Are you going on a holiday but aren't fond of hotels, apartments and other closed spaces? Does your idea of vacation consist of breathing fresh air, and being one with nature? If you like camping, are an adventurous type, and a true fan of the great outdoors, then this one is for you. Let's leave the TV at home, tow the caravan and go camping.
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. Here is our advice.
Towing caravans and trailers
First things first – before you hire a car it is wise to check with the car hire agency if 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 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.
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 carry passengers 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 that you are towing is wider than the car, you will need towing mirrors
Tow bar types
There are two different styles of tow bars and both have two styles, so let's look at the styles 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 the swan neck tow bars, that are more common in the EU but are also starting to get popular in the UK. Most car owners feel that the swan neck tow bars look neater and they are less likely to trigger your parking sensors. But, 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 every type of tow bars available. If you understand the differences, you can ask the right questions when booking. Send an e-mail to the rent-a-car asking them what cars are available with tow bars, and ask them what kind of tow bars are available.
If you need a very specific type of a tow bar, tell them that up front, but expect that things can change when you arrive at your destination. Usually, you book 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.
Planning a road trip? Find out more about best road trip cars.
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