How to Buy a Car Tow Bar on eBay

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How to Buy a Car Tow Bar on eBay

Many people love the freedom a motor home offers, whether at home or on the continent. It is a perfect way to enjoy a holiday without being bound by the requirements of transportation schedules or the costs of hotels. All a vacationer has to do is move up to the front seat and he or she can take the comforts of home almost anywhere one wishes to go. The only problem is, that once settled in a motor home park, a person may not want to unplug everything just to go on a short drive. This is where a car tow bar comes in handy. With a tow bar, a person can pull a small car behind a motor home, and simply disconnect it when they want to go driving. It is an easy way to combine the freedom provided by a motor home with the flexibility of having one's own car, even on holiday; and the tow bar is the key to it all.

Tow Bar Basics

The basic principles behind a car tow bar are easy to understand; it is a rigid connection between one vehicle and another, that essentially turns the towed vehicle into a trailer. The biggest advantages of using a tow bar over a trailer or dolly are weight and cost. A tow bar can easily be disconnected and stowed away, while a trailer adds a third element to the situation, and one that cannot be driven on its own. Tow bars also offer overall simplicity, both reducing cost and decreasing the time and difficulty of setting up. One important requirement for anyone considering using a tow bar is that the car being towed must be able to be towed flat; on all four wheels. This is a factor that should be checked, as some vehicles may be subject to damage if towed in this way.

Tow Bar Design

The basic tow bar consists of a metal A-frame, which pivots at the rear of the towing vehicle. In addition to the basic frame, they also include a wiring harness. This is used to connect the brake and indicator lights and in some cases can even supply power for the car's braking system. While some may be available without the harness, legal requirements make doing without one not an option for anyone looking to use one to tow a car on public streets.

There are three basic types of tow bars to consider when looking for the right solution to tow a car behind a motor home: Self-aligning motor home mounted, self-aligning car-mounted, and rigid A-frame tow bars, each of which has its own strengths and weaknesses.

Rigid A-Frame Tow Bars

These are the simplest and least expensive tow bars available, making them a great choice for those on a budget. Each consists of a fixed A-frame, which connects the front of the car being towed to the back of the motor home. The one issue with these tow bars is that because they are completely fixed, they require two people to connect the car to the motor home. This is because the car has to be perfectly aligned with the tow bar before it can be connected, which requires careful positioning and excellent communication between the driver and the person attaching the tow bar.

Self-Aligning Motor Home Mounted Tow Bars

The big advantage of a self-aligning tow bar is that it is much easier to hook up the car to the motor home than with a fixed bar because the initial alignment is not critical. Instead, the bars are designed so that they can be adjusted to fit to the car before being pulled into alignment and locking into place as the motor home moves forward. This provides all the benefits of a rigid tow bar, albeit at a slightly greater cost. The other advantage this system provides is that the tow bar can be folded out of the way when not in use. It also minimises the amount of work that needs to be done to the car, as it only needs the braking and light connections to be installed.

Self-Aligning Car Mounted Tow Bars

These tow bars are functionally similar to motor home mounted models, with the primary difference being that they are mounted on the car itself, rather than the motor home. This provides both advantages and disadvantages. Car mounted tow bars are generally lighter than motor home mounted ones, and this, coupled with their self-aligning nature, makes them the easiest of all tow bars to connect. Although they do make it easier to connect the car to almost any motor home, their weight and location can affect performance and handling.

Tow Bar Legalities and Requirements

The first thing to do when looking for a tow bar setup is to determine the legal requirements the system has to meet. Different countries often have different requirements, so a wise buyer needs to take the driving laws of the countries in which they usually holiday into account before making a decision on a purchase. Some of these laws can be quite specific, as is the case in the UK, where the date of issue of a prospective purchaser's driving licence is one of the factors which determines the weight of trailer they can tow. Those who took their driving licence before 1 January 1997 are able to drive a motor home and tow a car as long as they remain within certain weight limits, while those with a later date of licence require the B+E test to tow anything over 750kg, which includes towing a car.

Towed Vehicle Braking

One of the more important factors to consider when towing a car is the vehicle's braking. Any trailer over 750kg requires brakes in order to be used on the road, and this includes any car that is being towed. The catch here is that while all cars do have brakes, they are designed to be operated from within the car, which is not usually possible when the car is being towed. As a result, most cars need to be specially fitted so that the brakes can be operated in conjunction with those of the towing vehicle, whether with an inertia system or a more advanced one that uses the connection from the motor home to drive the power brakes.

Deciding on the Right Tow Bar

Choosing the right tow bar is a matter of making the right decisions as determined by each driver's individual circumstances and situation. Most purchasers can benefit from the greater ease of connection that comes from using a self-aligning tow bar, but those with a tighter budget may find themselves drawn to a rigid tow bar. One thing that matters in every case is making sure the tow bar is compatible with the car it is intended to be used with. Most motor homes are compatible with most tow bar units, so it is the car that is usually the determining factor.

As to the question of which of the three types of tow bar is best suited for any given driver's needs, the following table provides a quick run-down of the options:

Type

Advantage

Drawbacks

Rigid A-frame

Most budget-friendly

Trickiest to work with

Self-aligning car mount

Easiest to hitch up

Can affect car handling

Self-aligning motor home mount

Best overall performance

Higher price, harder to connect than car mounts

For all but the most budget-constrained buyers, a self-aligning tow bar is the best option in the majority of circumstances. They are simply much easier to use than rigid A-frame bars. While car mounted tow bars do have their place, motor home mounted tow bars are generally the best option for most buyers.

Buying a Car Tow Bar on eBay

eBay is an excellent place to buy a tow bar whether you are looking for a rigid A-frame or a self-aligning one. All you have to do is enter your search terms into the box, there is a search box on every eBay page, and watch as the results appear. Once you have your results on screen, you can turn to the filters in the sidebar to narrow them down to just the ones that meet your requirements. You can filter by everything from type, to price range, and even seller location. Then, when you have eliminated the tow bars that do not meet your needs, you can use the sort function to arrange them so the best options are at the top of the list.

After you have narrowed down your list of tow bars, the next step is to find your best match amongst eBay's many reputable sellers. The best place to check them out is their profile page, where you can see everything from their feedback to their location. You can also see if they offer bundles, such as safety chains with their tow bars, or if they allow local purchasers to save on shipping by picking up their tow bars in person.

Conclusion

The key to buying a car tow bar on eBay is knowing the needs of the buyer. Once those needs are known, meeting them becomes that much easier. A car tow bar provides a rigid connection between a car and the vehicle, usually a motor home, that is towing it; essentially turning the car into a trailer. It is important to note that not all cars can use tow bars as some cannot be towed for significant distances on all four wheels, particularly if they have automatic transmissions.

There are two basic types of car tow bar, rigid, and self-aligning. Rigid A-frames are usually less expensive, but much trickier to hook up as they require a perfect alignment between the car and the tow vehicle. Self-aligning tow bars, which can be mounted on either the motor home or the car, are usually more expensive but pay for themselves in ease of use. Regardless of what kind of car tow bar best fits a given buyer's requirements, one cannot go wrong by searching for it on eBay.

 
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