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Which Tow Bar is Best for My Car?

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Introduction

Enquiries with Trident Towing

Towbar Manufacturers

Fixed Flange Tow Bar

Fixed Swan Tow Bar

Detachable Swan Tow Bar

Detachable Flange Tow Bar

Retractable Tow Bar

RMC Tow Bar

INTRODUCTION

At Trident Towing Kent, one of our biggest business areas is in fitting tow bars to customer cars and vans.

Our workshop team is highly experienced and we have an excellent reputation for our quality fitting work and our care of our customers’ vehicles.

Combine this with pleasant waiting area, free tea and coffee, free wi-fi and free courtesy cars while your tow bar is being fitted and our service to you becomes hard to beat.

The tow bar has evolved hugely especially in recent years. It is no longer just a piece of metal – a towbar now must pass strict safety regulations and be specially approved, designed and developed for a vehicle.

As well as this, advances in vehicle design and technology means there are other factors to bear in mind when deciding which tow-bar is best for you and your vehicle.

Please therefore have a look at our guide below, which will help you in deciding which tow bar is most suitable for your vehicle and for your requirements.

ENQUIRIES WITH TRIDENT TOWING

The first step is to visit our Trident Towing tow bar website page. Here you can input your vehicle registration number in the box provided, which on the next screen will display your vehicle make and model details.

Just check to make sure our database comes up with your car, then just fill in the enquiry form details below and click the “Submit” button at the bottom of the page. We will then get back to you as quickly as possible with a quotation for you.

TOW BAR MANUFACTURERS

Our vast tow bar fitting experience means that we will know which tow bar manufacturer is best suited for your requirements when we come back to you with your quotation. We deal with the most reputable tow bar companies only:

Brink Towbars – the biggest tow bar brand in Europe, who work closely with almost all vehicle companies to ensure their tow bars are the most optimal fit and design for your car;

Tow Trust Towbars – an up-and-coming UK tow bar company who we are using a lot and are getting an excellent reputation for their tow bars.

Westfalia Automotive – a well-known European manufacturer who have an excellent reputation for tow bars for premium vehicles such as Audi and BMW:

Witter Towbars – possibly the most commonly fitted tow bars in the UK, and the largest UK tow bar manufacturer.

As part of our quotation to you we will recommend a tow bar type, which we will decide on from the information submitted in the enquiry form.

 

Please find some information on these different tow bar types below:

FIXED FLANGE

This is where the tow ball is not in one piece with the tow bar neck, and is instead bolted to the tow bar neck “flange” with two M16 bolts.

Despite us being one of the last countries to be using this tow bar style, the fixed flange option is one of the most common tow bars we fit for several good reasons:

Fixed Flange Advantages:

  • Different styles of tow ball can be fitted, such as jaw-pin-ball assemblies. This means that if you have a trailer with an eye coupling you would need to have a fixed tow bar.
  • Additional items can be fitted to the tow bar neck (in between the tow ball and the tow bar neck flange), which keeps the towball free for trailer towing. This makes the fixed flange tow bar the most versatile option.

These accessories can include items such as:

  • Bumper Shields – to help prevent the trailer going into and damaging the car bumper whilst loading:
  • Stabiliser Brackets – for example the Bulldog Security LC1 plate for their 200Q model – allows a blade-style stabiliser to be fitted for caravan or heavy trailer towing.
  • Cycle Carriers – such as the Witter ZX88 range – which when fitted still leaves the tow ball free for trailer towing.

Fixed Flange Disadvantages:

  • If your car is fitted with reverse sensors we would not recommend the fixed flange tow bar. This is because the tow bar neck flange has a lot of surface area which the sensors can detect when the car is put into reverse.
  • Once the sensors detect the tow bar flange they will permanently sound and the sensors are rendered useless.
  • If you are towing a caravan with an AL-KO coupling stabiliser or equivalent, you would need an extended tow-ball to ensure the wider coupling head does not knock into the vehicle rear bumper.
  • These are also the largest and bulkiest tow bar style and can look unsightly on a premium vehicle, especially as they are a permanent fit and the neck cannot be removed easily.
  • The large size can also block low-position number plate or fog lamps which can result in MOT failure.

FIXED SWAN

This is still a permanent fitting like the flange tow bar above, with the tow bar neck and ball all in one piece in a “swan neck “shape.

These are the most popular tow bar option in Europe.

Fixed Swan Advantages:

  • They are more compact and discreet than the bulkier fixed flange style and won’t interfere as much with the look of the fitted car.
  • Because of the reduced size, the fixed swan neck tow bar is not as likely to set off any reverse sensors.
  • The swan neck style is suited for caravan coupling stabilisers and there are no modifications needed as per the fixed flange tow bars.

Fixed Swan Disadvantages:

  • There is no way that additional accessories can be fitted to the swan neck and as such is not a versatile option like the fixed flange tow bar;
  • The fixed swan neck is still permanently behind the car and there is still a chance it can set reverse sensors off even with the smaller, more compact profile.

DETACHABLE SWAN

This is a great option. This combines the compact and discreet swan neck shape and the tow bar neck can also be detached completely from the car when not in use to be stored in the vehicle boot.

The detachment takes seconds, where a dial at the side of the neck is pushed in/pulled out (depending on manufacturer) and twisted to release the neck from its’ tow bar housing.

Reattaching the tow bar is simply a case of slotting the neck into the tow bar housing until it clicks into place.

Detachable Swan Neck Advantages:

  • Removing the neck also means the reverse sensors will not be affected as the neck is not there for the sensors to detect. If you have a vehicle with the reversing sensors fitted, we would highly recommend that a detachable tow bar is fitted.
  • Removing the towbar neck will in most cases result in the tow bar being almost completely invisible. This means the lines and looks at the back of the car will not be affected at all.
  • With the tow bar removed, the neck cannot now block number plates or fog lights, and there is no chance of hitting your legs against the tow bar when loading or un-loading the boot.
  • The swan neck style also means it will be compatible with caravan AL-KO stabilisers without any modification needed.

Detachable Swan Neck Disadvantages:

  • The swan neck style means that no accessories can be fitted to the tow bar neck as per the flange tow bar type.

DETACHABLE FLANGE (WITTER “FLEXI-TOW”)

If you need to have the versatility of the flange tow bar, but have low number plates or reverse sensors on your vehicle then this is the tow bar that you need.

Made by Witter Tow Bars, this is a detachable system as per the swan neck above, with the 2-bolt fixed flange tow bar neck. This is the most versatile tow bar type available on the market.

Detachable Flange Neck Advantages:

  • With the tow bar neck detached, the vehicle reversing sensors will not be affected as with the fixed tow bars. As with the swan neck version, if you have reverse sensors on your car we would highly recommend a detachable tow bar.
  • The detachable facility means again that the look of the car will not be affected as the tow bar will now be almost invisible.
  • The fixed flange neck style allows you to fit jaw-pin-and-ball assemblies instead of the standard tow ball – vital if you tow a commercial trailer with an eye coupling

Detachable Flange Neck Disadvantages:

  • As with the fixed flange tow bar, you will need an extended tow-ball if you are towing a caravan or trailer with the AL-KO coupling head stabiliser fitted.
  • The neck itself is heavier than the detachable swan neck and may thus be a little trickier to attach and detach.

RETRACTABLE SWAN

The most premium tow bar style available, the retractable swan neck is made by Brink Towbars.

When retracted, the tow bar neck is folded up behind the bumper. A little pull lever on the tow bar assembly is all that is required to drop the neck down – from here you just need to move the neck into position until it clicks into place.

To retract the tow bar, the dial at the side of the neck is twisted to release it. You then just need to move it up behind the bumper until it clicks into position.

This is great as a show-off element!

Retractable Swan Neck Advantages:

  • This has all the advantages of the detachable tow bar necks, e.g. not spoiling the looks of the car, not interfering with reverse sensors, not blocking number plates – without needing to remove the tow bar neck and stow it away somewhere else.
  • The neck is always on the car and can be ready for use in seconds for the ultimate in tow bar convenience.
  • This is the most premium tow bar neck we offer and as such is ideal for more top-of-the-range vehicles.

Retractable Swan Neck Disadvantages:

  • These are only available for a limited number of vehicles.
  • Being a swan neck design, you are unable to fit any additional accessories as per the flange design necks.

RMC DETACHABLE SWAN CYCLE CARRIER FOR HYBRID VEHICLES

The vast majority of hybrid vehicles (where the cars rely on electric battery power as well as a normal engine) are unsuitable for towing, as having a trailer on the back would subject the vehicle battery packs to too much strain.

However, there is still a demand for hybrid vehicle tow bars – not for trailer towing but for mounting cycle carriers on the back of the vehicle which will not be enough to affect the vehicle batteries.

This is where the RMC neck, made by Brink, comes in – this allows cycle carriers to be attached directly to the towball. A raised bar across the top of the ball prevents any accidental trailer hook up.

RMC Detachable Swan Neck Advantages:

  • This allows a new option for hybrid vehicle owners who originally would not be able to fit a tow ball mount cycle carrier to their car.
  • The detachable design means that any reverse sensors, low number plates and fog lights will not be blocked or interfered when the neck is removed.

RMC Detachable Swan Neck Disadvantages:

  • Only cycle carriers which fit directly to the tow ball can be fitted – the swan neck design means that other carriers which fit on a flange type neck cannot be used here.
  • The bar across the top of the ball can still prevent some tow ball cycle carriers from being fitted.
  • For more information on cycle carrier compatibility with the RMC tow bar, please contact us and we will go through your carrier options with you.

 

We hope that this run-down of the tow bar neck types will help you in choosing which one is suitable for your vehicle and your requirements. If you have any further questions, then as always please feel free to contact us and we will be of help to you straight away.

Many thanks for choosing us at Trident Towing Kent.

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Posted in Information, Necks & Tow Balls, Tow Bars
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