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Guide to Towbars & Towing Electrics

In this guide brought to you by TowInfinity, we aim to give you an overview of how towbars work, the different types of towbars available as well as how to fit them. We also cover how to choose the correct towbar electrics for your needs.

Types of Towbar

One of the most important decisions to make when purchasing a tow bar is what type of neck you're after. Their are primarily 3 different types of towbar neck to choose from. Read our guide below to learn about the different towbar types on offer.

TowTrust Fixed Neck
Fixed Flange

The fixed flange is perfect for utility or comemrical vehicles. There are lots of alternative options when opting for a Fixed flange towbar. Aftermarket hitches such as adjustable couplings and bike racks can be fitted.

Towtrust Swan Neck
Swan Neck

The Swan Neck is one of the most common neck types used throughout Europe. With the strength of a traditional fixed flange type while having a sleeker and less intrusive design. The slim neck profile reduces the chance of this neck type inadvertently triggering your reversing sensors.

TowTrust Detachable

Detachable towbars are perfect for infrequent towers. Detachable towbars can be easily removed from your vehicle when not required, maintaining your vehicles stock appearance for the most part. Some detachables do require a larger bumper cut for the mechanism however.

How Towbars are Fitted?

Long gone are the days where towbar fitters would have to weld or fabricate a towbar to fit your vehicle. New towbars are never welded to your vehicles frame, but instead bolted to your vehicle using pre-specified points as provided by the vehicle manufacturer.

Fitting a towbar can be quite involved, often involving removing the rear bumper, lights and rear interior trim.

Electric Socket Types

If you want to tow on a public road, you'll need some sort of electrics to provide power for the lights on your trailer and optionally provide a permanent and switched power feed to your caravan.

7 Pin Socket (12N)

The 7 Pin socket is the traditional option, a 7 pin socket provides power to the following lights on your trailer: Brakes, Sidelights, Indicators and Fog. Consider this socket if you're going to only be towing trailers and don't require the auxillary power feeds that the other types below provide.

13 Pin Socket

The 13 Pin socket is the newest of the three, widely used and recommended over the Twin setup below in almost all instances. The 13 Pin Plug uses a more secure locking mechanism compared to the older 7N and 7S types. This creates a stronger and more water-tight seal. A 13 Pin socket powers all the lights that a 7 Pin does with the addition of the Reverse light. In addition, the 13 Pin socket provides two supplementary power feeds to power accessories in whatever you're towing (used primarily on caravans). One feed is provided as Permanent Power, and is available even when the engine on the towing vehicle is turned off. The other feed is tied to the ignition of your vehicle and provides power only when your vehicles engine is running.

Twin Sockets (12N + 12S)

A Twin Socket setup consists of both 7N and 7S sockets. Commonly found on older caravans, this was the primary method of getting supplementary power feeds to older caravans before the introduction of the 13 Pin Socket. Twin sockets can still be bought, however most dedicated kits won't give an option for Twin Sockets, so you might have to either go for a Universal kit or modify the dedicated one. The good news is older twin sockets can in most circumstances easily be converted to a 13 Pin socket.