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BMW Factory Fit Towbar Electrics

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I know that the BMW factory fitted towbar comes without the fridge or battery charging connected but I'm a little concerned about the Alko Trailer circuit.

 

Is there anyone who can tell me what the situation is?  I'm thinking of an X3 but I think the answer would be the same for any recent car.

 

Many thanks in advance.

 

 

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Mine was a 2011 X3 3.5i that I had towbar and wiring fitted. Only ran all the lights , no ATC or fridge etc had to have that done extra. Cost me approx £280 a lot of wires run up into engine bay with relays etc. All worked ok.

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It seems that the BMW factory fit towbar has its own stability function so my insurance would not be affected.

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44 minutes ago, Orange said:

It seems that the BMW factory fit towbar has its own stability function so my insurance would not be affected.

 

It’s called something like “trailer assist”, i’ve got it on my 520D and if you’re towing and it detects the trailer start to snake it applies the brakes on different wheels to bring it under contract, it is completely independent of any trailer or caravan stability control. Not having complete electrics on the factory towbar is a pain!

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If you are concerned about ATC, then don't be. It will be fully ooerational and certainly in my 4 series, fused correctly.

No fridge supply, so therefore no battery charging either.

 

As for BMW's stability program, it does operate! I've just had a rather blustery 100 mile trip with my (empty) caravan. This journey did result in a few exclamations of dismay from my wife (!). Cross winds on suddenly exposed dual carriageway causing some quite marked twitching. For the first time ever, I have had the traction/stability light illuminate briefly a couple of times. It didn't seem to do much to be honest and the twitching was damped quite well. At no time did the ATC kick in.

 

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1 hour ago, AlwynMike said:

If you are concerned about ATC, then don't be. It will be fully ooerational and certainly in my 4 series, fused correctly.

No fridge supply, so therefore no battery charging either.

 

As for BMW's stability program, it does operate! I've just had a rather blustery 100 mile trip with my (empty) caravan. This journey did result in a few exclamations of dismay from my wife (!). Cross winds on suddenly exposed dual carriageway causing some quite marked twitching. For the first time ever, I have had the traction/stability light illuminate briefly a couple of times. It didn't seem to do much to be honest and the twitching was damped quite well. At no time did the ATC kick in.

 

 

Thanks for that. I found that the MCC insurance doesn’t accept BMW’s stability control for a discount. I was therefore faced with a bill of up to £1500 to have the car wiring ‘completed’ or just have the discount taken off my insurance and pay an extra £85 a year which would have been my choice.

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, GaryB1969 said:

 

It’s called something like “trailer assist”, i’ve got it on my 520D and if you’re towing and it detects the trailer start to snake it applies the brakes on different wheels to bring it under contract, it is completely independent of any trailer or caravan stability control. Not having complete electrics on the factory towbar is a pain!

 

Do you know when this became a thing?

 

Ours is a 2012 with factory fit towbar and I'm not aware of it. I'm a bit confused as to how our works too as ours only be with the basic wiring - we had it upgraded to power the ATC and fridge and charger 

Edited by svimes

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18 minutes ago, svimes said:

 

Do you know when this became a thing?

 

Ours is a 2012 with factory fit towbar and I'm not aware of it. I'm a bit confused as to how our works too as ours only be with the basic wiring - we had it upgraded to power the ATC and fridge and charger 

 

No, sorry. Mine is a 2016 520 and it’s the first (and last) BMW for me. It mentions the stability bit in the manual but I don’t know when they started using it.

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Had a detachable bar with full electrics (BMW harness) for less than 400 quid (OK, Nearly six years ago) with a lifetime warranty (as long as I keep the car) on the bar and electrics. Powers all the lights, fridge, battery stability system etc.

 

Can`t believe how much people are happy to pay............

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Some BMW’s without a factory fitted towbar require s cooling upgrade if fitted with an aftermarket towbar which (if done) bumps the cost up beyond the price of the factory option. I lease my car and the total lease cost of the factory option over three years is less than paying for an aftermarket towbar. For me the factory option is the only way

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My 4 series retractable was a £750 option. At the time, I could have fitted a detachable Westfalia for just over £600. Plus coding. The extra £150 was a no brainer for me - even though I now have no fridge/charging from the car!

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17 hours ago, GaryB1969 said:

 

It’s called something like “trailer assist”, i’ve got it on my 520D and if you’re towing and it detects the trailer start to snake it applies the brakes on different wheels to bring it under contract, it is completely independent of any trailer or caravan stability control. Not having complete electrics on the factory towbar is a pain!

 

Many brands have a different trailer map in their ESP software - but need dedicated wiring loom to activate it.

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15 hours ago, Orange said:

 

Thanks for that. I found that the MCC insurance doesn’t accept BMW’s stability control for a discount. I was therefore faced with a bill of up to £1500 to have the car wiring ‘completed’ or just have the discount taken off my insurance and pay an extra £85 a year which would have been my choice.

 

Or go to Saga insurance for £230 for exactly same cover as MCC for £410!

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9 hours ago, AlwynMike said:

My 4 series retractable was a £750 option. At the time, I could have fitted a detachable Westfalia for just over £600. Plus coding. The extra £150 was a no brainer for me - even though I now have no fridge/charging from the car!

 

My Audi's factory retractable bar was about £650 which I thought was pretty good value, it was only partially wired as well but I got the dealer to include the extra wiring as part of the deal.

 

He said it was a cheap/easy upgrade (think they farmed it out to a towbar specialist) so there's probably the option to get it fully wired if you want to.  

 

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14 minutes ago, Steve05 said:

 

My Audi's factory retractable bar was about £650 which I thought was pretty good value, it was only partially wired as well but I got the dealer to include the extra wiring as part of the deal.

 

He said it was a cheap/easy upgrade (think they farmed it out to a towbar specialist) so there's probably the option to get it fully wired if you want to.  

 

 

Yes. I'll do it myself when I get the time/inclination.

I've wired my van so the battery charges from the car. No fridge but I don't use it on 12v so no loss to me.

 

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When we were changing our car in 2015, the choice was between a BMW and a Mercedes.  The factory-fitted towbar option was about the same price on both, but while the Mercedes came with fully wired electrics, the BMW dealer said that I would need to pay for the additional wiring harness and 2 hours labour and no, he wouldn’t include it in the deal.  Why BMW choose not to fully wire the plug in the factory at minimal extra expense but produce a separate wiring harness for fitment by the dealer at an additional cost of about £250 is beyond me.

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Got the car today. The circuit for trailer control is active. Thanks for all your help.

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11 hours ago, Orange said:

Got the car today. The circuit for trailer control is active. Thanks for all your help.

Enjoy the car - and caravan!

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I have a 2018 G31 5 series touring which was originally released in 2017. Assuming you are buying the new X3 ie G01, that was a later release in 2018, I would think your towbar wiring spec would be the same as mine.  The wiring on mine is complete and functional including the ATC, the fridge and battery charging circuits fresh from the factory without intervention by the dealer.

 

Possibly of interest to BMW owners with an aftermarket towbar installation, I used to have an F31 3 series Touring and installed a Westfalia aftermarket towbar which I believe is the OEM recommended fit.  The installer was the one used by my BMW dealer. All seemed to work ok including fridge and battery charge.  However, having now used my 5 series, I note that as soon as you engage D(rive) with the van on the back, you get a warning message about having a trailer connected and driving accordingly.  The 3 series never did this.  I think therefore that there is a possibility that the car based trailer stability control was never engaged on the 3 series because the car didn’t ‘know’ that there was a trailer attached.  In fact, there was never any indication that the van was connected to the car.  It’s only a theory, but one I would have wanted to check if I’d known then what I know now. 

 

Hope me this helps.

 

Ian

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