The Corona crisis has ensured that many people prefer to spend their holidays in their own country. Whether for fear of potentially infected seat neighbors on the plane or concern about possible entry restrictions at long-haul destinations : Many families prefer to use their own car and are considering retrofitting a trailer coupling. Caravans or bike racks for the trailer coupling are particularly popular. In this article you will find out what costs you will have to face and what to look out for.
Convert the car into a packhorse
If you miss the practical hook on your car, it is possible to have a trailer hitch retrofitted. You can even order these yourself from an accessory store. We'll tell you which versions are available, how the individual models are attached to the car and what costs you will have to pay for.
These variants are available for the trailer coupling
A basic distinction is made between three different variants, which we would like to present to you in detail below:
- Rigid trailer coupling: The rigid trailer coupling is ideally suited for continuous use. This variant is therefore often found in companies or with frequent travelers. At the same time, it is the cheapest option when it comes to retrofitting a trailer hitch. These towbars are provided with a ball head, which is fixed in combination with a ball rod. Either welded or screwed. The rigid properties relate to the fact that the trailer hitch cannot be removed because it is firmly attached to the assembly cross member.
- Detachable trailer coupling: The detachable trailer coupling is a possibility that is particularly suitable for users who only want to use their holding device occasionally. In contrast to the rigid version, no permanent changes to the car are required. If this is not needed, it can be removed again in a few simple steps so that the familiar look of the trolley is retained.
- Swiveling trailer hitch: This is not only a practical, but also an inconspicuous and therefore elegant method of retrofitting a trailer hitch. The holding device is simply turned under the bumper and is ready for use in a few seconds. This version proves to be the ideal solution for spontaneous users. The disadvantage, however, relates to the fact that these models cannot be rotated under every bumper. In addition, the system is not available for all car models. Here it makes sense to ask directly in the workshop.
Cost of a trailer coupling
In order to retrofit a trailer coupling, the bumper must be unscrewed. The same applies to the steel beam, which is directly behind it. The cost of materials is always based on the type of trailer coupling. In addition, how much load the holding device should carry is decisive for the total costs. A rigid model is significantly cheaper than a detachable system. Basically you have to be prepared for costs between 200 and 600 euros . You will also need to budget an additional EUR 100 for the electrical kit required. And last but not least, you have to pay the labor costs that are incurred in the workshop for assembly. This takes around two to three hours , with hourly wages ranging from 70 to 120 euros .
Tip: Pay attention to the fixed prices offered in workshops so that you can keep an eye on the costs in advance.
Which retrofit system should I choose?
The correct selection always refers to a holding device that fits the corresponding vehicle. After all, not every system can be fixed to every vehicle. It is therefore advisable to use a system that is offered directly by the car manufacturer. This ensures that the coupling has already been checked and that it definitely fits. You can then also be sure that the electrical kit has been matched to the electrics of the trailer operation. Although third-party providers also offer retrofit systems, they usually do not provide an EC type approval, which is why you need to go to the TÜV. Also clarify in advance which trailer socket (7- or 13-pin) is needed to operate the following components:
- Brake light
- Rear fog light
Alternatively, you can use an adapter. Also check whether you need a special control unit to enable control of the electrical system if the vehicle has been equipped with an electronic management system. Here it may be that you have to have the electrics for trailer operation activated by the workshop.
Retrofitting a trailer coupling: which vehicles are suitable?
Most vehicles can be retrofitted without any problems, but there are also some restrictions to be observed. These relate to:
- Electric vehicles
- Hybrid vehicles
- Sports vehicles
You can only have the tow bar retrofitted if the vehicle manufacturer has approved support and towing loads for the respective car. The coupling ball must therefore be at a sufficient height from the ground when loaded: 350 to 420 millimeters. Another requirement relates to the brake, which must be strong enough to be able to brake the additional weight of the load.