Which tow bar?

May 12, 2014
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If test drive goes well I'll be picking up a 2016 Kia Sorento on Sunday which will become my new tow car. It's replacing a BMW 520d which came with a factory-fit retractable tow bar.

The Sorento doesn't have a bar, so I need to get one fitted. Not worried about having a detachable one at all, the main choice seems to be between flange and swan neck. I have an Alko hitch with stabilisers and I've read in some places that flange bars need adaptors to work with these?

The main selling point for the flange seems to be that you can use a bike carrier at the same time as having the van hitched up, but I'd never do that anyway as the bikes go on the roof. Swan looks neater I'd say, anything else I've missed or need to consider?

What about brand, any preferences or much of a muchness? I'll be going for vehicle specific wiring to make sure the Trailer Stability Assist program works ok.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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I don't think there is much practical difference between different manufacturers offerings, as they all have to comply with the manufacturers specifications and numerous EU directives and regulations.

What I would say is use a professional fitter to supply and fit so the product should be sourced from a legitimate supplier, and any problems cannot be blamed on other parties works or parts.

Do make sure your fitter ensures the fridge and battery charging circuits are included in the fitting contract.
 
Nov 16, 2015
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The towbars by Witter, as fitted to the 2014 to2016 Sorento/ Sante fe's the cross members only had a two bolts either side, and would droop, whether swan neck or Faxed flange. Witter upgraded the bolts to a higher torque, to stop the droop.I replaced mine with a towsure one which has three bolts either side, and did not droop. Google it on Caravan and Motor home site, Uk campsite and Kia/ Hyundai websites.
 
Oct 12, 2013
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We have the Witter Alko fixed flange on ours , paid an extra £5.oo for the scuff plate , well worth it if you think how much a new bumper may cost if you over shoot the Tow Ball !

Short & sweet , but it depends on what you have on the rear end of your tow vehicle and how far you need it to come out.
Good luck .
 
Oct 8, 2006
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In terms of towbar make, Witter are no longer made in the UK but rather in Romania.

Towsure are one of the biggest and of the few UK towbar manufacturers. If you don't mind EU bars then Westfalia (who supply VAG for factory fit) or Thule are very good and well made products - I have used both on my two Passats.
As the Prof said, whoever fits your bar make sure it is agreed in writing that it will be supplied with charging and fridge wiring. If it is in writing it is a Condition of Contract so you will have a leg to stand on if it doesn't work for any reason. Also ensure that the ECU is reprogrammed - fitting the Kia electrics does not make the TSA program work 'just like that,' the ECU has to be told about it. There is usually a change in the way the dash indications light/extinguish when the ECU detects a trailer connected so that you know it is working.
 
Jan 19, 2002
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As your profile identifies Cambridge as your home area you have several choices in supply and fitting either at home or at work. I can't recommend any as it's not my area and I have repeatedly used a local firm in the Midlands and always had witter on a variety of (mainly Ford) vehicles. However you could try
https://www.pfjones.co.uk/towbar-fitting-mobile-services/mobile-towbar-fitting-cambridge.html
as a staring point who also offer a variety of manufacturers and probably would be willing to recommend for your vehicle.
Good luck!
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Woodentop said:
In terms of towbar make, Witter are no longer made in the UK but rather in Romania.

Towsure are one of the biggest and of the few UK towbar manufacturers. If you don't mind EU bars then Westfalia (who supply VAG for factory fit) or Thule are very good and well made products - I have used both on my two Passats.
As the Prof said, whoever fits your bar make sure it is agreed in writing that it will be supplied with charging and fridge wiring. If it is in writing it is a Condition of Contract so you will have a leg to stand on if it doesn't work for any reason. Also ensure that the ECU is reprogrammed - fitting the Kia electrics does not make the TSA program work 'just like that,' the ECU has to be told about it. There is usually a change in the way the dash indications light/extinguish when the ECU detects a trailer connected so that you know it is working.

A while back someone posted that Witter are made in Romania, but some research also showed that many other leading brands are now made in Romania too. A large US towbar company has virtually taken into European market but to date have preserved traditional brand names. However the respective tow bar design teams are still located in their own countries. So having them made in Romania shouldn’t be a problem. After all the Romanians built an assault ship for the Dutch Navy, make parts for Airbus and automotive components for most major European car makers. I’m sure they can do steel welding without any problem.

Search towbar Tiguan r line on the forum to read thread on rationalisation of European/UK towbar manufacturers.
 
Sep 29, 2016
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Craigyoung said:
We have the Witter Alko fixed flange on ours , paid an extra £5.oo for the scuff plate , well worth it if you think how much a new bumper may cost if you over shoot the Tow Ball !

Short & sweet , but it depends on what you have on the rear end of your tow vehicle and how far you need it to come out.
Good luck .

I am sure that you, like me, are disappointed to note that your nuts (and bolts) are rusty :p
 
Nov 16, 2015
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Anseo said:
Craigyoung said:
We have the Witter Alko fixed flange on ours , paid an extra £5.oo for the scuff plate , well worth it if you think how much a new bumper may cost if you over shoot the Tow Ball !

Short & sweet , but it depends on what you have on the rear end of your tow vehicle and how far you need it to come out.
Good luck .

I am sure that you, like me, are disappointed to note that your nuts (and bolts) are rusty :p

Probably never been touched in months, maybe slack. ? :woohoo:
 
Jun 26, 2017
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Like Thingy, I went for the removable type - A Westfalia for my Passat. It inserts and removes in seconds and works very well. The main reason was that I think tow bars just look so ugly when the vehicle’s not towing, although they do serve a purpose, as they generally prevent the possible outcome of a crack or scuff in your rear bumper if some careless individual gives your unoccupied vehicle an unintentional nudge in a car park !
 
May 24, 2014
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In our case, having a Shogun with door mounted spare wheel the tow ball has to protrude a long way, much farther than most, and with the boot door open, it not only made access difficult but led to a multitude of yelps and curses. Never know the wife know words like that, fair made me blush B)

But yes, having had a demountable, i wouldnt go back to the old type.
 
May 12, 2014
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Thanks all, useful information there. I would never have even thought to question whether the fridge and battery charging circuits should be connected or not so will definitely get that agreed in writing.
I have a fitter local to me, streetsinstallations, who seem to get very good reviews so will be chatting to them about installation.
Perhaps detachable is worth considering, I'd just be ... nervous about tugging 1600kg of caravan behind me connected only by a part which was designed to detach!
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Icaru5 said:
Like Thingy, I went for the removable type - A Westfalia for my Passat. It inserts and removes in seconds and works very well. The main reason was that I think tow bars just look so ugly when the vehicle’s not towing, although they do serve a purpose, as they generally prevent the possible outcome of a crack or scuff in your rear bumper if some careless individual gives your unoccupied vehicle an unintentional nudge in a car park !

During this summer I’ve been travelling around Leicester at lot so I have left my detachable Witter tow ball fittted for exactly the reasons you say. Keeps careless others away from the back end.
 
Jun 26, 2017
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tuffty said:
Thanks all, useful information there. I would never have even thought to question whether the fridge and battery charging circuits should be connected or not so will definitely get that agreed in writing.
I have a fitter local to me, streetsinstallations, who seem to get very good reviews so will be chatting to them about installation.
Perhaps detachable is worth considering, I'd just be ... nervous about tugging 1600kg of caravan behind me connected only by a part which was designed to detach!

I really wouldn’t be too concerned about that Tuffty. Our roads are full of trucks pulling 40 Ton trailers which are designed to detach via a simple mechanism ! :)
 
May 12, 2014
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otherclive said:
Icaru5 said:
Like Thingy, I went for the removable type - A Westfalia for my Passat. It inserts and removes in seconds and works very well. The main reason was that I think tow bars just look so ugly when the vehicle’s not towing, although they do serve a purpose, as they generally prevent the possible outcome of a crack or scuff in your rear bumper if some careless individual gives your unoccupied vehicle an unintentional nudge in a car park !

During this summer I’ve been travelling around Leicester at lot so I have left my detachable Witter tow ball fittted for exactly the reasons you say. Keeps careless others away from the back end.

But the towbar is fitted to the subframe, surely you are transferring damage to a cosmetic bit of your car (the bumper) to potentially much more expensive to repair structural damage instead?
 
Jun 26, 2017
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tuffty said:
otherclive said:
Icaru5 said:
Like Thingy, I went for the removable type - A Westfalia for my Passat. It inserts and removes in seconds and works very well. The main reason was that I think tow bars just look so ugly when the vehicle’s not towing, although they do serve a purpose, as they generally prevent the possible outcome of a crack or scuff in your rear bumper if some careless individual gives your unoccupied vehicle an unintentional nudge in a car park !

During this summer I’ve been travelling around Leicester at lot so I have left my detachable Witter tow ball fittted for exactly the reasons you say. Keeps careless others away from the back end.

But the towbar is fitted to the subframe, surely you are transferring damage to a cosmetic bit of your car (the bumper) to potentially much more expensive to repair structural damage instead?

Not at all ! - I (and no doubt also Clive) was referring to a car-park kiss, not a full-on airbag-deploying rear-ender ! :p
 
May 24, 2014
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Perhaps detachable is worth considering, I'd just be ... nervous about tugging 1600kg of caravan behind me connected only by a part which was designed to detach!

That is simply not going to happen. The only way that the trailer is going to come away is if you yourself dont connect properly and check. Its always user error. It could hapen that way on any type of towbar.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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tuffty said:
otherclive said:
Icaru5 said:
Like Thingy, I went for the removable type - A Westfalia for my Passat. It inserts and removes in seconds and works very well. The main reason was that I think tow bars just look so ugly when the vehicle’s not towing, although they do serve a purpose, as they generally prevent the possible outcome of a crack or scuff in your rear bumper if some careless individual gives your unoccupied vehicle an unintentional nudge in a car park !

During this summer I’ve been travelling around Leicester at lot so I have left my detachable Witter tow ball fittted for exactly the reasons you say. Keeps careless others away from the back end.

But the towbar is fitted to the subframe, surely you are transferring damage to a cosmetic bit of your car (the bumper) to potentially much more expensive to repair structural damage instead?

I’m thinking more of the cosmetic dings. It also acts as a visible deterrent. On a Saab 9000 I had a detachable towbar and it took a 20 mph without its towball fitted and it had some minor floor pan rippling. Yet that Car had integral steel bumpers on horizontal spring absorbers There’s the other view that the solidity of the towball carves well into the other vehicles front cross member which isn’t part of its crumple zone. Damned if you do damned if you don’t.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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tuffty said:
otherclive said:
Icaru5 said:
Like Thingy, I went for the removable type - A Westfalia for my Passat. It inserts and removes in seconds and works very well. The main reason was that I think tow bars just look so ugly when the vehicle’s not towing, although they do serve a purpose, as they generally prevent the possible outcome of a crack or scuff in your rear bumper if some careless individual gives your unoccupied vehicle an unintentional nudge in a car park !

During this summer I’ve been travelling around Leicester at lot so I have left my detachable Witter tow ball fittted for exactly the reasons you say. Keeps careless others away from the back end.

But the towbar is fitted to the subframe, surely you are transferring damage to a cosmetic bit of your car (the bumper) to potentially much more expensive to repair structural damage instead?

I’m thinking more of the cosmetic dings. It also acts as a visible deterrent. On a Saab 9000 I had a detachable towbar and it took a 20 mph without its towball fitted and it had some minor floor pan rippling. Yet that Car had integral steel bumpers on horizontal spring absorbers There’s the other view that the solidity of the towball carves well into the other vehicles front cross member which isn’t part of its crumple zone. Damned if you do damned if you don’t.
 
Oct 12, 2013
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I know I'll get slated here but I couldn't be chewed to be bending down and putting the tow bar on every time I needed to go away and taking it off then putting it back on; simply pull up hitch up go ! pull backup un hitch & go !
I never think twice about how unsighly it is on the back as it's not ! But........ :unsure:
 
Nov 16, 2015
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Craigyoung said:
I know I'll get slated here but I couldn't be chewed to be bending down and putting the tow bar on every time I needed to go away and taking it off then putting it back on; simply pull up hitch up go ! pull backup un hitch & go !
I never think twice about how unsighly it is on the back as it's not ! But........ :unsure:

With Craig, we tow ! Have a towbar on, Had a detachable one once on a Vectra. . Fixed flange every time now. .
 
May 7, 2012
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We have always had fixed towbars and never had any problem, although have bumped my leg on it a couple of times. Cost and appearance are the factors you need to consider but these are personal so buy what you like and can afford but I would use a professional fitter who knows the job.
We did buy one car with a manufacturers tow bar but found the garage had used a local fitter anyway and presumably added a bit to their bill. Unless the car is delivered to them with a tow bar many garages use outside firms to fit them as the garages do not have the throughput of this work to be expert in it.
As all four of the major manufacturers have a common ownership, I doubt there is anything to choose between them these days.
 

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