Towing on a Motorway

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Spinal, Oct 13, 2011.

  1. Spinal

    Spinal MB Enthusiast

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    Bit of a pickle here...

    I may be buying an older lady tonight, as a project for the coming weeks... that said, while she has an MOT, Road tax (and will be insured by the time I get there) the water pump is leaking.

    The distance I need to drive is roughly Luton -> Heathrow...

    Now, my options are:

    - Drive the car back, stopping every 20 miles or so, letting the engine cool down, then top up the water (should be 1 or 2 stops... but this seems risky)

    - Tow the car... but is it legal for me to tow another car on the motorway for... uhmm... about 40 miles? (obviously hazard lights, left lane, etc). Towing on the motorway seems safer than on little side roads (less braking, turning, etc - but that's just my feeling)

    Any ideas? I need to get it done tonight as the seller is antsy to get it off her driveway

    M.

    EDIT: Forgot to mention, it would be on a rope, not an A-frame...
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2011
  2. st13phil

    st13phil MB Enthusiast

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    From what I can see, there's no prohibition mentioned in the Highway Code, but you can bet your bottom dollar that it will attract attention so you'll need to make sure you follow any regulations to the letter.

    The rope or chain must not exceed 4.5m in length, and if it's longer than 1.5m it must be clearly visible (may be awkward to do if it's dark). Also the towing vehicle's registration number must be clearly displayed on the rear of the towed vehicle (I suspect that this must be illuminated at night). Finally, you're limited to 60mph!
     
  3. @MARK

    @MARK Active Member

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    I had to do this many years ago so asked a policeman.

    Yes you are allowed to tow on a motorway but be very careful stick to 50mph but don't drive too slowly as to be a danger and for gods sake, use a proper rope or tow bar as you don't want something to break and leave the car stranded in a live traffic lane.
     
  4. davidjpowell

    davidjpowell MB Enthusiast

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    I also asked the question a few years ago. Was told that it was legal, but it was suggested that it was not the best idea in the world.

    PS Will be listening to the traffic news to see whether you did tow home :)
     
  5. Simon_M

    Simon_M MB Enthusiast

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    I understood that it was legal only to tow until the next junction i.e. to get the vehicle off the motorway.

    Whoever is sat in the old girl is going to have to concentrate pretty hard, also how long will the lights last? Is the battery upto it?
     
  6. stroudwaterboy

    stroudwaterboy Member

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    Yes it is legal but it will not be looked kindly on, if it is car towing car you are only meant to do this only to tow off, if you are spotted towing on to a motorway you will get a lecture to explain why it is not a good idea, and told to get off at the next exit. Both vehicles will also be given a good go over with full document check just to make sure you have listened.

    The person in the car being towed will be a nervous wreck if you try it with a tow rope if there is any amount of traffic
     
  7. Troon

    Troon MB Enthusiast

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    Drive it, or get it taken home on a trailer. Towing without a rigid A-frame is for short emergencies only. Remember, the towed car won't have power-assisted brakes or steering - assuming it's not so old it doesn't have those anyway...
     
  8. finisterre

    finisterre Active Member

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    If it is legal then do it.

    We have so many regulations
    Never mind 'to be or not to be?', 'is it allowed?' is the standard question in this glorious nation.

    The more of us that just do stuff the better.

    Plus 50 on the motorway in an old banger, it adds to the spice of life.
     
  9. Palfrem

    Palfrem MB Enthusiast

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    Caravans are towed all time
     
  10. Henry D

    Henry D Active Member

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    It would be much safer to use a fixed towing bar and no doubt easier on the towed vehicle pilots nerves.
     
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  11. artyman

    artyman MB Enthusiast

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    What about very early on Sunday, likely to be quieter then.
     
  12. 24 VRT

    24 VRT Active Member

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    I've been towed from Basingstoke to Coventry by a car with a tow rope. That was in a relatively light sports car.
    Whoever is going to 'helm' the 'elderly lady' needs to be aware that there will be no power anything - steering will be very hard work and braking will be a nightmare, particularly as they should be the one that does most of the braking work in order to keep the rope taught. The heavier the car, the harder it will be - and Merc's are not light!
    My advice - as a minimum only do it in daylight and take a spare tow rope!
    Good luck.
     
  13. SPX

    SPX MB Club Veteran

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    Can't you get someone with a low-loader to do it for you?

    Might cost you £100 or so but it's better than all this faffing about that you're planning....


    Or is this another one of your extreme sports, I wonder.....
     
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  14. OP
    OP
    Spinal

    Spinal MB Enthusiast

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    Ok, so I'm going there later today... the plan is to take a 3.3l petrol car as the "tower" just in case...

    but to try to drive it home, depending on how much it's leaking... planned stops are my office (20 miles), friends house (14 miles), petrol station (somewhere) then home... intention is to stop, let the engine cool, topup water and continue.

    If it's leaking too much, it'll be a tow... (though I may call my local plod station to see what they say)

    M

    EDIT: I have a quote for £90 for this weekend to get it trailered back - but that's too late... and it's also roughly what I'm spending on the car...
     
  15. Benzmanc

    Benzmanc MB Enthusiast

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    Get yourself one of these, well worth the meagre price and the towed vehicle does not need to brake.

    Clarke TB-2 Towing bar - Machine Mart


    DO NOT use your hazards whilst towing as ideally a rotating beacon should bd used. The towee should signal when you do and gently touch the brake pedal when stopping just to activate the brake lights.

    Daz
     
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  16. OP
    OP
    Spinal

    Spinal MB Enthusiast

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    I like that!

    Towing beacon... hmmm any specific color? The only rotating beacon I have is green...

    M.
     
  17. Merc Owner 2B

    Merc Owner 2B MB Enthusiast

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    Have we mentioned that you can't tow automatics with all four wheels on the ground?

    Presume yours is manual then?
     
  18. silver_star

    silver_star Active Member

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    Not strictly true. IIRC in the Merc handbook it states that they can be towed for a small distance at a certain speed (can't remember specifics).

    If you want to tow an auto with all 4 wheels on the road there are ways round it, ie disconnecting the prop at one of the doughnuts.
     
  19. OP
    OP
    Spinal

    Spinal MB Enthusiast

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    It is a manual... 2WD...

    not a merc I'm afraid to say... I did want, and was looking for, a diesel 190... (and may have found one) but this one is an offer to good to miss on...

    The 190 is something that a family friend has had in a garage for the last decade or so... low miles, FSH until it was garaged... still starts and runs... but it does have a problem I'm told, which is when you turn off the key the engine doesn't turn off... but thats a different project for the moment ;)

    M.
     
  20. corned

    corned MB Enthusiast

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    Hazards should NOT be used when moving. Of all the problems you have discussed, this is the worst in terms of contravening road regulations!

    I don't think there are limits on distance towed, nor speed - even on a motorway, although there are sensible limits for inconveniencing others. But having your hazards going when moving is definitely a violation, even if it is widely ignored by most of the general public.

    How else can the car being towed indicate its intentions to other road users?
     
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