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FAQs: Type Approval

Why has EC Approval for towbars been introduced?

What happens if I don't fit a Type Approved Towbar?

I only tow a small trailer to the tip now and again - do I need a Type approved Towbar?

Can I transfer my non approved towbar from my 1996 Vauxhall Vectra to my 'T' reg Vectra?

Can I fit a type Approved towbar myself or do I have to go to an authorised fitter?

Does 94/20/EC mean that I can only have a swan neck towbar fitted as supplied by the vehicle manufacturer?

I have a Vauxhall Tigra, but can't find a Type Approved Towbar listed, can i have one specially manufactured?

I am going to by a 1999 'T' reg Escort Hatchback. The towbar fitted to it is not Type Approved. What do I do?

How can I tell if a towbar is EC Approved or not?

I have a non EC Approved towbar on my 'P' reg Laguna Hatchback (An EC Type Approved vehicle, which was registered in the UK in January 1997). Can I legally use the car to tow my caravan to Germany?

If I have an accident whilst towing on the continent using a non EC approved towbar on my 'R' reg Omega will I be liable for prosecution for not having an EC Approved towbar?

I have a Motor Caravan and a Transit Van - do I need to fit a Type Approved Towbar to them?

My local motor dealer says that my warranty will be invalidated unless I fit the manufacturer's towbar?

Why has type approval for towbars been introduced?
Directive 94/20/EC was introduced as part of EWVTA to provide a common standard throughout the European Union, irrespective of where a towbar has been manufactured, providing it has been type approved, a customer will know that it has been manufactured to a known technical and quality standard.

What happens if I don't fit a type approved towbar?
If your car is first registered on or after the 1st August 1998 (20 April 1999 in Northern Ireland) you could be prosecuted for an infringement of Construction & Use regulations or your insurers may decline to pay out in the event of an accident claim. If you are unsure which towbar to fit please feel free to contact us.

I only tow a small trailer to the tip now and again - do I need a type approved towbar?
YES. You need a type approved towbar even if you don't use it for towing! Otherwise it does not comply with the Road Traffic Act.

Can I transfer my non approved towbar from my 1996 Vauxhall Vectra to my 'T' reg Vectra?
NO. Only type approved towbars can be fitted to relevant vehicles first registered on or after 1st August 1998 (20 April 1999 in Northern Ireland).

Can I fit a type approved towbar myself or do I have to go to an authorised fitter?
YES. You can fit the towbar yourself provided that it is installed in accordance with the instructions provided.

Does 94/20/EC or ECE Regulation 55 mean that I can only have a swan neck towbar fitted as supplied by the vehicle manufacturer?
NO. A towbar with the popular two-hole flange ball faceplate and towball made by an independent towbar manufacturer can be type approved. Over two-thirds of type approved towbars are of the two-hole flange type.

I have a Vauxhall Tigra, but can't find a type approved towbar listed, can i have one specially manufactured?
NO. When the vehicle was type approved the manufacturer did not declare it to be suitable for towing. It therefore has no specified towing capacity and no specified mounting points. Towing with, or even the fitment of a towbar to any such vehicle registered on or after 1st August 1998 (20 April 1999 in Northern Ireland) would make you liable to prosecution. Other such examples are the Ford Ka and the Audi TT coupe.

I am going to by a 1999 'T' reg Escort Hatchback. The towbar fitted to it is not type approved. What do I do?
Insist that the towbar is removed immediately and replaced worth one that is type approved. If you don't get a satisfactory response you should report the matter to your local trading standards office.

How can I tell if a towbar is Type Approved or not?
It will have a label, data plate or stamping showing an 'e' or 'E' number (e.g. e11*01*1662) This figure denotes that it is EC Approved in the UK (E11) and has an approval number of 1662 which is in fact EECo's Vectra Saloon/Hatch/Estate.

I have a non type approved towbar on my 'P' reg Laguna Hatchback (A type approved vehicle, which was registered in the UK in January 1997). Can I legally use the car to tow my caravan to Germany?
YES. Although the regulations are applied differently and introduced at different times in different countries, it is the country of registration that defines how and when you comply with the relevant regulation.

If I have an accident whilst towing on the continent using a non type approved towbar on my 'R' reg Omega will I be liable for prosecution for not having an EC Approved towbar?
NO. Provided the vehicle is registered in the UK before the 1st August 1998, however if the towbar is considered to have contribution to causing the accident for reasons of inadequacy e.g a poor made "home made" unit, or obviously incorrectly installed than naturally prosecution may be a possibility.

I have a Motor Caravan and a Transit Van - do I need to fit a type approved towbar to them?
The Department for Transport website states that EC Whole Vehicle Type Approval (ECWVTA) is required for many commerical vehicles from October 2010. EC Directives regarding ECWVTA (PDF file - page 84) state that type approval of towbars (if fitted) is a requirement of ECWVTA.

Tow-Trust Towbars has informed us that type approval of towbars for certain commerical vehicles is required from October 2010.

However Witter, PCT and others have stated to us in the week ending Friday 12 Novemeber 2010 that type approval of towbars is not required for commerical vehicles.

We have contacted the Department for Transport (DfT) and are awaiting a reply.

My local motor dealer says that my warranty will be invalidated unless I fit the manufacturer's towbar?
94/20/EC was designed to create free trade. If you fit a type approved towbar it will not invalidate the vehicle warranty. Under Block Exemption Rules a motor vehicle manufacturer cannot prevent a franchised outlet from supplying or fitting components deemed to be of equal quality to that supplied by the vehicle manufacture - such as a type approved towbar.

 

All prices include VAT. Towbar prices do not include towballs, electrics or delivery.
Towbars Direct, Norbrook Trailers Ltd, Tarporley Road (A49), Whitley, Warrington, Cheshire WA4 4DS
Telephone: 01925 730 005 Email:
sales@towbarsdirect.co.uk

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