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Diy Towbar Fitting.....


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Do any/many of you still do this?

 

Thinking back to when we caravanned in the 80's early 90's it was pretty much the norm to fit your own tow bar, even twin electrics were not such a big deal really in them days. Of course splicing into the electrics of a modern car with 'Scotchlock' connectors is no doubt a no no. :o nowadays.

 

The easiest fit I think I had was fitting a Witter bar to a Mk. III Ford Escort to tow our 1984 Sprite Alpine. Four holes drilled in the rear panel and four in the spare wheel carrier and it was pretty much on.

 

Given how things have changed over the years is it considered feasible these days to even attempt a DIY tow bar fit? - particularly the electrics.

Martin. ..........

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Martin,

 

Some people on here are quite prepared to do it themselves, including the electrics. (Not me I hasten to add. I'd be terrified of damaging the onboard computer). I always use the manufacturer or a reputable independant towbar fitter, (Bank Farm Trailers here in South Wales. They've done about 5 cars for me and have also done 7 pin to 13 pin conversions.)

 

Regards, Mike.

2014 SsangYong Rexton W towing a 2017 Sprite Major 4EB. (After June 9th).

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As far as I am aware the differences in modern cars are mainly to do with 'type approval', this is actually slightly better as far as I am concerned as it means the holes for fitting the towbar are pre-drilled and prepared. The towbar itself should just be a ten minute bolt on job unless you have one of the akward cars that needs the bumper removed or cut.

 

Regarding electrics. Still not a massive issue, the main difference is that you should not splice into the cars wiring directly unless you are using these feeds to supply a suitable multi-way switch box. If you are using such a box then you should be fine. The big no-no is to try and supply the trailer wiring directly from the car lighting connections, even if some cars do support this it is not advisable.

You also will need to locate a switched and permanent live feed to supply the various components. The permanent live will ideally be fairly hefty to support modern caravans.

You can now purchase a vehicle 'dedicated wiring' kits for most vehicles. These are great but generally only supply the lighting circuit, not the auxilary circuits and some will still need to be fed through a dedicated lighting relay box.

 

The only other thing to consider is if your vehicle supports trailer control via the ESP system. If this is the case you may need to take a trip to a dealer to have this system enabled.

 

I did not fit my towbar but I did fit the electrics, purely as I have a lease car so I had to get it with a towbar but I would always do it myself in future, it's so easy. Takes a long time if you do it properly though. A good days work.

 

This is the wiring diagram I put together for my current car. As you can see, not very complex. It even turns the fog light off on the car and enables the van one instead. very happy with it.

 

Mazda CX 5 Towing wiring 2

Edited by dreadly

An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.

Mahatma Gandhi

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I think we are in a climate now of having this sort of thing professionally fitted, to think of the consequences if your towbar failed, also modern cars are more complicated and have sofisticated electronics, caravans and cars are much heavier and so there is much more strain on everything.

But if you want to fit your own, there is nothing to stop you, providing you know what you are doing and have the right tools.

Land Rover Discovery and Conquerer 630

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I considered doing this myself on our Peugeot 508 but when I worked out the cost and risks it wasn't worth. I booked it into Trident Trailers Maidstone and they fitted one in about 2 hours.

 

Fully fitted it was just under £600, which was a detachable towbar with a single 13pin socket + 2x7pin adaptor. Included was the programming of the car so that certain things were disabled when towing.

 

I was very pleased and picked up our new (s/h) caravan the next day confident that the towbar was fitted professionally.

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Do any/many of you still do this?

 

Thinking back to when we caravanned in the 80's early 90's it was pretty much the norm to fit your own tow bar, even twin electrics were not such a big deal really in them days. Of course splicing into the electrics of a modern car with 'Scotchlock' connectors is no doubt a no no. :o nowadays.

 

The easiest fit I think I had was fitting a Witter bar to a Mk. III Ford Escort to tow our 1984 Sprite Alpine. Four holes drilled in the rear panel and four in the spare wheel carrier and it was pretty much on.

p or dear depending on where you go.

Given how things have changed over the years is it considered feasible these days to even attempt a DIY tow bar fit? - particularly the electrics.

 

Hi there

 

I do and one ting that's different with modern cars is that you don't have to drill anything :) all the holes are already there and as to electrics, if you use car specific electrics it pretty easy,as again most of the connectors are there as well. The only issue you will have is that on many modern cars there are software changes that have to be made which means getting a pro to re-set the cars electrics. This can be a cheap set up depending on where you go! ( I used my local tow bar supplier /fitter to re-set the electrics of my 2010 MB C220 after I'd fitted the electrics myself.

 

The hardest part of fitting the tow-bar on mine was removing the rear bumper panel!

 

Jim

 

To give you a guide

"keep your motor running"

caravan: Avondale Avocet ( 2006) - tow car: Renault Laguna (2007) - play car: Mercedes 300SL (1988)

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Hi have fitted a towbar on to an old Ford Galaxy and did the electrics my self and it was fairly easy. ...now on the other hand I have a Renault Espace and there is no way I will do that. I just called a company called towbar2u. com and they were the cheapest by about £75 all in with a witter Towbar and single electrics. They came to my address within a few days and fitted it on my drive. Fab service. Cannot Fault them in anyway.

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Yesterday I ordered one for my C Class which I'll be fitting myself. I've gone for the easy option and bought a dedicated 13 pin wiring kit, but any I've done in the past I generally wired all in myself.

The other week I replaced the 7 Pin socket on our Defender and upgraded to 13 Pin, now that was very easy!

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Yesterday I ordered one for my C Class which I'll be fitting myself. I've gone for the easy option and bought a dedicated 13 pin wiring kit, but any I've done in the past I generally wired all in myself.

The other week I replaced the 7 Pin socket on our Defender and upgraded to 13 Pin, now that was very easy!

Should be easy once you've go the rear panel off :)

"keep your motor running"

caravan: Avondale Avocet ( 2006) - tow car: Renault Laguna (2007) - play car: Mercedes 300SL (1988)

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Interesting responses cheers.

 

I can see why some choose professional fitting but I concede I am tempted to go the DIY route using a dedicated wiring kit and getting the dealer to do any software ECU updates after fitting.

 

A lot though will depend the final choice of tow car and how many bodywork parts need removing.

 

Thanks again.

Martin. ..........

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Interesting responses cheers.

 

I can see why some choose professional fitting but I concede I am tempted to go the DIY route using a dedicated wiring kit and getting the dealer to do any software ECU updates after fitting.

 

A lot though will depend the final choice of tow car and how many bodywork parts need removing.

 

Thanks again.

Very much agree, the car itself has a big influence on the job. Also beware. Some towbar fitters will be tempted to splice into the live 12v feed in the boot of some cars for the auxiliary power socket, this is not up to the job required for a towbar supply but I have seen it time and time again from lazy fitters. Make sure you specify a decent feed directly from the battery using decent size cable to reduce voltage drop, ideally 8AWG or greater. Due to space problems I fitted two 4. 5mm cables, rather than one single feed cable, if you do this make sure that both are fused separately at source.

 

Also if the car has 'Start/Stop' or 'iStop' type technology I would personally advise that you also then fit an ignition switched feed and use this to switch a relay to give the ignition switched supply from your direct battery feed. This is opposed to using a voltage sensing relay. I say this because I have noticed some very strange voltage readings from my Stop/Start battery and it appears to be confusing the voltage sensing relay. The voltage remains very high for prolonged time after the ignition is switched off. this can cause a lot of relay chatter issues.

An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.

Mahatma Gandhi

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Just for info on the electrics, on my 2010 MB C220 CD1 (sport) with 13pin car specific kit from Towbars-UK: The instructions were great and the comms with the company ( I had an issue as to whether there was a problem with my "Sport" derivative with AMG body panels and uprated suspension) were excellent.

 

https://www. towbars-uk. co. uk/

 

Electrics were a doddle. All plug and play so to speak. All the bits (relays fuses connectors etc etc ) were either in the car's existing circuitry or in the kit, including such as labels to go in the boot to advise any mechanic that "stuff had been fitted".

 

ALSO the instructions on the towbar itself were good once you had the bits laid out in front of you and as I said previous it was simple to fit "once you get the rear body/bumper panel off :)

 

Would recommend them for quality price and customer service.

 

Jim

"keep your motor running"

caravan: Avondale Avocet ( 2006) - tow car: Renault Laguna (2007) - play car: Mercedes 300SL (1988)

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It was part of my job at a main car dealer as I fitted all accessories which included tow bars.

 

But that was back in the late 80's and now cars are getting so complex, both with electrics and bodywork.

 

I did fit my own tow bar on my Rover 75 but as I used an aftermarket electrics kit, I do not have the luxury of the indicator warning light on the dash but a warning beeper in the boot which is barely audible.

 

Next time I will use the proper manufacturers kit but these are sometimes horrendously expensive.

 

Looking at Audi for example it is going to cost approx. £1,000 for a tow bar & electrics.

2017 Mercedes Benz 220 CLS  AMG design Shooting Brake. 

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Cost me £326 for detachable towbar car spec electrics plus the £40 for the garage to do the CPU update. Worth DIY :)

"keep your motor running"

caravan: Avondale Avocet ( 2006) - tow car: Renault Laguna (2007) - play car: Mercedes 300SL (1988)

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£230 all in for mine, although it's not detachable. Mine is the S203 model before yours. I've done a bit of research and the software update is only needed if you've got parking sensors, which I don't :D, so that saves a bit more too.

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I use to fit my own and the wiring.

 

but started using tow bar centres when it involved removing rear bumpers and cutting them.

The last bar I fitted the holes were slightly out so I had to enlarge them, after that I thought let someone younger have the hassle, I don't need it and can afford to pay for it done anyway.

 

On the other hand DIY does usually ensure the bolts will remain tight, and full instructions come with the bar.

With the CX-5 the bumper does not have to be removed if fitting a witter, but listening to the cursing coming from the fitter I don't think its that easy to fit, although I suspect it was the first one he had fitted to a CX-5.

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The thing that is good about the DIY fitting is that you can paint the tow bar before fitting.

I know of one well known make that only come with primer on and it is only a very short time before they are rusty.

Regards, David
Peugeot 308 GT Premium, 1.5 diesel 2021

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The thing that is good about the DIY fitting is that you can paint the tow bar before fitting.

I know of one well known make that only come with primer on and it is only a very short time before they are rusty.

On the CX-5 the full exhaust system already has major rust at 1 year old. I suspect the towbar to outlast this vehicle. ...

An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.

Mahatma Gandhi

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On the CX-5 the full exhaust system already has major rust at 1 year old. I suspect the towbar to outlast this vehicle. ...

Yes I reported that at service but all they refereed to was the 3 year warranty.

 

All my recent cars over the last ten years all had exhausts that still looked new at . 5 years.

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The thing that is good about the DIY fitting is that you can paint the tow bar before fitting.

I know of one well known make that only come with primer on and it is only a very short time before they are rusty.

I paint mine then have it fitted.

 

Done that now for the last four cars.

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Yes I reported that at service but all they refereed to was the 3 year warranty.

 

All my recent cars over the last ten years all had exhausts that still looked new at . 5 years.

I don't want to go off thread but my Touran is an '07' reg and the exhaust system is still shiny! - I certainly would not buy another CX-5 with my own money, but that's an asside.

I also keep a tin of smooth hammerite in the garage and occasionally give such items a quick lick over with a brush to stop rust on the towbar and fittings. I have also been known to paint the ocassional suspension arm or component.

On the bolts that attach the towbar to the vehicle I have smothered some thick grease over the bolts and nuts to try and keep the dreaded rust at bay.

Edited by dreadly

An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.

Mahatma Gandhi

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I did the one on my C-Class at the weekend, and it was all very straightforward.

I had a flanged towbar, mainly as I like the option of being able to change the towball over between greased and none greased. It was made by Anker Towbars, came with simple instructions and went on just as it should. The fiddliest bit was getting the bumper on and off, but it wasn't anything too tricky.

For the electrics I used a dedicated wiring kit. It's the first time I've used one as I really didn't fancy trying to splice into the loom with this car. Again nice simple instructions which were easy to follow. The firewall had a number of spare gromits, so getting the power cable into the car was again very easy, and then I ran it along the trunking down the side where the exisiting wiring is.

Then for the moment of truth. Plugged the caravan in and all the lights worked. Pulled an indicator bulb out on the caravan, and cars warning screen popped up a message telling me the bulb had failed.

So at £230 all in I reckon I must of saved myself a minimum of £250 over paying someone to do it.

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I've done several cars, most with twin electrics (and more recently 13 pin electrics).

As others have said, the newer the car the easier it is generally. Dedicated electric kits make the electrical side of things childs play, it's almost 'plug and play' now.

I've not needed any software changes on any of my cars (volvos) as the dedicated (but 3rd party) kit informs the car when the van/trailer is attached and does the bulb repeater, fog light disabling as well as parking sensor disabling automatically.

 

On the two current cars i've also run a video feed via the unused pin on the 13 pin socket, through to a dash mounted screen, fed from a twin camera at the back of the caravan and my trailer. When the trailer etc isn't connected the screen is used for a reversing camera. None of this wiring is very difficult, just can be slow work.

2012 Lunar Quasar 546 towed by a 2008 Volvo XC90 D5.

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