Jump to content
leeds

Trailer Hitch Legality question

Recommended Posts

At Billing one of the traders remarked that the use of a NATO hitch for towing in the UK was illegal. When I questioned this statement he said that only the 50mm tow ball was legal for towing in the UK.

The obvious reply to that was what about the British army towing trailers on UK roads.

So what are the legal restrictions on different towing hitches in the UK?

Regards

Brendan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wouldn't take the "army" argument too seriously - the army still use 300Tdi engines in Wolfs when nobody else is allowed to!

Presumably they would use an argument something along the lines of a) don't tiddle us off as we defend you from foreigners and if that fails b) don't tiddle us off or we will bomb Brussels.

Land Rover offer both a ball and a jaw as a factory fit so presumably those two options are legal but a NATO isn't a factory option (though it is available from LRSV for a frightening amount of money).

Dixon Bate offer various things on their website and I don't remember seeing any dire warnings about them not being road legal. What might kill it is the type approval for use on later vehicles, as everything built after some date or other (1997?) has to have a type approved towbar and perhaps a NATO jaw isn't? Just a guess though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
See here on the NTTA site for the European type Approval for tow hitches.

See here on the NTTA site for the vehicle types.

From the first link above:

In the U.K, with effect from 1st August 1998 all Passenger Carrying Vehicles up to 3500kgs Gross Vehicle Weight (M1 Vehicles) can only be fitted with European Type Approved towbars if the vehicle has received European Whole Vehicle Type Approval. (my bold & italics)

So I guess the next question is where can I find out whether a given vehicle (in my case a 1990 RRC) has received European Whole Vehicle Type Approval?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
From the first link above:

In the U.K, with effect from 1st August 1998 all Passenger Carrying Vehicles up to 3500kgs Gross Vehicle Weight (M1 Vehicles) can only be fitted with European Type Approved towbars if the vehicle has received European Whole Vehicle Type Approval. (my bold & italics)

So I guess the next question is where can I find out whether a given vehicle (in my case a 1990 RRC) has received European Whole Vehicle Type Approval?

IIRC, the type approval wasn't retrospective i.e. it only applied to vehicles first registered after 1/8/98 (would have to Google for the exact details). Therefore it wouldn't apply to a 1990 RRC.

Interestingly, a 110 SW with 9+ seats (driver + 8 or more) would be classed as M2 and therefore not covered under the EU Directive. Again, more research is required to confirm this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
IIRC, the type approval wasn't retrospective i.e. it only applied to vehicles first registered after 1/8/98 (would have to Google for the exact details). Therefore it wouldn't apply to a 1990 RRC.

Also interestingly (but not that interestingly), my local (major) supplier of Ivor Williams trailers Barlow Trailers will happily sell you a trailer with a NATO eye on it ...

I too understood the 1/8/98 thing to apply only to vehicles first registered after that date.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The MOD have rather stupidly been following european directives on some things, the tank semi-trailers used with the Oshkosh HETs comply and are thus no good in Afghanistan, there is apparantly a UOR for suitable trailers!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Dixon Bate pintles are TUV Approved.

What that means and how it relates to us I will leave up to a clever person to explain.

Also, found this on another site:

"A nato tow hitch is a hitching device that does not automatically close once you insert the tow eye. The Dixon Bate TUV approval clearly states to be used behind military vehicles (not mentioning ex military)

So in comparison to a ball hook with its automatic locking or even to a modern tractor hook, the Nato hitch does have the risk of driving off with the hook open.

Therefore many TUV (MoT) stations do not allow the hook to be used, but others allow it and write it into the vehicle documents as an approved add on."

On another note...

What I have found on my travels around the internet is that my Sankey is illegal as it has the white plastic triangular reflectors with lots of small reflectors. Whereas it should now by law have the solid triangular reflector. I will be buying some new ones asap.

Also, and I know this has been brought up before, but should I be using a breakaway cable/chain even though the pintle locks?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just shows how stupid the regs are. I'd sooner trust a NATO jaw and ring with a nappy pin through the lock, than any stupid 50mm ball hitch!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Also, and I know this has been brought up before, but should I be using a breakaway cable/chain even though the pintle locks?

I suppose technically you would have one to apply the trailer brakes should the hitch, or hitch bolts, fail. The breakaway cable would then need to be attached to something other then the hitch for that security.

On a trailer of up to 750kg MAM a cable or chain that prevents a detached trailer coupling from hitting the ground while still attached to the towing vehicle would be fine.

Just shows how stupid the regs are. I'd sooner trust a NATO jaw and ring with a nappy pin through the lock, than any stupid 50mm ball hitch!

I would too but a NATO hitch looks odd and sticks out too far behind my car! :lol: I have tried.

It wouldn't be approved either as my car is too young.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You do need the breakaway cable as far as I know, all our TD5's and newer Puma 110's at work have eyes on the hitch supports for this purpose.

Towing eye and pin is legal.

Ball hitches scare me- with a towing eye I can see the things attached as there's a great big pin holding it on!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The breakaway cable business is one that keeps coming up. You need to do a bit of engineering to make it pull a Sankey's brakes on (assuming they work!!) Would be extremely difficult on my GKN missile trailer and I have no intention of fitting one (or removing it's original reflectors). The regs aren't retrorespective and no-one I know has bothered either. Short of tearing the hook off the xmember, a NATO hitch can't detach.

The MOD have followed the rules though with the new Penman 3/4t trailers which have breakaway cables.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
At Billing one of the traders remarked that the use of a NATO hitch for towing in the UK was illegal. When I questioned this statement he said that only the 50mm tow ball was legal for towing in the UK.

The obvious reply to that was what about the British army towing trailers on UK roads.

So what are the legal restrictions on different towing hitches in the UK?

Regards

Brendan

Never heard that before, my NATO pnitle gets used everytime my rally recovery trailer is hitched on [NATO 76mm ring hitch] never been questioned by the officers of the law about it, would trust a normal ball hitch with upto £250,000 of rallycar on the trailer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The MOD have rather stupidly been following european directives on some things, the tank semi-trailers used with the Oshkosh HETs comply and are thus no good in Afghanistan, there is apparantly a UOR for suitable trailers!!

simple but back the previous drop well deck trailers that were coupled to the Scammell Commanders, those new style trailers aren't wide enough for some kit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just shows how stupid the regs are. I'd sooner trust a NATO jaw and ring with a nappy pin through the lock, than any stupid 50mm ball hitch!

Me 2 :i-m_so_happy:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Me 2 :i-m_so_happy:

On the face of it a 50mm Ball coupling does not look very secure, but how many pictures have you seen of trailer accidents where the trailer is not only still attached but has either lifted the towing vehicle off the ground or is suspending it over the edge of a drop?

Surely both NATO and 50mm have been designed to do specific jobs?

Marc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

there OK for on tarmac road use but for my use often on rough forest rally stages with a broken rally car on the speclift trailer much NATO combination is much more secure when somebody elses property is on the back.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I really like NATO hooks since you can use them for recovery. But when towing I must say that I prefer a ball hitch. Not necessarily a 50 mm one. I've heard of people dropping trailers, even my sister did it, but it's always due to them not checking properly that the coupling is fitted correctly over the ball.

There must be a reason that more and more farmers are moving from hook to 80 mm ball hitch on their tractors, to get rid of the very annoying play.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
there OK for on tarmac road use but for my use often on rough forest rally stages with a broken rally car on the speclift trailer much NATO combination is much more secure when somebody elses property is on the back.

I agree ^^

My Ifor Williams on the ball hitch is by far the nicest thing to tow on smooth road but the boat trailer tends to bounce around a bit on rough road (no suspension, twin axles based on Series 3 hubs, LR rims and 7.50x16 Firestone SAT's!) and I simply wouldn't trust the boat with a 50mm ball hitch because I know you can get jolting producing momentary negative noseweight over rough ground. A 50mm ball might not come off, but I know damn well that a NATO with a locking pin through it isn't going to :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The thing with any towing attachment is to check that it is secure by whatever means is suitable before driving off.

I have seen many people who hook a trailer onto a 50mm ball, retract the jockey wheel etc and drive off.

I always use the jockey wheel to jack the hitch upwards to make sure that it doesn't pull off the ball. You could (but perhaps shouldn't go that far) jack the back wheels of a car off the ground doing that and the ball should stay in the hitch.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
......You could (but perhaps shouldn't go that far) jack the back wheels of a car off the ground doing that and the ball should stay in the hitch.

And the car and caravan rolls down the hill :ph34r:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience. By using our website you agree to our Cookie Policy