National Trailer & Towing Association
Promoting Safe and Legal Towing

Selecting a Towbar

Before selecting a towbar you should check:

 There are three main types of Towbar; Fixed Flange, Fixed Swan Neck and Detachable.

Fixed Flange:

Fixed flange towbars are suitable for the vast majority of towing requirements. It has a towball bolted to a faceplate and is therefore compatible with accessories that are fixed between the towball and faceplate. For example, Bumper Protectors, Leaf Spring Stabiliser Brackets and Bracket mounted Cycle Carriers. The Flange type towbar also allows for the standard ball to be replaced with an ALKO compatible towball.

Towball mounted Cycle Carriers can also be used with Fixed Flange Towbars.

If your vehicle has parking sensors it is generally advisable to have a detachable towbar to avoid interference.

Q? inclusion of info regarding adjusting height either with an approved bracket or where a 4hole faceplate allows for selection to suit.   

Fixed Swan Neck Towbar:

Fixed Swan towbars are ideal for many towing applications and are considered by many to be preferable in appearance. Fixed Swan Neck Towbars are ALKO compatible.

Towball mounted Cycle Carriers can also be used with Fixed Swan Neck Towbars.

Detachable Towbars:

Detachable towbars are predominantly available as a swan neck, however for some vehicles detachable flange towbars are available.

When the towing neck is detached the towbar will, depending on your vehicle, either be completely invisible or only slightly visible.

The detachable swan neck is ALKO compatible, whilst the detachable flange will require an ALKO ball for use with an ALKO stabiliser.

As a detachable towbar allows for the towing neck to be removed it is possible to avoid interference with parking sensors. 

Towball mounted Cycle Carriers can also be used with Detachable Towbars.

Selecting your Towing Electrics

  • Single 7 Pin 12N - Road lights only excluding reverse.
  • Double 7 Pin 12N/12S - These kits usually have 2 options, all road light functions and a permanent live feed or available with all road light functions and full charging system.
  • 13 Pin - These kits usually have 2 options, all road light functions and a permanent live feed or available with all road light functions and full charging system.

In the past fitting an electric kit to a vehicle involved simply connecting to the rear lights and that was all what was required.
Today, modern vehicles have complex wiring systems built with advanced safety features which are computer controlled. Therefore, fitting an electric kit is no longer a simple process.

Modern vehicles electric systems mean fitting a towbar electric kit can be a very difficult process. It is essential to choose the right electrics to suit your towing needs, whether you are towing a caravan, trailer, cycle carrier or anything else. We recommend speaking to one of our members, to confirm your requirements before making a purchase.

There are 2 main types of electric kits for vehicles, Universal or Dedicated (vehicle specific). Universal kits are available for all vehicles, whereas Dedicated are vehicle specific. Fitting a dedicated kit protects the vehicles warranty, works with the vehicles built in safe features and more.

Dedicated Vehicle Specific Wiring kits

Dedicated Vehicle Specific Wiring kits, sometimes known as 'dedicated wiring looms', ‘VSKs’ or 'plug in kits', are becoming ever more popular for towbar wiring installation. These kits in most instances, where the features are present on the vehicle, interact with the built-in safety features on the vehicle whilst towing. Also, they can disable factory fitted parking aids.

These kits are manufactured for the specific vehicle and connect to the manufactures correct fitting points.

Please note: Re-programming of the vehicle with correct software may be necessary to gain these functions where applicable.

Each kit is designed specifically for the vehicle that it is fitted to, and rather than soldering or using 'Scotch Locks' to connect the towbar wiring, which is the case with universal aftermarket wiring, these kits interface with the vehicle systems in the same way as the vehicle manufacturer intended.

Universal Electric Kits

Universal towbar electric kits used to be the standard method for supplying power to trailers or caravans. This is the lower cost option than dedicated “vehicle specific” towbar electric kits. Although universal electric kits do compromise on some features as a result.

Universal kits will provide all of the lighting functions required to keep your vehicle legal while towing your trailer or caravan. However, it does not provide the additional benefits of vehicle specific towbar wiring.

As an example, with universal electrics, wiring your vehicles parking sensors and fog lights would not be disabled whilst you are towing as they would when using a dedicated “vehicle specific” system. Also this kit will not interact with built in stability programmes when towing like a dedicated system will.

Pros

  • Lower price
  • Audible warning for trailer indicators
  • Universal fitment

Cons

  • Trailer Stability Control not activated
  • Warranty not protected
  • Parking aids not disabled while towing

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