When was the last time youtook a good look at your towbar? Not the towball and tongue, but the part that you don’t normally see because it is mounted on the underside of the towing vehicle’s chassis.
Towbars range from standard (for towing lightweight box trailers) through to heavy-duty models for boats, horse floats or caravans. Some have a removable ball mount, while others feature a slide-in slide-out tongue, allowing you to detach the ball when it’s not being used or to change the coupling more easily.
Know your limits
Your towbar will have a compliance plate displaying the model identification, trailer weight and ball weight capacities. It should suit the weight your vehicle is capable of towing and you need to understand what its limits are.
- Check your vehicle’s manual for details about its tow ratings. If you can’t find anything, get in contact with the dealer you purchased the vehicle from or look it up online.
- Know the Aggregate Trailer Mass (ATM) of your caravan or trailer which is the maximum it is allowed to weigh in transit (including water, fuel, food and luggage). This rating is set by the manufacturer and cannot be exceeded.
- Identify the towball weight of your fully-loaded caravan or trailer; this is the weight placed on the back of your car. It’s generally around 10 per cent of the ATM. If you’re unsure, take your vehicle and trailer to the nearest weighbridge.
- If you find that your towbar is not up to the weights you want to haul, you need to consider upgrading to a bigger vehicle. Here are the five-star rated vehicles.
Is it time to replace your towbar?
If you do a lot of heavy towing, the towbar might need to be replaced every few years. The bar itself might go on forever, but the pins and bolts are subject to wear and tear.
- Examine all the pins regularly to make sure they are not rusty or wearing out.
- Check that all of the bolts fixing the bar to the chassis are straight and screwed in properly.
Your towbar will generally last a lot longer if you keep it clean of dust and grime and don’t try to tow weights beyond its capacity.
Do you need insurance for your trailer?