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ISO 9001 - 2008 accreditation The MTH team are proud to announce we have been awarded the ISO 9001 - 2008 2013/14 quality award. This again complements our drive to do things correctly.






MTH are now an "RAC Approved Garage" please contact the team for more information.


Nine years on from my last update (April '04 see latter pages) and we are now more confused than ever.
The reason for this confusion is the new European braking regulations due to take effect in November 2014.

Our understanding of the reason for this change is nothing whatsoever to do with cars being towed behind motorhomes, it is to regulate the braking specification of a certain type of commercial trailer. All over Europe, including the UK, there are large trailers with an unusual axle layout. They are generally used for outdoor exhibitions or in Europe for displaying at town markets. The unusual layout is an axle right at the back of the trailer and a swivel/dolly axle at the front with a fold up draw bar fitted with an overrun/ inertia braked coupling. These trailers can be over 20 feet long and have a gross weight up to 3500kg. They can be towed by a medium length panel van or 4 x 4 and in the event of a serious traffic incident the trailer 'could' try to overtake the towing vehicle (jack knife). and here lies the problem. At the point of the trailer being at 90 degrees to the van/4 x 4, the overrun/inertia coupling would not be able to transmit any braking effect to the trailer brakes - this is the reason the regulations are changing. New trailers built after November 2014 must use a braking system that does not rely on the principle of overrun / inertia, the weight of the trailer bearing on the coupling and operating a simple mechanism to transmit a movement to effectively apply the trailer brakes. The new regulations state that any trailer with more than one axle, and if the axle centres are positioned more than 1 metre apart, may not be fitted with an overrun / inertia braking system. Sadly, this is where we get dragged into the issue, of course, the axles on any car are more than 1 metre apart, we cannot avoid the new regulation, although it is not aimed at cars on towing frames.
It will not affect single axle trailers at all, and shouldn't effect twin axle caravans, boat trailers, box trailers or car trailers, as their axles are normally just within the 1 metre requirement.

So why are we still confused ? A few years back, a company came into the towing frame market offering an all new braking system which avoided the need for the towing frame to have a heavy braked coupling attached to it. This was a great advantage to some as it made the towing frame much lighter and easier to manage, the problem with this new system was the cost to manufacture and install. At that time, overrun systems were very much cheaper than the new systems and still are today. Over the past few years other systems have now come onto the market and are generally referred to as 'electronic braking' systems. The big question is ; will they comply with the new regulations in Nov'14 ??

The most important point is how do these systems achieve their 'slowing down' sense, how do they tell the car's brake pedal how far to travel to achieve proportional brake effect ? The new European regulations clearly state that overrun / inertia is not acceptable. This is a simple mechanical transfer of the inertia related to the weight of the trailer to provide proportional braking by creating a movement at the front of the braked coupling and operating a lever to 'pull' the trailer brakes on. Are any or all of these systems using inertia in any way to provide the sense for how hard to apply the brake pedal in the car ?

The 'electronic braking' companies have been telling motorhomers their systems will comply with the new regulations, some have said their systems are Type Approved throughout Europe. This has lead motorhomers to believe they can travel anywhere in Europe and have no fear of being challenged by police. Not correct. Neither Type Approval or compliance with a future European standard will convince a Spanish police officer who plans to extract a fine from a motorhomer who is 'flat' towing a car. The Spanish issue is covered later in this update.

They have introduced terms such as 'dead pedal', suggesting that small car brakes will not work efficiently without a vacuum servo working in the car's braking system. Again, Not correct. A simple point - do caravans or car trailers have a vacuum servo ? Of course not, and their brakes work efficiently because the inertia applied to the braking system is in proportion to the weight of the trailer, in the case of a towed car, this will apply much more pressure than we could easily apply with an average human foot, the servo simply allows a driver to push the pedal with reasonable effort. The servo does not improve the dynamics of the car's closed braking system in any way.

In my opinion, the 'electronic braking' suppliers are responsible for the latest round of confusion, they have had to create reasons why motorhomers should pay the high prices for their systems over the relatively cheap overrun systems which have been tried and tested over many years. OK, we now have to accept the days are numbered for overrun / inertia systems due to the new regulations, but in recent years Car-A-Tow and other overrun type manufacturers have faced a relentless slating by the new boys trying to find ways to justify their expensive products.

I can only speak for our product, CAR-A-TOW introduced its folding towing frame to the UK market 23 years ago in 1990, at this time the only frames on the market were chain or strap on recovery frames. Since then we have sold over 7,000 towing frames, including over 1000 in France, and in recent months 6 in Belgium, 5 in Holland, 8 in Italy and even 4 in Germany. Sales are very strong in France and our 7 fitting agents are very happy with the product and the rapidly rising interest from French motorhomers.
CAR-A-TOW will introduce a conforming towing frame system when the new regulations have been made completely clear. We see no need to introduce a new system, and unfortunately a new pricing structure, until the new regulations are in force and the final specification is completely clear.

Our information is the new regulation for Nov 2014, is not retrospective, any overrun / inertia system produced and sold prior to Nov'14 will be permitted to be used for years into the future, and of course the same will apply to any of the current electronic braking systems.
To repeat my earlier point, are any of them using inertia anywhere in their system ?

I still cannot bring this to a conclusion as I am waiting for a meeting at the Department for Transport in London to try to get the final details and a statement from them. CAR-A-TOW will make this information available just as soon as it is received from the D f T.

And now onto Spain - ugh ! In over twenty years, not once have we; motorhomers, ever received an offer from a club or magazine to get involved and try to sort out the problem in Spain - do they not listen to their members or readers, are they not aware that an awful lot of motorhomers want (and in many cases need) to flat tow a car into Spain and not have to use a heavy and expensive trailer?
Of course they are.

We need their help, motorhoming needs their help.......but nothing, other than repeatedly stating it is NOT LEGAL in Spain.........WRONG.........what is not legal in Spain, and elsewhere in Europe, is one motor vehicle towing another motor vehicle. We are already aware of this, if your car breaks down, you are not permitted to tow it on a rope or chain, any broken down vehicle must be professionally recovered, this seems to be the case anywhere in Europe.
But that isn't what we are doing, the car hasn't broken down, we are towing a trailer. It is not illegal to tow a trailer in Spain, but if a Spanish region chooses not to accept the car as a trailer then that is the issue to be addressed.

Our clubs and magazines could make a big difference if they were to become involved in the problem, instead of just brushing it aside and accepting the ill informed views and money grabbing (fines) attitudes of certain police officers in North Eastern Spain.

Even the British Consulate in Alicante has just rolled over and trotted out the standard answer that towing a car in Spain is illegal. We at CAR-A-TOW have asked them to take this up with the Spanish authorities and challenge the lack of understanding that the car fitted with a towing frame is a trailer. The answer comes back that they are unable to become involved in interpreting Spanish law, if the consulate is there to help to 'look after' British citizens why won't they help motorhomers ? We are trying to press this further with that Consulate and hope for more success in the future. We will also now move on and try to get more cooperation from our Embassy or other agencies in Madrid. It isn't the law that's wrong, it's the understanding of it by their own officers and authorities !!

We have a copy of a Police ticket which has been professionally translated and states:

This will not be sorted out until British and other European motorhomers get together and 'encourage' the Spanish to rethink what they are doing. This is where the clubs and magazines should organise a campaign, along with their European counterparts to work on the Spanish.

Let's see what WE can do to finally get things moving.

By Alan Bee at  CAR-A-TOW

Scottish Business Crime Centre

MTH are pleased to announce our membership of the "Scottish Business Crime Centre". We look forward to working with them in the future.


Item 1: De-regulation of Tachograph Calibration Fees

The fee for calibration and periodic inspection of tachographs will be deregulated from 1st January 2012, following a consultation with the industry.

It is expected that deregulation of the fee will:

Allow the Approved Tachograph Centres and vehicle operators to negotiate a fair fee for the calibration and inspection of tachographs

Result in geographical variations in cost being accounted for

Better support vehicle operators looking to have tachographs calibrated during unsociable hours,

“Future-proof” calibration/inspection against technological changes which will affect how much work will be involved in the inspection and calibration of tachographs

Remove the need for future Government involvement in fee setting

Incentivise companies considering becoming an Approved Tachograph Centre

From 1st January 2012 the fees charged by Approved Tachograph Centres will be a commercial matter to be agreed with the customer presenting the vehicle.

The existing fees are still in place up to and including the 31st December 2011.

Any queries on this should be addressed to

Attention all service van, mobile home ,and horsebox conversion companies. MTH can now supply and install if required the solution to using mixed voltage vehicles i.e. 12v living area and 24v road vehicle and perhaps a service van attending 24v vehicles and requiring 24v power. Have a look in detail at the product and consider how it may help a regular problem.

Contact the MTH team for more details


RED DIESEL users please look into our link with FUEL-GUARD. This will explain the need for you to change your methods of using and storing red diesel. It is vital you address this "diesel bug" problem before it gets a grip within the fuel systems of your machines. You have been warned!


The One Minute Rule VDO Digital Tachograph

The launch of the DTCO 1381 (Release 1.4), paves the way for fleet operators to enhance their fleet efficiency and increase productivity.  The new "1 Minute Rule" which calculates driving time according to EU Regulation 1266/2009, has been integrated into the new Digital Tachograph, so drivers can optimise their driving time during the working day. User friendly graphical printouts make evaluating data easier and faster and include detailed Speed and 7 day Driver Card mode activity profiles.

VDO will be offering the opportunity for Fleet Operators to exchange their existing Tachographs to the DTCO 1381 (Release 1.4) during the 2011 "Go For Efficiency" promotion.  Order now to ensure that you are in a position to meet the expected customer demand!




ISO 9001 - 2008 accreditation

The MTH team are proud to announce we have been awarded the ISO 9001 - 2008 2013/14 quality award. This again complements our drive to do things correctly.... see more information.



Blades of Glory

Click photo for full size PDF.





Our team are going to Holland for training and the famous Ventura Factory in Holland. Another reason to trust MTH Autoservice















MTH Autoservices Ltd
Castle Laurie,
Bankside, Falkirk
T: 01324 633676
F: 01324 637754