Tow Bar Safety Tips

(Your tow bar must comply with Australian Design Rules, Standards and Regulations.)

One of the major factors overseen by hirers is the towing vehicle’s tow bar.  Here are a few tips to ensure your tow bar is in a good, clean and safe working condition.

(50mm tow balls are standard for all hire trailers within Australia.)

To grease, or not to grease?

Many people believe excessive greasing of a tow ball can lead to the build-up of dirt and grime, whilst others believe the lack of grease will cause “sticking” of the tow ball within the trailer coupling. A good point to remember is that the materials in which tow balls are made of have changed many times over the years, therefor many different techniques can be used to clean, lubricate and protect your tow ball.  One example that surprised me is that WD40/RP7 can actually cause some tow balls to rust and become sticky. What I have learnt in my time is that greased or dry, a tow ball will remain affective as long as it is free of dirt and rust and maintained so that it complies with its manufacturers rating for the task at hand.

How much can my car safely tow?             

(towbar capacity)

Every Australian tow bar has a weight rating in which the manufacturer states the towbar can legally comply. The capacity of your tow bar and coupling must be at least equal to the loaded mass of the trailer.

A tow bar fitted to a vehicle built after January 1992 must be marked with its load capacity and either the vehicle model for which it is designed or the tow bar manufacturer's part number.

Tow Bar Design Rules

The tow bar must not protrude dangerously, or have sharp corners that could be a safety hazard when no trailer is fitted to your vehicle.      

Tow bar chain attachments must be able to withstand the rated load capacity of the tow bar.                   

The safety chain attachments must be mounted adjacent to the tow coupling and arranged so as to maintain the direction of the trailer in the event of coupling failure or disconnection.                 

In the event of coupling failure or disconnection, the safety chain(s) should support the drawbar and prevent it dropping to the ground.

Removable Tow Bars

Tow bars with a removable towing lug should be fitted with safety chain connections on the non-removable part of the tow bar. If the chain connections are on the removable lug then the lug must be restrained by an additional chain to prevent disconnection from the tow bar if the lug attachment fails.