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Is it legal for me to tow my friend's uninsured classic car to a garage?

I have been asked by a friend to tow his 1976 Volkswagen Beetle to a specialist garage for repair. The Beetle is not MoT'd or insured. It's MoT exempt and not running. I have a recovery A frame and will be towing it with a T5 Transporter. I'm not 'in the trade'. I will have a light board attached with the vans registration and 'on tow' signage. Is this legal?

Asked on 22 August 2018 by Toby

Answered by Keith Moody
The law views towing with an A-frame equivalent to towing with a trailer. The rules on what you can tow, depend on when you passed your driving licence. If you passed your car driving test on or after 1 January 1997 you can drive a car or van up to 3500kg maximum authorised mass (MAM), towing a trailer of up to 750kg MAM. But you can tow a trailer over 750kg MAM as long as the combined MAM of the trailer and towing vehicle is no more than 3500kg. The Beetle weighs about 800-850kg so you should be under the limit for towing. However, you'll be over the A-frame 750kg limit and will, therefore, be required to having either working brakes on the Beetle or inertia braking on the A-frame. The A-frame must also allow reversing without drag and, as a safety precaution, the A-frame car must also automatically brake to a stop if A-frame and tow car became detached from the tow vehicle. The tow hitch (also known as the drawbar) must be prevented from touching the ground and the A-frame and car should retain some ‘residual steering’. And just like when towing a trailer, the tow vehicle must also be able to supply the car connected by A-frame with electricity so its road lights function correctly, including its indicators and sidelights when it’s dark. While the car being towed will have its own number-plate fitted, this must be covered by the number plate of the tow vehicle when attached to the A-frame. Legally, the length of the tow vehicle and the vehicle being towed must not exceed seven metres (not including A-frame). As the Transporter is just under five metres and the Beetle is 1.6m you will also be within the law. However, my understanding is that if the Beetle's wheels are on the road then it will need to be taxed an insured. And, while it doesn't require an MoT, to be insured it must be roadworthy. Which leads us into something of a grey area. I'd suggest your friend with the Beetle checks with his insurer about cover while the car is being moved - and you'll also need to check with your insurer regarding their policy on towing with an A-frame. Until you've answered those questions, you won't know whether it's legal or not.
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