Q&A: Buying a car to tow

  • Q: I hope to buy a trailer and would like some advice on what type of car to buy. I want to tow my 15hhcob to shows about once a month. Can you recommend cars that are suitable for towing? I would prefer not to purchase a 4×4 vehicle unless I have no other choice.

    Transport expert John Henderson replies: It’s hard to be exact without knowing whether your cob is a lightweight, weighing the same as any other 15hh horse, or a chunkier heavyweight that tips the scales above standard.

    If you plan to transport two or more horses, there are few ordinary cars that can do thejob safely. In general, however, you won’t need a 4×4 to tow a trailer with only one horse on board. A big car will suffice.

    • Check your horse’s weight using a good weigh tape, or have him weighed at your vet’s surgery.
    • Add theweight of your horse to the unladen weight of the trailer – the manufacturer should be able to tell you what this is.
    • The ideal weight for a laden trailer is 85% of the towcar’s kerb weight. This will be quoted by the manufacturer.
    • Once you have done your sums, ensure that this figure does not exceed the car manufacturer’s own maximum towing weight. Having said this, there are a few cars whose stated maximum is less than 85% weight.

    Sticking to this rule will provide you with enough leeway to make sure your trailer can always be towed safely by your car.

    Working it out

    The average trailer weighs 780kg and the average 15hh horse is 500kg. This gives a total of 1280kg. Therefore, your towcar needs to weigh at least 1,505kg.

    Suitable cars include: Audi A6; BMW 5-series; Ford Mondeo estate; Ford Galaxy; Saab 9-3/9-5; Seat Alhambra; Vauxhall Omega; Volkswagen Passat estate; Volkswagen Sharan; Volvo V70. With petrol engines, most of these are thirsty cars, so go for a turbo diesel if possible.

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