Tow bars are not the cheapest of accessories, reason why it took me 3 years to finally have one installed. With its relatively high cost and potentially very occasional use, I really had a hard time deciding. However, it came to a point where I was left with no choice. As we were getting into outdoor recreation, I was convinced that a tow bar is a must have.
Contrary to its name, the tow bar actually has more practical uses than just towing. Thanks to some very creative and innovative minds, the humble tow bar can now be used to ferry your gear, given the right accessories of course, e.g. bike carriers and trays.
We all know it’s for towing, we know about bike racks on tow bars but in case you are wondering about the tray part, this is what I meant:
Now how is that better than a roof rack, you ask? It’s much easier to load and unload. 4×4’s look really cool with a top load but trust me when I say it is not as easy as it looks. Having said, I also have a roof rack, but that’s another story. 🙂
A tow bar is not very complicated. However, there are a few attributes and specifications that you will need to consider for safety reasons. On the other hand, having this basic knowledge may help you make the best decision in choosing the right tow bar for your lifestyle and budget.
Let’s get into it:
- Towing capacity. Your car’s towing capacity can be found in your car’s manual. Shame I don’t read manuals though, I go straight to Google. One search will lead you to a bunch of forums and blogs about your car. If possible, go straight to the manufacturer’s website to make sure you have the right specs. Let’s take my car as an example. It has a towing capacity of 3100kg which is quite a lot if you don’t plan on towing a full-sized caravan. If your tow bar will only be used for ferrying bikes and some occasional trips to Bunnings, then you can probably save a few bucks by going with lower tow ratings. Speak with a professional tow bar installer.
- Concealed or exposed? A concealed tow bar is, as the name implies, concealed/hidden. You will only get to see a part of the hitch and the tow ball. This is mainly for aesthetics and does not really have a significant impact on the tow bar’s functionality and usability. I went with the concealed one just because my car looks a bit odd with the normal or exposed one.
Here’s what a concealed tow bar looks like. You don’t really see the bar but notice that there’s a small section that has been cut.
I had Five Star Tow Bars help me in installing mine and I’m very happy with the result.
In my opinion, tow bars are a bit underrated. In fact, the name ‘tow bar’ itself is kind of short selling its full potential – tow bars go well beyond towing caravans and trailers. Yes they are a bit pricey, like in my case, I paid $995. But if you think about it, it basically means, for $995 I have extended my car’s capability – I can now take my bikes anywhere with ease, which I do quite a lot, and I can tow trailers for my next DIY landscaping projects. And with the current range of accessories, the possibilities are almost endless. Think of it as maximising your car’s potential.
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