Tow Bars

Tow Bars in Bromsgrove

At Ultimate Audio we have many years experience in fitting tow bars for all makes of Cars, Motor Homes, Vans, you name it we have probably done it.  Choosing a tow bar can be confusing due to the wide variety of options, All tow bars are vehicle specific so the options on the different styles may be limited depending on the make, model and year of vehicle. However most modern vehicles have options of all tow bar styles and types At Ultimate Audio we have put together an explanation of all the styles along with the Electrics to help guide you in choosing the correct type for your vehicle.

Please contact us for more information or if you would like prices on a supplying and fitting a tow bar for your vehicle.

Tow bar types explained

There are two different style of tow bars, fixed and detachable, both of which are available in swan neck and flange styles.

Flange tow bar types

The most commonly used type of tow bar in the UK is the flange tow bar; where the tow ball is bolted to the tow bar.  This is the most versatile design of tow bar because it can be used with tow ball mounted accessories i.e. cycle carriers, bumper protectors & all types of stabilizers, all mounted between the tow bar & ball. The flange tow bar is available in both fixed and detachable styles.

Fixed flange tow bar

Fixed Flange type tow bar

Benefits of the fixed flange tow bar are:

  • Capable of using accessories like some models of cycle carriers whilst towing
  • Price, flange tow bars tend to be cheaper
  • Capable of fitting a tow bar and pin system required to pull plant trailers and generators
  • Capable of fitting a bumper protector plate
  • Capable of using height adjustable couplings, drop plates and spacers to get different towing heights and clearances
  • Capable of putting a butterfly step on (mainly used on commercial vehicles)
  • Tow ball can be upgraded to be used with an AL-KO stabilizer

Things to consider before purchasing a fixed flange tow bar are:

  • Whether or not your vehicle has parking sensors fitted, the parking sensors may think that the tow bar is an obstacle when in reverse
  • The look of the tow bar on the back of your car, they are not as aesthetically pleasing as other styles
  • Banging your legs on the tow bar when walking around the vehicle
  • Both the tow bar and electrics can be seen when looking at the vehicle

Detachable flange tow bar

Detachable Flange Tow Bar

Detachable flange tow bars have all the benefits of a fixed flange tow bar with the additional option to remove when not in use.

Benefits of the detachable flange tow bar are:

  • The neck of the tow bar can be removed leaving the vehicle looking like there is not a tow bar fitted and towing capacity is the same as a fixed bar.
  • If parking sensors are fitted to a vehicle the detachable Tow bar will not interfere once removed
  • You will not bang your legs or trip on the tow bar when  walking around your vehicle when neck is removed
  • Capable of carrying any tow ball mount cycle carrier
  • Compatible with AL-KO and other friction style stabilizers (once paint is removed off the 50mm ball section)
  • Neck mechanism locks to the vehicle to stop it being stolen
  • Capable of fitting a tow ball and pin system required to pull plant trailers and generators
  • A choice of towing couplings and accessories can be fitted

Things to consider before purchasing a detachable flange tow bar:

  • If you lose the neck at any point they are expensive to replace
  • Price, detachable tow bars can be more expensive than fixed tow bars and detachable swan necks Detachable flange tow ball necks are heavier than detachable swan necks
  • Detachable flange tow ball necks looks less sleek when fitted

Swan neck tow bar types

In the E.U. the most common tow bar type is the swan neck tow bar. This is where the tow ball and the neck are all one piece of the tow bar. This type of tow bar is becoming more popular in the U.K. due to the appearance of the bar looking neater and with the bar being narrower it is less likely to trigger your parking sensors.

This type of bar is a little less versatile than flange style; you can either tow or attach a cycle carrier but you can’t use both at the same time. The swan neck tow bar can also be used with an AL-KO stabilizer without the need for modification. The swan neck type is available in both a detachable than fixed style.

Fixed swan neck tow bar

Fixed swan neck tow bar

Benefits of a fixed swan neck tow bar:

  • More aesthetically pleasing than a flange style tow bar
  • More chance of the parking sensors not picking up the tow bar when in reverse (but not a guarantee)
  • Compatible with AL-KO and other friction style stabilizers (once paint is removed off the 50mm ball section)
  • Price, is very competitively priced compared to its detachable counterpart
  • Capable of carrying all types of ball mount cycle carriers

Things to consider before purchasing a fixed swan neck tow bar:

  • If your vehicle has parking sensors fitted, the parking sensors may think that the tow bar is an obstacle when in reverse
  • Banging your legs or tripping on the tow bar when utilising your boot or walking around your vehicle
  • Some necks are not as adaptable as the flange style i.e. cannot fit height adjusters, steps and couplings
  • Towing and using a tow bar mount cycle carrier at the same time is not possible
  • Can be more expensive than a flange depending on make and model.

A detachable swan neck tow bar has all the benefits of a fixed swan neck tow bar with the additional feature of being removed when not in use. Allowing for a cleaner look on the rear of a vehicle when not towing anything.

Detachable swan neck tow bar

Detachable swan neck tow bar

Benefits of a detachable swan neck tow bar:

  • Neck of the tow bar can be removed leaving the vehicle looking like there is not a tow bar fitted and towing capacity is the same as a fixed bar
  • If parking sensors are fitted to a vehicle the detachable tow bar will not interfere once removed
  • You will not bang your legs or trip on the tow bar when utilising your boot or walking around your vehicle when neck is removed
  • Capable of carrying any tow ball mount cycle carrier
  • Compatible with AL-KO and other friction style stabilisers (once paint is removed off the 50mm ball section)
  • Neck mechanism locks to the vehicle to stop it being stolen

Things to consider before purchasing a detachable swan neck tow bar:

  • If you lose the neck at any point they are expensive to replace
  • Tow bar height cannot be altered
  • Alternative tow balls cannot be fitted
  • Price, the swan neck type tow bars are more expensive than flange tow bars

 

Other types of tow bars:

  • Electric swiveling tow bar type
  • Vertical detachable tow bar types
  • Horizontal detachable tow bar types
  • Compact detachable tow bar types
  • Pin system tow bar types
  • Nut system tow bar types
  • Permanently attached tow bar types
  • Universal HGV tow bar types
  • Towing brackets for HGV tow bar types

 

Tow bar electrics explained

The complexity of modern cars means that fitting tow bar electrics can be very difficult. It is important to choose the right electrics to suit your towing needs, whether that be towing a caravan, trailer, cycle carrier or anything else.

There are 3 types of towing electric sockets to choose from depending on your personal preference and towing needs, they are single 7 pin electrics (12N towing electrics), twin 7 pin electrics (a combination of 12N and 12S towing electrics) and single 13 pin electrics.

After you have chosen a type of towing electric socket you will need to decide on tow bar wiring kit, there are 2 types, universal wiring kits (fits all vehicles) and dedicated wiring kits (fits specifically to a single vehicle).

Then all you need to do is fit it to your vehicle.

Tow bar electrics sockets

Tow bar Sockets 12n, 12s and 13pin

Single 7 tow bar pin electrics

Pin locations are from rear of socket.

Single 7 pin electrics, also known as 12N towing electrics are needed to power the lighting on a trailer, caravan, cycle carrier or anything you’re towing. (The single 7 pin electrics power left and right indicator and taillights, fog lights and brake lights.) If you don’t require any further power to your towing counterpart, the single 7 pin electrics socket will be your main choice.

Twin 7 pin tow bar electrics

Pin locations are from rear of socket.

Twin electrics is a 2 plug system which combines the single 7 pin 12N electrics socket with a 12S electrics socket. You will need twin electrics if you require more power than what a single 7  pin socket can provide on a pre 2008 manufactured UK caravan (post 2008 UK caravans are fitted with 13 pin connectors). The twin electrics will power everything that a single electrics system powers plus reversing lamp, battery, power supply and fridge. The brown pin 5 in most cases is not used when wiring tow bar electrics and it is important to ensure that the white pin 3 cable is earthed.. In some cases a split charge relay might be needed in order for the power to switch divide from charging a leisure battery and the car battery.

13 pin tow bar electrics

Pin locations are from rear of socket.

13 pin towing electrics are the most modern style of towing socket, all EU caravans post 2008 will be fitted as standard with a 13 pin electrics connector. This is essentially a 2-in-1 socket, it has all the capabilities as twin electrics in one rather than 2 separate sockets. 13 pin towing are more adaptable for detachable tow bars that have a spring mounted single socket plate that can be folded up behind the bumper so that it’s invisible.

Conversion leads are available for 13 pin towing electrics to twin 7 pin towing electrics or twin 7 pin to 13 pin towing electrics if your vehicle has a 13 pin socket and your caravan has twin 7 pin towing plugs or vice versa.

Tow Bar Wiring kits

Once you have chosen which electrical socket you need, you can choose which wiring kit to fit.

There are 2 types of wiring kits to choose from, dedicated and universal. Universal kits are available for all vehicles whereas dedicated are vehicle specific so may not be available for some cars (more information on whether your car has a dedicated tow bar wiring kit available can be found on the chosen tow bar product page).

Universal Tow Bar Wiring Kits

Universal wiring kits are needed to connect the tow bar electrics to the car electrical system. In some cases, mostly in modern cars, a bypass relay will be needed when fitting a universal kit, this is to ensure the towing electrics and vehicle electrics co-ordinate voltage/ power and wont detect the drop in voltage/ power as a fault.

Things to consider before purchasing a universal wiring kit

  • Trailer Stability Control

Some modern vehicles have trailer stability control programmed as an extension to the cars regular stability control system, however, if a universal wiring kit is fitted to your vehicle, the trailer stability control function may not activate and become null.

  • Vehicle Warranty

If your vehicle is still under warranty then you might want to consider the affect of fitting a universal wiring kit. Most warranties will specify that any tow bar wiring fitted must be equivalent to the wiring supplied by the vehicle manufacturer. Meaning, they prefer a dedicated wiring kit over a universal wiring kit.

Dedicated Tow Bar Wiring Kits

Dedicated wiring kits are made to fit a specific car make and model. Unlike universal kits, dedicated kits work in coordination with the vehicles existing electrical system allowing it to run as functional as it was intended to by the manufacturer.

The advantage of a dedicated wiring kit is that the vehicle will know when you are towing and will automatically adjust the following systems (only if the vehicle has them):

  • Brake electronics
  • Engine electronics
  • Cruise control or A.C.C
  • Parking aids
  • Reversing cameras
  • Lane change assisting
  • Suspension system
  • Engine cooling system
  • S.P

Things to consider before purchasing dedicated wiring kits

  • Some vehicles need a compulsory download from the main agent to make the vehicle aware that these towing electrics are fitted dependent on make or model of the vehicle.
  • More often than not, dedicated wiring kits are expensive in comparison to universal.
  • Dedicated wiring kits in the majority of cases connect directly into the manufacturers dedicated socket. In some vehicles it may be necessary to run other cables through the vehicle, this can make fitting more difficult.

For all Tow bar enquiries please contact us at Ultimate Audio

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