Getting a tow bar fitted is a significant investment and there are lots of factors to take into consideration. In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at how to identify the right tow bar for you and what your fitting options are.

How to choose a tow bar

When you’re choosing a tow bar, here are some of the main points to consider:

  • Type: Tow bars come in two main types: swan neck and flange. Within these, you may be able to choose detachable or fixed versions, depending on the make and model of your vehicle.
  • Electrics: An electric kit syncs the safety features in your car with the electrics in whatever you’re towing (i.e. bike rack, trailer or caravan). Several varieties are available and it’s important to buy the correct type for your vehicle.
  • Cost and fitting: Tow bars are a significant investment, with prices starting from £399 for a fully fitted tow bar here at Halfords. The make and model of your vehicle, as well as its internal features, will have an impact on the complexity and cost of the fitting process.
  • Vehicle modifications: Fitting a tow bar sometimes requires interior and external components like bumpers to be removed or altered.
  • Insurance: Fitting a tow bar is classed as a vehicle modification and you’ll need to inform your insurance provider.

We explore these points in more detail below.

Types of tow bar

The two main types of tow bar are flange and swan neck, with both being available in fixed and detachable variations. Here are a few more details:

Flange tow bar

Flange tow bars – otherwise known as ‘bolt-on balls’ – are the traditional form of tow bar used in the UK. Simple and effective, these tow bars are attached to a flange plate, which is then attached to the underside of the vehicle.

Swan neck

The shape and design of this tow bar resembles a swan’s neck. It’s fixed directly to the underside of your vehicle and the neck curves upwards to provide the towing point. Swan neck tow bars tend to be slim and unobtrusive, and are less likely to trigger reversing sensors than other types.

Detachable and fixed

As the name suggests, tow bars can be either detachable (meaning they can be removed) or fixed (where they can’t). Detachable tow bars normally have a quick-release handle that makes them easy to remove from your vehicle, which makes them a more visually appealing option.

Electric kits for tow bars

You’ll need an electric kit to connect the system in your vehicle to the system in your caravan, trailer or bike rack. At Halfords we fit dedicated (or ‘vehicle-specific’) 7- or 13-pin electric kits.

Dedicated kits

Dedicated electric kits are designed to sync with the specific safety features in your particular make and model of vehicle. As modern vehicles typically have complex internal wiring systems, we believe dedicated wiring kits are the best option to ensure all the safety features continue to function as normal when towing.

7-pin electrics

7-pin electrics are the most common and most cost-effective connector type available on the market. They can be used with bike racks, lighting boards, trailers, older caravans and more, although you can’t use them to power appliances inside a caravan.

13-pin electrics

13-pin electrics are a more modern type of socket and can be used to power lights on a bike rack, trailer or caravan, as well as appliances inside a caravan. In fact, most modern caravans will come with a 13-pin connector as standard.

Tow bar fitting

How much does it cost to fit a tow bar?

Here at Halfords, we can offer a fully fitted tow bar from £399 through our Halfords Mobile Experts service. This service covers 80% of UK households and our talented technicians will come to you and home or at work, taking all of the hassle out of installation process.

Will my vehicle need to be modified when I have a tow bar fitted?

It’s important to be aware that fitting a tow bar may require interior or exterior modifications to be made to your vehicle (for example, your bumper may need to be removed or altered). Your vehicle’s internal safety features will also need to be configured correctly to work with the new tow bar. Both of these factors can have an impact on how long the fitting process takes and how much it costs.

How can I book a tow bar fitting?

To book a tow bar fitting with Halfords Mobile Experts, start by visiting our locations page to check that our mobile vans cover your area.

Then head to our tow bar fitting page and enter your vehicle’s registration number. You’ll be shown suitable options for your vehicle and can select the one that meets your requirements. You can also choose your electric kit, then enter your details to submit a booking request.

Book a tow bar fitting

Will installing a tow bar affect my car or van insurance?

Having a tow bar installed is classed as a vehicle modification and so you’ll need to let your insurance provider know. If you don’t do this, you run the risk of your policy being invalidated in the event of a claim.

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