Skip to main content

It might feel as if a towbar is just a towbar and that’s that, but of course, it’s never that simple. There are three types of towbar available: fixed, detachable and retractable, and even variations and choices to be made within certain categories.

So, should you choose a fixed towbar?

The first thing to remember with a fixed towbar is that it’s not discreet. It’s there all the time, it’s always visible, and it’s easy to bang into. However, it’s also likely to be the most affordable option.

If you think you’ve settled on a fixed towbar, the next choice is between a swan neck towball which is a single unit, or a fixed flange ball which is a towball and tow neck bolted together.

You could simply base your choice on aesthetics, but also consider that swan necks are not compatible with bumper shields or cycle carriers and tend to be more compatible with parking sensors and Alko stabilisers (which help to minimise swaying when towing a caravan).

Fixed flange balls are usually a little more versatile and less expensive, but it might be that the bumper design of your vehicle makes the decision for you.

Whichever you choose, you will also need an electric kit for your towbar. These kits synchronise the electricity in both vehicles so that lights on the main vehicle are connected to the lighting board of the trailer, caravan, or bike rack.

There are two main types: 13 pin kits which are required for caravans or trailers needing a permanent electricity supply and for many newer makes and models of towing vehicle, and 7 pin kits which are usually suitable when you are pulling a trailer. Either way, it’s a legal requirement when towing.

Remember to factor installation costs into your budget and even you’re tempted not to always use a professional fitter for safety and peace of mind, and check whether your insurance company needs to be informed.