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Tow Bars

We’ve been installing tow bars for many years and have seen the changes with vehicle and canbus systems. Tow bar systems and vehicles these days are very complex to carry out an imstallation. canbus system although complicated does make for a very vehicle safe installation.

For more information about towing weights, please click the link HERE.

In May of 2021 we were contacted by Oliver Cox who was looking for a tow bar installer to carry out a tow bar installation on his Ford Fiesta for his YouTube channel. We agreed to the filming and suddenly, two YouTube stars where born. Well done George and Chris! It was great to meet Oliver and his Dad and we had a great time filming.

Fixed Flange

flange tow bar

The towball is bolted onto a faceplate and is permanently attached to your vehicle. This is ideal for serious towing, compatible with accessories and usually the cheapest option.

  • Tow and carry bikes at the same time
  • AL-KO towballs can be fitted
  • Towing couplings and accessories can be fitted

Fixed Swan Neck

With a sleeker design, the fixed swan neck is more pleasing to the eye. It is compatible with AL-KO stabilisers, however, you cannot tow and carry bikes at the same time.

  • Less likely to set off parking sensors
  • Can be slightly more expensive than flange towbar
  • Can’t be fitted with a bumper shield

Detachable Swan Neck

With the same visual appeal as the fixed swan neck, you are also able to remove this when you are not towing. But, you can’t tow and carry bikes at the same time.

  • Compatible with AL-KO stabilisers
  • Less likely to set off parking sensors
  • Can’t be fitted with a bumper shield

Electrics

12n Socket

The 12n socket is the most commonly used socket for towing a trailer with a standard lighting board or an older bicycle rack. This will give you indicators, side lights, brake and fog lights. These sockets are still available to be used on older and new vehicles.

12s Socket

The 12s socket is commonly used for the application of towing a caravan however these can also be used for normal or car transporter trailers with batteries. This will give you reverse, permanent and ignition vehicle battery supply, ignition supply earth/ground connections. Depending on the year of the caravan the pin configuration can different.

13 pin

The 13pin socket or also known as the ‘euro socket’ and is the new replacement socket system for the 12n and 12s socket. Although this socket consists of both the 12n and 12s sockets the charging part of the 12s within the 13pin socket is optional. Most modem bicycle racks, trailers and caravans may come per-wired with this socket.

Bypass Relay

bypass relay

Bypass relays are used where the cars own lamp circuits cannot support their shadow circuits on the trailer or caravan. This may be because the circuit may not be rated to take the extra load of the trailer, or because the cars own bulb failure monitoring system might become confused with the extra load from the trailer lamps. In their simplest form, bypass relays operate by taking a signal from the car’s lamp circuit, which then switches a relay inside and with it current to the equivalent circuit on the trailer from a supply derived directly from the car’s battery or fuse box.

Caravan Charging

caravan charging relay

Caravan, Combi or Split Charge Relays switch current to the caravan’s leisure battery and/or fridge during towing. With the ever growing difficulty in finding a safe ignition supply in modem vehicles, this relay system connects directly to a 12 volt permanent supply and intelligently switches when the vehicles engine is running. Depending on the year of the caravan depends on how these are installed.

Vehicle Specific

vehicle specific electric

Although bypass relays are a more cost defective way of connecting into the vehicles lighting system, some vehicles it is heavily advised to go for this option. With vehicle specific electrics the kit is made specifically for the vehicle. Since the early 2000’s, automotive technology moved rapidly forward in introducing network systems in vehicles which allowed the detection of a trailer. In many cases, not only did the manufacturer design the vehicle to detect the trailer, but created enhanced features within the network, which actually makes it vitally important for the trailer to be ‘seen’ and not ‘hidden’ from the towing vehicle. These include some important safety and stability features, along with convenience items such as automatic fog light cut-off and parking sensor deactivation.

Here are some of the related towing systems in a vehicle you may have, which ‘NEED TO SEE’ the trailer when it is plugged in:

  • Brake electrics
  • Suspension system (ASS)
  • Engine electronics
  • Engine cooling system
  • Cruise control
  • Parking aids
  • Reversing camera
  • Lane change assistant

Each of the above systems are affected in different ways when a trailer is ‘detected’. Vital systems such as engine cooling and brake electronics will function and react differently. TSP ( ‘Trailer Stability Program’) is one feature which is being added to more and more vehicles, to help correct the ‘snaking’ action of a trailer… but with such advanced technology, braking systems have even evolved further by being operated electronically, without the need for hydraulics! Braking has become more controlled with faster braking efficiency when towing! Suspension systems can now detect a trailer and allow for a more level towing adjustment when the load is applied on the towing hitch. ACC (Adaptive Cruise Control) systems are meant to ‘detect’ a trailer in order to help set a greater braking distance between vehicles.

The latest technology is also now being applied to roof bars! The Audi Q5 for example, is able to determine when roof bars are fitted and will alter the vehicle centre of gravity when a load is applied. This will then make the ESP braking system behave differently. The key feature is that vehicle safety in relation to towing, is no longer confined to the normally accepted high spec manufacturers such as Audi and BMW!

If you’d like a tow bar quotation please head to our Contact Us page, please don’t forget to add your vehicles details. Make, model, year and and relevant factory styling options.

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