Towbar Electrics

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Towbar Electrics

Towbar Electrics

Towbar electrics play a fundamental role in road safety. Taking care of both you and other road users when you’re towing caravans, trailers or bike racks, it’s essential that other drivers can still see some form of lighting.

Due to these items obscuring the back of your vehicle, towbar electrics will feature lights so others can still see signals and understand what you’re going to do when driving.

There are three types of plugs when it comes to towbar electrics.

These are:

  • Single 7 pin electrics
  • Single 13 pin electrics
  • Twin electrics

At Ken’s Autos, our team of experts are knowledgeable on all kinds of towing electrics, and can ensure your vehicle has the correct type installed every time.

Towing Lighting & Wiring

It’s vital that towing electrics are kept in good working order at all times. If not, you’re placing yourself and other road users at risk.

At Ken’s Autos, we can ensure that your towing lighting is always working as it should be. If you’ve experienced any faults, we can take a look at the towing wiring and conduct any necessary repairs that can get you moving again as soon as possible.

The best way to ensure you have the appropriate towbar electrics fitted is to visit the professionals. The Ken’s Autos team has decades of experience in providing customers across Nottingham, Derby and Mansfield with leading automotive services, including towing electrics, wiring and lighting. Contact our team today to find out more.

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Towbar Electrics FAQs

Do I need dedicated or universal towbar electrics?

Dedicated electrics communicate to your vehicle’s onboard computer (ECU) when towing. Universal electrics will do the opposite and bypass the ECU so the towing electrics circuit works independently.

Two common features gained with dedicated electrics are:

1) Reversing sensors turn off when you reverse with trailer/caravan attached

2) Dash warnings for bulb failures will appear when one of your trailer/caravan bulbs fail

Dedicated electrics are becoming more popular. Many towbar centres will only fit dedicated wiring kits, but at Ken’s, we want customers to make a well-informed decision by giving them the facts rather than just concentrating on the upsell. Dedicated electrics are often associated with the term ‘plug-in’. But it’s never quite plug and play, and there will still be some hard wiring to do.

The special towing features gained by dedicated wiring are developing. Another example is suspension changes to allow for a smoother ride (only useful with trailers/caravans). In these cases, the dedicated wiring is definitely worth considering. With dedicated electrics, we sometimes need to use programming software to activate the vehicle’s towing features. On rare occasions, if something else upsets the vehicle’s ECU, the towing electrics need to be reprogrammed.

What is the difference between 7-pin and 13-pin electrics?

Over the last decade, the 13-pin plug has become popular and most modern caravans and bike racks will use a 13-pin (black) plug. 13-pin plugs can be wired for lights only (8-pins will show) or wired for lights and in-caravan power (all pins used). Providing power to the caravan while towing is useful for charging leisure batteries, fridges and electronic Alko hitches.

The black 7-pin electric plug (also known as 12N) operates lights on the back of your trailer, caravan or bike rack. This plug remains popular on trailers, older caravans and bike carriers. Older caravans have an optional 7-pin plug, which is grey in colour, (known as 12S or twin electrics) to supply power to the caravan.

What is an 8-pin towbar plug?

Modern bike racks and trailers sometimes use a 13-pin style plug, but because no caravan power is needed there will only be 8-pins showing in the plug. If you need an 8-pin plug and don’t require caravan features, then you need to ask for 13-pin electrics wired for lights only.

Which towbar electrics do I need?

It’s important to match your car’s towing electrics to the plug you frequently use. For example, if you have a trailer or caravan with 7-pin plug and you don’t plan to change from this, then it’s convenient to have the 7-pin fitted. If you plan to upgrade your old 7-pin caravan to a newer 13-pin, then we would advise to fit the 13-pin electrics and use an adapter in the meantime.

What if I have the wrong towbar plug?

We sell towing electric adapters and converters which convert 7-pin to 13-pin and vice versa. In many bike rack kits, there is usually an adapter included. If you want a more permanent solution, Ken’s Autos can wire up a conversion for your 7-pin to 13-pin.

Will my towbar be compatible with Alko Stabilisers?

All towbars fitted by Ken’s Auto will be compatible with the Alko caravan hitches. Swan neck and detachable towbars are all compatible, but the fixed flange towbar will also come with an extended Alko compatible towball.

Do I need single or twin electrics?

The terms single and twin refer to times when caravans all used two plugs, one for lighting and one for caravan power. It’s not so relevant nowadays with 13-pin plugs around, but we take single electrics as meaning only lights, and twin electrics meaning lighting and caravan power.

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