Information abour your new towbar
Towbars are used for many purposes, mainly to tow caravans, trailers, boats, other cars and mount cycle carriers.
A good towbar adds versatility and value to your vehicle while being one that lasts.
The variety of towbars and their array of features is what makes a towbar a smart purchase.
Good and Bad Points
Having a towbar fitted allows your vehicle the ability to tow a caravan or trailer and mount cycle carriers. In case you aren't satisfied with your vehicle having a fitted towbar permanently, there are detachable towbars available that are easily removable and fit once again onto your vehicle anytime you wish. So your vehicle only has to wear its towbar when needed. Also, if you are interested in transporting bikes on your vehicle then towbars are a good way to mount cycle carriers securely.
The downside to having a towbar fitted is the potential to cause more damage to your car due to the impact of another vehicle or object. Similarly, as towbars are belted to the underframe, the potential to cause lasting damage to the chassis of your vehicle increases if you have a bump to the back of your car. In the case of a mounted cycle carrier, there is also a risk of damage to the paintwork on the car due to the carrier having to be strapped onto the rear car body. If you plan to sell your vehicle in the future, you risk the devalue of your vehicle if a potential buyer does not wish to have a towbar attached and there is evidence of one there.
Although despite the risks, the good points show that a towbar is a useful, convenient accessory to have on your vehicle.
Having a towbar fitted does NOT affect your warranty, as under EC competition law car manufacturers and dealerships are not legally allowed to prevent or hinder aftermarket suppliers from working on new vehicles. They encourage standardised quality and free trade, so you can breathe easy knowing your warranty is safe. Ultimately, if it is Type Approved then your towbar is safe and legal to use and does not void the vehicles warranty. This includes your towbar wiring, always fit vehicle specific wiring if you know your car is still under warranty.
There are other choices you need to make when purchasing a towbar, for example; what type of electric kit to use. To answer this question, you need to know your options. There are two types of electric kits that are available for towbars, these are; universal and vehicle specific.
The vehicle specific kits help enable the vehicle to know when a caravan or trailer is attached and to modify its behaviour accordingly.
Whereas universal kits take signals from the rear lights to switch relays which then power the lights on the caravan or trailer. A downside to this is that the current from the rear light circuits is miniscule, so the car has no means of detecting that it is a tow vehicle.
It is vital that you are aware of whether or not your electrics are working once you have fitted your towbar. If they aren’t, then there is a chance your brake lights will fail to work meaning other drivers won’t know you intentions. A simple way of checking these is pressing your brakes when your car is parked and having someone watch your lights.
Some parking sensors have issues with towbars as they cannot distinguish them from other obstacles on the road. But there are parking sensors available that work whether you have a fixed or a removable tow ball, without the false readings. Just make sure you choose the right towbar for your vehicle that doesn’t affect your sensors.
Also, if the electric wiring is fitted correctly then the reverse sensors should automatically disable when towing. It is recommended to do a test run of the sensors when in the process of towing to guarantee a safe journey without any hassle.
Fortunately, towbars require minimal maintenance. So don’t think that you have to constantly check for any amount of wear and tear. Here are some basic maintenance tips to keep your towbar in top shape;
- You can keep the towball clean with thinners, white spirit or brake cleaner to remove grease or other residue. The surface of the tow ball must be free of grooves, rust or seizing marks.
- If you notice any worn parts, replace them or have them serviced at your local towbar specialist.
- Make sure all levers, flexible joints and parts are at the right level of tightness.
- Keep free of dirt and corrosion.
- You must only clean the surface of your towbar with a cloth. Grease or other lubricants are not to be used.
- For those with detachable towbars, if the ball is removed then the dummy must be inserted for protection and to prevent dirt.
It is important that you let your insurance providers know you have a towbar fitted. This is because a towbar counts as a modification to your vehicle and these can affect how your insurance premium is assessed in terms of risk of accident, and any risk of theft. A towbar should not increase the price of your insurance but you may be charged an amendment or service free depending on who your provider is.
Our advice is to make sure you have looked into the impact purchasing a towbar will have on you insurance, if it has any at all. Make sure you cover all your bases by informing your provider of the addition to your vehicle, in case you have a crash or altercation that affects your car.
In the case of your MOT, the addition of a towbar will be included as part of your annual MOT test. Inspectors will carry out a visual inspection of the towbar, checking for any damage, corrosion or potential hazards. If your towbar is found to be faulty, then your MOT test may be failed as a result. With this in mind, see the above advice on how to keep on top of your towbars maintenance.
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