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With apologies for raising what is probably a hoary old chestnut...

 

We have a caravan built in 2000, so not with the newest gear on the block.  The breakaway cable has the sort of clip on the end - there's bound to be a proper name for it - which looks like a well curled J, with a spring piece closing its open side. If that makes sense.

 

We picked our van up in 2016, fresh from tents and knowing nothing, when the dealer told us to attach the breakaway cable by looping it through the tow hitch bar then clipping back on itself.

So I did.

Then someone pointed to advice online saying this was all wrong, and against police advice, because the tow bar might simply come off, so I hooked it to the hole under the tow hitch, as advised there. It's a real pain to get off in a hurry, but I was Being Virtuous.

Yesterday our approved engineer serviced it, and explained that while it's advised to hook the carabiner style clips to the tow hitch, the J clips simply uncurl themselves under stress and so are useless in emergency if connected that way. They're meant to be clipped back on themselves, when they work properly.

 

So now I'm confused! The back-on-itself method is much easier to operate, and what he says makes sense.

But any clarification here would be welcome.

 

Thank you.

 

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Posted (edited)

The engineer is right.

The old style J clips are not strong enough to use just clipped to tow hitch and must be looed back on themselves and clipped to the breakaway cable.

The newer style Carabiner clips are meant to be clipped to the towbar mounting point.

Edited by Brecon

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The new carabiner type is to be fitted to a fixed point on the tow bar frame. This keeps the Dutch Police happy.

The older type is used for looping around the tow ball neck.

 

That's how I understand it.

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How can one tell an 'old' type from a 'new' type??

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The 'old' type is the J-shaped one with the flat spring clip (on the left) - and I think this was phased out on new vans last year, but is still available to buy. This cable always has to pass around the towbar assembly and clip back onto the cable.

 

The 'new' one is the caribiner type (on the right). This cable can either clip to a dedicated mounting point on the towbar or pass around the towbar assembly and clip back onto the cable.

 

image.png.407c1029d0dbca2c233647ecea0e762d.png

 

Richard, I think you'll find it much easier to clip the new type onto "the hole under the tow hitch".

 

John

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Just collected my new caravan and the dealer coupled me up and put the breakaway cable round the tow ball and clipped it onto the cable.

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, Gd485 said:

The new carabiner type is to be fitted to a fixed point on the tow bar frame. This keeps the Dutch Police happy.

The older type is used for looping around the tow ball neck.

 

That's how I understand it.

That is correct, I fitted a caribiner  type to mine because we visit the Netherlands a lot (we're going this weekend actually), it came with the clip type which is fine here in Germany. Not 100% sure but I believe the carabiner type are only law in the Netherlands if the outfit is registered there, they don't cost much and are easy to fit so I fitted one anyway.

 

 

https://www.how-to-towbar.com/2017/the-breakaway-cable-in-germany-the-netherlands-and-switzerland/

Edited by Borussia 1900

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Covered in great detail here:-

 

 

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8 hours ago, Richard_Y said:

With apologies for raising what is probably a hoary old chestnut...

But any clarification here would be welcome.

As you say, this subject has been debated ad nauseum, however this is such an important subject that it requires regular repetition.

Trailers fitted with brakes require a reliable method of applying those brakes in the event of the trailer becoming accidentally detached from the towing vehicle. This may be because the hitch has not been securely locked in place on the towball, or possibly by a detachable towball lock failing. A third and much less likely cause would be if the towbar itself were to fail mechanically.

A "breakaway cable" attached between the trailer braking mechanism and a secure point on the towing vehicle will ensure that the trailer brakes do operate under these circumstances. Once the trailer brakes have been applied, the cable itself is intended to snap, leaving the trailer brakes applied.

There are two common kinds of clip fitted to breakaway cables, the one that is variously known as a "spring", "J" or "Dog" clip, and the "carabiner" design. The former is intended to be used by passing the cable round a strong point on the towing vehicle and then attaching the clip back on the breakaway cable, while later can be fixed directly to a secure point on the towing vehicle. A designated fixing point is provided on later towbars but while some users still put the breakaway cable around the towball itself, it should be remembered that will be of no use if the towball itself detaches from the towbar frame, therefore may not fully meet the legal requirements.

Earlier towbars often did not always provide a fixing point for a breakaway cable, in which case sometimes one may be retro-fitted under one of the mounting bolts. I would advise that looping around the towball should only ever be used if there is no other option. 

An alternative to the breakaway cable is a second mechanical attachment that in the event of hitch failure will keep the trailer attached to the towing vehicle. For non-braked trailers this is often provided by a short chain that can take the full laden weight of the trailer, attached to both the towcar and the trailer.

Breakaway cable clips.jpg

 

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