Looking for a Towbar – Things to Consider

If you are considering having a tow bar fitted to your car then there are few things you will need to consider, first of all you will need to decide what type of towbar you wish to have fitted. There are 3 main kinds of bar on the market:

Flange – this type has a tow ball bolted to the tow bar itself, the towbar is fixed and visible at all times. Flange types are generally the cheapest available.

Swan Neck – this type looks better than the flange bar as the towball is integrated on the neck of the towbar which reaches underneath the car, again though this towbar is always visible.

Detachable – there are several types of detachable towbars but all share the same feature that they can be removed when not in use. Many owners of high end cars choose this type of towbar as it helps to keep the aesthetic design to their car, but allows the added functionality of a towbar when needed.

Tow bar fitting options

After you have decided what type of towbar best suits your requirements, the next thing to consider is the fitting of the tow bar to your car. All towbars require an electrics kit, the newer your vehicle the higher the expense for repairing any damage to the cars electrics. If you make a real mess then your insurance company could just write off your vehicle. If you are not experienced with auto electrics then it is advisable to get a time served tow bar fitter to fit the bar. Costs vary depending on a number of factors including:

  • Make and model of your car.
  • Type of tow bar you are having fitted.
  • Electrics option that you have chosen.

It is a good idea to speak with a qualified towbar fitter before purchasing your tow bar, as they can not only advise on electrics but also on the make and type of tow bar that will suit your needs best.

Towbar electrics

Choosing the type of electrics that you need. There are three different types of electrics you could choose from. 7 pin electrics (single electrics), 12n / 12s electrics (twin electrics) or 13 pin electrics. The type of electrics you will need will depend mainly on the nature of what it is you wish to tow, Caravans and bike carriers require different electrics kits. It then gets more confusing with the inclusion of bypass relays into the equation. I get asked 'Do I need a bypass relay?' and 'What does it do?' a lot. As a general rule if your vehicle was manufactured after 2004/2005 you will probably need a bypass relay. A bypass relay is a Bulb Failure Management system, when using a universal electrics kit you have to splice into electrics at the back of the vehicle and because you are siphoning power from circuits that already exist sometimes the vehicles onboard computer can misconstrued this as a problem and display a warning light on the dashboard telling you that there is a problem with your lights. A bypass relay keeps this current at a constant so that the warning light does not appear on the dashboard unless there is actually a problem.

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