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Confused about Tow Bar electrics?

Read about the different types of tow bar electrics to find which best suits your needs..

Which towbar electrics are best for me?

The best towbar wiring kit for your car will depend on the age, make and model of your car. It will also depend upon what you are towing and which sockets are fitted to your vehicle and trailer.

7-Pin Electrics

This is the most common and cheapest connector type currently used in the UK. It will fulfil all normal towing requirements under UK law and it can be used with lighting boards, cycle carriers, old caravans, garden trailers, plant trailers. A 7-pin electric kit will not power the inside of your caravan.

What Can You Power with 7-Pin Electrics?

Lights on a caravan, trailer or cycle carrier (indicator, fog lights, brake lights)

What Cannot be Powered with 7-Pin Electrics?

Interior appliances of a caravan (fridge, caravan battery) Reverse lights (caravan, cycle carrier, trailer)

What Can You Power with 13-Pin Twin Electrics?

Lights on a caravan, trailer or cycle carrier (indicator, fog lights, brake lights) Interior appliances of a caravan (fridge, caravan battery) Reverse lights (caravan, cycle carrier, trailer)

 13-Pin Electrics

13 pin electrics combines both the basic and advanced electrical features needed for towing within one plug. This makes a 13 pin plug tidier and easier to use as all of the functions are encased within a single plug. Each pin in the 13 pin towing socket has a specific function with a corresponding colour which allows you to see which wire in the plug provides which electrical function.

If you are towing a trailer or caravan, you will benefit from a 13 pin towing socket as this will connect to your vehicle's advanced features. This includes trailer stability control and providing power inside your caravan for appliances such as the fridge, which would be essential if you need to keep food fresh while travelling.

See how a 13 pin towing socket works in our helpful colour coded diagram, showing you which pins supply which electrical functions.

 

BYPASS RELAYS - A DIAGRAM OF A TOW BAR ELECTRICS.

For vehicles with combined brake and tail light you have to discard (not connect) the black and brown wire on the bypass relay ) input a side only) and connect the single wire on the vehicle to the red wire on the bypass relay.

Wiring kits

There are two types of towbar wiring kit available and the one you need will usually depend on the age of your vehicle. It is always best to buy a vehicle specific wiring kit as this will synchronize perfectly with your car's electrical system and installing a universal wiring kit could impact on your warranty.

Once you have chosen which electrical socket you need, you can choose which wiring kit to fit.

The two types of wiring kit are:

  • Dedicated 
  • Universal

Universal kits are available for all vehicles whereas dedicated are vehicle specific so may not be available for some cars.

 

What is a universal wiring kit?

Universal wiring kits are compatible with most vehicles and support the basic electrical functions needed for towing. If you have a tight budget and schedule, a universal wiring kit is cheap, quick to install and can provide you with all of the basic components needed for towing.

However, as a universal wiring kit only provides the basic requirements, functionality is limited. Universal wiring kits are not suitable for most modern cars with sophisticated electrical systems as they can not support vehicle specific functions. Additionally, if your vehicle is still under warranty, installing a universal towbar wiring kit could affect your warranty as it does not meet specific manufacturer requirements. You will also need to install a towbar wiring bypass relay if you have a modern vehicle with a complex electrical system.

 Things to consider before purchasing a universal wiring kit

  • Trailer Stability Control

potentially the most important feature gained with dedicated wiring, this is a critical safety feature for maintaining the stability of your caravan/trailer, especially when driving round corners and at high speeds

  • Vehicle Warranty

Dedicated Wiring Kits

Dedicated wiring kits are made to fit a specific car make and model. Unlike universal kits, dedicated kits work in coordination with the vehicles existing electrical system allowing it to run as functional as it was intended to by the manufacturer.

The advantage of a dedicated wiring kit is that the vehicle will know when you are towing and will automatically adjust the following systems

NOTE* (only if the vehicle has them):

  • Brake electronics
  • Engine electronics
  • Cruise control 
  • Parking aids
  • Reversing cameras
  • Lane change assisting
  • Suspension system
  • Engine cooling system
  • S.P