So, you've decided to hire a car, and want to tow your caravan, bike carrier or boat trailer, but aren't quite sure how to hire a car with a tow bar or even if your rental car agency offers this car hire option.
In the United Kingdom, our partner Easirent offers to rent a Mitsubishi Warrior car with an added tow bar. For more information contact the car hire company directly.
Towing caravans and trailers
First things first – before you hire a car, it is wise to check with the car hire agency as to whether you are allowed to tow bar your caravan. If you get a green light at the rent-a-car agency to tow your caravan or trailer, you will probably want to go with a detachable tow bar. Some car rental agencies will allow you to attach the tow bar to their vehicle, while others will not allow towing of any kind with the hired car. Or maybe you'll find a vehicle at the rent-a-car agency that already has a tow bar attached – there are car hire agencies that offer vehicles already equipped with tow bars. In many cases, 4x4 vehicles are suitable for use with most of the conventional towing equipment. If you want to know more about what you will be driving, inform yourself with information on how a tow bar works and what are the best features of different types of tow bars.
Better safe than sorry
- Enjoy your break, but stay safe on the road
- Watch out when taking corners
- Never exceed 60 mph on dual carriageways and 50 mph on single carriage roads
- Do not let passengers ride in the caravan while towing it
- Tow bar has to be “type approved” – it has to meet EU regulations
- Keep your caravan as light as possible
- If the trailer or caravan that you are towing is wider than the car, you need to ensure you can see around it. If you can’t, you will need to add towing mirrors to the existing wing mirrors.
- The trailer or the caravan should also have a clear number plate that matches the vehicle registration and the plate should be fitted to the rear
- Don’t forget to correctly connect the electricals such as brakes and brake lights before you hit the road
Tow bar types
There are two different types of tow bars, and each type has two styles, so let's look at the types first. They are called swan neck and flange. The flange is most commonly used in the UK, and in general, this is a tow bar where the tow ball is bolted to the tow bar with two or four bolts. Because of its design, it can be used with different accessories, like cycle carriers, bumper protectors and all types of stabilizers.
On the other hand, we have swan neck tow bars, which are more common in the EU but are also starting to become popular in the UK. Most car owners feel that swan neck tow bars look neater, and they are less likely to trigger your parking sensors. However, this type of tow bar is less versatile; you can either tow or attach a cycle carrier, but you can't use both at the same time.
The two different styles of tow bars are fixed and detachable tow bars. Fixed tow bars tend to be a bit cheaper, but they change the look of the car because the tow bar is always visible. A detachable tow bar can be removed and leaves the vehicle looking like there is not a tow bar fitted. The towing capacity is the same for both.
When you rent a car with a tow bar, you need to understand that not every rent-a-car company has both types of tow bars available. If you understand the differences between them, however, you’ll be able to ask the right questions when booking. Send an e-mail to the rent-a-car company asking them what cars are available with tow bars, as well as what kind of tow bars are available.
If you need a very specific type of tow bar, tell them that up front, but expect that things may change when you arrive at your destination. Usually, you’re booking a car type, not a specific car, and the same goes for the types of tow bars. You will receive whatever is available at the destination.
When renting a car for the purpose of towing a caravan for holiday, a trailer, or even a broken down car, it’s important that you know the car’s towing capacity, because it is different for every vehicle depending on the make or model. You need to add the weight of the caravan or whatever you are towing to the overall weight. At Vehicle Rent, we have added some helpful guidelines for you.
The towing capacity is measured by the kerb weight and the towing capacity. The kerb weight of a vehicle is the total weight of a vehicle including the standard equipment, motor oil, coolant, and sometimes a full tank of fuel, but it does not include passengers or any other load. To find out your vehicle’s kerb weight, look in the vehicle handbook.
It is very important to know that if your trailer’s combined weight is more than 750kg or more than half your car’s kerb weight, the trailer will also need to be fitted with brakes. The towing capacity should be no more than 85% of the kerb weight.
In general, for the towing of a holiday caravan, a car with a towing weight of 2000kg should be enough. But since caravans can vary in weight, be sure to check the towing capacity of your car before hitting the road.