Frequently Asked Questions
- Q. We have decided to buy a caravan so this is the first time I will be towing. What towbar do we need and what type of electrics?
- Q. What is it meant by 'twin' electrics... what is the second socket for?
- Q. I have heard a lot about 13 pin systems. Is this a good system?
- Q. I only want a cheap towbar as I will use it to take rubbish up the tip once a month. Is this an option?
- Q. I have had a number of quotes for a towbar fitting from different companies and those that mentioned electrics, are offering me a by-pass relay in my car. How do these fit and is there anything wrong with this system?
A. This question is a common one and is not so easy to answer in a few lines, so we have listed the main points to consider for those in this position.
Firstly.. always try to select a towbar which really suits your car and your own needs.
- Do you plan to carry bikes on the towbar as well as tow? This may mean choosing a flange type.
- Does your car have rear parking sensors? The fixed towbar may be picked up by the sensors so a detachable becomes a good choice.If you want to run the caravan fridge whilst actually towing, then you need to choose a full system. (this is explained in further detail in question 2).
- If you don’t want the towbar to spoil the look of the car and you are planning only to tow a few times a year, then detachable towbars make a good choice.
These are just some of the points to consider but please call us here at Genesis Towing Centre and we would be delighted to discuss your needs in greater detail.
A. The traditional electrical connections, which have been in common use in the UK for many years, are known as 12N & 12S. The 12N socket, which is an abbreviation for - 12 Volt Normal, is designed to an *ISO standard and is designed to provide all the road light functions to the trailer, with the exception of reverse lamp.
The 12S socket, which is an abbreviation for – 12 Volt Supplementary, is, once again, approved to an *ISO standard and is designed to provide a number of additional electrical supplies into a caravan. For example, it is possible to operate internal lights, water pump etc, from the car battery when the caravan is stationary and connected by the 12s socket.
Additional features such as keeping a 12V supply to the fridge, (which keeps the fridge operating as a cool box) whilst towing. The 12S socket also provides the feed for the reverse light on the caravan.
*ISO – International Standards Organisation
A. This is a much debated question and it is good to clarify some points. In 2006/2007, the BSI group (British Standards Institute) made obsolete the 12N & 12S sockets in favour of 13 pin. This was done for a number of reasons as there was a need to bring parity throughout Europe for a standardised socket system as well as the long term affect of heavier voltage loads and the need for water tight connections.
The natural replacement was/is the 13 pin socket. This socket and plug system is vastly better in terms of connection and water resistance as well as the simplicity of only have one plug and socket connection. For example, in the early 2000’s, the 12S socket was subject to pin burnout and this was due to a number of problems which, in fact, is still current today. The 13 pin socket has not been subject to such issues. Therefore, as a result, the leading caravan manufacturers decided to begin assembling their caravans from late 2008, equipped with 13 pin plugs.
From a towbar point of view, the 13 pin socket is a very good choice as a growing number of detachable towbars have a swivel up socket. This means when not in use, the socket can be moved 90◦ so be hidden behind the bumper. This is not possible if twin sockets are used.
A. Since 1998, all towbars have to be designed and tested to the same standard. This really means that there can be no difference between what is termed a cheap towbar and an expensive one.
The major consideration for use at Genesis, is to offer products which are not only suitable for the customer, but most suitable for the car, in terms of fitting and correct operation of the electrical system.
Our major concern is the issues which can tend to be overlooked when searching for a towbar. Issues such as maintaining any vehicle warranty, ensuring all safety systems are ‘active’ when towing and so on.
A. As with any towbar fitting, the electrical installation tends to be the key factor which concerns most towbar fitting companies. For many years, the by-pass relay has been used in nearly all vehicle technologies. Much of this was down to towbar companies using a product that was proportionally low in cost as well as installing a product that did not require any knowledge of the vehicle they were installing this into. In addition to this, and due to the basic design of such units, the only way this was installed into the car was either by the use of crimp connectors (commonly called Scotchloks©) or by soldering. Both connections were made onto the lighting harness of the vehicle and would cause damage to the harnesses of the vehicle.
The alternative to these low cost units, is a specific wiring installation. These come in a kit form and are designed to suit each individual vehicle right down to the socket fixing screws.These install into the vehicle either using original connectors as used on the harness of the car, or directly onto the network wires of the vehicle. This second point is critical as many vehicles now be driven, are designed to have to recognise that a trailer is coupled. This will ensure any trailer related safety features will be active. The by-pass relay WILL NOT provide such functions!
Genesis Towing Centre spends many hours researching the technology on any individual vehicle and as a result, only seek to offer and install electrics which are of a specific nature. This ensures your car is equipped with the best and most safest from of connections as well as helping to maintain any vehicle warranty which could be put at risk if a universal by-pass relay is fitted.
We agree, these systems do cost more but with Genesis, you really do get what you pay for!