UPDATE: If your vehicle has towing safety features and you fit a UNIVERSAL electrics kit then you could have issues should you need to make an insurance claim. The Universal electrics will bypass the vehicle’s towing safety features, something that should be active while towing.
When buying towing equipment your primary buying preferences should be that of safety. Your secondary preference should be reliability and your third should be price.
With towing electrics you have two main choices to make…
Universal or Vehicle specific towing electrics:
Universal towing electrics are the old style of electrical towing connections. They use a set of wires that splice into your car’s rear lighting wires and connect to the towing electrics socket. As the name suggests, universal tow bar wiring is designed to fit all vehicles. So the same wiring is used for every vehicle, from a 1962 Ford Anglia right through to the latest Ford Kuga. As you will probably realise, things have progressed and modern vehicles require modern towing electrics that work together with your vehicle’s complex electronics. You will know if you have Universal electrics fitted as you will hear the distinctive beeping when you use your vehicle’s indicators. If your vehicle has towing safety features then you MUST fit a vehicle specific dedicated wiring kit.
Vehicle Specific Dedicated electrics have been designed to fit your vehicle’s make and model. A Ford Kuga dedicated kit has been designed to work with the complex electronics that a modern vehicle has.
Vehicle Specific Dedicated electrics will tell your vehicle’s computer that you have connected a trailer/caravan and automatically change things such as ABS braking, cruise control, vehicle trailer stability, disable your rear fog on the towing vehicle, and enable the vehicles bulb failure to show bulbs out on the vehicle and trailer. In many cases, the rear Parking Distance Control (PDC) is automatically cut when the towing electrics are connected. This stops the parking sensors from detecting the caravan or trailer when reversing and stops the beeping. (your reverse camera will still work as normal)
Indicator use is shown in-dash, instead of through an attached beeper used on a universal kit. The other two benefits that come with vehicle-specific dedicated electrics are…
Vehicle Specific Dedicated electrics have their own wiring loom and connect to the vehicle’s wiring loom without using lots of plastic clips to splice the wires. They make use of higher quality materials than the cheaper universal wiring kits.
The final benefit of vehicle-specific dedicated wiring is that it won’t invalidate your vehicle’s warranty. As you can imagine, chopping into wires on a new vehicle is not the best idea, and doing so can invalidate any warranty that your vehicle has, resulting in a very expensive repair bill should you ever need to have your vehicle repaired at a dealer workshop.
Yes, vehicle-specific dedicated electrics are initially more expensive to buy. But the benefits of reliability and safety more than makeup for the price difference.
As you can see from the above images, the dedicated towing electrics kit is a lot more complex than the universal wiring kit. Many towbar fitters are keen to fit the universal electrics kits as they are simple to fit, quick to fit, and very cheap to buy. They also do not require any vehicle coding as they do not link with the vehicle’s CAN bus system. The dedicated towing electrics are designed to work with the vehicle’s complex electrical system and in many cases, the vehicle requires coding by the towbar fitter to enable your vehicle’s enhanced towing features.
Don’t fall into the trap of buying the cheapest available option when searching to get a tow bar fitted. Do your research and check what you are buying.
At Ultimate Towbars we believe in giving our customers the best quality at the best price. We don’t fit universal towing electrics, because we feel they are not suitable or safe for use on today’s modern towing vehicles.
Happy Towing from Team Ultimate Towbars.