You've Pulled! A Beginner's Guide to Tow Bars
5th March 2018
... Comments

If you're new to towing, have purchased a new vehicle or your towing requirements have changed, understanding the different tow bars available and which is the best option for you can be confusing. Here we aim to outline some of the considerations you should factor in when making a decision on which bar to add to your vehicle, and explain in laymen's terms, the three main types of bars and how to determine the right one for you. 

You should consider carefully the type of tow bar for your needs. Some things to think about and take into consideration, other than cost, should include:

  • Is your vehicle capable of towing what you expect?
  • Do you have any specific towing requirements? (e.g. towing a caravan with a stabiliser or connecting a trailer with a tow hook hitch or eye loop etc)
  • How often do you intend to use it?
  • What type of tow bar is compatible and available for your vehicle?
  • Will having a tow bar affect your vehicles manufacturers warranty?
  • Will a tow bar affect your parking sensors?
  • Which is the better option - a fixed tow bar or a detachable tow bar?
  • Would you be better off with a horizontal detachable tow bar rather than a vertical detachable tow bar?

You will need to consider your towing needs and your vehicle's towing capacity, but if you are unsure where to find the information you need or are not sure what type of bar is the right one for you, at Bolt-On Towing Ltd we can advise and guide you to determine what is the best solution for your needs.

Now to understand the tow bars themselves, and if you're unsure of the difference between a flange and a swan neck then read our summary here to explain.


Fixed Flange

The fixed flange tow bar has been the most popular tow bar in the UK for many years, and is generally the cheapest option for most vehicles. The tow ball is fixed to the flange of the tow bar by two securing bolts and the electrical sockets are usually mounted on to a fixing plate either side of the tow ball. Various types of towing balls and pins can be fitted to this type of tow bar. This type of tow bar is very visible and with twin electrical sockets fitted can be quite bulky in appearance on the rear of the vehicle. It is also the most likely option to interfere with parking sensors, where fitted. The fixed flange tow bar, is more often than not, the only option available for commercial vehicles.


  • The cheaper option

  • Variety of ball and pins can be fitted

  • Very visible and can be bulky

  • Can interfere with parking sensors

  • Frequently the only option for commercial vehicles


Fixed Swan Neck

A fixed swan neck tow bar is the most popular option across Europe. It's appearance is less obtrusive on the rear of the vehicle because only the swan neck appears from below the bumper with a fixed ball attached on the end of it. The electrical sockets are usually mounted lower and further back from the tow ball, and in some cases, they can be put on a swinging arm which can fold up behind the bumper to protect them and keep them out of site. The fixed swan is becoming more popular in the UK and is fully compatible with all stability devices.


  • Less visible

  • Swinging arm available in some cases

  • Fully compatible with stability devices



A detachable tow bar can come with either a flange or swan neck tow ball. As the name suggests, the towing neck can be removed from the vehicle when it is not required. Detachable tow bars can be either vertically or horizontally configured. A vertical detachable neck is more difficult to attach and detach than a horizontally detachable neck, but has the advantage of being virtually invisible when the towing neck has been removed from the vehicle. These type of tow bars are the more expensive option.


  • Can choose from a flange or swan neck tow ball

  • Removable

  • Can be configured vertically or horizontally

  • Can be virtually invisible

  • Less likely to bang your legs on the bar!

  • More expensive option

For more information call Bolt-On Towing on 0800 612 4414.

About the Author

Bolt-On Towing

Member since: 1st December 2017

Bolt-On Towing are a local independent business servicing the Bolton / North West area in the towing and after-market vehicle accessory industry, assisting both retail customers and the commercial / business...

Popular Categories