How to choose the right tow bar

Before considering the tow bar itself, you will need to ensure that your car is suitable to tow the intended load. Your car’s “Vehicle Identification Number” (VIN) plate provides a guide, as should your owner's manual.

Tow Bar

Usually, this takes the form of four numbers; the first is the maximum weight of your vehicle when fully laden with fuel, luggage and passengers, the second is the maximum combined weight of car and trailer, the third is the maximum front axle load and the last number the rear axle load.
If you are still in doubt, your first port of call should be to a Protyre garage. Our qualified fitters can draw on years of experience to check these weights and the suitability of your vehicle.

Three types of tow bar

The most common type is the fixed flange ball tow bar. It is an enduringly popular choice for a caravan or heavy trailer and also allows you to carry a bicycle rack at the same time. This type of tow bar can easily be adjusted for the correct towing height and makes it easy to connect a bumper shield. At the other end of the tow bar is a pre-drilled plate that is straightforward to bolt into place.
The other two types of tow bar are called swan-necks; one is detachable and the other type is fixed. The advantage of the detachable version is self-explanatory. If the bar gets in the way, it is a very quick task to detach it and keep it in the garage. Similarly, it can quickly be replaced when needed without accessing bolts. A drawback of this type is that you cannot attach a bike rack and pull a trailer at the same time.
One notable advantage of fixed swan neck tow bars is that they don’t interfere with reversing sensors if you have them. Their disadvantages are that they are incompatible with bumper shields and like the detachable type, can only be used to support a bike rack or tow, but not both together.
If you tow regularly, or the trailer is cumbersome, you should also consider a weight distribution system (sometimes called a WDH) with spring bars. These require careful calculation of weights and weight distribution. For advice and assistance, please call your nearest Protyre outlet. You can book a free vehicle check online at the same time.

Look after your tyres

Whether you carry heavy loads in your vehicle itself or in a trailer, you are still subjecting your tyres to increased load. If you tow regularly, it is very important to fit extra load tyres and to have them checked for uneven wear that can be caused by issues with weight distribution.

All major brands including Pirelli, Falken, Sumitomo and Bridgestone offer XL tyres. The Sumitomo BC100 is an excellent budget choice and Sumitomo also offers an affordable winter tyre with XL rating, the Sumitomo WT200.

Finally, remember to inform your insurance company that you have fitted a tow bar. It generally makes little or no difference to your premium but could invalidate the insurance if you forget.

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