If you have made few or no DIY modifications to your car, you may find fitting a towbar beyond your ability. However, those with moderate experience and understanding of vehicles should be able to fit a tow bar themselves. You can also check our towing weights guide here.
If you do not feel entirely confident about fitting a tow bar, enlist a garage or autocentre to do it for you. If you can fit it yourself, however, you will save several hundred pounds.
Note: Unless it’s a universal fitting, tow bar kits vary according to the vehicle they are designed for. Precisely how they are fitted also varies. The following is a rough guide only.
Refer to your manual to find out how to fit a tow bar to your car. If the manual does not cover the topic, contact your dealership or the manufacturer directly. We list our five favourite cars for towing here.
- A clean dry work area with lots of light
- Socket set
- Screwdrivers (Phillips head and flat) of various sizes/shank length
- Torque wrench
- Tape measure
- Cable ties to secure any wiring
Disconnect the car battery if you need to detach lighting units or any other rear components. Bear in mind that you may not need to remove any parts, depending on how your car is designed and where the accessory attachment holes are (in this case the accessory is of course the tow bar). It's easy to fix tow bars to some cars; others, not so much.
If required, remove any bumper supports. As is the case with many newer cars with plastic bumpers, your tow bar will in effect offer structural support.
Cut the bumper (if plastic): Your tow bar kit may come with a cut-out template for marking the bumper for cutting. Alternatively, you can measure and mark out the centre line yourself. Use a fine-blade hacksaw or a small cutting tool to cut the bumper.
Locate the mounting key-holes on the rear underside of your car (most vehicles will have them). Fit the tow-bar kit as per instructions. Keep the fitting loose to start with and tighten up the assembly only when it is correctly fitted.
Fit the loom, if supplied. This makes it possible for your car to control brakes/brake lights/trailer stability control on the caravan. For newer cars, looms are often vehicle-specific and interface with the car's electrics (current drain) so as to prevent the vehicle from thinking there is a fault. Official aftermarket looms should also ensure any warranty is unaffected. And as mentioned, if your car has Trailer Stability Control, this will be activated by using the correct aftermarket loom.
The soldering option: For older cars it may be possible to simply solder necessary electrical cables.
Replace the bumper and any other components you removed. Re-torque based on the manufacturer's guidelines.
Fit the trailer connector; attach the tow ball and fit the hitch to the receiver with the lock and pin. Once it's all fitted and hitched up, check to ensure trailer/caravan brake lights are working - and that trailer stability control (if available) is operating as it should.