Fitting a towbar is much more complicated than you might think. It's not as simple as attaching it to your rear bumper and you're ready to go. Towbar fitting requires precision and expertise. So, while we can provide advice on how to fit a towbar, it should only ever be followed by a professional fitter along with the fitting instructions that come with each towbar.
In this guide we will look at:
- How to fit a towbar
- How to wire a towbar
- How are towbars fitted?
- Can I fit my own tow bar?
How to fit a towbar
Every towbar that we supply comes with step-by-step instructions on how to fit it. These should be followed regardless of your fitting experience because every car is different so they have different fitting requirements. Modern cars can be especially complicated as they have complex electrical work, so it can be tricky if you don't know what you're doing.
Before you start, you should read the instructions thoroughly, check you have all of the right parts and make sure you have all of the tools required to complete the fitting.
1, Prepare your car
You may need to remove the rear bumper and even the exhaust to access the mounting holes in the chassis, but this is entirely dependent on the car you are working on. Some cars also require a bumper cut in order for the towbar to fit correctly, so you should also bear this in mind.
2, Remove rubber covers and clean surfaces
Once you have removed the bumper and made relevant bumper cuts, ensure that all surfaces are clean and rubber covers have been removed first. Next, you need to bolt the brackets into the bolt holes and install the main crossbar to the fitting brackets.
3, Install the main crossbar
Installing the crossbar will be specific to each vehicle as the bolt holes will be in different places which is why you should follow your specific instructions. When all of the bolts are in place, use a torque wrench to achieve the correct tightness and seal the seams to prevent water from getting in.
4, Attach the towball housing
If you have a detachable style, you should attach the housing next to the sub-structure of the towball. It is vital that you follow the specific instructions for your towball here as installation of the towball can vary depending on whether it is fixed, detachable, retractable, flange or swan neck.
Reattach the bumper and install the towball
Once the towball is in place, use the torque wrench again to adjust it to the correct tightness. Installing the towball is usually the last step once the bumper is back in place.
Please note that this is generalised guidance and you should always refer to the fitting guide that comes with your towbar and have it fitted by a professional.
How to wire a towbar
Wiring a towbar takes place during the fitting. This is an intricate process which involves removing car parts and feeding wires beneath the car so you should only attempt wiring it if you know what you are doing. Here are some of the steps you should follow.
Find your entry points
Test the electrical circuits in the car first to make sure everything is functioning properly then disconnect the battery terminals to perform the work safely. You should also work out where your entry points will be through the boot and the bonnet and try to avoid drilling additional holes where possible.
Connect the electrical socket and main cable
Start by connecting the electrical socket to the wiring loom in the loop through a rubber grommet. Once you've done this, you need to attach the main cable to the fuse box, following the route you identified earlier to the engine box.
Connect all cables to the fuse box
Using existing holes where you can, run the cables up into the boot and secure all of the connections so that the towbar links to the main wiring loom. When you connect the wires to your vehicle's internal fuse box you may need to change the fuse. You might also need to fit an electrical relay and voltage control relay to sit beneath the panel in the boot.
Test the lights and tidy up
Finally, you should tidy up all cables, fit and secure them in the boot then test all of the lights are working. You will need a Light Mate Test to do this, which is why the work should be carried out by a professional who will have this equipment to hand. Once you are satisfied that everything is in full working order and connected safely, you can reattach the boot panels.
How are towbars fitted?
Towbars are fitted to the back of your car, beneath the bumper. But it is not just as simple as buying any towbar, attaching it however you think it should be fitted and getting on your way. You need to find the right towbar, a reputable fitting service and a fitter who will follow precisely step-by-step instructions about how to fit it.
Fitting is much easier to do if the vehicle is mounted. This is one of many reasons why the work should be completed in a garage or by a mobile fitter who has the right equipment. It also takes a few hours so you need to ensure that the mounting points are easily accessible for the entire fitting process.
Towbar fitting involves removing car parts and sometimes making cuts, drilling holes and other modifications to your vehicle. It also involves some complex electrical work. With this in mind, it is important that towbars are only ever fitted by professionals who know exactly what they are doing.
Can I fit my own towbar?
The short answer is no. Unless, of course, you are a professional fitter.
Anyone could fit their own towbar if they really wanted to by following the fitting instructions provided with the towbar. But, without the right knowledge and expertise, you have no way of knowing whether it has been fitted safely or correctly. Not only is fitting it by yourself a huge safety concern, but you could also be invalidating the towbar or car manufacturers warranty by doing the work yourself.
Fitting a towbar to your car is no easy task, and should never be done by an amateur. You can purchase your towbar, vehicle-specific electrical kit and towbar fitting in one simple package from Witter Towbars and even have it fitted at a time and place to suit you.