"Why has European Type Approval for towbars been introduced?"
Directive 94/20/EC was introduced as part of EWVTA to provide a common standard throughout the European Community, thus creating an open market. Irrespective of where a towbar has been Type Approved, a customer will know that it has been manufactured to a known technical and quality standard.
"What happens if I don't fit a Type Approved towbar?"
If your car is first registered on or after the 1st August 1998, you could be prosecuted for an infringement of Construction and Use Regulations or your Insurers may decline to pay out in the event of an accident claim.
"I only tow a small trailer on rare occasions, surely I don't need a type approved towbar?"
The towbar must be certified even if not used for towing! Otherwise it does not comply with the Road Traffic Act.
"I am changing my car, can I fit the towbar from my old car onto my new car?"
Not unless you are purchasing the same make and model of car and your towbar is type approved.
"Is the towing capacity relevant to my car or towbar?"
The towing capacity is relevant to your vehicle and all vehicles have varying towing capacities.
"Can I transfer my non approved towbar from my 1996 Vauxhall Vectra to the new Vectra I am getting after August 1998 if I fit it myself?"
No. Only Type Approved Towbars can be fitted to vehicles that are registered on or after the 1st August 1998.
"Does 94/20/EC mean that I can only have a swan neck towbar fitted as supplied by the vehicle manufacturer?"
No. A towbar with the popular two hole faceplate and towball made by an independant towbar manufacturer can be EC Type Approved.
"How long does it take to have a towbar fitted?"
It can take anything from 30 minutes to 4 hours to fit a towbar as fitting times vary with each bar.
"I have a Ford Ka and want to tow my small trailer but nobody lists a towbar. Can I have one specially manufactured?"
No. When EC Type Approving the vehicle, the manufacturer did not declare that it was suitable for towing. It therefore has no specified towing capacity and no specified mounting points. Towing with, or even the fitment of a towbar to any such vehicle registered on or after the 1st August 1998 would make you liable to prosecution.
"Can I fit a Type Approved towbar myself or do I have to go to an authorised dealer?"
Yes. You can fit the towbar yourself provided that it is installed in accordance with the instructions provided, but you may prefer a specialist to carry out the installation to include the often awkward towing electrics.
"Where are the electrics wired to?"
In most the electrics are wired directly to the vehicles rear lights.
"How can I tell if a towbar is EC Type Approved?"
It will have a label, data plate or staming showing an "E" No e.g. E11*0001*00. This figure denotes that it is EC Approved in the UK (E11), has an approval number (0001), of EC Document revision 0.
"I am towing a small trailer for my jet ski, what type of electrics will I need?"
You will require single electrics in order to power the normal tail / side lights, indicator, brake and fog lights.
"When would you require double electrics?"
Double electrics are needed when towing a caravan to supply power to the fridge and battery as well as taking a 12v feed into the caravan for interior lights etc. A split charge relay can also be added to double electrics to prevent your car battery being drained by your caravan.
"My local motor dealer says that my warranty will be invalidated unless I fit the manufacturer's towbar."
94/20/EC was designed to create free trade. If you fit a Type Approved towbar it will not invalidate the vehicle warranty. Under EC Block Exemption rules, a motor vehicle manufacturer cannot prevent a franchised outlet from supplying or fitting components deemed to be of equal quality to that supplied by the vehicle manufacturer - such as a Type Approved towbar.