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Post by Frank.Hatfull on Tue May 10, 2016 12:33 pm

We have been looking at the options of towing our Toyota IQ
It's a great car and very small
There's lots of info out there and the law seems a little ambiguous.
It certainly has to be braked
The simple cable systems may not comply and a more expensive electronic vacuum system may be required
The keyless ignition and automatic steering lock could also be an issue
Is it worth the hassle??
Is it better to buy an already converted car with A Frame?
Comments very welcome
kind regards
Frank & Mandy
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Post by PLOUGHLIN on Tue May 10, 2016 12:49 pm

Do you wish to go to Europe with it? If so get a trailer, too many unknowns about what the law is over there.

When I looked into this, I think I remembered that 4 wheel trailer can't have overrun brakes must be powered, ie your electric option. I looked at the Smart tow system and fitted would cost about £2100. As I bought a new Smart, I decided not to compromise the warranty on brakes, gearbox, bodywork and electrics, and opted for a Smart Trailer. They had a used traded in one, for £1100 fully refurbished.

Can't comment on the keyless entry and steering lock issues, but may be a deal changer anyway.

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Post by David.S on Tue May 10, 2016 1:17 pm

I researched this subject and decided on a Smart car and trailer. I think the keyless steering may be a problem as the front wheels will scrub when cornering on a n a frame.
Also after a few uses I can unload the trailer as quick as dismantling an a frame, loading is a little longer as the car has to be strapped down.[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
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Post by Maasai Warrior on Tue May 10, 2016 1:50 pm

We came in at Santander two weeks ago. Last week while we were on a site on the edge of the Monfrague National Park we met an English couple with a large motorhome towing a Smart car on a trailer. We got talking as you do. They had come in at Bilbao, and the Spanish police were waiting for the ferry to dock, and as vehicles towing cars with A frames were coming off, they were taken to one side and told to unhitched their cars from their vans and to drive them separately. So watch out. Best to put your car on a proper trailer if you are going into Europe. Keep A frames in the UK!

Pete
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Post by Gromit on Tue May 10, 2016 2:28 pm

Masai Warrior wrote:Keep A frames in the UK!
Pete
That's the crucial point Frank.

Having towed both, there's little doubt that A-Frames are easier overall than a trailer, specially if you have nowhere to store a trailer and difficult access to your drive. I wouldn't risk taking one across the Channel though. It would do nothing to enhance your holiday if you had to drive in convoy all the time!!

Definitely a trailer for towing abroad. Take your choice for the UK, depending on your circumstances and preferences.

Dave smile!
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Post by PLOUGHLIN on Tue May 10, 2016 5:24 pm

Masai Warrior wrote:We came in at Santander two weeks ago. Last week while we were on a site on the edge of the Monfrague National Park we met an English couple with a large motorhome towing a Smart car on a trailer. We got talking as you do. They had come in at Bilbao, and the Spanish police were waiting for the ferry to dock, and as vehicles towing cars with A frames were coming off, they were taken to one side and told to unhitched their cars from their vans and to drive them separately. So watch out. Best to put your car on a proper trailer if you are going into Europe. Keep A frames in the UK!

Pete


Here is the Spanish law on A-Frames. (and other Motorhome traffic rules) [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

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Post by Charliefarlie on Tue May 10, 2016 6:41 pm

Frank.Hatfull wrote:We have been looking at the options of towing our Toyota IQ
It's a great car and very small
There's lots of info out there and the law seems a little ambiguous.
It certainly has to be braked
The simple cable systems may not comply and a more expensive electronic vacuum system may be required
The keyless ignition and automatic steering lock could also be an issue
Is it worth the hassle??
Is it better to buy an already converted car with A Frame?
Comments very welcome
kind regards
Frank & Mandy
 
Frank. Firstly there are for some reason haters of towing wee cars. Why ? Haven't a clue. 

The mechanical systems absolutely do comply. There is no vacuum required or needed any more than a large caravan has to have a vacuum . 

If you have keyless a switch is installed to prevent the steering locking. 

Buying a converted car is fine. I had my wee car converted once I was able to find the right car in the right condition. I am VERY fussy so was not prepared to buy any old car just because it was converted. 

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We chose the IQ because it is built like a tank. Cars is a passion of mine and trust me I did one hell of a lot of research before choosing not only the car but the Aframe and equipment. 

One tiny point with the IQ. When the ignition is in the accessory position or in unlocked when you have keyless the tiny panel beside the speedo remains back lit. Obviously we turn the radio of but that we display remains back lit. To counter this we wired the electrics so the IQs battery is charged by the motor homes electrics when on the move. 

I had a couple of spare keys cut but without the transponders in them. So I open the car. Set the ignition in accessory position then step out the car and lock it. It is not possible to lock the car with the buttons on the remote key while there is a key in the ignition. But turning the key whilst in the door lock locks all of the car without problems. 

As above there are for some stupid reason haters . Many will scare you with stories of this or that law being broken  but 99% of it is horse poo. 

I have a wife with disability. So for us the car is essential. I care far far more about my wife than all the stories about  breaking laws when I know I am not. My daughter is a solicitor and has looked deeply into the situation. 

Any questions just ask up! up!


Last edited by Charliefarlie on Tue May 10, 2016 7:00 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by Charliefarlie on Tue May 10, 2016 6:49 pm

PLOUGHLIN wrote:
Masai Warrior wrote:We came in at Santander two weeks ago. Last week while we were on a site on the edge of the Monfrague National Park we met an English couple with a large motorhome towing a Smart car on a trailer. We got talking as you do. They had come in at Bilbao, and the Spanish police were waiting for the ferry to dock, and as vehicles towing cars with A frames were coming off, they were taken to one side and told to unhitched their cars from their vans and to drive them separately. So watch out. Best to put your car on a proper trailer if you are going into Europe. Keep A frames in the UK!

Pete


Here is the Spanish law on A-Frames. (and other Motorhome traffic rules) [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]






There is something that says because we are members of the EU Spain must look upon what we are doing as law abiding folk and if it complies with the laws of the country we originate from then the Spanish police and authorities must allow to a certain degree... It is a wee but ambiguous but the points when read by my daughter were in her opinion very likely to help us IF we tow in Spain and in the EXTREMELY rare situations we may get pulled.


Not sure what happened to my text there ? Anyway it is the Vienna convention that allows us as UK residents to apply to a degree that laws to which we abide. 

There are several precedent cases where fines ( they are big fines ! 30 euros) have been returned when the cases have been overturned. So IF and its is extremely rare we get pulled in Spain and fined 30 euros we would produce a paper with an example precedence case on it and hand it to the officer. We have copies translated into every european language showing not only the conformity but the precedences which clearly indicate the ACTUAL position rather than the oft opined mythical position. up!


Last edited by Charliefarlie on Tue May 10, 2016 6:55 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by PLOUGHLIN on Tue May 10, 2016 6:52 pm

Charliefarlie, what a spiteful and unnecessary vitriolic post. Seems strange that the top market leaders in the business of A Frame supply agree that the newest regulations on unservoed brake efficiency conclude that braking assistance is required.

By all means state your opinion, but denigrating other posters is outside this forums normal operating window.

Luckily the is an ignore function, which I will use.

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Post by Charliefarlie on Tue May 10, 2016 6:58 pm

PLOUGHLIN wrote:Charliefarlie, what a spiteful and unnecessary vitriolic post. Seems strange that the top market leaders in the business of A Frame supply agree that the newest regulations on unservoed brake efficiency conclude that braking assistance is required.

By all means state your opinion, but denigrating other posters is outside this forums normal operating window.

Luckily the is an ignore function, which I will use.
Spiteful and vitriolic ? How ? I was trying to be helpful ! I have in no way said anything about any member here or what they have written. 

Sorry but I am completely mystified as to what I have said that could offend !

Please show me where I have denigrated a member or what any member has said ? 

I actually made my post above without reading any of the replies. Remiss yes but I absolutely promise you that is what I did. 

My point about the haters was in NO way aimed at anyone here it was based on the huge rows on other forums. 

My post was made to give my opinion based on the research I have done and specifically to help Frank as it is an IQ he is looking at as his tow car..

Sorry Peter but I think you have jumped in assuming my intonation was aimed at you. I promise this was not the case !!

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Post by Gromit on Tue May 10, 2016 7:48 pm

Before this kicks off too much, I think a couple of very important points should be stressed.

No one can make any categorical statements about the legality of A-Frames in the UK, because no one knows. They are not illegal, but that does not mean they are legal!! Until and unless there is a test case brought in law, it remains a grey area. It is extremely unlikely that anyone will be penalised here at home, but that's still no absolute guarantee.

The braking system on the towed car must however, be working at the same level as it would be if it was being driven normally. That does indicate that mechanical braking actuators are likely to be illegal -  but again in the absence of a test case this is another "unknown". How could braking efficiency be measured accurately anyway, without very complex and sophisticated equipment?

As for the Vienna Convention, that's fine in theory, but how do you cope with a stroppy foreign police officer unless you are very fluent in their language - and I mean very!!

It is perfectly legal to ride a trike without a helmet in the UK (not that I was ever daft enough to do so!) but I was pulled up by a Gendarme as I rode slowly across a supermarket car park toward the petrol station about 40 yards away, having just stowed my shopping in the back box. He insisted that I should put on my helmet. My French is quite good, so I was able to explain to him that I was only going to get petrol while still on private property, and that since it is legal to ride without one in the UK I should not be penalised in France.

He understood perfectly, but his reply was, "You are in France now, so put on your helmet or I will issue a fine." So I did, and made sure to give him a smile and a friendly wave as I passed his hiding place just outside the supermarket.

As said before, A-Frames in the UK are fine, and (in my experience and opinion) much better and easier than a trailer - but apart from the courtesy one should extend to the regulations of the locals when visiting as a guest in their country, to me at least, it just isn't worth the hassle of trying it on.

Dave smile!
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Post by Frank.Hatfull on Tue May 10, 2016 8:05 pm

Hey chaps.... I did not want to start a fight.
I am extremely grateful for everybody's point of view and advice.
It seems clear that continental towing is a potentially fraught with issues.
We were only planning to tow in the UK so that's ok.
It was great to see the pics and comments on towing an IQ.
I shall keep an eye on eBay for an A frame from a reputable manufacturer.
We still have to get a tow bar fitted to the motorhome.
Thanks again for all your inputs
Frank and Mandy
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Post by Charliefarlie on Tue May 10, 2016 8:13 pm

Gromit wrote:Before this kicks off too much, I think a couple of very important points should be stressed.

No one can make any categorical statements about the legality of A-Frames in the UK, because no one knows. They are not illegal, but that does not mean they are legal!! Until and unless there is a test case brought in law, it remains a grey area. It is extremely unlikely that anyone will be penalised here at home, but that's still no absolute guarantee.

The braking system on the towed car must however, be working at the same level as it would be if it was being driven normally. That does indicate that mechanical braking actuators are likely to be illegal -  but again in the absence of a test case this is another "unknown". How could braking efficiency be measured accurately anyway, without very complex and sophisticated equipment?

As for the Vienna Convention, that's fine in theory, but how do you cope with a stroppy foreign police officer unless you are very fluent in their language - and I mean very!!

It is perfectly legal to ride a trike without a helmet in the UK (not that I was ever daft enough to do so!) but I was pulled up by a Gendarme as I rode slowly across a supermarket car park toward the petrol station about 40 yards away, having just stowed my shopping in the back box. He insisted that I should put on my helmet. My French is quite good, so I was able to explain to him that I was only going to get petrol while still on private property, and that since it is legal to ride without one in the UK I should not be penalised in France.

He understood perfectly, but his reply was, "You are in France now, so put on your helmet or I will issue a fine." So I did, and made sure to give him a smile and a friendly wave as I passed his hiding place just outside the supermarket.

As said before, A-Frames in the UK are fine, and (in my experience and opinion) much better and easier than a trailer - but apart from the courtesy one should extend to the regulations of the locals when visiting as a guest in their country, to me at least, it just isn't worth the hassle of trying it on.

Dave smile!

There has to be a law against something before anyone can get into trouble for doing whatever the act is. 

Something that by definition is not illegal is by default legal. 

When a car is connected to a towing vehicle it becomes a trailer. That is clearly the law . A trailer over 750 kg must be braked. There are no requirements for a servo to assist the braking systems on trailers or every trailer and caravan over 750kg would have to have a servo. I have never seen a caravan or car trailer no matter what the gross weight is with a servo. 

Spain is the country often referred to when people claim these devices are against the law. It is ambiguous and you are right Dave who wants to be arguing with an angry copper . For that reason I will not be visiting Spain if I have a car on the back.

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Post by Gromit on Tue May 10, 2016 8:20 pm

Hi Frank

Is the weight of the actual A-Frame a consideration, as (I presume) your wife will have to hold it up as you drive gingerly toward the towball?

None of them are very heavy, but the inertia braked variety are much heavier than the electronic sort, and hooking up can be very tricky -  specially if you can't see the hitch from the driving seat of the little car. We have watched people spending half a frustrating hour trying to get it right!! There is no leeway for error - it will either hook on or it won't!

You might like to look at the "Tow Glide Auto Align" option on this website. [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] There's a video showing how easy it makes hitching up. (I've used one, and it really is that simple!)

Smart Tow is not a cheap option, but it's as near to fully legal as you are going to get (If that's not a contradiction in terms??) The electronic braking works very well indeed, and all three A-Frame versions are light and easy to use. What's more, they fold up small and store easily in the boot of the towed car, and connecting/disconnecting couldn't be much easier.

Just a pointer to something else to consider.

Dave smile!
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Post by PLOUGHLIN on Tue May 10, 2016 8:21 pm

Extract from the DfT leaflet on A Frames and Dollies.

"In addition, C&U Regulation 18 requires the braking system to be maintained in good and efficient working order. If the brakes of the towing vehicle do not directly operate the trailer brakes the use of an inertia (overrun) system is acceptable. If the trailer braking system has power assistance (i.e. servo or full power) it is likely that this assistance will be required while in motion to meet the required braking efficiencies. This is because once the vacuum reservoir is depleted it is possible that the brakes will not meet the braking efficiency. To prevent the trailer being used illegally a remote vacuum pump, powered from the tow vehicle, could be installed to recharge the reservoir, alternatively a source could be made available from the tow vehicle. From 1 October 1988 the inertia braking system was required to allow the trailer to be reversed by the towing vehicle without imposing a sustained drag and such devices used for this purpose must engage and disengage automatically. This will be very difficult to achieve on an “A” frame using an inertia (overrun) device."

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Post by Gromit on Tue May 10, 2016 8:27 pm

Hi Charlie

I would have to argue about "Something that by definition is not illegal is by default legal." but that would take us up a back alley! content

Have a look on here for information about the most recent amendments to the law on towed vehicles. It's as clear as mud - but I think what I said before is more or less correct?? [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

I'll copy the important bit here. "If the trailer braking system has power assistance (i.e. servo or full power) it is likely that this assistance will be required while in motion to meet the required braking efficiencies. This is because once the vacuum reservoir is depleted it is possible that the brakes will not meet the braking efficiency. To prevent the trailer being used illegally a remote vacuum pump, powered from the tow vehicle, could be installed to recharge the reservoir,"

Too may opinions and not enough hard facts, even from the DoT and EC Directives!

Dave smile!


P.S. In Germany, and possibly Belgium (I'm not sure) it is illegal to tow one powered vehicle with another. That adds more places where it's decidedly dodgy to risk using an A-Frame. We are quite lucky in this country - for once! up!
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Post by steamdrivenandy on Tue May 10, 2016 8:44 pm

Surely you can argue Dave's point both ways? 

I believe what he's saying is that because there's no clearly defined UK legislation banning or allowing A Frames they are currently allowed on UK roads by default. So there's no specific legislation saying they are positively legal and none specifically banning them. If the authorities felt strongly enough about A Frames, one way or the other, then they could introduce statutes to ban them or allow them. At present neither obtains and they operate under sufferance. 

The other way that they could be banned entirely is if a case was brought and a judge set a precedent by interpreting the law in such a way that they were found to be illegal. I guess in theory an A Frame without servo assistance might be a candidate for such a case as prima facie it contravenes the law requiring a certain level of braking impedance which such a rig may fail.
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Post by Charliefarlie on Tue May 10, 2016 8:44 pm

Gromit wrote:Hi Charlie

I would have to argue about "Something that by definition is not illegal is by default legal." but that would take us up a back alley! content

Have a look on here for information about the most recent amendments to the law on towed vehicles. It's as clear as mud - but I think what I said before is more or less correct?? [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

I'll copy the important bit here. "If the trailer braking system has power assistance (i.e. servo or full power) it is likely that this assistance will be required while in motion to meet the required braking efficiencies. This is because once the vacuum reservoir is depleted it is possible that the brakes will not meet the braking efficiency. To prevent the trailer being used illegally a remote vacuum pump, powered from the tow vehicle, could be installed to recharge the reservoir,"

Too may opinions and not enough hard facts, even from the DoT and EC Directives!

Dave smile!


P.S. In Germany, and possibly Belgium (I'm not sure) it is illegal to tow one powered vehicle with another. That adds more places where it's decidedly dodgy to risk using an A-Frame. We are quite lucky in this country - for once! up!

Thanks for that paper Dave but I have already seen it. The word in there that is all important is Likely...... 

The big problem though is how are they going to test or prove braking efficiency ? 

For mechanically braked systems there is an easy but not exactly cheap add on electronic braking system. Or a device that can bring the servo into place. Not difficult to do or install in fact it's extremely easy. Of course electronically set up systems won't need this at all. 

Dave my daughter is a solicitor. She informs me that a prosecution could never succeed unles a person has broken a law. As we are breaking no laws the fear of prosecution is pointless.

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Post by Gromit on Tue May 10, 2016 8:47 pm

I've never met your daughter, but I like her already!! smile!
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Post by Charliefarlie on Tue May 10, 2016 8:58 pm

steamdrivenandy wrote:Surely you can argue Dave's point both ways? 

I believe what he's saying is that because there's no clearly defined UK legislation banning or allowing A Frames they are currently allowed on UK roads by default. So there's no specific legislation saying they are positively legal and none specifically banning them. If the authorities felt strongly enough about A Frames, one way or the other, then they could introduce statutes to ban them or allow them. At present neither obtains and they operate under sufferance. 

The other way that they could be banned entirely is if a case was brought and a judge set a precedent by interpreting the law in such a way that they were found to be illegal. I guess in theory an A Frame without servo assistance might be a candidate for such a case as prima facie it contravenes the law requiring a certain level of braking impedance which such a rig may fail.

I think until a judge sets a precedence and therefore institutes the long proceedings to make it law it's reasonable to suppose it is legal to use the devices. 

There are no laws demanding servo assistance on trailers or at least trailers towed behind vehicles other than goods vehicles. 

A car on an Aframe is classed under current law as a trailer. It therefore must have braking if over 750kg . There is a big flaw in the supposition that legislation can be introduced to make towed cars any different to caravans or plant trailers or heavy goods trailers and that would be cost. An alteration to legislation like that would cause quite som issues. 

A car on an A frame is a very stable rig. Far more stable in fact than a car on a trailer.

It would crazy to even imagine a car when towed and is stable must have greater braking efficiency than the same car on a trailer that is less stable. 

For the record I have towed both cars on trailers in my racing days and of course a car on an A frame. Honestly a car on a frame is much more stable and easier as a result.

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Post by Charliefarlie on Tue May 10, 2016 9:07 pm

Gentlemen something troubles me....

Why do these debates always end up with folk falling out. I'm happy to debate as much as anyone likes as that after all is the point of a forum. But this topic always seems to divide us into two camps. 

Me ... Well if I can't say anything nice I try my best to say nowt. 

For some of us with sick family members in my case my wife I guess I have a defence mechanism that mean I may be a bit blinkered. That is why I asked my daughter to look into the rules and regulations. 

Honestly I do wonder why people get so uptight and have a go at those of us that use these Aframe devices. 

Life is being pretty cruel to us in our house just now. Maybe that's why I wonder why some have nothing better to do than have a go at what others do. I have no time for that !  

And NO that was not aimed at anyone here !

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Post by Charliefarlie on Tue May 10, 2016 9:20 pm

Would someone do me a favour please ? 

If Ploghlin has hit the ignore button as he said he was going to do so he will be unaware that I was not having a go at him ! 
If someone would pass this on I would appreciate it. 

There is no way I was responding to his comments in any way , 

Thanks.

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Post by Gromit on Tue May 10, 2016 10:03 pm

Charliefarlie wrote:
I think until a judge sets a precedence and therefore institutes the long proceedings to make it law it's reasonable to suppose it is legal to use the devices
I prefer to look at it from the other end of the microscope, but in essence that's exactly my understanding of the status quo.

(I would rather be a bit more cautious and say it's not illegal to use the devices - but that is rather splitting hairs as I freely confess.)

Is there really a distinction in law between the two statements?? I don't know, but it's an interesting point to ponder. It sounds as if there should be a difference??

Dave smile!
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Post by steamdrivenandy on Tue May 10, 2016 10:25 pm

Gromit wrote:
Charliefarlie wrote:
I think until a judge sets a precedence and therefore institutes the long proceedings to make it law it's reasonable to suppose it is legal to use the devices
I prefer to look at it from the other end of the microscope, but in essence that's exactly my understanding of the status quo.

(I would rather be a bit more cautious and say it's not illegal to use the devices - but that is rather splitting hairs as I freely confess.)

Is there really a distinction in law between the two statements?? I don't know, but it's an interesting point to ponder. It sounds as if there should be a difference??

Dave smile!

That's what I was trying to say.

There are things that are 'illegal' where it's explicitly covered by law and there are things that are 'legal' and explicitly covered by law. In the case of A Frames there's nothing that specifically makes them illegal and nothing that specifically makes them legal. Therefore by default they are legal, unless and until something happens to alter that, one way or the other.
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Post by Gromit on Tue May 10, 2016 10:36 pm

steamdrivenandy wrote:
 In the case of A Frames there's nothing that specifically makes them illegal and nothing that specifically makes them legal. Therefore by default they are legal, unless and until something happens to alter that, one way or the other.

That's where the logic of that argument eludes me.

If there's nothing that specifically makes them legal, how can they actually be legal??

They are clearly not illegal, but surely that does not automatically make them legal until they are entered into the statutes as such??

Dave smile!
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