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Johnaldo

Electrically deployable towball (particularly on XC Volvos)

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I’ve been ringing around to get some ideas of the cost of fitting a towbar & electrics to a Volvo XC60 (new type).

 

The first quote came back from the local Volvo dealer at around £1250 … I was rather taken aback, having paid less than half  that to them just 3 years ago on my V60.

 

So I said that I didn’t require a removable one, fixed would be fine.  But the dealer informed me that Volvo now only fit electric-deployable towbars to MkII XC60s. He rambled on about problems with the electrics (not logical) and stories of towbars breaking away from the backend (apocryphal?)

 

I got a similar quote at another dealer (without the stories - just that ‘it’s policy’); but Halfords and a local fitter were happy to fit any type that I’d like … and at much cheaper cost.

 

I don’t mind paying for a good quality product and service, but I don’t like to be hoodwinked, and I’m afraid that’s rather what this felt like to me. Also, I don’t want or need an electric towball as I’m lucky to be fit enough to attach my removable version, and I just see an extra motor as something that can go wrong and leave you stranded (as I witnessed at Castleton club site last November).

 

Has anyone else had a similar experience or heard similar stories - with Volvos or any other manufacturer?

 

John.

 

 

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By coincidence our new to us 2018 XC60 is having a removable towbar fitted today by a local specialist. They did not offer a electric one and although had several types of bar highly recommended a removable one. I will ask them about a electric one when I drop it off in a bit and will let you know.

 

i did speak to a chap at our storage who has a late V70 and he has had trouble with his factory fitted towbar, not extending and clamping into place properly, even to the point where once with the van hooked up it detached itself luckily he was on the entrance road to the storage yard, despite a few gos to sort it Volvo did Chang it for a manual removable one.

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When I bought my 2018 V90 last year from a Volvo dealer they would only fit a genuine Volvo towbar (electrically retractable) as they didn't fit non-genuine Volvo accessories.  I had a Brink swan neck fixed towbar fitted and a PF Jones dedicated wiring kit for around £400.

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Based on my experience, I think that's about the going rate.  My (then) new VW Touareg - 5 years ago - cost over £1200 for a dealer fitted (fixed swan-neck) towbar and electrics and having established both through the dealer and another independent garage that VW would not honour the warranty if a relevant fault occurred as a result of the towbar not being dealer-fitted, I didn't have much option.

Added to which, they also wanted an extra £850 to fit an upgraded cooling fan  - but since I argued that the car was advertised with a towing limit of 3.5 tons with no mention of the need to fit the larger fan, it was done FOC.

At least I was confident that being dealer-fitted - everything worked as it should.

Ironically - if I had ordered a towbar during build, it would have cost £750 and come with the upgraded fan.

Edited by richardandros

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If you go down the 3rd party towbar route do def consider having them fit a genuine Volvo wiring kit so that the car can adjust certain parameters as aware towball is in use. I’m no expert but I do know the genuine kit will disable the rear park sensors + side collision avoidance system (if you have it fitted) but I also believe it alters gearbox and braking parameters to allow for the expected additional power/stopping required when towing what could be a weighty trailer. Also the new SPA models are very complex and if not a specific Volvo loom and you encounter electrical/sensor issues you could find yourself with Volvo blaming the towbar fitter and vice versa And you being stuck in the middle between a rock and a hard place. I know from experience how good the new Volvo models are but how the various sensors are extremely sensitive.

Had factory fitted swinging tow bars on previous VW and current Volvo XC90.

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My brother has a factory fit swinging towbar employed by a button in the boot-but manual move up and out of the way-we're very jealous-lovely neat bit of kit with the electrics nice and accessible on the side.  Not cheap though!

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I thought you got a free tow ball and discount on new Volvos bought through the CMC.

 

I have an electric deployable on mine and have just deployed it from the front screen in the car, it actually adjusts the rear camera to show it coming out.

 

Don’t know if I can keep that picture on whilst hooking up.

 

Ian

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26 minutes ago, IanV8 said:

I thought you got a free tow ball and discount on new Volvos bought through the CMC.

 

I have an electric deployable on mine and have just deployed it from the front screen in the car, it actually adjusts the rear camera to show it coming out.

 

Don’t know if I can keep that picture on whilst hooking up.

 

Ian

I read it as if the OP had already bought the car Ian, but maybe not?

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I had a factory fitted electric tow bar fitted to my new V60.  I think it cost about £1100.

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A number of manufacturers only offer an electrically-deployable type as a factory-fit option - in most cases they've left more conventional towbars to the third parties, even though they sometimes badge those as their own.

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Just been and collected the XC60 from Trident Trowing in Maidstone, who incidentaly have made a very neat and tidy job. They have fitted a Tow Trust detachable swan neck bar with Volvo specific wiring harness for the princely sum of a smidge over £600.

 

I asked about electrical bars and they said that the only time they fit these type of bars is if its for the local Volvo dealers and very very rarely for private punters, mainly down to cost, he quoted just over £1300.

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8 minutes ago, Jacko1 said:

Just been and collected the XC60 from Trident Trowing in Maidstone, who incidentaly have made a very neat and tidy job. They have fitted a Tow Trust detachable swan neck bar with Volvo specific wiring harness for the princely sum of a smidge over £600.

 

 

Did they re-code yours so the factory towing warnings & stuff work with it?  Mine had a dedicated harness fitted (from PF Jones) that was a full 13 pin plug-in system BUT apparently the car cannot be recoded to recognise this (confirmed by both PF Jones and Volvo).  Instead there is a control module in the boot with an audible buzzer for indicators.  The problem I had with mine was that the only cut & splice was for the fog-light cut-out when towing, this requires the fog light feed cutting and running into/out of the towing harness.  The fog light feed is a black/yellow wire.  As is the fuel gauge feed.  Both run through the same plug in the boot...…….  Yep, when I plugged the caravan in the fuel gauge dropped to zero!  Easily sorted.

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The VW swivel tow bar is £732 if ordered at the same time as you order the car. The dealer lowered this price as part of the deal. This includes pins 9&10 which are in the factory wiring and fused in the car's system.

The car is also coded to VW requirements to get all the safety features operating correctly.

Overall I received a genuine VW tow bar, factory fitted, with the same warranty as the car for less than an independent would have charged.

 

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slight thread drift, but my XC60 has Volvo swing down tow-hitch, with Volvo electrics. All fitted by dealer, and programmed into the cars systems. (this setup includes permanent and switched 12v by default)

When hitched up, a safety system "Trailer assist" becomes active, reversing sensors and blind spot sensors disable, but the best thing of all, is the "trailer lamp test" function. At a press of a button, the trailer lights go through a sequence to check each circuit individually, and collectively. When hooking up, it means a full light test can be done without assistance.

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not a volvo, but we had one on the Kuga, so much easier to do. We had a removable one before but it got too heavy for me.  I think the Kuga cost £650 for the electric one. 

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Johnaldo, dealer responses seem to vary.

My experience between 2012 and 2016 fwiw with Volvo main dealers was:-

- one  said the Volvo deployable was factory fit only, not dealer fit

- another said retro-fit was no problem but the price quoted was about £200 more than the factory option (understandable)

another said I could have a compatible bar of my choice fitted elsewhere and they would wire it up using Volvo electrics and then update the software accordingly .

I had a Witter detachable fitted, went back to the Volvo dealer and paid them to do the electrics/electronics and saved just under £500.   Ok, it wasn't deployable  but I still had the benefit of the Volvo electrics/electronics including the lamp tests and fault warnings etc. 

 

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That's interesting Joanie.  Was that a retro fit?

Last year I was told by a Ford main dealer that electric ones were factory fit only so I had a Ford (made by Brink) detachable one fitted by the main dealer.  They have to remove the rear armature ( quite a big lump of girder which they gave me) and the bar replaces it.   They were doing some sort of special offer at the time and it cost about £530 I think.    Perhaps there was some salesmanship going on.

Are you happy with the your electric one so I know for future reference.   

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we ordered it with the new car , so factory fit. It really is so much easier for me to do as there's no real weight in it for me to lift, but because you cannot remove it , it does get a lot of rust on it , however once we have removed the worse of it at the start of the season, a quick rub with the green scourer each trip does the job. 

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3 hours ago, GaryB1969 said:

 

Did they re-code yours so the factory towing warnings & stuff work with it?  Mine had a dedicated harness fitted (from PF Jones) that was a full 13 pin plug-in system BUT apparently the car cannot be recoded to recognise this (confirmed by both PF Jones and Volvo).  Instead there is a control module in the boot with an audible buzzer for indicators.  The problem I had with mine was that the only cut & splice was for the fog-light cut-out when towing, this requires the fog light feed cutting and running into/out of the towing harness.  The fog light feed is a black/yellow wire.  As is the fuel gauge feed.  Both run through the same plug in the boot...…….  Yep, when I plugged the caravan in the fuel gauge dropped to zero!  Easily sorted.

I hope so... Am going to the caravan tomorrow to make sure everything is working, so will look out for the zero fuel gauge. On our older XC60 with the bar fitted by the same company, the reversing sensors still worked with caravan on the back but they were easily switched off, but it did charge and the fridge worked. I think they did a semi re-programme , but then just afterwards  I had it re chipped so whatever programme they put it was overidden apparently by the re-map.

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Our Volvo dealer was offering an electrically deployable Volvo Towbar for around £950 a week or so ago. The new XC60 has some oddities with the electrics on mine (Volvo fit towbar) e.g. the ATC won`t start up until you open the boot (or door boot being nearest) and wake the car up. Each time the car is restarted say at a fuel stop etc the ATC self tests again. The fridge which worked fine on the previous car doesn't stay cold on this Volvo I have had it all tested and am told all is wired correctly i.e. fridge is wired, whether this is down to these smart alternators or the fridge has decided not to work on 12V I have not ascertained. 

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Not on a a Volvo but the factory electric tow bar on my G01 BMW X3

 

 

Who's says tow bars can't be cool lol

PS £850 factory fit option

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That's how all tow bars should be.

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On 13/02/2020 at 19:34, Bristle Hound said:

Not on a a Volvo but the factory electric tow bar on my G01 BMW X3

 

 

Who's says tow bars can't be cool lol

PS £850 factory fit option

Never get tired of watching your vid BH 😄

The BM one is cool, although £800 becomes £2000+ retro fitted 😬

Detachable Wesfalia one from exactly the same fitted that my BM dealer uses was just over £700 with all the compatible electrics (you know this already BH haha)

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I have a removeable towball on my Sorento and can easily see the solidity of it's fit into the socket and check the connection onto the towbar each time we use it. 

Is it just me but there seems to be too many moving parts on this tow ball that you cannot see or easily inspect. I much prefer seeing something that is solid and which visually you can inspect to hopefully ensure everything is well with the towball, especially when you are hanging up to 2 tonne on the back of it. Also not so keen on the electric cable harness being moved backwards/upwards each time the towball is deployed. It certainly keeps the rear of the car looking tidy but time will tell to see if there are any potential issues.

 

Alan

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57 minutes ago, AlanS said:

I have a removeable towball on my Sorento and can easily see the solidity of it's fit into the socket and check the connection onto the towbar each time we use it. 

Is it just me but there seems to be too many moving parts on this tow ball that you cannot see or easily inspect. I much prefer seeing something that is solid and which visually you can inspect to hopefully ensure everything is well with the towball, especially when you are hanging up to 2 tonne on the back of it. Also not so keen on the electric cable harness being moved backwards/upwards each time the towball is deployed. It certainly keeps the rear of the car looking tidy but time will tell to see if there are any potential issues.

 

Alan


:Plus1: Alan.

 

When I started this thread this was one of my worries - there seems to be much more that can go wrong with a deployable ball.

 

My other worry was the apparent ‘misdirection’ from the dealers as to what can and can’t be fitted.

 

John

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