Electric cars and trailers – these are the important points

17. Mai 2022 um 10:52

electric carsWhile electric cars with trailer hitches were a rarity for a long time, there are now suitable trailer hitches for more and more electric models. These are often sold ex works, but retrofitting is of course also possible. You will also find some matching towbars in our assortment.

Less towing capacity with electric vehicles

Most electric vehicles are characterized by a lighter construction. This automatically limits the towing capacity somewhat, according to the rule of thumb that the larger and heavier a car, the more load it can pull; the reverse applies as well: the smaller and lighter a vehicle, the less it can pull.

So if you are currently thinking about buying an electric vehicle and would like to tow a trailer with it, then think about the loads in advance. There are currently few electrically powered vehicles on the market that can pull a horse trailer, for example.

The range when towing a trailer with an electric car

The additional weight that the trailer puts on the towing vehicle also increases electricity consumption – or, in the case of non-electric cars, fuel consumption. In this respect, combustion engines and e-cars are initially very similar. But the increased power consumption of electric cars means that the range is reduced and more time has to be planned for recharging. It is of course much easier with the combustion engine, since you can refuel within minutes at any time.

The extent to which the range of an electric vehicle is limited by towing a trailer depends on three factors: the weight of the trailer, the wind resistance caused by the trailer and the speed. If you tow a small trailer to transport green waste for a few kilometers, the range is not much limited, if you want to take a caravan to Italy, things are of course different and you should plan many charging breaks.

Of course, the following helps as always when you are traveling with the trailer: Driving with foresight is important and can have a positive effect on consumption – regardless of whether it is fuel or electricity.

Attention: Not all electric cars are approved for driving with the trailer

Not every e-car is allowed to pull a trailer from the manufacturer and is approved as a towing vehicle. This means that the various systems of the vehicle, such as the drive system or the thermal management, are not designed for the higher load caused by the trailer and trailer towing is therefore not possible. In most cases, these vehicles then also have no mounting points for a trailer hitch.

In isolated cases, however, it may be the case that electric vehicles are not approved for trailer operation, but have entered a vertical load. In this case, a car mount can be used to attach a rear bicycle carrier. Before you make your choice on an electric car, just find out from the manufacturer and think about the requirements you place on a vehicle for everyday use.

Important traffic signs when towing a trailer (Part 3)

16. April 2022 um 9:57

Traffic signsIn the last two posts on the topic of traffic signs for towing a trailer, we have already introduced you to a few very important road signs and traffic signs that you should definitely pay attention to when towing a trailer. There are a handful of other traffic signs that we don’t want to leave out.

Traffic signs for vehicle combinations

Although the following traffic signs are relevant for towing a trailer, they only apply if the combination weighs more than 3.5 tons and the towing vehicle is neither a bus nor a car. So let’s assume that you mostly travel with a car and trailer, then these traffic signs are only important for you if your vehicle combination is particularly heavy. Again and again, drivers are unclear as to whether the following signs are relevant to them or not. In the following we summarize the most important information about the traffic signs for vehicle combinations.

The prohibition sign for trucks

The round prohibition sign shows a truck and states that a general driving ban applies to all motor vehicles with a permissible total weight of more than 3.5 tons. The sign also applies to trailers and their towing vehicles. The only exceptions are cars and buses. So if your motor vehicle is heavier, you will not be allowed to drive through after this sign.

Prohibition sign for heavy vehicles

Based on the actual mass of a motor vehicle, this round prohibition sign indicates how heavy a
vehicle may be in order to continue driving on the affected road. However, the plate refers to the actual mass (what the vehicle actually weighs), not the gross vehicle weight rating (what the vehicle is allowed to weigh). If you are traveling with a vehicle combination, for example with a trailer, then the weight of the individual vehicles is relevant, not the weight of  the combination.

The length of your vehicle on traffic signs

Traffic signsThe last traffic sign with a red frame is about the length of your vehicle. Pictured is a truck as well
an indication of its length. The sign states that you would need to consider the actual length of the entire vehicle combination. If your team is longer than indicated on the sign, then you are not allowed to drive into the street. If you continue to drive, it may for example be the case that you will not be able to turn around in an emergency or that curves are too narrow for you. As with the other signs, a fine will be imposed for disregarding the sign.

Important traffic signs when towing a trailer (Part 2)

19. März 2022 um 14:42

Traffic signsIn our second part on the subject of traffic signs, we have also put together important traffic signs that you should definitely observe when driving with the trailer in Germany. Of course, this does not mean that you can ignore other traffic signs, but the signs listed below deserve the special attention of trailer drivers and will help you to avoid dangerous situations with the trailer at an early stage.

Narrow lane when towing a trailer

As the driver of a trailer, you must keep an eye on the traffic sign for narrow lanes, especially if your trailer is wider than your towing vehicle. In this case, drive a little more carefully into the bottlenecks or danger spots, drive slowly and use your side mirrors.

In this case, caravan owners should pay particular attention to their trailer and trailer: additional side mirrors are helpful and advisable for towing a caravan, but you should always bear in mind that these change the width of the vehicle.

The traffic sign indicating traffic jam

In the event of a traffic jam, the driver of a trailer has to be particularly careful. Traffic jams harbor some pitfalls, the road narrows due to the emergency lane that is to be formed, and other road users who are not paying attention can lead to situations in which you have to react quickly. Therefore, always drive with foresight and keep calm when you are traveling with a trailer.

You also have to be particularly careful when congestion forms, as it is often necessary to brake harder for a short time. There are many factors that come together that are important to you: Your load should be well secured, you should always be vigilant and attentive in order to be able to recognize traffic jams and braking maneuvers early and to be able to react calmly but purposefully.

Special cases of traffic signs for trailer rides

There are three important road signs that specifically address the team. The first is the danger sign for caravans on inclines. Shown is a team with caravan, provided with the signature „Danger of skidding“. The sign warns of the danger of cross winds on downhill stretches on motorways. It is intended to draw your attention to possible changes in driving behavior.

A single caravan on a white background indicates parking spaces where a caravan may be parked for more than 14 days. Unhitched caravans can usually only be parked for two weeks, after which the parking lot must also be accessible to other road users – at least for a short time. Be sure to comply with this. In the event of a possible check, it is not sufficient to claim that the trailer has been moved, since the tire levels are usually noted and movement of the caravan must be clearly recognizable.

A white sign showing a car with a trailer tells you that the rules of the other signs only apply to teams. The additional sign always refers to the traffic sign that is attached directly above the additional sign.traffic signs

Important traffic signs when towing a trailer (Part 1)

16. Februar 2022 um 14:24

Traffic signsTraffic signs are essential in road traffic, they regulate traffic, remind people of rules and indicate dangerous spots to road users. You have certainly learned something about all traffic signs in the driving school, we have put together the most important traffic signs for you that you should always keep an eye on when driving with the trailer in Germany. However, please always pay attention to all traffic signs and be alert in traffic – regardless of whether you have a trailer or not.

The trailer ride on slopes and inclines

The two signs indicate whether there is a downhill or an uphill gradient on a road and how large these are. Both are important when driving with a trailer because of the additional weight of the trailer. It can affect the driving behavior and change it from is usual ways – especially when going up or down steep hills. When driving uphill, for example, it is important to drive with foresight and keep an eye on the engine performance. When driving downhill you have to consider that the braking distance changes, accordingly, you must brake earlier and also keep the engine brake in mind as an additional way to brake. In our blog post we have put together more information about towing a trailer on uphill and downhill gradients.

Uneven roadways and their consequences

The traffic sign for uneven roads is important for you as a driver, because bumps in the road can cause the load to behave differently than usual. The load could come loose or start moving. In both cases, this also influences the handling of the vehicle combination. This is just one of the reasons why it is very important to always secure your cargo well. You can read about how best to do this in our blog post on load securing.

Slippery roads when towing a trailer

Even when driving without a trailer, slippery roads are a risk that drivers should always keep an eye on since it may be required https://www.how-to-towbar.com/2018/safe-loading-for-the-drive-with-trailer/to adjust the driving style accordingly. When a trailer starts to slide, it can have very different effects. If the trailer simply slides forward, you as the driver must ensure that you also use the engine brake when braking. The reason is that your car will also slide more, since the weight of the trailer exerts additional force on the vehicle from behind. If the trailer shears out and slides sideways, dangerous situations can quickly arise. It is important for you to remain as calm as possible and to avoid hectic braking and steering maneuvers in any case.

The traffic sign for cross wind when driving a car

This traffic sign is similar to slippery roads: if side winds act on your trailer, it can also happen that you start to sway and the trailer  cannot be steered as usual. Above a certain size, the trailers offer a lot of contact surface for the wind and can be pushed away quickly, especially when they are not loaded. In cross winds, always drive slowly and carefully.

Trailer hitches for pick-ups: These are the special features

26. Januar 2022 um 16:31

pick upsNot only are pick-ups visually different, they are also not exactly ordinary in terms of their pulling power and their use. Pick-ups are mainly used in agriculture, the construction industry and forestry and are characterized by their large loading platform and their high towing power.

By retrofitting a trailer hitch, every pick-up simply becomes a towing vehicle, but unlike other vehicles, there are small special features. We present the different options for retrofitting a trailer hitch on your pick-up in the following passages. This much can be said: Your choice is between a detachable trailer hitch and a rigid trailer hitch.

Practical and versatile: The rigid hitch with removable plate

The fixed hitch for the pick-ups is much more versatile than normal, rigid trailer hitches. You can optionally order an interchangeable plate system and expand the trailer hitch for your pick-up like this: With the interchangeable plate system, you not only have a rigid ball hitch as you know it, but also a plate for a jaw coupling. This is of particular interest in the area of ​​agriculture and forestry, as many trailers can only be towed there with a jaw coupling, such as that installed on tractors. With the interchangeable plate system, you work with a lever system that allows you to exchange the individual plates in just two movements.

A major advantage of the interchangeable plate system, in addition to the two different towbars, is the option of not having either plate on the pick-up. When not in use, the lever system is simply covered with a cover plate so that you don’t have a visible towbar on the pick-up. You are also very flexible with the fixed towbar including the plate system and can always spontaneously decide to use the pick-up as the towing vehicle for transport.

The detachable trailer hitch for pick-ups

As with all other vehicles, you can also install a detachable towbar on your pick-up. The towbar in the MVG system 2040, for example, is operated using a rotary knob. You can easily mount the ball rod at any time and just as easily remove it again when your trailer ride ends. Due to a product innovation, the system is characterized above all by the fact that you do not need a protective plug to hold your ball rod, even when used in forestry and agriculture as well as in the construction industry. Our towbars are designed in such a way that they can be easily cleaned even if they are heavily soiled in the above-mentioned trades and do not lose their functionality despite the lack of a protective plug. Would you like to learn more about the protective plug and the product innovation? Then read our blog post.

You can find out more about our towbars for pick-ups in our shop or on our information page (in German).

When can I drive a trailer without a license?

30. Oktober 2021 um 15:49

Driver's license for trailersA special driver’s license is required for driving with a trailer. But is that always true? As a rule, you have to obtain a special trailer driver’s license and also take a driving test and a driving test. However, there is a special case for which you do not need a license and can still pull a trailer. You can also find out more about the common driver’s licenses for driving a trailer in Germany in our blog post on the subject.

Driving a trailer without a license: Allowed in this case

Driving without a special trailer license is only allowed in Germany if you meet a few criteria. For a start your trailer may not be heavier than 750 kg. In addition, the trailer must not exceed the weight of the vehicle with which you are pulling the trailer. The trailer must therefore always be lighter than the towing vehicle.

If your trailer is heavier than 750 kg, the weight of your combination, i.e. towing vehicle and trailer together, must in any case be less than 3500 kg. Before driving a trailer without a trailer driver’s license, you must first carefully check the registration certificates of the towing vehicle and trailer and add up the values ​​that are specified there for the respective weight. In principle, you can then do without the driver’s license for the trailer, but you must always have a class B driver’s license and carry it with you.

Possible penalties

Driving without a suitable driver’s license is not just an administrative offense in Germany. So you must be aware that if you are driving the trailer without a valid trailer driver’s license, i.e. you do not have a trailer driver’s license, and you do not meet the above criteria, you are liable to prosecution. Make sure that you adhere to the criteria listed if you do not have a class BE driving license. If you have just forgotten your driver’s license, but it is valid, then you only have to expect a warning fee at a police control.

Trailer driving on slopes and inclines

8. Oktober 2021 um 16:28

Trailer driving on slopes and inclinesDriving on a mountain, i.e. uphill or downhill, is still a challenge for many drivers even after driving school. With the trailer, it can be even more difficult, not least because of the additional weight. In this article we explain to you which points you should pay particular attention to when driving with a trailer on roads with slopes or inclines and how you can master these hurdles well.

This is how you drive your trailer on an incline

If you are traveling with a trailer and have to pass an incline, the towing vehicle – especially with a fully loaded trailer – is subject to greater stress. The engine has to work on a higher level. This is easier if you shift down a gear and thereby increase the engine power. If the gear is too high, your team will slow down. You may even have to stop and start on the mountain. Although this is not impossible, it leads to unnecessarily heavy wear on the towing vehicle. If it can be avoided, then you should drive with enough foresight, shift down a gear and still not exceed the speed – this is the only way you can still be proactive. If it is necessary to start off on the mountain with a trailer, then it is essential to use the handbrake for support, as you once learned in driving school.

Trailer driving on sloping roads

Roads with gradients hold a few small pitfalls for your journey with the trailer. On the one hand, your trailer always pushes your team on journeys that go downhill. So you have to keep in mind that the entire weight of the (loaded) trailer will push from behind. On the other hand, this means that your team is a little faster than you intended, and thus, the braking distance is also longer.

So you should act early on roads with a gradient, keep an eye on the possibly higher speed early on and reduce it. At the same time, it is advisable to engage a lower gear, as you can then use the engine brake to assist. If you only brake with the brakes of the towing vehicle, it is possible that these will overheat due to the higher load and their effectiveness will decrease. Important: Never switch off the engine when driving downhill with a trailer. Switching off would cause aids such as power steering and brake booster to fail.

Park and uncouple the trailer: Pay attention to these points

12. Juli 2021 um 16:02

Parking the trailerAfter your trailer ride, your trailer must be safely “stowed away” again. We have put together a few tips for you on parking, uncoupling and securing the trailer, which you should pay attention to when parking the trailer.

This is how you park your trailer

Reversing with a trailer can be a bit difficult at times. As always, it is easiest when you have someone to instruct you. And: practice makes perfect. Reversing works best when you know your team really well and can assess how the trailer will react to your steering movements.
Before parking, you should make sure that the space or gap where the trailer is to be parked is large enough and that there are no obstacles in the way. You should also have enough space in front of you for maneuvering. Clear possible obstacles – if  necessary – out of the way and look for landmarks in advance that you can have a good view of when reversing and help you to position the trailer.

If, for example, you have to hit a gap in a number of other trailers, it can be helpful if you are already trying to move the trailer as close as possible to the gap when you are driving forward so that you don’t have to go as far in reverse. In principle, think in advance what you can already consider when driving forwards in order to make it easier for you to drive backwards. Always avoid hectic steering movements. It is better to stop once too much than too little to make sure that everything fits and that you can get the trailer to stop exactly where you want it to be.

Safety first

When you have parked the trailer, you should first make sure that the trailer is secured and prevent it from rolling away as soon as you have released it from the towing vehicle. Use wheel chocks for this and be sure to tighten the trailer’s brake as a first step. Then dissolve the electronic connection between the trailer and the towing vehicle and clear the trailer’s power cable in the receptacle that is often provided for it. Then crank the trailer’s support wheel down and lift the trailer off the trailer hitch. Only as the last step do you loosen the breakaway cable. This is an important point in your hanging out routine and a final safeguard to prevent the trailer from rolling away. Only loosen the breakaway cable if you are sure that you have completed all the other steps beforehand and that the trailer is safe and secure and, above all, cannot roll away.

Attaching the trailer: The most important steps

2. Juni 2021 um 18:14

Attaching the trailerYou are about to start your first trip with the trailer, but you have not yet attached it yourself? We have a few tips for you and explain the most important steps for securely and easily attaching your trailer.

Driving to the trailer backwards

When approaching the trailer, you should focus on precision and take your time. First, pay attention to where your trailer is. For example, is there a enough space left and right and behind the trailer? Are there possible obstacles that you should not only have in the back of your head, but should also be cleared out of the way beforehand? It is of course easiest if you have a helper whom you can place beside the trailer and who will then instruct you. But even without a helper, you can attach the trailer by yourself with a little practice.

Make sure that you drive as straight as possible in front of the trailer and that your trailer hitch is positioned as centrally as possible towards the trailer. With a little practice, you can also identify landmarks on the trailer that will help you to center the towing vehicle backwards towards the trailer.

You should be careful not to drive too fast. Especially when you are alone, it is better to slowly make your way towards the trailer than to risk a dent in the back of your car. A mark on the ground may help you to better estimate the distance so that you don’t have to get out of the car to check the remaining distance to the trailer. A mirror that you mount on the trailer or a rear-view camera for your vehicle (if this is not part of the equipment already, the camera can also be retrofitted) will help you approach the trailer.

Attaching the trailer

The time has come, your towing vehicle is centered in front of the drawbar of the trailer. Now you slowly crank the support wheel down, making sure that you hit the trailer hitch on the towing vehicle as precisely as possible. On some trailers, cranking down is hindered by the trailer’s parking brake. You should only solve the parking brake once you have made sure that the trailer cannot roll forwards or backwards. It is best to use wheel chocks if you have to release the parking brake early.

If you have cranked the trailer down so far that it is in contact with the towbar, the trailer may jump onto the towbar by itself and lock into place. If this is not the case, you lift the lever on the ball coupling slightly and use it to open the trailer coupling so that you can place the trailer on the trailer coupling and attach it. When you let go of the lever, the ball hitch lock should automatically click into place. To be sure that the lock has worked, you can crank the support wheel up a little. If the trailer does not detach from the towbar, everything is locked correctly.

Security check: Is everything correct?

With the locking of the ball coupling on the trailer coupling, you have already passed the first security check. Then you attach the breakaway cable and plug in the plug for the power connection between the towing vehicle and the trailer. Now all you have to do is check the support wheel and, if necessary, bring it into its parking position, release the trailer’s brake, remove any wedges and you can drive out of the trailer’s parking space. Also, briefly make sure that all lamps and indicators on the trailer are working correctly. Then you are ready for your journey.

You can read about how to correctly secure your load when driving a trailer in our blog post.

Registration for your trailer: the most important information

14. Mai 2021 um 17:51

Registration of your trailerIf you get a new trailer, then you should definitely plan the trip to the registration office. A trailer for a car is not registration-free and you have to get official license plates in addition to the registration. In order to get this and to be able to use your new trailer for the first trip, you have to register your trailer. You can only use it in road traffic with a valid license.

These documents are needed for the registration of your trailer

So that your trailer is approved and your new license plates can be issued, you can’t avoid driving to the responsible registration office. When you are on site, you need the following documents so that your approval can be issued: You need the manufacturer’s certificate or confirmation of a valid general inspection by a testing organization such as the German DEKRA or TÜV, which confirms that your trailer is roadworthy. If the “TÜV” has expired, there will be a fine depending on the duration of the overdraft, so make sure that the general inspection is still valid. You should also be able to identify yourself, for example with an identity card. Also have the registration certificate part I and II with you in any case. Finally, you need an insurance code from your insurance company, alternatively you can also bring a double insurance card with you.

No papers?

Even if you don’t have any papers, you can register the trailer, but this is much more difficult. Such an exception is only made if the vehicle registration or registration document has been lost, not if you have forgotten it at home. In the case of lost documents, the responsible authorities first check who the actual owner of your trailer is. Of course, a sales contract between you and the seller is helpful here and can accelerate the process. In addition, of course, it must also be checked whether the trailer has been reported as stolen. A replacement for the lost documents can usually be requested promptly, the old license plate should be known and the vehicle registration document should ideally still be available.