Towbar Types

See also: our Towing Electrics page and How to Book a Fitting

If you have parking sensors and they are the more common ultrasonic type (as opposed to electromagnetic), it is recommended you opt for a detachable tow bar. Your sensors will be out of action when you are towing since they would only detect the object being towed, but with a detachable tow ball removed your sensors will work normally. Often a swan-neck tow ball will not be detected by the sensors anyway while a flange will, but since no one can say for certain whether this is the case for your particular vehicle, it’s always recommended that if you have ultrasonic sensors to choose a detachable (with the exception of some vehicles where the towball sits below the level of the sensors or between them).

1. Fixed Flange – The most common type of tow bar in the UK, more flexible than a swan-neck (though also more likely to set-off parking sensors), the flange plate can be used with spacers to alter the position of the tow ball. It also enables the use of different types of tow ball such as pin & jaw (or pin & ball), or a flange plate mounted cycle carrier which leaves the tow ball free (so you can tow and carry cycles simultaneously). Most fixed flanges are the 2-bolt kind, 4-bolt fixed flange towbars also exist but are more common on light commercial vehicles.
Cost: Depending on the vehicle and electrics fitted, £350-£650.

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Fixed Flange Examples

2. Fixed Swan-Neck – Suitable for all tow ball mounted applications from cycle carriers to alko-stabilisers. Note: the lack of flange plate as the neck curves up from below the bumper, meaning flange plate applications are ruled out (e.g. some cycle carriers, trailers and some caravan stabilisers).
Cost: Depending on the vehicle and electrics fitted, £350-£650.

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Fixed Swan-Neck Examples

3. Detachable Swan-Neck – Modern types offer a lockable twist-action release system for removal of the swan neck when not in-use, offering relative degrees of ‘invisibility’ (dependent on vehicle and brand of towbar**) meaning the result leaves no visible sign of the towbar when the neck is removed (and the electrical socket swivelled up).
Cost: Depending on the vehicle and electrics fitted, £400-£700+.

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Detachable Swan-Neck Examples

4. Detachable Flange – Gives you the flexibility of a flange plate with the advantages of a detachable, but these are becoming less commonly available and there are significant drawbacks. As with the detachable swan neck these can be installed on many vehicles in such a way as to be invisible** when the neck is removed (and electrics swivelled up). These are not offered for all vehicles and usually swan-necks are better weighted for ease of use, so only people with a flange mounted accessory (like a bike rack or stabiliser) tend to consider a detachable flange. Even then we would recommend changing the bike rack or stabiliser in order to use a swan-neck rather than entertain a detachable flange.
Cost: Depending on the vehicle and electrics fitted, £400-£700+.

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Detachable Flange Examples

5. Retractables – other than motorised ones (factory fit only) you still have to handle a retractable to lock it in place and fold it away. The main advantage relative to a detachable is that you do not have to store the neck in the car, however retractables are not available for many vehicles, tend to require a large bumper cut for the tow ball to retract through, and since they are not cheap most people looking for after-market towbar fitting opt for a normal detachable.
Cost: Depending on the vehicle and electrics fitted, £500-£700+.

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Retractable Towbar Examples

6. Front Push Towbars – popular for manoeuvring caravans and large trailers but also useful for mounting winches, snow ploughs, and similar vehicular ‘front-mounted’ applications.
Cost: Depending on the vehicle and electrics fitted, front towbars range from £300-£600 Fitted.

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Front-Push Towbar Examples

**If you want an ‘invisible’ finish please let us know so we can quote accordingly (note: on some vehicles this is not possible).

*Prices given as a rough guide only*