10/04/2011
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Towbars for caravanners - 2011 update

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Current towbar equipment - our findings

Click on the links below for details of towbars for major cars
Land Rover Discovery Kia Sorento
Audi A4 Hyundai

Without doubt factory fit towbars are the best you can get. Not only because they’re custom fitted within the build process, but more importantly they’ll often have oil coolers fitted if the car is an automatic whilst engine brains are fettled letting anti skid control, ABS and other stability devices understand they must behave differently when it detects a trailer.

But after all that you’ll still find you can’t have a factory fit towbar from Land Rover with euro standard 13 pin socket. And although you can order your brand new Nissan with virtually any sort of towbar, no towbar comes from the Nissan factory with all options fitted at the supplying dealer. That includes all electrical prep too. Nissan certainly aren’t alone here either.

Beware too that in accessory catalogues prices are usually for seven pin electrics where 13 pin can be more expensive. On top of that you’ll find a module or teaching kit is extra (£96 Ford S-Max) but essential to update parking sensors and vehicle stability systems. Again a problem a factory fit towbar won’t have.

We only found Peugeot kept things simple, with a single detachable towbar available and price that included all electrics.

We haven’t included N&S twin electrics here as we can’t see why anybody would want their vehicle fitted with an inferior and old system when a cheap adaptor lead is available if their caravan or car is wired in the old format. That's why Land Rover surprises us so much with its factory fit approach.

Another surprise? BMW wanted £475 for the towbar and £271 for the electrics. And some 3 series Touring models required a updated and larger cooling fan at a whopping £463. It’s a part you wouldn’t get quoted for by your local towbar independent fitter but how long would the car last when towing strenuously. Your warranty would be shot too.

Best advice is to start at the main dealer. Work out exactly what you need, that’s type of towbar, type of electrics and if there are any add-ons needed to finish the job. then get them to quote for labour. Then work back to see if the independents can do it cheaper.

But a real lesson here is if you can get a factory fit unit then do so. BMW’s £640 for a top end premium electric retractable easily beats its £1900 for a retro non electric unit including fitting.

Feature: How to choose a towbar click here

Towbar info for these top towcars:

Audi A4 Avant towbar facts <click here>
BMW 3 Series Touring towbar facts <click here>
Citröen C5 Tourer towbar facts <click here>
Ford S-Max towbar facts <click here>
Hyundai ix35 towbar facts <click here>
Kia Sorento towbar facts <click here>
Land Rover Discovery towbar facts <click here>
Nissan X-Trail towbar facts <click here>
Peugeot 3008
towbar facts <click here>
Skoda Superb Estate towbar facts <click here>
Volvo V70 D5 towbar facts <click here>

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