Towing FAQ’s answered

Due to advancements in vehicle technology it is becoming more and more necessary to update the software on a vehicle that has been fitted with a dedicated wiring kit. This is to ensure that critical safety features and advanced towing features are enabled when towing. This is done using specialist coding equipment that connects to the ECU of the vehicle and allows trained users to update the software on the vehicle. Although it is called coding it is more like a software update on the vehicle.

Trailer preparation is where some of the dedicated wiring kit has been pre-fitted during the vehicles manufacture. Not all makes and models have trailer preparation fitted and even within a particular model such as the Volkswagen T6.1 Transporter the full range does not have trailer preparation fitted. This is why is is important to check if your vehicle has this fitted or not before purchasing a Vehicle Specific wiring kit.
To check if your vehicle has trailer preparation fitted the easiest way to do this is to check the fitting instructions for the kit with trailer prep and follow along until the instructions show where the trailer preparation plug is located and see if it is present on your vehicle.

Again using the VW T6.1 Transporter as our example you will see in the instructions that on the near side behind the panels in the rear of the vehicle there are plugs to attach the trailer prep kit to. If you ordered the trailer prep only kit and didn’t have these plugs then you would not be able to fit the kit and would have to return it and re-order the correct kit which takes time and costs more due to the return carriage, so it is always better to double check before ordering.

With a lot of vehicles now coming through fitted with reversing/parking sensors, a question that we are frequently asked is if a towbar will interfere or set off the sensors when reversing.
If you choose to go with a detachable towbar then you would remove the neck when not towing so the sensors would not be an issue as there is nothing for them to pickup when reversing.
When you are towing and you do have to go into reverse then the sensors will pickup the trailer/caravan/cycle carrier that you are towing.
If you also fit a dedicated kit most times (not always) the kit has the function to turn off the sensors when your trailer/caravan/ cycle carrier is plugged in. This means that you will not hear the sensors ever when towing. If the kit does not have this function such as on some BMW’s then there is either a button on the dash or a setting in the vehicle that you can manually turn off the sensors when towing. All of our listings for dedicated wiring kits will make reference to if this function is available or if a separate button must be used. This is normally noted as PDC cut off on the listings.
Unfortunately there are some vehicles such as the 2007 Toyota Rav4 which does not have the capability of turning off reversing sensors.

If you choose to go with a fixed towbar and you have parking sensors on your vehicle there is a chance that the sensors will pick up the towball when reversing even when you are not towing. Unfortunately there is no fool proof method to say which vehicles will be affected and which will not. In our many years of fitting towbars we have seen a lot of vehicles and can advise based on our experience when fitting a fixed towbar.
For example we have not seen a 2007 – 2019 Ford Kuga Mk1 or Mk2 have any issue with the towball been picked up when a fixed towbar is fitted
On the flip side the Citroen C4 Picasso and Grand Picasso which are fitted with reversing sensors have always picked up the towbar when reversing, so we always recommend a detachable towbar on these vehicles.
If you are unsure you can always contact us and we can advise based on our experience.

with the rise of Hybrid, PHEV and fully electric vehicles it is important to know what weight your vehicle can legally tow.
The way to find the towing weight of your vehicle is to first locate the VIN plate. The VIN plate is usually found under the bonnet or on one of the door pillars and looks something like this:
On the Vin plate there should be 3 or 4 weights as shown on the above image.
The top weight 2505kg in the example Gross Vehicle Weight (G.V.W), This is the Maximum allowable mass of the vehicle including passengers, fuel and luggage.
The 2nd weight 4200kg in the example is the Gross Train Weight this is the combined maximum allowable weight of the vehicle and trailer/caravan

the 3rd and 4th weight (1250kg & 1300kg in the example) are the maximum axle weights front and back respectively.

To find your towing weight you would take the gross train weight (4200kg) and subtract the gross vehicle weight (2505kg) and this gives you the towing weight of the vehicle. 4200 – 2505 = 1695kg towing weight

On some vehicles such as the Tesla Model S or Volkswagen UP the vehicle does not have a towing weight. For some of these vehicles Brink manufacture a towbar that can only be used on cycle carriers. The design of the towbar means that it can’t be used with a trailer or caravan hitch.

At Towing Centres we believe in giving customers choice so that is why we offer numerous cycle carrier options as no 1 solution is perfect for everyone. This is also why we are continually adding new products to our website in order to offer the solution that is right for you.

We stock towball mounted cycle carriers that site on any standard U.K 50mm towballs, we also offer cycle carriers that are mounted behind a fixed flange style towball this enables you to use a cycle carrier and also tow a trailer at the same time as long as you stay within weight limits.
We stock a range of 2,3 and 4 bike towball mounted cycle carriers

We also stock a range of roof mounted cycle carriers that can be attached to most Thule roof bars. There are options for bikes with quick release wheels, thru-axle wheels, BMX’s, Ladies bikes and Fat bikes. Some may require a little building but full instructions are provided both in the box and online. Accessories may be required to make them compatible with your bike, such as thru-axle adapters or fat bike straps. Our listings for these products have all the required adapters, straps etc. listed on the page to help you make the right choice.

We also offer a range of cycle carries that are mounted to the boot of certain vehicles and are held on with straps and protective hooks. These come in either a hanging style or a platform style as shown above. With these carriers a lightboard would usually be required if the bikes obscure the view of the rear lights on the vehicle.

The short answer is yes. When you are towing the rear most part of the vehicle, which would include the trailer/caravan/cycle carrier that you are towing must show the road lights such as indicators, brakes or side lights etc. In order for the vehicle behind you to know what it is you are doing.

Pin NumberWire ColourFunction
Pin 1YellowLeft Hand Indicator
Pin 2BlueFog Light
Pin 3WhiteEarth
Pin 4GreenRight Hand Indicator
Pin 5BrownRight Hand Tail Light
Pin 6RedBrake Light
Pin 7BlackLeft Hand Tail Light
Pin NumberWire ColourFunction
Pin 1YellowReverse Light
Pin 2BlueBattery
Pin 3WhiteEarth
Pin 4GreenPower Supply
Pin 5BrownSensing Device
Pin 6RedFridge
Pin 7BlackEarth
Pin NumberWire ColourFunction
Pin 1YellowLeft Hand Indicator
Pin 2BlueFog Light
Pin 3WhiteEarth
Pin 4GreenRight Hand Indicator
Pin 5BrownRight Hand Tail Light
Pin 6RedBrake Light
Pin 7BlackLeft Hand Tail Light
Pin 8PinkReverse Light
Pin 9OrangePermanent Live
Pin 10GreyIgnition Live
Pin 11White/BlackEarth
Pin 12NoneNot Used
Pin 13White/RedEarth

The height of a towball is measured from the ground to the centre of the towball. This must be done of level ground in order to get the correct measurement. The measurement should also be taken when the vehicle is in a ‘fully Laden state

The ‘laden’ state means when the vehicle is loaded with passengers and luggage. The weight used to place the car in its laden state is specified by the car manufacturer is the homologation documents for the vehicle.

This means that when the car is empty of passengers and luggage, the towball can often be much higher than 420mm.

Honestly there is not a definitive answer as the EC directive 94/20/EC states that the towball can sit anywhere between 350mm and 420mm off the ground while the vehicle is in a laden state

It is a common misconception that it is essential to have the trailer chassis perfectly level while towing and people often go to great lengths to try and achieve this.

However, from the information above it can be seen that there is inherently a wide height range for both the tow balls and the trailer couplings. So it is not unusual for there to be a height difference between your tow ball and the hitch on your trailer or caravan.

Remember from above, towball heights are 350-420mm, and trailer hitches are between 385-455mm from the ground, so it’s perfectly normal for the trailer hitch to be 35mm higher than the tow ball.  This gives the trailer/caravan a slightly ‘nose down’ pitch while towing

Also, the specifications are written to promote a tendency towards a slightly ‘nose down’ attitude of the trailer, with the medium of the range for the trailer being 35mm higher than the medium of the height range of the tow ball on the towing vehicle.

Furthermore, from the permissible ranges and laden definitions, it can be seen that the difference can be extreme.

For example, if your car is fully laden with passengers and luggage, the tow ball could be as low as 350mm. If you try and hitch up to a large unladen trailer then the trailer hitch may be as high as 500mm from the ground.

In other words, the trailer hitch would be 150mm higher than the tow ball on the car, but both the tow ball and the trailer hitch are at perfectly legal and acceptable heights.

To identify you would require 3 bits of information.
1. The manufacturer of the shoes. This is normally stamped on genuine shoes but can be obscured with usage, however you can also use the images below to identify which style of shoe you require.

2. The internal diameter of the brake drum: To measure the internal diameter of the brake drum all you have to do is take either a tape measure or a calliper large enough to do the job and measure from one side of the drum to the other passing through the middle of the drum.
This measurement is the first part of the brake shoe size ie. the 200 in a 200×50 shoe

3. The width of the brake shoes you are replacing. This measurement gives you the second part of the brake shoe size. All you have to do is measure the width of the brake shoe.

With these 3 bits of information you can now select the correct shoes for your trailer/caravan in our brake shoes shop.

if you require any further assistance you can email a picture of your brake shoes and the measurements to us on: info@towingcentres.com or via the WhatsApp button on the page.

PCD or Pitch Circle Diameter is the diameter of the circle which passes through the centre of all the studs or wheel bolts of your wheel rim.
The easiest way to calculate the PCD of your wheel rim is:
1. Measure the ‘S’ distance between 2 adjacent studs from the centre of each hole.
2. Use the below calculator to find your PCD.

Common PCD’s

Rim SizeNo of Studs‘S’ ValuePCD
8471.84 mm101.6mm (4 Inch)
8481.32 mm115 mm
10470.71 mm100 mm
10471.84 mm101.6mm (4inch)
10491.92 mm130mm
12598.78 mm139.7mm (5.5 inch)
12591.92 mm130 mm
12597.04 mm165.1 mm (6.5 inch)

With a 4 stud wheel you can measure the distance from one hole centre to the one directly opposite and this would give you the PCD.