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Toads in Europe post Brexit


Stagn8
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I’m a caravanner so not directly affected but brother in law is a motorhomer and had planned to tow his classic MG midget (or perhaps his motorbike)  behind his motorhome, on a trailer of course, in Europe. So, in this post Brexit world is this a straightforward proposition as I know that it is quite popular pastime among motorhomers.

I know that there is the need to purchase a carnet ( very, very expensive) if you want to take a competition car over and of course prove you have bought it back, but will this apply to normal road cars with proper insurance, mot etc.

Can’t find anything online other than about trailer registration but that isn’t required if below 3500 kg gross.

Any ideas anyone?

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 If he plans to use a proper trailer their should be no issues as the same rules as towing a caravan would apply. The trailer and car in total weight needs to be within the towing capacity of the motorhome. Motorhomes vary in that capacity so wise to check. Where he is likely to get into difficulties is if he is thinking of towing the car using it's own wheels. This is not legal anywhere but is tolerated in the UK but in Europe the best case scenario is that you will be asked to uncouple and drive the car un hitched, worse case a fine as well!!!

 

David

 

David - Milton Keynes

Bailey Alliance 66-2 Motorhome for holidays and a Kia Venga for home.

 

Caravan Travels

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:goodpost:

Spot on David.

 

6 hours ago, Stagn8 said:

. . . brother in law is a motorhomer and had planned to tow his classic MG midget (or perhaps his motorbike)  behind his motorhome, on a trailer of course, in Europe.

Any ideas anyone?

I cannot see there being a problem if he uses a dedicated trailer.

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Fourwinds Hurricane 31D Motorhome. Also MGTF135 1. 8i Roadster (fun) & Volvo V70 3.2Ltr LPG (everyday car)
Unless otherwise stated, my posts will be my personal thoughts and have the same standing as any other member of Caravan and Motorhome Talk.

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hi we were in bonterra park (spain ) last year i spotted a few little cars next to motorhomes ,,uk plates i asked the guy how did you get it here ,,he says he just tows it does it every year only ever been asked to uncouple it once ,,drive it for a few miles then re couple it ,,his theory was if he got fined it was cheaper than having to hire a car for 3 months time he was staying there ,,

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57 minutes ago, robf1234 said:

 i asked the guy how did you get it here ,,he says he just tows it does it every year only ever been asked to uncouple it once ,,drive it for a few miles then re couple it ,,his theory was if he got fined it was cheaper than having to hire a car for 3 months time he was staying there ,,

An appropriate trailer is also not overly expensive, and would have been perfectly legal in Spain! This kind of total disregard for the law is what gets the rest of us a bad name. Clearly the fines are not high enough to deter this individual, so maybe to get his attention the car should have been impounded or the A-frame confiscated.

Fourwinds Hurricane 31D Motorhome. Also MGTF135 1. 8i Roadster (fun) & Volvo V70 3.2Ltr LPG (everyday car)
Unless otherwise stated, my posts will be my personal thoughts and have the same standing as any other member of Caravan and Motorhome Talk.

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55 minutes ago, Gordon said:

An appropriate trailer is also not overly expensive, and would have been perfectly legal in Spain! This kind of total disregard for the law is what gets the rest of us a bad name. Clearly the fines are not high enough to deter this individual, so maybe to get his attention the car should have been impounded or the A-frame confiscated.

totally agree with you ,,but why are they not legal ,,i have one here and tow a Little aygo with it i have towed trailers caravans up to hgv class one, and i think a frame is just as safe as a trailer ,if it has the proper braked option  but thats my option 

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19 minutes ago, robf1234 said:

totally agree with you ,,but why are they not legal ,,i have one here and tow a Little aygo with it i have towed trailers caravans up to hgv class one, and i think a frame is just as safe as a trailer ,if it has the proper braked option  but thats my option 

A-frames are neither legal nor illegal in the UK as they have not been specified under UK legislation. Consequently they are tolerated, so long as other legislation is adhered to for trailers; that is to say that if trailer brakes are fitted (and they will be on a car) they must work with full efficiency when the towing vehicle brakes, the lighting must work in synch with the lighting of the towing vehicle, two red reflective triangles must be fitted to the rear of the 'toad' to indicate it is legally a trailer (and removed when not being towed) and of course the steering must be free to move due to the castor of the front wheels.

In other countries A-frames are specifically illegal, hence the ability to issue fines for using them. 

Fourwinds Hurricane 31D Motorhome. Also MGTF135 1. 8i Roadster (fun) & Volvo V70 3.2Ltr LPG (everyday car)
Unless otherwise stated, my posts will be my personal thoughts and have the same standing as any other member of Caravan and Motorhome Talk.

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For the experienced motor-homers who have responded......

Can you tow a car on its own wheels if you have a dedicated A frame attached to it that applies the cars brakes when the motorhome brakes?

Sure I've seen such adverts that make it legal in UK and Europe?

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12 minutes ago, charlieboy2608 said:

Can you tow a car on its own wheels if you have a dedicated A frame attached to it that applies the cars brakes when the motorhome brakes?

In the UK - Yes

(providing the brakes work at full efficiency and that may mean a servo or other assistance is working)

Elsewhere - Mostly no

 

Fourwinds Hurricane 31D Motorhome. Also MGTF135 1. 8i Roadster (fun) & Volvo V70 3.2Ltr LPG (everyday car)
Unless otherwise stated, my posts will be my personal thoughts and have the same standing as any other member of Caravan and Motorhome Talk.

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1 minute ago, Gordon said:

In the UK - Yes

(providing the brakes work at full efficiency and that may mean a servo or other assistance is working)

Elsewhere - Mostly no

 

Thanks Gordon ;-)

At least if the OP's (friend) has a similar thought its now been covered!

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Let's say you're in a bad sitiuation, maybe at the scene of an accident and have to reverse out quickly - would you rather reverse a proper trailer or an A-frame? The latter just don't want to go where you want them lol (been there with both BTW).

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Posted (edited)

In Spain it is specifically illegal to tow any car on its own wheels. Even a broken down one. You must use a trailer or breakdown truck and lift the car entirely off the road. . The fines are pretty hefty and many Motorhome owners have been so fined. 

 

Just be aware that many motorhomes have very low permitted towing weights. I had a large Autotrail MH (Cheyenne 696) the max permitted trailer weight was just over 1000kg. A Smart car on a lightweight specialist Smart car trailer was only just under that! 

 

I tried very hard some years ago to get a definitive answer re A frames and their use in the U.K. From VOSA, dept of transport etc. I failed as none of the authorities would give one. The best I could get was along the lines of “Its up to the courts to interpret the law not us” 

 

Basically no-one bothers about them in the U.K. But it’s a much different story in mainland Europe, don’t risk it would be my advice. I know some have got away with it, but many have had their wallets emptied by the Spanish Police

Edited by Mr Plodd

Experience is something you acquire after you have an urgent need for it.

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Thanks for all the replies, not interested in A frames as well aware of their illegality in Spain and being potentially problematical in the rest of Europe. More the issue of any changes, regarding import and export that have come about due to Brexit.
Clearly, if you are driving a car with a return ferry/tunnel ticket then it is unlikely your are going to export it. With a car on a trailer it is less clear cut. Will you require a carnet for instance, or some other proof you won’t be selling on or swapping it in Europe to get around various duties.

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Why on earth would you need a carnet, or anything else?  You don’t have to have anything for a caravan do you? Or a car you drive. 

 

 

Experience is something you acquire after you have an urgent need for it.

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Why on earth are we going to have to empty our fridges before travelling to Europe, why on earth are we going to be restricted on how much wine and alcohol we can bring back, why on earth do we need six months validity on our passports even if we are only visiting for two weeks, why on earth won’t Europe allow towing with an A frame. No idea but if we want to visit that’s the rules. 
The reason for the question is that generally you have to prove that anything that you take in to Europe you have bought it out again, hence the need for a carnet. Similar thing with expensive cameras and such, you may have to prove that you bought it in this country and have therefore paid the relative taxes and not trying to import it without paying tax!

I do know that international motor racing has been generally put on hold as carnets are required for everything, down to your tool kit, and the general cost is a deposit of around 40%of the value of the vehicle +kit. If somebody then nicks your tool kit and your carnet no longer matches then you are in deep and expensive doodoo. If your car catches fire you have to scrape all the bits up and bring them back with you.

Seems to me that the possibility of requiring a carnet for a vehicle you aren’t actually driving/riding is only a very small step away, hence asking the question.

 

And no, at the moment you don’t need anything for your caravan, but who knows how far away caravan registration  and inspection before taking it to Europe is? Already there for trailers over 3500 kg which I guess will catch a few of the very large 5th wheelers.

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9 hours ago, Stagn8 said:

Seems to me that the possibility of requiring a carnet for a vehicle you aren’t actually driving/riding is only a very small step away, hence asking the question.

Carnets-“One small step for Stagn8, one giant leap for me” 
As the saying goes, “never say never” but seems you are maybe a little too zoned in in this one potential problem.

Like anything else we must comply with the rules and I know Le Gendarmes may be a tad awkward but not sure anyone can give you a definitive answer that is more accurate than others have given already.

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On 19/05/2021 at 13:16, charlieboy2608 said:

For the experienced motor-homers who have responded......

Can you tow a car on its own wheels if you have a dedicated A frame attached to it that applies the cars brakes when the motorhome brakes?

Sure I've seen such adverts that make it legal in UK and Europe?

 

A-frames aren't specifically illegal on the Continent. In fact, there are no provisions in any legislation anywhere allowing or prohibiting them. A car with an A-frame attached would therefore be treated just like a trailer, requiring whole vehicle type approval for the A-frame/car combination, but that is a process which none of the A-frame manufacturers have gone through. They are therefore illegal because they are not type approved. Besides any provisions for attaching the A-frame to the car amount to a technical modification to the car which would also affect the type approval of the car itself.

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21 hours ago, Lutz said:

 

A-frames aren't specifically illegal on the Continent. In fact, there are no provisions in any legislation anywhere allowing or prohibiting them. A car with an A-frame attached would therefore be treated just like a trailer, requiring whole vehicle type approval for the A-frame/car combination, but that is a process which none of the A-frame manufacturers have gone through. They are therefore illegal because they are not type approved. Besides any provisions for attaching the A-frame to the car amount to a technical modification to the car which would also affect the type approval of the car itself.

 

Wouldn't TüV approval be required for A frames  to be used  in Germany?

 

References to Spain seem to indicate that they are not permitted in that country.

 

There are reports of motorists using  A frames being stopped in France.

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The simple answer is to use a trailer, no problems in any EU country (providing the train wright isn't exceeded of course) 

Experience is something you acquire after you have an urgent need for it.

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1 hour ago, beejay said:

 

Wouldn't TüV approval be required for A frames  to be used  in Germany?

 

References to Spain seem to indicate that they are not permitted in that country.

 

There are reports of motorists using  A frames being stopped in France.

 

The job of the TÜV is to check whether construction and use requirements are met, but I think I know what you mean. They would want to see a type approval Certificate of Conformity for the A-frame/car combination. If no such certificate exists they would carry out an individual vehicle approval for the combination based on engineering judgment and issue paperwork for it accordingly. Assuming that works one would have to go to a vehicle licensing office with those documents and have the combination registered as a trailer. This would of course mean that the car would get a different number plate on the back than when it is used solo (and of course it would have to be changed every time it is hitched and unhitched). Being treated in the same way as a trailer, the A-frame/car combination would have to be taxed and insured separately, too. In effect, the car would be taxed and insured twice, once as a car and again as part of a trailer. (Trailer tax and insurance is, however, a lot cheaper as it's based on weight alone). I can't see that working, but it's the only way I could imagine that it could.

 

I believe the position in Spain and France is similar.

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2 hours ago, Lutz said:

 

The job of the TÜV is to check whether construction and use requirements are met, but I think I know what you mean. They would want to see a type approval Certificate of Conformity for the A-frame/car combination. If no such certificate exists they would carry out an individual vehicle approval for the combination based on engineering judgment and issue paperwork for it accordingly. Assuming that works one would have to go to a vehicle licensing office with those documents and have the combination registered as a trailer. This would of course mean that the car would get a different number plate on the back than when it is used solo (and of course it would have to be changed every time it is hitched and unhitched). Being treated in the same way as a trailer, the A-frame/car combination would have to be taxed and insured separately, too. In effect, the car would be taxed and insured twice, once as a car and again as part of a trailer. (Trailer tax and insurance is, however, a lot cheaper as it's based on weight alone). I can't see that working, but it's the only way I could imagine that it could.

 

I believe the position in Spain and France is similar.

It's pretty similar across all EU. It isnt possible to Type approve a car towed as trailer, but locally allowed regulations may tolerate them.

The drawbar and inertia device may be approved as a separate technical device ( Reg 55 Reg 13), but if you think about it a Car becomes a steering axle trailer. These cannot be type approved on inertia brakes , only on continuous brakes.

Also the vehicle lights need to be be compliant as a trailer. As Triangular reflectors need to be fitted and removed when not a trailer, that would generally mean fitting a trailer board, which must have a fixed position. The car would also need to have reflectors fitted to the sides, which would also need removing to be used as a car.  Front sidelights would also need fitting in some way as the cars wouldnt be acceptable.

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Interesting as our friends just turned up last week in their motorhome towing a Peugeot 108 on a bar thing. I asked him if it was legal and he said there wasn't a problem.

 

Been stopped in Europe a bunch of times and never fined or asked to remove it. What he said was the car had been converted and was basically a trailer with brakes and everything else.

His argument was it was not a car but an entire trailer and they conversion folks have given him an information sheet in multiple languages.

 

He says a trailer is a big problem in Spain cos the pitches are so small and theres no where to put them and they are hard for an old guy to manoeuvre.

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Turned up where?? In the U.K.? Or continental Europe. 

 

In the U.K. they are “tolerated” In many European countries they are not. Try arguing a specific point of Law, at the roadside, In a country whose laws you do not know intimately, in a foreign language, with someone who does know the law in his country and doesn’t speak your language!  Not every police officer knows every intricacy of the law, but some specialise.

 

If you have a few hours I could explain to you why A frames are technically illegal in the U.K., and then another few hours as to why no prosecutions are being made. (It’s down to DVSA etc hiding behind “Its not our job to “interpret” the law, we leave that to the courts” and the CPS not authorising a prosecution because they are worried about losing a court case because they cannot get a definitive “Its Legal/it’s not legal ‘ answer from DVSA, chicken? Egg?) 

 

In Spain you are not allowed to tow any car for any reason. It must have all 4 wheels off the ground (be on a trailer) and that includes roadside breakdown recovery. 

Experience is something you acquire after you have an urgent need for it.

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He turned up to us in UK which started the discussion as they spend their winters touring Spain.

 

I get the legal / illegal bit from the other posts.

 

All I am saying he (and he claims many others) had no problems at all around the EU and Spain including being stopped.

 

He told me and he's told the Spanish guardia he is NOT towing a car. It's for all intent and purposes a trailer as it apparently has all the safety devices a trailer would.

 

But then, he also got the type of personality to pull that off. I'd probably get me a fine...

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A few years ago I was given a MMM magazine which had what I thought, as a caravaner, not MHer, a good explanation.

It said it was simply a different approach to the law-in the UK as no law said you cannot, then you can but in Europe, if no law says you can, then you can’t!

The often repeated “we have never had a problem” argument should always be followed by the words “as yet”.

There are many, for example, who break the speed limits regularly and have never been caught, others who do it once and regret it!

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