If you've plucked up the courage to take your trailer test, Flora Watkins looks at what you can expect — from how much it will cost, to what you will be asked to do in the test
Who needs to take the trailer test?
- If you took your car (Category B) test after 19 January 2013 you can tow small trailers weighing no more than 750kg and a trailer over 750kg as long as the combined weight of the trailer and towing car or van is no more than 3.5 tonnes MAM (maximum authorised mass which is the limit on how much the vehicle can weigh when it’s loaded).
- If you passed your car driving test between 1 January 1997 and 18 January 2013 you can drive a car or van up to 3.5 tonnes MAM towing a trailer of up to 750kg MAM. You can also tow a trailer over 750kg MAM as long as the combined MAM of the trailer and towing vehicle is no more than 3.5 tonnes.
- If you passed your car test before 1 January 1997 you’re usually allowed to drive a vehicle and trailer combination up to 8.25 tonnes MAM.
- If you want to tow a trailer of a combined maximum weight (i.e. that of car, trailer, horses, tack and water) of between 3.5 tonnes and 8.25 tonnes, and you passed your car test after 1 January 1997 you’ll need to take the trailer test to get Category E on your licence.
What does the trailer test enable you to do?
- It gives you the B+E entitlement, enabling you to tow a trailer up to a combined maximum weight of 8.25 tonnes. Category B allows a maximum of 3.5 tonnes, which is insufficient for most horse trailers.
How much do the test and training cost?
- The test costs from £115.
- The cost of training varies around the country and according to how many hours you need — most packages involve two to three days of training with the test on the final day.
- EP Training charge £715 for an intensive two-day course and £1,015 for three days, with the test on the third day (test fees included). There’s a lower rate if you want to train with a friend or parent who is entitled to tow a trailer but isn’t confident doing so.
- The trailer needs to be a certain weight for the test (the trailer must carry at least 600kg and the combined weight of the trailer and load must be at least 800kg), so it’s advisable to use your instructor’s car and trailer.
How long does it take to get up to standard?
- That varies with ability and experience. Carleigh Pomfret passed first time with Toads School of Driving (see Where to learn, below) after eight hours tuition; her farmer husband “who’s been reversing tractors and trailers forever” only needed a two-hour lesson before the test.
- Training covers the dreaded reversing, coupling and uncoupling and making sure your driving is of test standard — checking your mirrors and blind spot, being in the correct lane approaching roundabouts.
- Most drivers should budget for a two- or three-day course.
- Grassroots eventer Fiona Iszchak struggled with reversing, too. Her advice is, if you have your own transport, “Get out and practise as much as you can”. You will however need to be accompanied by someone who’s entitled to tow a trailer.
What should I expect from the test?
- You’ll be asked vehicle safety questions, to carry out a safety check on the trailer, and to pass the registration plate reading eyesight test.
- You’ll then be asked to reverse the car and trailer into a loading bay marked out with cones.
- You’ll be asked to uncouple and recouple your trailer and car.
- Out on the road, you’ll drive on a variety of roads, including a 10-minute independent drive, and be asked to pull in and away again safely.
- You’re allowed up to 15 minor points and no major faults.
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Where to learn
- EP Training, Great Bookham, Surrey (www.eptraining.co.uk)
- Land Rover Experience, Eastnor, Herefordshire (www.eastnor.landroverexperience.co.uk)
- Martin Lovell, Crawley, West Sussex (www.trailerinstructor.co.uk)
- JLD Training, Banbury, Oxon (www.jldlgv.co.uk)
- Toads School of Driving, Cambridge (01480 831662)
- Howe to Tow, Guildford, Surrey (www.howetotow.com)
- Passtime Driver Training, Worcs (www.passtimedrivertraining.co.uk)
- Sutton Driving, Norwich (www.suttondriving.co.uk)
- John Griffin Trailer Training, Stapleford Abbots, Essex (www.jgtt.co.uk)
- Lincoln Driver Training, Lincoln (www.lincolndrivertraining.co.uk)
- The Trailer Towing Centre, Croydon (www.towingtrailers.co.uk)