towing license?

Since the limit on capacity for towing on a regular P1 car licence is 250kg of unloaded weight, you don’t really need to worry about the length of the trailer itself. The main focus, should be how far your load projects from the trailer itself.

Your load must never project more than 150mm beyond the trailers width, or more than 2.5m overall width. That, and your load must be clearly visible if it exceeds the trailer itself.


What’s the biggest trailer you can pull without a towing license?

Again, all P1 car licence holders can two small trailers with an unloaded weight of up to 250kg.



Towing a trailer is only difficult if you make it so. Again, if you follow the rules to the letter, you will not run into any issues. Just take it easy, ensure that everything is entirely secure, and you will be just fine.

If you are in the market for a new aluminium trailer for towing, then check out any reputable Australian manufacturer, such as SureWeld.Com.Au, as an example.