Different types of towbars and their different uses

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Different types of tow bars

As there is more choice of tow bars we hope to help you chose the correct towbar for the application you require meaning that you will not have any problems with the tow bar you buy in the future.


Different types of tow bars available.

below is a list of tow bars that are available and included in this guide.

  • Swan neck
  • 2 bolt flange
  • 4 bolt flange
  • Detachable (with many variations)

Swan neck towbars.

This towbar is becoming more popular as it looks very neat and most manufactures supply these as original equipment. This type of towbar has been manufactured in most of europe for over 30 years. The bar is still mounted and fitted to the car in the same way as any other towbar giving the same strength as any other towbar then it has a forged type 'L' shaped bracket that is either welded or bolted (normally bolted) to the main bracket.  This bracket is designed to give a tow ball at the correct towing height and the 'L' shape of the bracket normally fits under the bumper to avoid having to deface the bumper to fit it. The electrics are normally fitted to the main bracket at the end of the 'L' under the bumper.

Advantages of swan neck tow bars

  • Neat and tidy with out too much steel work in view
  • The angle and clearence is suitable for Alko stabalisers
  • This is becoming a cheap option for for most vehicles

Disadvantages of swan neck towbars

  • Different types of towballs can not be fitted.
  • Towing accesories like bumper protectors, steps and cycle racks are not as readily available if at all. This will probably change over the next few years as these towbars are becoming more popular and manufactures will have to evolve to keep up with the tow bars.
  • Towball can not be altered in height if needed.

Please see picture below for ilustration of swan neck towbar (bolted)


Flange towbars (2&4 Bolt)

This is the classic type of towbar that has been available and evolved over more than 50 years. This is a towbar that does not look as tidy as the swan neck and is reducing in popularity on passanger cars but it is the most versatile towbar on the market. Most of the major towbar manufactures are beginning to reduce the range of these towbars for passanger cars. These are still popular with people who use towbars for a living this makes them popular with van, light commercial and 4x4 owners. The reason for this is that there is a choice of accesories available such as Pin type towballs, steps to aid climbing in to the back of the vehicle, bumper protectors (also popular with caravan owners) and adjustable height of towball by using drop plates.  Untill recently these were the cheapest option but due to demand and amount now produced these are not always as cheap as swan neck towbars. The electrics are normally mounted on a plate bolted between the towball and towing bracket.

What does 2 and 4 bolt flange mean?

2 bolt flange is the standard flange tow bar this has one fixing point for a towball.

4 Bolt flanges are a stronger design and give you the option of bolting the towball at 2 different heights these are normally used on commercials and 4x4 vehicles.

Advantages of flange towbars

  • These can be used with most accesories and all items are currently readily available.
  • Different types of towballs are available (pin or nato)
  • Towing heights can be altered using drop plates.

Disadventages of flange towbars

  • They are very visible
  • Electrics are visible
  • Extra cost for different towballs

Please see pictures below for 2 and 4 bolt flange towbars.


2Bolt flange                                    4 bolt flange


Detachable towbars

These are normally swan neck towbars and most major manufactures have there own range of detachable towbars. We usually sell bosal towbars. They offer 3 ranges of these towbars. Their original 2 (AK4 and AK6) are well built and just plug in, then using a key they can be unlocked and removed. These are very expensive but nice. They have recently released an Ecofit detachable tow bar. This does the same job but there is a little more to fitting it as you have to insert the towbar then put a pin through it to secure it and fasten a lock on the end to hold it in place.

Please see photos of different types of detachable towbar


AK4                                     AK6                                     Ecofit


Hope this has been some help in selecting the towbar you require.

For other related priducts and pages please use the links below.

Guide about dedicated wiring systems

Guide for wiring conventional electrics

All our guides

Towbars we sell on ebay

Towing accesories we sell on ebay

Our ebay shop front

Our feedback

This information is supplied by Towing and Trailers Ltd with some reference from NTTA (National trailer and towing assotiation Ltd). Most of the photos are supplied by Bosal


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