Things to consider when buying a tow bar
11 Dec 2018
People purchase tow bars for different reasons, some want to tow trailers while others are just looking to attach a cycle carrier to their vehicle.
The intended purpose of your tow bar will determine the kind of electrics kit you need to purchase when buying a tow bar.
The amount of money you are looking to spend will help you to choose which type of tow bar to purchase. Below are some other points that we ask buyers when they are looking at which tow bars to purchase.
Types of tow bar
There are 3 main kinds of tow bars
Flange (tow ball bolted to tow bar) Fixed to the vehicle at all times this is the most common type of tow bar here in the UK. The flange type is also the most affordable type of tow bar.
Swan neck is similar to the flange type in that it is fixed to the vehicle at all times, however the neck looks more like the detachable type systems, therefore giving a better aesthetic appearance on your vehicle.
Swan necks are very common on continental Europe and there popularity has been growing here in the UK over the last 5 – 6 years, since first being introduced by Westfalia tow bars.
Detachable as the name suggests detaches from the vehicle when not being used, on most models the neck part locks in place when in use.
This can be unlocked and placed in the boot of the vehicle, most modern vehicle will have a special space designed to hold the neck added by the vehicle manufacturer.
Most vehicles when the neck is removed, you will not be able to tell that the vehicle has had a tow bar fitted.
Types of tow bar wiring
The type of tow bar electrics required will vary depending on what you intend to use your tow bar for.
7 pin electrics is suitable for all types of towing, this functions give you all your requirements for towing legally on the British roads e.g. trailers, horseboxes, boat & camping, cycle carriers.
Twin electrics include the auxiliary socket for caravanning, this includes the permanent live with fridge & battery feeds.
13 pin electrics, from September 2008 all new caravans have a 13 pin plug & some cycle carriers require 13 pin e.g. Thule also on detachable tow bars there is only room for one socket, so for caravans pre September 2008 you will need to fit 13 pin electrics and use a 13pin to 7 pin adaptor.
How to fit a tow bar
Tow bar fittings varies greatly from vehicle to vehicle, the majority of tow bars are fairly straight forward to fit, with no drilling or cutting of the bumper if you are a competent DIY person then fitting the actual tow bar will be simple process.
The difficulty comes when fitting the tow bar wiring kit, in order to fit the wiring correctly you may need to remove some interior panels in the vehicle, you may also need to cut into the car wiring diagram and join the tow bar wiring harness.
Some newer vehicles also require a dealer download to activate the tow bar wiring harness.
If you feel that you do not have the experience to start wiring in a tow bar it would be a good idea to pay a time served tow bar fitter to fit your tow bar.
Most large tow bar fitting companies will offer either a fitting service at their depot/s or a mobile fitting service which can come to either your home or place of work.
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