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What is a Towbar and How is it Used?

What is known as a “Towbar” can refer to a number of different kinds of vehicle towing devices. The most common types of tow bars are of two kinds, and they are: a triangular shaped structure of bars which attaches itself to the rear end of one motor vehicle and to the front of another vehicle, so that the front vehicle can then tow the second; and then there’s a tow hitch system that attaches to the back of a vehicle so as to tow things such as a livestock trailer or a number of other applications.

A tow bar which has been designed to tow a second vehicle can be bolted on to the tow vehicle (Called a “coach-mounted system”) or it can be bolted to the front end of the vehicle which is going to be towed and known as a “car-mounted system”. In both cases, the towbar combines the towing vehicle to the vehicle getting towed, and it allows for a degree of swiveling between the two vehicles so that they can easily move by themselves during turns and over things like bumps. A towbar has to be connected in a redundant fashion, meaning that there is a primary connection which is usually a ball and socket system, and there are security fallbacks, usually in the shape of towing chains that connect the towbar to the towing vehicle or the vehicle being towed.

Tow Hitch or Receiver

The other kind of towbar people use is more commonly known as a “tow hitch” or “receiver”. This is a steel bar that is attached with a bolt or welded to the frame of the towing vehicle, with a square hole which receive a draw bar attached to a ball hitch. The tow hitch and the draw bar are both separate elements and are interchangeable, which means, therefore, that the tow hitch can allow any draw bar designed for a number of purposes, as long as the bar and hitch are about the same size. For towing, a two inch (5 cm) receiver and bar system is the one most commonly employed, though an inch and a quarter (3.175 cm) system is also available, too. The smaller tow hitch system should only be employed for smaller trailers or other purposes, such as bicycle or storage racks.

Both the towbar and the tow hitch designs will need the appropriate wiring to make sure that the trailer or vehicle being towed has working brake lights that operate at the same time as the tow vehicle. This is achieved by wiring a female-end harness onto the towing vehicle to a male-end harness on the trailer or the vehicle which is being towed. This wiring is legally necessary to make sure that the trailing vehicle or trailer is allowed onto the road. Strong safety chains are also a good idea and should always be used in conjunction with the primary connection point.

Towbars are things we think not much of, but are in constant use daily!

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