Tow Bars & Kits
Tow Hitches or Tow Bars
Tow Bars or Tow Hitches are the same thing though the terminology used to describe this simple device vary's quite a bit. A tow hitch or tow bar is a large, shaped lump of steel that bolts to the rear of your vehicle. It normally mounts to the rear chassis rails as it needs to be attached to the strongest part of the vehicle. They are usually rated in Kilograms (Kg) as that is how much weight they can pull without bending. This is important these days as what you tow cannot exceed the tow bar rating or vehicle towing capacity rating. (Both in Kg)
The tow bar, trailer hitch or tow hitch is usually tucked in behind the rear bumper so is hard to see. All that is visible is the ball mount, ball hitch, tow bar tongue or tow ball tongue sticking out of the middle of the bumper. These again have different names that mean the same thing depending on who taught you.
They can be taken off, especially if they block out the license plate which is illegal and you can be fined. Walking into one, usually at night, is a nasty surprise and a really bad bruise is a good outcome. They seriously hurt. Most are held in by a simple locking pin and are easily removed so you can put it in the back of the car or in the garage. You can also buy rubber protectors that go around the edge if you are leaving it on the car.
Popular Questions Asked
How do I choose a tow bar for my vehicle?
You need to look at why you are buying one. If it is simply to put a bike rack on your vehicle it will be different to I am planning a caravan holiday from Sydney to far north Queensland. So usage is vital. You need to know the towing capacity limit of what your vehicle can tow and make sure it does not exceed the weight of the trailer, boat or caravan you are planning to tow. You really need to do this before buying a boat, trailer or caravan as you may need to upgrade your vehicle to tow it.
If your vehicle already has a tow bar, check that it has the correct towing capacity for your needs. Some vehicles have different tow bar options based on the weight being towed.
Once you have sorted this out the next step is finding a tow bar to suit your vehicle that is rated above what you need to tow. Look for a kit that has the:
- Tow bar with the correct weight rating
- Tow ball mount
- Tow ball that will match the trailer coupling
- Wiring kit and plug to suit your vehicle and trailer
- Additional accessories like D Shackles, Tow ball cover or pin that locks if leaving the ball mount on the tow bar
Can I fit a tow bar myself?
You can and there are some kits that have really good instructions. They use existing vehicle mounting holes so there is no need for drilling or welding. Tow bars are heavy so I would say it is a 2 person job. The trailer plug wiring is the most complex part though a lot of vehicles now come with adaptors in their wiring looms. Doing some homework first is always a good thing as it may be easier for you to take it to a workshop for fitting.
What is a Swan Neck Tow Bar?
These are a European design and while the mounting part to the vehicle is similar the tow ball mount is different. It is a long slender curved metal piece with a ball integrated onto the end of it. They can stay on the bar or can be detachable and there are even some that fold under the vehicle.