Towbar type

Nov 15, 2019
5
0
10
Visit site
Hello all. I'm new to caravaning and after some information. We have ordered our new caravan and it comes with a AL-KO AKS stabiliser. Do I need a certain type of towbar for the stabiliser. I have seen online that a swan neck towbar is reccommended but I am not sure. Cheers
 
Jan 19, 2002
1,532
438
19,935
Visit site
The Alko hitch requires a longer 'neck', so there are likely to be 4 choices - detachable either swan neck or flange, and fixed either swan neck or flange. The fitter should ask if you need the Alko type. With a detachable you can stow the hook in the car and clip in securely when you wish to tow. If you wish to use assessories, like certain bike racks, that fit between the flange and the towball head then flange is the choice. If having a swan neck ensure there is an 'eye' for the breakaway cable - it is becoming more common for countries to rule hooking the breakaway round the towball to be unacceptable. Also worth paying the extra for OEM wiring rather than a generic wiring kit.
If you get a towball with a black painted head then this must be cleaned with emery paper back to metal before using to tow.
You will find similar information on the forum with a recent question about noisy towing.
 
Mar 14, 2005
9,809
703
30,935
lutzschelisch.wix.com
audiorob said:
If you wish to use assessories, like certain bike racks, that fit between the flange and the towball head then flange is the choice.

Unless the towbar manufacturer has specifically included the use of a device which clamps between the towbar itself and the towball head in his type approval, such an arrangement is not permissible. It is unlikely that such a 'spacer' is covered by type approval except for some off-road vehicles which have provisions for drop plates and the suchlike.
 
Nov 16, 2015
10,731
3,041
40,935
Visit site
Adam this photo shows the difference between the Alko tow ball and a standard tow ball. Swan neck tow balls of 50mm are OK with AlKo stabaliser tow hiches. Remember NO Grease. and remove all paint from the tow ball.

towballs.jpg
 
  • Like
Reactions: JezzerB
Nov 11, 2009
20,798
6,474
50,935
Visit site
Some cars will have the rear cross member removed and a towbar replaces it. In doing so the cars normal recovery towing eye may have nothing to screw into if the car requires a tow. If your car is like this then it is essential to ensure that you carry the detachable towball assembly in the car. My XC70 retained its rear body cross member. My Forester and now my Superb had them removed.
 
Oct 17, 2010
1,246
487
19,435
Visit site
If you are having a tow bar fitter, he will fit the correct tow ball. I have a detachable one, car looks nice and clean, when removed. The big draw back is that the caravan socket swings under the bumper and I have to go down on one knee to plug the van in. A fixed ALKO flange ball will eliminate this but, the tow ball will always be on show and, may interfere with your reversing censer when solo. If you have dedicated wiring loom fitted, you will need to ensure that the fitter fits the loom for battery charging and fridge operation,
 
Nov 11, 2009
20,798
6,474
50,935
Visit site
DaveA1 said:
If you are having a tow bar fitter, he will fit the correct tow ball. I have a detachable one, car looks nice and clean, when removed. The big draw back is that the caravan socket swings under the bumper and I have to go down on one knee to plug the van in. An ALKO flange ball will eliminate this but, tow ball will always be on show and, may interfere with you reversing censer when solo. If you have dedicated wiring loom fitted, you will need to ensure that the fitter fits the loom for battery charging and fridge operation,

Why should a fixed towball interfere with a rear parking sensor any more than it would a detachable towball that is left in position when not towing and connected? A recent thread showed no replies that indicated interference. I’ve had fixed and detachable but the sensors have been unaffected when solo. I do always have the OEM loom electrics installed by the towbar fitter who should also do any recoding required to the car.
 
Oct 17, 2010
1,246
487
19,435
Visit site
otherclive said:
DaveA1 said:
If you are having a tow bar fitter, he will fit the correct tow ball. I have a detachable one, car looks nice and clean, when removed. The big draw back is that the caravan socket swings under the bumper and I have to go down on one knee to plug the van in. An ALKO flange ball will eliminate this but, tow ball will always be on show and, may interfere with you reversing censer when solo. If you have dedicated wiring loom fitted, you will need to ensure that the fitter fits the loom for battery charging and fridge operation,

Why should a fixed towball interfere with a rear parking sensor any more than it would a detachable towball that is left in position when not towing and connected? A recent thread showed no replies that indicated interference. I’ve had fixed and detachable but the sensors have been unaffected when solo. I do always have the OEM loom electrics installed by the tow bar fitter who should also do any recoding required to the car.

I did say may interfere, And my lads Mondeao The fitter advised him to have a swan neck and not a flange ball because, of it's bulk, the cars censors would to pick it up, As it is now, with the swan neck, if the witter cover is leaning to one side it's picked up by the censors, he has to get out and straighten it. I've have been in the car when it has done it. Apart from appearance, that was one of the reasons I fitted what is a very expensive tow bar. to my motor
 
Oct 8, 2006
1,804
562
19,935
Visit site
I'm sorry to say but I think Hutch may have got it wrong in describing Al-Ko compatible and non-compatible fixed towballs.
The Al-Ko stabiliser head is bigger than a non-stabilised head so the ball has to have a longer standoff - the distance it sticks out from the fitting plate - such that the stabiliser does not foul the bumper when turning. The vertical height is of no consequence. All removable towballs will be compliant.
Also, as noted, the OP should make it very clear preferably in writing that the new installation must have full fridge and charging wiring and that the vehicle specific wiring loom MUST be used. It should also be confirmed that the installer will reprogram the Engine Management Unit else such as bulb failure and stability control will not work.
Having had two caravans on three different Passat Estates I can say that I have never had an issue with the parking sensors. Whilst once triggered they will continue to sound they actually need to detect movement to set them off in the first place.. If the unused towball is moving you have a problem, big time!!
 
Nov 15, 2019
5
0
10
Visit site
Ok thanks all. I'll give the fitter a ring on monday. Think I'll go for a swan neck then and I'll discuss the electrical side of it too. Cheers
 
Mar 14, 2005
17,848
3,221
50,935
Visit site
The simple solution to all of this is to ask the fitter to fit a ball that is compatible with them Alko coupling. If by chance they do not fit the correct ball, they are responsible and must change it for the correct one.
 
  • Like
Reactions: JezzerB
May 7, 2012
8,598
1,816
30,935
Visit site
Nothing to add to the tow bar point but do make sure the fitter knows you will be towing a caravan as it uses two more electrical connections. You will also have to choose a twin plug or a single 13 pint plug according to what your caravan has fitted. If you do not have the caravan yet I would go for the 13 pin and use a convertor to connect to the caravan if it has a twin fitting. Only older caravans will have the twin plugs as they have now been dropped for the 13 pin on newer models.
 
Nov 11, 2009
20,798
6,474
50,935
Visit site
Raywood said:
Nothing to add to the tow bar point but do make sure the fitter knows you will be towing a caravan as it uses two more electrical connections. You will also have to choose a twin plug or a single 13 pint plug according to what your caravan has fitted. If you do not have the caravan yet I would go for the 13 pin and use a convertor to connect to the caravan if it has a twin fitting. Only older caravans will have the twin plugs as they have now been dropped for the 13 pin on newer models.

I would agree. The 13 pin plug/socket is a far superior arrangement and causes a fewer problems than can be caused by the dual twin plugs.
 
Sep 16, 2018
295
181
10,735
Visit site
Thanks all, after reading this I checked ours and found the Mitsubishi dealer had fitted a standard towball, and there were signs of contact between the coupling and shoulders of the ball. Happily all fixed by the caravan mobile service guy during last week's service, who very kindly did it free of charge. Mitsubishi nul points, service engineer 10 points.
 
  • Like
Reactions: JezzerB
May 7, 2012
8,598
1,816
30,935
Visit site
I think the problem with dealer fits is that those at the garages often do not have towing experience and so do not know the different requirements for the ALKO head and wiring. This means towbar fitters who do know are often a better bet as they ask the questions garage staff do not realise are relevant. Do you know if the electrics are wired for a caravan, as if not you may not have power to the fridge when towing.
 
Sep 5, 2016
928
119
4,935
Visit site
Adam83, are you anywhere near Leicester or Loughborough, I know three companies that fit tow bars and do all the updates to the electrics, these towbar fitters need to have the kit to do the electrics,
 
Sep 16, 2018
295
181
10,735
Visit site
Yes it seems to be wired for a caravan, after a 7 hour run last summer everything in the fridge was close to freezing ! We've towed over a 1500 miles over some pretty poor roads with the wrong ball.

Words have been exchanged with the Mitsubishi dealer🙂
 
Jun 20, 2005
17,608
3,704
50,935
Visit site
Just had a Westphalia fitted to the Touareg. The rear cross member is gone and the tow bar in its place. The towing eye Clive mentions is included but maybe not for every one. The tow swan neck is detachable. Waste of time if you ask me but I had no choice.AsDave A1 says you have to get down on your knees to attach it . It is heavy and maybe as I get more used to it the easier it will become.the 13 pin socket is buried deep and again needs a kneel down but It isn’t too difficult. My fitter, spent about 20 minutes taking through his lap top connected to the cars ECU.
No bleeping when indicating now. If a bulb fails a warning comes up on the dash.
Finally no dealer I know fits tow bars . They bring in an expert and add on 25% or what😢😢
 
Feb 13, 2020
99
30
85
Visit site
When i recently had a new towbar fitted, i stipulated i wanted a ball and electrics (13 pin) to tow a caravan. The bloke at the garage said if i had not mentioned this, i would have had a regular ball and 'trailer' electrics.

As for fixed or removable balls, i would go for fixed every time. Firstly i would not trust something that can be detached so easily by hand, and secondly, you are far less likely to be 'dinked' from behind in a parking bay, with a lump of steel being the first thing they hit. Take note of some numberplates with a 'bullseye' in the middle!
 
  • Like
Reactions: Parksy
Nov 11, 2009
20,798
6,474
50,935
Visit site
When i recently had a new towbar fitted, i stipulated i wanted a ball and electrics (13 pin) to tow a caravan. The bloke at the garage said if i had not mentioned this, i would have had a regular ball and 'trailer' electrics.

As for fixed or removable balls, i would go for fixed every time. Firstly i would not trust something that can be detached so easily by hand, and secondly, you are far less likely to be 'dinked' from behind in a parking bay, with a lump of steel being the first thing they hit. Take note of some numberplates with a 'bullseye' in the middle!

Cannot say that in all of my years of reading caravan publications and website that I have ever read of a detachable ball coming off. Although if the user is careless in not ensuring it is fitted correctly then I guess it may. But all of those I’ve had if it’s not located properly it would just fall on the drive. Guess the horizontal ones wouldn’t but as you drove away your caravan wouldn’t go with you and the breakaway would snap. I can hardly imagine the the car makers would offer them as accessories if there was a safety risk. Also the recognised makes all have to be type approved for each car. There’s times more risk of the hitch coming off of the towball because it wasn’t latched properly and the owner didn’t wind the jockey wheel down to check latching.
 
  • Like
Reactions: chrisn7
Feb 13, 2020
99
30
85
Visit site
I can't argue with anything you say OC. Its personal preference on my part as to type fitted, and preference not be on one knee scrabbling about under the back of the car to attach the ball and electrics. Its my view the manufacturers have erred towards aesthetics over practicality. (when did they ever do anything else!) Especially given many caravanners usually need half a days notice and a note from the doctor to actually get down on one knee! :giggle:
 
  • Like
Reactions: otherclive
Sep 26, 2018
635
199
10,935
Visit site
It's all very well to say "no removables" but my drive is so tight that I have to have a removable to get the car on the drive... My Tow Trust I can install it without kneeling if I've done it a few times. We're off in a couple of weeks, and I guess I will be kneeling, because I haven't installed for 6 months...
 
Jun 20, 2005
17,608
3,704
50,935
Visit site
After 40 years I now have a removable tow bar. Yes. It does need a genuflect to fit. It is lockable and I have left mine on. The safety design for no fail is so obvious even this old dog can’t get it wrong. There is no half way house. Once fully engaged and locked it is rock solid.
 

TRENDING THREADS