A tow bar can be used in many different situations, either to drive with a trailer, or to mount equipment increasing the cargo capacity of the car considerably.
Whether you like summer holidays with a caravan, have a garden where garden waste has to be taken to a disposal facility, or just want to take your bike to our picturesque countryside, a tow bar is indispensable. If your car doesn’t have one it’s a simple job to get one installed.
Many car models are small and compact in order to save on the cost of the cars manufacturing and fuel consumption. This gives an increased need to get some extra space in an easy way.
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If your car is more than 8 years old, it must be inspected no matter what. If it is less than 8 years, it is possible to have a towbar fitted on your vehicle without inspection. The following requirements must be met:
If you want to retrofit a detachable tow bar, the car must be inspected afterwards. If you are installing the tow bar, it must be done properly, and the car must be inspected before you are allowed to drive with anything attached.
Detachable or permanent tow bar
Many new cars make use of detachable tow bars. It provides a nice butt on the car when you are not pulling a trailer, while you have the advantage of being able to pull something extra for you when the need arises.
It takes no time to mount a detachable tow bar, so there is no apparent advantage of having a fixed, unless you do a lot of towing.
The trailer must have power, and it is through a round socket that can only be connected one way. The socket consists of 7 or 13 pins (7-pole or 13-pole) connected to the car socket. You must therefore when fitting decide whether it should be one or the other version. There are adapters that can be plugged in so that the socket gets the opposite number of tabs, so it's a minor problem, but you might as well get the model that fits what you need to pull.
7-pin socket is often used for trailers and old caravans, while 13 pole is used for newer caravans.
Remember to check the lights, number plate light, indicators and brake lights every time you put a trailer on. If it is defective, you risk being fined, so it is important to get it repaired at a quality garage before you begin driving with the trailer.
Besides trailers and caravans, you can get a lot of different equipment for your tow bar.
With a bike carrier, you can have bicycles mounted to your vehicle. You can also take the children's bicycles to school so they can ride home, or if you pick them up after football or ballet, and their bikes can be transported home.
A pram box has become popular, so the pram (or stroller) does not just hang on the bike carrier, and becomes dirty. It also provides space in the luggage compartment for other things.
You can have a luggage box put on the carrier. It can typically contain 250 to 580L, and it may typically weigh up to 60kg. There are different versions, so you should be aware of what data your luggage box has.
By having a luggage box on the towbar, your boot capacity is expanded in a more economical way than a roof box, as the fuel consumption is lower with a luggage box than a roof box.
The rules on how much weight you may drive with, are some of the most intricate rules that exist. However, there are some constitutive rules that are easy enough to remember.
Your driver's license will determine how much. If you have a regular B like most people, you may not drive with more than 3500 kg in total. The car's total weight + trailer gross weight should therefore in principle not exceed 3500 kg.
However, please be aware of exactly your car's maximum weight with a trailer, even though it may appear that the car and trailer does not exceed 3500 kg, the trailer may be too heavy for the car.
There are several specific rules, which you can find on the Police website.
In the UK, do maximum speed of 60mph on the motorway when driving with a trailer or caravan.
Always remember to check for road signs showing a different maximum speed, and always drive according to the circumstances!
Is your trailer insured?
When driving with a trailer or caravan, it is your car liability insurance that covers you. If you reverse into something, or use the trailer to make a claim in some other way, you are all covered.
But what if your trailer or caravan becomes damaged?
If you have borrowed money for a caravan, it will probably be subject to a full coverage car insurance, but if you have paid cash, it's your own choice.
If you drive with a caravan, you will often be required to have full coverage on your car insurance, expand to also cover awning, furniture and theft coverage. It is not certain your regular home insurance will cover when you are not home.
It’s a good idea to check with your home insurance and car insurance providers to ensure you have the right level of cover for any eventualities.
It's harder to reverse your car with a small trailer, than with a large. Remember, nobody has been able reverse with a trailer and do it right the first time, but practice makes perfect. Find a quiet area where you can practice without bothering anyone.
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