Maybe you are carting rubbish to the tip, getting garden supplies or towing your boat; regardless of what you are towing, its important to be up to date with the towing rules.
The driver of the towing vehicle is liable for any accidents or damage that occurs during towing. The owners of the vehicle and trailer are not responsible. So it is very important to check out the condition of all loan and hire trailer before you use them. So check trailers over for any obvious defects and make sure they have a current WOF before you use them.
All trailers must have a current WOF and registration. But it is important to note that you still need to make sure the tyres and lighting are in good condition they could have been damaged after the WOF test.
The open road speed limit for trailers is 90 kph with a 50 kph limit applying on city roads.
Trailer tyres and wheel bearing on trailers are no subject to the same WOF standards as those on a vehicle. It is essential that tyres have a legal tread of 1.5 mm of more and are the same tyre and load rating on each axle.
In New Zealand, we have two towball sizes, 1 7/8 ths inches and 50 mm. It is essential that trailers with 50 mm couplings are never used with 1 7/8ths towballs as the trailer WILL come loose while towing. There is no similar issue with 1 7/8ths couplings as they will NOT fit on a 50 mm towball.
The trailer must have a secure coupling, which should include a double-locking mechanism, or a locking pin. When you borrow or hire a trailer, you should ask the owner or hirer to demonstrate how to hook the trailer up to your vehicle.
Trailers must have an adequate safety chain that is bolted on to the trailer in a permanent manner. They must NOT be welded on. D Shackles can only be used to hook the chain up to the towbar. Trailers and loads weighing more than 2000 kgs must have double safety chains.
Trailers need to have working indicators, brake and tail lights. While it is not essential to have indicators and brake lights fitted during the day if the lights on the towing vehicle are visible to drivers behind you, we strongly advise that trailers have fully operation lights at all times. Always check the operation of the lights when hooking a trailer up to a vehicle.
Trailer brakes are not mandatory unless the loaded weight is over 2000kg. All trailers must be able to stop from 30km/h in less than seven metres. Different rules apply to trailers and loads over 2000 kgs.
Weight your vehicle can tow.
Most towbars have a label stating the weights that can be towed, both braked and unbraked. These weights are based on the vehicle manufacturers specifications and should not be exceeded.
The load on the trailer must be secure. must be secure. If necessary, use a net or tarpaulin in addition to ropes to tie the load down
Load your trailer so around 10 percent of the total weight pushes down on the tow ball. Put the heaviest items slightly forward of the axle, to reduce the tendency to sway.
It is important not to tow weights in excess of your vehicles and towbars rated capacities as this could be unsafe and may invalidate your vehicle insurance. Some car insurance policies may not provide coverage for towing trailers, so it is a good idea to check this out with your insurance company.