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Towbars: Universal Wiring vs Vehicle Specific Wiring

Posted on September 20th 2019 by TowBar2U

towbar wiring

To those who are unfamiliar with towbars, it may be somewhat surprising to learn that there is wiring involved, and that it’s not simply a case of attaching a towbar and hooking a trailer to it. But when you are towing something, such as a caravan, its lights must function properly in order to inform other road users of your intentions, so the wiring is crucial. There are two types of wiring – universal and vehicle-specific – and in this article, we’re going to compare and contrast the two.

 

Universal Wiring

This type of wiring was the only option on the market until the introduction of vehicle-specific wiring.

Versatility – As the name implies, universal wiring is suitable for all types of towbar and vehicle. Using universal wiring ensures that all legally-required lighting functions will still work whilst you are towing.

Price – The versatility of universal wiring affords it a lower price than vehicle-specific wiring, as it is not made in accordance with any particular manufacturer’s guidelines. This does mean, however, that it will void your warranty.

Low strain – By this, we mean that your universal wiring does not burden your vehicle’s battery to power the lights on your trailer or caravan; it only requires a very small amount of power from the battery. It also uses an interface relay, which protects your vehicle’s computing systems from being overloaded by the trailing load’s wiring.

 

Vehicle-Specific Wiring

Also known as dedicated wiring, this is becoming a more and more popular choice.

Warranty protected – Unlike universal wiring, this is manufacturer-approved, meaning that should you encounter any issues with your dedicated wiring, you’ll be covered by your warranty.

Built-in safety features – Features such as trailer stability control, which is often negated by universal wiring, will still be functional if you use a dedicated wiring installation. In order to ensure all safety features are activated, a software update may be required.

Specific design – The wiring kit will be designed specifically for the vehicle that it is fitted to. This does mean, though, that the cost will be higher; the difference in cost between universal and dedicated wiring kits can be anywhere between £25 and £600.

Parking aids disabled while towing – Towing things can often play havoc with the parking aids on vehicles, but dedicated wiring kits will disable them while parking to avoid confusion, something which is not provided by universal kits.

 

Both types of towbar wiring present their own benefits to us as drivers and consumers, but there are of course factors that will affect whether or not a certain type of wiring is right for you. For those on a tight budget, universal wiring is probably the better choice; it’s cheaper, but still very reliable and effective, although it will void warranties and it may not cater for certain electronic features of a vehicle. If budget is not an issue, then dedicated wiring is the better choice, as it will be specifically designed for your vehicle and it’ll keep your warranty intact.

 

Towbar2U are proud to stock a wide range of high quality towbars, offering both universal and dedicated wiring kits to suit our customers’ vehicles, needs and budgets. For more information, please get in  call our friendly team on 0800 998 1969 or fill in our handy contact form.

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