E class Estate

Mar 14, 2005
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so on the advice of two Mercedes dealers i opted away from buying a CLS to tow our swift Challenger 530. So we've gone in for a 17 plate E class 220d estate. having traded in our 2010 model which we trust and know is a decent tow car.

So I followed the Caravan club deal to Witter and it says a Witter or Westfalia towbar needs to be programmed by the manufacturer

queried it with witter and they confirmed this.

two Merc dealers say they dont do it and i must have Merc towbar at £2600 - i have the quote to prove it

Brink say it will be fine

so what does and doesn't need tweaking with a program change? IS it necessary, is it legal not to have it done ?

what happens next - which way should i go ?

thank you

Neil
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Neil_5041165 said:
so on the advice of two Mercedes dealers i opted away from buying a CLS to tow our swift Challenger 530. So we've gone in for a 17 plate E class 220d estate. having traded in our 2010 model which we trust and know is a decent tow car.

So I followed the Caravan club deal to Witter and it says a Witter or Westfalia towbar needs to be programmed by the manufacturer

queried it with witter and they confirmed this.

two Merc dealers say they dont do it and i must have Merc towbar at £2600 - i have the quote to prove it

Brink say it will be fine

so what does and doesn't need tweaking with a program change? IS it necessary, is it legal not to have it done ?

what happens next - which way should i go ?

thank you

Neil

A Brink towbar fitting service in Bristol used to receive the new MB for fitting the towbars as the dealers didn’t do the work. My Skoda was coded by the Witter outlet but I did specify the OEM harness too. Same with a friends new Santa Fe that was a specialist towbar fitter. Aren’t Witter and Westfalia all the same group now. Brink is Thule. Best would be to find which one supplies the OEM MB towbar and talk to them.
 
Mar 19, 2019
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All the towbar fitters I talked to were happy to reprogram my car, a 2016 GLE.

I cant speak about the E class, but can tell you about the GLE with an aftermarket towbar, fitted by a normal towbar fitter, with a car specific wiring kit.

I sat in the car with my fitter and he showed me on the screen everything he was switching on. I didnt get all the functionality you get with an OEM Mercedes towbar, for instance you dont get this reverse camera / auto hitch up functionality

https://youtu.be/QUvSKIyTtuA
But I did get all of the following functionality each time a trailer is hooked up to the electrics.

- Checking lighting and reporting if a bulb is out and telling you which one
- ABS, traction control and stability control takes account of the fact you are towing, and detects if the trailer is snaking and use you front brakes to try and correct it
- adjust cooling fans to give better cooling

2017 I assume you have a 9 speed gearbox, which is good for towing as it's a hydraulic torque converter not a dual clutch.

Mine was a Towtrust detachable fitted by a local towbar guy for £550, but I don't think the brand of towbar itself matters, it's the electronics we are taking about.

It may be that the £2600 OEM kit beefs up your cooling system with more fans or bigger fans, but on the GLE the only difference this makes is it drops your towing limit from 3.5 down to 2.9 tonnes, not a problem for a caravan.

I wanted a Westfalia, but nobody could get UK stock. The Towtrust appeared to be just as good and £200 cheaper. The guy who fitted it told me Westfalia is now the same company as Witter and the quality isn't what it used to be.

I think the Mercedes dealership are just spinning you a line to try and get you to spend £2600!

I'm in Northamptonshire, if you are nearby I'd happily recommend the same guy.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Telling the car you have a tow bar fitted is important. many modern cars have special stability programme to cater for trailers. It might change the effect of the damping of the cars suspension, throttle response, gear change RPM set points etc.

Whilst I doubt there is any legal requirement for it to be installed, but it might mean the car is not as adept as it might be when towing.

Give the car manufacturers some credit for knowing their products.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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ProfJohnL said:
Telling the car you have a tow bar fitted is important. many modern cars have special stability programme to cater for trailers. It might change the effect of the damping of the cars suspension, throttle response, gear change RPM set points etc.

Whilst I doubt there is any legal requirement for it to be installed, but it might mean the car is not as adept as it might be when towing.

Give the car manufacturers some credit for knowing their products.

The major towbar makers work closely with the car makers for their type approval. The physical towbar is the easy bit. It’s the ever increasing complexity of the electronics and software. One major tow bar maker doesn’t show a fit for some MB models with the latest keyless entry systems.
 
May 7, 2012
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Not a lot of use to you as we are too far away but the fitter we use gave us the choice of the makers part or a copycat version of the unit needed. They did admit that some makes will void the guarantee though if their part is not used, so with very little difference in cost I took the makers own part. They had the gear to set up the electrics and it was all done there. They are the biggest firm doing this in the area though and do work for many dealers so if you buy the Merc part you might still find a local firm of fitters doing the job.
I suppose that if you contact Witter or Westfalia they do not know who is going to fit it and cover themselves, as possibly not all fitters can re program the electrics. Not sure if you know it but all three makes you quote are part of the same group so I am not sure if there is any real difference.
I think you need to speak to the fitters themselves to see what they can do.
Hope this helps rather than confuses you.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Raywood said:
Not a lot of use to you as we are too far away but the fitter we use gave us the choice of the makers part or a copycat version of the unit needed. They did admit that some makes will void the guarantee though if their part is not used, so with very little difference in cost I took the makers own part. They had the gear to set up the electrics and it was all done there. They are the biggest firm doing this in the area though and do work for many dealers so if you buy the Merc part you might still find a local firm of fitters doing the job.
I suppose that if you contact Witter or Westfalia they do not know who is going to fit it and cover themselves, as possibly not all fitters can re program the electrics. Not sure if you know it but all three makes you quote are part of the same group so I am not sure if there is any real difference.
I think you need to speak to the fitters themselves to see what they can do.
Hope this helps rather than confuses you.

Witter have authorised fitters in all areas so if you buy from them you will get one of their fitters. Brink are not part of Horizon Global the big US trailer fittment supplier The CMA/EU turned down the proposed acquisition in 2018. So Brink are still Thule group.
 

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