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post #1 of 33 (permalink) Old 24-05-2015, 21:49 Thread Starter
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Smart car A frame or trailer

Hi, this is my first post so please bear with me.
I'm thinking of getting a smart car, what method is best a frame or trailer.
I have an Autotrail tracker els
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post #2 of 33 (permalink) Old 24-05-2015, 21:56
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Depends which countries you want to go to some extent.
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post #3 of 33 (permalink) Old 24-05-2015, 22:13
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post #4 of 33 (permalink) Old 25-05-2015, 07:53
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post #5 of 33 (permalink) Old 25-05-2015, 08:48
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This subject raises its head every so often.

Sadly it's NOT at all simple to answer.

I would suggest you do a LOT of research before deciding.

I would make the following observations.

A trailer is 100% fully legal throughout Europe.

An "A" frame is not so clear cut so the chances of you getting fined for using one are higher (especially in Spain) should you choose to use one. Many will say they have used an A frame for years and have never been stopped. That does not mean what they are doing is within the law.

With a trailer you can change Smart cars with no issues, with an A frame any replacement car will need to be modified.

An A frame is FAR easier to store.

My personal view, from the best part of 30 years of enforcing road traffic law is that A frames are (technically) not legal. I also fully accept that others, with to be fair less in depth legal knowledge, will disagree, that's their choice. The main problem concerns the requirement to be able to reverse the whole rig with the trailer (smart car on A frame is, in law, a trailer) WITHOUT the trailer brakes operating. That's what happens on all caravans, car tranorter trailers etc BUT that CANNOT happen with your smart car because the entire brake system was never designed to do that.

So as I said, do your research first. Find out the FACTS don't rely on "My brothers mate has used one for years and has never been stopped" argument.

Ask yourself why every single braked trailer can be reversed without the brakes operating if it's not a legal requirement.

Others will be along shortly with all sorts of arguments as to why I am wrong, A frame manufacturers will tell you "Their" system is legal. Ask them to give you a written undertaking to pay any fine if you get one and see what response you get, then make your decision, if they are legal the makers will be happy to give such an undertaking. Won't they??

I towed a Smart car and trailer for years. I would much rather have used an A frame because I think it's a better system but didn't use one because of the questionable legality.

So as I said at the start, it's not a clear cut issue.

If you decide to go down the trailer route be sure you have enough train weight capacity. Auto trails tend to have low max trailer weights. I ran a Cheyenne 696g and. smart car and trailer was right on the max permissible towing limit at 1040kg (limit was 1050 kg)
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It's who you share the journey with (even if like me, itís in a caravan!)
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Last edited by Mrplodd; 25-05-2015 at 08:55. Reason: Added details about Autotrail trailer weigh limits
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post #6 of 33 (permalink) Old 25-05-2015, 08:59
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If you intend going into europe then get a Trailer for piece of mind you won't get pulled over and fined, if you are planning to stay in the UK then get a "A" Frame.

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post #7 of 33 (permalink) Old 25-05-2015, 09:08
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In addition to Mr Plods remarks which I agree with.
A second hand trailer is a saleable item where as a second hand "A" frame is a debatable saleable item.
As he says many opinions forth coming shortly but for Europe trailer all they way.
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post #8 of 33 (permalink) Old 25-05-2015, 11:39
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For Europe, especially Spain, it has to be a trailer. See thread posted by Hogan.
It says that A frames are now illegal in Spain.

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Don't be silly all the time ask your question.
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post #9 of 33 (permalink) Old 25-05-2015, 12:39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mrplodd View Post
The main problem concerns the requirement to be able to reverse the whole rig with the trailer (smart car on A frame is, in law, a trailer) WITHOUT the trailer brakes operating. That's what happens on all caravans, car tranorter trailers etc BUT that CANNOT happen with your smart car because the entire brake system was never designed to do that.
Hi Plodders

While I fully agree with almost all your logic, this bit is not entirely correct. Ours would reverse perfectly well without the brakes operating - if I was skilfull enough!! With the fancy (and expensive) electronic braking systems the toad brakes operate at full efficiency when going forward, and not at all when reversing.

(The fact that most drivers are like me, and would find it all but impossible to reverse more than a few feet in safety rather makes it a moot point, but in law it is obviously correct.)

A-Frames are clearly not legal in this country (I noted your careful choice of words ) but they are not illegal either, until some poor sod has been the subject of a test case.

From my experience of both trailers and A-Frames, I would say with no hesitation that an A-Frame is much the best if you don't intend to tow abroad. For cross Channel use - take the risk if you like, but be prepared for the memsahib to be forced into following you in the disconnected car for the rest of the holiday.

It just ain't worth the risk. The days are gone when you could say, "Sorry officer. The wife will drive it from now on." then stop 20 miles down the road and connect up again. The surveillance cameras would have you in seconds!!

Hope this helps

Dave
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post #10 of 33 (permalink) Old 25-05-2015, 14:47
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Dave.

I have no doubt you could reverse it most of the the time but we are talkkngaboutthe law here.

Imagine you are trundling down an A road at the legal limit and suddenly something goes very in wrong in front of you and you are required to do an emergency stop. All of the brakes on your towing vehicle and your car on an A frame operate exactly as they should. You stop with inches to spare behind another vehicle, which then catches fire!!

You want (NEED) to reverse out of harms way. Very quickly BUT You now have a problem, the brakes on your towed car are hard on and you cannot move forward enough to get them to disengage. If you are using a trailer fitted with over-run brakes then as you reverse your rig the backplate on which the brakes are situated rotates slightly and, via a cam mechanism, the brakes automatically disengage.

A far fetched scenarios, or one that could possibly happen??? You decide

THAT is why the law was changed in respect of over-run brakes on trailers.

The situation would be even worse if you were on a downhill gradient of course.

Now I certainly don't MAKE laws, I was just employed to enforce them. The regulations in respect of over-run brakes are very clear and unambiguous, that's why all braked trailers have the automatic disengagement when reversed.

Andy

As I said earlier I reckon an A frame is far superior in many ways, it's just that the people who drafted the trailer regulations didn't take into account A frames ! sad but there you have it.

Its not the destination that matters.

It's who you share the journey with (even if like me, itís in a caravan!)
I am very fortunate to have Mrs Plodd to share mine with

Last edited by Mrplodd; 25-05-2015 at 14:49.
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