The Do's and Don'ts of Buying a Car Tow Bar

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The Do's and Don'ts of Buying a Car Tow Bar

A tow bar or tow hitch is the mechanical device or part connected to the chassis of an automobile for towing. It usually fits under the bumper of a car and enables a driver to tow another vehicle with the least amount of equipment. Some common types of tow bars include rigid, car-mounted, and self-aligning tow bars. The materials used in the manufacturing of a car tow bar are also an important buying consideration. The choice of a car tow bar depends on various factors, including the desired use and the frequency of use. Some car tow bars are designed to be used occasionally a few times per year, while others are designed for heavy use.

Introductory level knowledge of the various types of car tow bars and the important buying considerations, including some do's and the don'ts, help buyers make good purchasing decisions. Car tow bars can be purchased from automotive stores and auto dealers as well as over the Internet. eBay features a large selection of car tow bars for consumers to consider.

Types of Car Tow Bars

Tow bars come in various types and have several uses accordingly. They can, for example, be used to tow a non-functioning car to a petrol station or a mechanic's shop. Rigid, flange ball, self-aligning, and car-mounted tow bars are the four most common types of car tow bars.

Rigid Tow Bars

Rigid tow bars are removable, welded, inexpensive, lightweight, and solid and are also known as A-frame tow bars because of their triangular shape. They are the original and basic tow bar design and usually lack any adjustments that assist a user in hooking them up. It is a challenging task for a rider to align the vehicle properly for towing as it is supposed to be at a precise location. They are a good option, however, if the use is not more than a few times per year. Rigid tow bars can also be removed and stored when not in use and can also be folded upwards. For a successful hook up, it generally requires the help of an additional person for precise alignment.

Flange Ball Tow Bars

Popular in Europe, the flange ball is an inexpensive tow bar that can function easily with almost all tow bar accessories. With this type, a tow ball is mounted on a tow bar and with the help of bolts is attached to the towing vehicle. Stabilisers are generally required for a flange ball system. The towing vehicle experiences a lot of torque, as well.

Self-Aligning Tow Bars

Self-aligning car tow bars also require manual hooking up just like rigid tow bars, but they are, as the name suggest, self-aligning, so they easily adjust to the position of the vehicle. Car-mounted and motorhome-mounted tow bars are the two types of self-aligning tow bars. They are also known as 'temper savers' and 'marriage savers'. These tow bars are a good option for frequent connection, disconnection, and reconnection.

Car-Mounted Tow Bars

Car-mounted tow bars are self-aligning tow bars that used to be the industry standard for a long time. They were the first self-aligning, foldable bars, and they generally have a quick release system and are easy and quick to hook up. A common use of car-mounted tow bars is the delivery of rental trucks or motorhomes and trucks. Care should be taken when using these tow bars as they can become damaged if they hit a pole or a wall.

The Do's of Buying a Car Tow Bar

Car tow bars are an extremely useful car accessory and offer a lot of value for the money. They are an easy to use, practical, and economical add-on that allows a vehicle to pull anything from small trailers to large size caravans. High-quality car tow bars also increase the resale value of a car. There are many considerations when buying a car tow bar.

Do Check the Material of the Car Tow Bar

The materials used in manufacturing a car tow bar of any kind is an extremely important buying consideration. A buyer should always prefer a tow bar made of high-quality materials because it is supposed to pull a vehicle weighing hundreds of kilos (or pounds), and compromising on the quality of the materials can lead to disasters. Even when a buyer is on a tight budget, compromising on the quality of the materials is never a recommended option for cutting costs.

Do Compare the Prices of Tow Bars Online

Although car tow bars can be purchased from automobile stores, the Internet enables buyers to take the time to compare the various tow bars and then make a decision. A buyer should always go through several online platforms to compare the prices and characteristics of different tow bars. Doing so is a highly recommended practice and may save one from any regrets later.

Do Know the Weight of the Vehicle and the Towing Capacity

There are internationally recognised classifications of vehicles and recommended tow bars based on the weight of the vehicle. A tow bar is only good for vehicles up to a certain weight and not for heavier vehicles. For heavier vehicles that fall in the next category, a different tow bar is the best option. Therefore, it is imperative that a buyer familiarises himself with the universal standards, knows the weight of his vehicle and the towing capacity, and then makes a tow bar buying decision.

The following towing capacity chart shows some common makes and models and their corresponding towing capacities. Towing capacities of different models of one make can also be different as shown in the table (rows two and three).




Towing Capacity (kgs)


4Runner Limited V6 4x4




Bantam 1.3i




Bantam 1.3i XLT




1400 Bakkie Champ







The table depicts the variations of towing capacities from make to model to year. Therefore, a buyer should know the weight of the vehicle and the towing capacity as mentioned in the user manual and never exceed those limits.

Do Read Consumer Reports

It is always recommended for shoppers to go through the various consumer reports online and read the user reviews to have a better idea of a particular product. Car tow bars are no different. User reviews are particularly helpful in determining the types of tow bars that suit a particular area, user, or vehicle.

The Don'ts of Buying a Car Tow Bar

When looking for a car tow bar, there are several things to watch out for that a buyer should not be doing. The don'ts of buying tow bars are true for every kind of shopping in general and online shopping in particular.

Don't Forget to Look for the Locking System

In order to negate the chances of theft, never forget to have a locking system in place for self-aligning tow bars. Other types of tow bars have different functioning, but self-aligning tow bars, although a good option for frequent connection and disconnection, are prone to theft. Therefore, a locking system is a great security feature a buyer should look for in a car tow bar.

Don't Go for Bars That are Hard to Connect

Avoiding tow bars that are hard to connect is also an important buying consideration, especially for buyers who intend to use them more frequently. Car tow bars that are hard to connect generally take a lot of valuable time and can even cause frustration. Look for tow bars that can be effortlessly connected and disconnected to a vehicle.

Don't Exceed the Suggested Towing Capacity

Not even for experimental purposes should a buyer exceed the specified towing capacity as it can cause serious injuries. User manuals that come with the bar generally have tables that clearly describe the towing capacity, and a buyer should stay within those limits. For a heavier vehicle, change the car tow bar to avoid any accidents.

How to Buy a Car Tow Bar on eBay

The search bar on the eBay homepage can be used to search for a desired product. It is one of the easiest ways of getting down to the exact product in no time. Enter a relevant query and browse the search results. You can also filter the car tow bars based on your preferences by selecting or deselecting various filtering options. Some search terms for this case could be 'car tow bar' or just ' tow bar'.

One recommended practice is to look for the desired product in your vicinity before looking anywhere else. This can be achieved by simply entering your postcode into the Distance filter. If you are lucky enough to find the desired car tow bar near your locality, you can pick it up from the seller at an agreed upon time as soon as the order is successfully processed. Another good practice is to go through the user comments and feedback to gain greater insight into the seller.


A tow hitch or tow bar is generally connected under the bumper of a vehicle to the chassis to enable one vehicle to tow another vehicle with the least amount of equipment. Car tow bars are a highly recommended feature for a car, and they offer a great value for the money. Car tow bars have many types, and the choice of a particular tow bar depends on several factors, such as the desired use, the frequency of use, the location of use, the climate where it is used, and the load to be towed. A locking system is a great feature to look for on self-aligning tow bars. Exceeding the towing capacity can be extremely dangerous and should be avoided.

A buyer should acquire general knowledge of the various types of car tow bars, the materials used in their manufacturing, their comparative prices on various platforms, and their weight restrictions in order to purchase the right tow bar for his or her needs. Automotive stores, auto dealers, and eBay all typically feature a variety of car tow bars for a diverse range of needs.

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