When does the towbar need to be removed and why?

19. Oktober 2021 um 10:55

detachable towbarThe detachable trailer hitch is a practical and convenient solution: If you want to drive the trailer for a short time, but do not necessarily always want to have a trailer hitch mounted on the vehicle, you can remove it at any time. A rigid ball bar does not offer this and can sometimes be a nuisance, for example when loading the car. Often, vehicle owners do not want to permanently drive around with an unused trailer coupling on the vehicle, as this is seen as an interference with the vehicle’s optics, depending on the model.

The detachable towbar is a good alternative, after all, it can be removed at any time in only a few simple steps and is then neither actually nor visually in the way. However, the detachable towbar should be removed in some situations. Although there are no regulations, you should keep a few points in mind.

That is why you should remove the detachable towbar in these cases

Depending on the trailer coupling and vehicle, it may be that the removal of the ball rod is noted in the vehicle documents and thus made a requirement for driving without a trailer. This case can apply, for example, if the towbar would cover the license plate. This is not allowed and must be avoided when driving without a trailer, so you should remove the towball.

Basically, it makes sense to remove the towball whenever you are not pulling a trailer. This is mainly due to insurance reasons. For example, if you back up to another vehicle while parking, the risk of damage to the opposing vehicle with your trailer hitch still installed is higher. This also comes into play in rear-end collisions, although in that case you are only partly to blame if you did not remove the ball bar. Many insurance companies advise you to always remove the ball rod when it is not in use. By doing that, you can minimize personal or third-party damage and you can be sure that the claims that may be made to the insurance company are not reduced.

Should there ever be a rear-end collision with the tow bar installed, i.e. if someone crashes your car from behind and you have not taken off the towbar, the warranty for the entire trailer hitch expires and it must be replaced. The reason for this is that the smallest cracks in the trailer coupling cannot be ruled out. But even if you have removed the towball and someone hits you on your rear, you should at least contact the manufacturer of the trailer coupling and reassure yourself there with regard to a possibly necessary replacement for the cross member.

Trailer driving on slopes and inclines

8. Oktober 2021 um 16:28

Trailer driving on slopes and inclinesDriving on a mountain, i.e. uphill or downhill, is still a challenge for many drivers even after driving school. With the trailer, it can be even more difficult, not least because of the additional weight. In this article we explain to you which points you should pay particular attention to when driving with a trailer on roads with slopes or inclines and how you can master these hurdles well.

This is how you drive your trailer on an incline

If you are traveling with a trailer and have to pass an incline, the towing vehicle – especially with a fully loaded trailer – is subject to greater stress. The engine has to work on a higher level. This is easier if you shift down a gear and thereby increase the engine power. If the gear is too high, your team will slow down. You may even have to stop and start on the mountain. Although this is not impossible, it leads to unnecessarily heavy wear on the towing vehicle. If it can be avoided, then you should drive with enough foresight, shift down a gear and still not exceed the speed – this is the only way you can still be proactive. If it is necessary to start off on the mountain with a trailer, then it is essential to use the handbrake for support, as you once learned in driving school.

Trailer driving on sloping roads

Roads with gradients hold a few small pitfalls for your journey with the trailer. On the one hand, your trailer always pushes your team on journeys that go downhill. So you have to keep in mind that the entire weight of the (loaded) trailer will push from behind. On the other hand, this means that your team is a little faster than you intended, and thus, the braking distance is also longer.

So you should act early on roads with a gradient, keep an eye on the possibly higher speed early on and reduce it. At the same time, it is advisable to engage a lower gear, as you can then use the engine brake to assist. If you only brake with the brakes of the towing vehicle, it is possible that these will overheat due to the higher load and their effectiveness will decrease. Important: Never switch off the engine when driving downhill with a trailer. Switching off would cause aids such as power steering and brake booster to fail.

Consider these points when driving with a rear bike carrier in Germany, Austria or Switzerland

10. September 2021 um 17:07

rear bike carrierFor transporting bicycles, the rear bicycle carrier is above all practical and uncomplicated. But so that your journey goes without problems, you should definitely keep a few points in mind when driving in Germany, Austria or Switzerland.

The third license plate is compulsory in Germany

Once your rear bike carrier is loaded, it mainly covers the license plate. According to the German StVO, the license plate must always be visible. In Germany it is therefore mandatory to attach a third license plate, i.e. a replacement license plate, to the rear bike rack. When buying the carrier, it is best to ensure that it has a way of attaching the license plate. You can easily get a third license plate from the Road Traffic Office. The best thing to do is to mount it firmly on the carrier so that it cannot be forgotten. Important: It is not necessary to stamp the license plate.

Also make sure that the lighting of your vehicle is not covered when transporting the bicycles. Since this often cannot be avoided, your rear bike carrier should also have lighting that can be connected to the vehicle electronics via the socket at the rear.

In Austria you need a red license plate

In Austria, too, you have to mount a third license plate on the rear bike rack if your cargo covers the original license plate. The specialty, however, is that you need a red license plate. You also have to pay attention to the lighting on the rear bike carrier, which is already known from Germany.

The load securing and loading of the rear bike carrier in Switzerland

In addition to the third number plate and the lighting, there is a special focus on loading the rear bike carrier and securing the load in Switzerland. The bicycles must explicitly not be wider than the vehicle and not pose a risk to road traffic. There is an interesting special rule with regard to the dimensions: the bike must not exceed the total length of two meters, but it would also be okay if the bike protrudes 20 cm on each side above the vehicle. If you have an accident in Switzerland due to an incorrectly secured load, you will have to pay for the damage in any case. In our neighboring country, make sure to lash the bikes tightly and use all the safety measures provided on the rear bike carrier. Uninstall any other parts on the bike that could easily fall off, such as air pumps, saddle pads or baskets, and avoids the use of a cover. Above all, the latter would also affect the driving behavior of your vehicle.

The speed limit with the rear bike rack

Most European countries do not have a speed limit for driving with a rear bike rack, but you should pay attention to what the manufacturers of the rack specify and you should not exceed these values.

Make sure to also pay attention to the rules for transport on the rear bike carrier in other EU countries.

Rear bike carrier or roof carrier: which is better for your transport?

13. August 2021 um 16:29

Rear bike carrierIf you want to take the bikes with you on vacation or are planning a bike tour far away from home, the best way to transport the bikes is by car. You have various options for the transportation as you can use the rear bike carrier on the one hand. On the other hand, you have the option of transporting bicycles on the roof of most vehicles. But which of the two options offers which advantages?

Transport with the rear bike carrier

Of course, you need a towbar to transport your bikes on a rear bike rack. The rear bicycle carrier is placed on the towbar and fixed to the ball head. At the same time, you have to make sure that your rear bike rack has a lighting system and is equipped with a license plate, as both can be hidden on the vehicle when the bikes are being transported. Before driving off, you should also check the width of the vehicle with the bicycles on the carrier, the bicycles should not protrude beyond the width of the vehicle. Make sure that you do not overload your rear bike carrier and that you secure and fasten the bikes well.

The German ADAC also recommends paying special attention to the speed at which you are driving with the rear bicycle carrier. The driving behavior of your vehicle can change due to the carrier and its load, also due to the increased air resistance. TheADAC recommendation is therefore not to drive faster than 120 km / h and not to use a cover.

Your bicycles for transport on the roof

The first requirement for transporting the bicycles on the roof is a roof rail on your vehicle. The carrier system is attached to this. As with loading the rear bike rack, you have to make sure that this and the vehicle are not overloaded when transporting with the roof rack. You should therefore always keep an eye on the roof load and also know the weight of your individual bicycles.

The loading of the roof rack is a little more complex than with the rear bike rack and the loading height is of course more uncomfortable for you. It is best to protect the car with a blanket while it is being loaded and make sure that the two of you load the roof with the bicycles.

When driving with a roof rack loaded with bicycles, you should also make sure not to be traveling too fast. Of course, this transport option also changes the driving behavior of the car accordingly. When driving into underground garages, tunnels or under locking beams, you should make sure in advance that it is also possible to drive in with the bicycles on the roof.

You have to pay attention to this when you are abroad

In some countries protruding cargo must be marked. In Germany we do not know this from the ride with the rear bike carrier, but it is necessary in Spain, Portugal, Austria or Belgium, for example. The type of marking for protruding cargo is regulated individually for each country, it is best to inform yourself before your trip in order to avoid fines during your journey.

Park and uncouple the trailer: Pay attention to these points

12. Juli 2021 um 16:02

Parking the trailerAfter your trailer ride, your trailer must be safely “stowed away” again. We have put together a few tips for you on parking, uncoupling and securing the trailer, which you should pay attention to when parking the trailer.

This is how you park your trailer

Reversing with a trailer can be a bit difficult at times. As always, it is easiest when you have someone to instruct you. And: practice makes perfect. Reversing works best when you know your team really well and can assess how the trailer will react to your steering movements.
Before parking, you should make sure that the space or gap where the trailer is to be parked is large enough and that there are no obstacles in the way. You should also have enough space in front of you for maneuvering. Clear possible obstacles – if  necessary – out of the way and look for landmarks in advance that you can have a good view of when reversing and help you to position the trailer.

If, for example, you have to hit a gap in a number of other trailers, it can be helpful if you are already trying to move the trailer as close as possible to the gap when you are driving forward so that you don’t have to go as far in reverse. In principle, think in advance what you can already consider when driving forwards in order to make it easier for you to drive backwards. Always avoid hectic steering movements. It is better to stop once too much than too little to make sure that everything fits and that you can get the trailer to stop exactly where you want it to be.

Safety first

When you have parked the trailer, you should first make sure that the trailer is secured and prevent it from rolling away as soon as you have released it from the towing vehicle. Use wheel chocks for this and be sure to tighten the trailer’s brake as a first step. Then dissolve the electronic connection between the trailer and the towing vehicle and clear the trailer’s power cable in the receptacle that is often provided for it. Then crank the trailer’s support wheel down and lift the trailer off the trailer hitch. Only as the last step do you loosen the breakaway cable. This is an important point in your hanging out routine and a final safeguard to prevent the trailer from rolling away. Only loosen the breakaway cable if you are sure that you have completed all the other steps beforehand and that the trailer is safe and secure and, above all, cannot roll away.

Attaching the trailer: The most important steps

2. Juni 2021 um 18:14

Attaching the trailerYou are about to start your first trip with the trailer, but you have not yet attached it yourself? We have a few tips for you and explain the most important steps for securely and easily attaching your trailer.

Driving to the trailer backwards

When approaching the trailer, you should focus on precision and take your time. First, pay attention to where your trailer is. For example, is there a enough space left and right and behind the trailer? Are there possible obstacles that you should not only have in the back of your head, but should also be cleared out of the way beforehand? It is of course easiest if you have a helper whom you can place beside the trailer and who will then instruct you. But even without a helper, you can attach the trailer by yourself with a little practice.

Make sure that you drive as straight as possible in front of the trailer and that your trailer hitch is positioned as centrally as possible towards the trailer. With a little practice, you can also identify landmarks on the trailer that will help you to center the towing vehicle backwards towards the trailer.

You should be careful not to drive too fast. Especially when you are alone, it is better to slowly make your way towards the trailer than to risk a dent in the back of your car. A mark on the ground may help you to better estimate the distance so that you don’t have to get out of the car to check the remaining distance to the trailer. A mirror that you mount on the trailer or a rear-view camera for your vehicle (if this is not part of the equipment already, the camera can also be retrofitted) will help you approach the trailer.

Attaching the trailer

The time has come, your towing vehicle is centered in front of the drawbar of the trailer. Now you slowly crank the support wheel down, making sure that you hit the trailer hitch on the towing vehicle as precisely as possible. On some trailers, cranking down is hindered by the trailer’s parking brake. You should only solve the parking brake once you have made sure that the trailer cannot roll forwards or backwards. It is best to use wheel chocks if you have to release the parking brake early.

If you have cranked the trailer down so far that it is in contact with the towbar, the trailer may jump onto the towbar by itself and lock into place. If this is not the case, you lift the lever on the ball coupling slightly and use it to open the trailer coupling so that you can place the trailer on the trailer coupling and attach it. When you let go of the lever, the ball hitch lock should automatically click into place. To be sure that the lock has worked, you can crank the support wheel up a little. If the trailer does not detach from the towbar, everything is locked correctly.

Security check: Is everything correct?

With the locking of the ball coupling on the trailer coupling, you have already passed the first security check. Then you attach the breakaway cable and plug in the plug for the power connection between the towing vehicle and the trailer. Now all you have to do is check the support wheel and, if necessary, bring it into its parking position, release the trailer’s brake, remove any wedges and you can drive out of the trailer’s parking space. Also, briefly make sure that all lamps and indicators on the trailer are working correctly. Then you are ready for your journey.

You can read about how to correctly secure your load when driving a trailer in our blog post.

Registration for your trailer: the most important information

14. Mai 2021 um 17:51

Registration of your trailerIf you get a new trailer, then you should definitely plan the trip to the registration office. A trailer for a car is not registration-free and you have to get official license plates in addition to the registration. In order to get this and to be able to use your new trailer for the first trip, you have to register your trailer. You can only use it in road traffic with a valid license.

These documents are needed for the registration of your trailer

So that your trailer is approved and your new license plates can be issued, you can’t avoid driving to the responsible registration office. When you are on site, you need the following documents so that your approval can be issued: You need the manufacturer’s certificate or confirmation of a valid general inspection by a testing organization such as the German DEKRA or TÜV, which confirms that your trailer is roadworthy. If the “TÜV” has expired, there will be a fine depending on the duration of the overdraft, so make sure that the general inspection is still valid. You should also be able to identify yourself, for example with an identity card. Also have the registration certificate part I and II with you in any case. Finally, you need an insurance code from your insurance company, alternatively you can also bring a double insurance card with you.

No papers?

Even if you don’t have any papers, you can register the trailer, but this is much more difficult. Such an exception is only made if the vehicle registration or registration document has been lost, not if you have forgotten it at home. In the case of lost documents, the responsible authorities first check who the actual owner of your trailer is. Of course, a sales contract between you and the seller is helpful here and can accelerate the process. In addition, of course, it must also be checked whether the trailer has been reported as stolen. A replacement for the lost documents can usually be requested promptly, the old license plate should be known and the vehicle registration document should ideally still be available.

Safety first: the brakes on the trailer

29. April 2021 um 16:38

Brakes for the trailerBefore every trip with the trailer, you will certainly check your lighting equipment and the locking of the trailer on the towbar, but the wheels and brakes should also be checked regularly. Your trailer will have its own brakes itself if it weighs more than 750 kg. It is set that trailers can only be pulled without brakes up to a maximum permissible total weight of 750 kg. Why is this important? Because, above all, with increasing weight, the braking distance of your combination changes and the trailer infects the vehicle from behind when braking. It practically pushes the towing vehicle when braking, so that the vehicle’s brakes have to be more efficient. At the same time, there is an increased risk of pulling out of the trailer with heavy trailers without their own brake.

The overrun brake

So if your trailer is heavier than 750 kg, a so-called overrun brake is required. This prevents the vehicle from being pushed by the trailer during braking and follows a simple mechanical principle. The overrun brake works like this: When the vehicle brakes, the trailer runs on the vehicle or the trailer coupling. A lever is thrown by the forces that are generated, which in turn releases the trailer’s brakes. The more your car brakes as a towing vehicle, the more the trailer is braked by the overrun brake and the load is distributed over both brakes.

Emergency braking with the breakaway rope

If the trailer should come loose from the ball bar, the overrun brake will of course no longer work. In that case, the breakaway cable is your protection for braking the trailer. You have to attach the breakaway cable to a part of the car that is permanently installed with the vehicle; our MVG trailer hitches have a special eyelet on the cross member to which you can attach the breakaway cable. Otherwise you should use a special holder. When the trailer detaches from the towing vehicle, the pull on the breakaway cable initiates emergency braking and the trailer comes to a standstill. So you should always pay attention to the correct use of the breakaway rope, as it is very important in an emergency.

 

Safely transporting bikes

12. März 2021 um 16:33

Rear bicycle rack for transporting bicyclesIt’s slowly getting nicer outside and you can take a ride on the bikes. Even a more distant round can be easily taken into account with a short transport of the bicycles. Rear bike racks are best for transporting the bikes. What do you have to pay attention to with your rear bike carrier?

The number of bikes in transport

With each rear bike carrier model, it is precisely specified how many bikes can be transported with it. On the one hand, every bicycle must have its own rail on the carrier, as this is the only way to ensure secure attachment. On the other hand, the number of bicycles is also relevant in terms of weight. After all, the rear bicycle racks are not only designed and tested for a certain number of bicycles, but also for their weight. If, for example, baskets or bags are still attached to your bicycles, it may be advisable to remove them in terms of weight.

The compatibility of the trailer hitch

Rear bike racks, which have a quick-release fastener for mounting on the towbar, are very easy to use. You can also see this in our German video.

As a rule, such closures are compatible with the common towbars, so that there are no problems for you.
If you don’t have a trailer hitch, you can of course also attach a bike rack to your tailgate or, for example, transport the bikes on the roof.

Loading and securing the load on the rear bike rack

Safe loading is also very important for a safe journey. As already mentioned above, you should always keep an eye on the permitted values ​​for load and weight. Also make sure that you always secure the bikes well. On the rear bicycle racks from our shop, fastening devices are provided in the wheel shells as well as a device for fastening to the frame of the bicycle. In this way, your bike will be fixed in three places. You should attach the fastenings tightly and – if possible – lock them so that everything is lashed as well as possible. At the same time, everything that is attached to the bike (such as bags or baskets) should be removed. These items are often bulky and prevent the bikes from being securely attached to the rear bicycle rack.

When is a warning sign necessary during your drive with a trailer?

10. Februar 2021 um 15:44

 Warning signs for driving with a trailerIf you load your trailer, you may have to attach a warning sign to the trailer, of course this must be done before the journey. But in which cases is a sign required and what should it look like?

Red flag as a warning sign in the event of a towering load

The maximum length for your team is specified in the road traffic regulations and must not exceed 20.75 meters. At the same time, the width and height are also defined and important values ​​that you should consider when driving. With the exception of agricultural and forestry vehicles, normal vehicles and their cargo must not be wider than 2.5 meters and not higher than 4 meters. The load must not protrude to the front, this is only allowed for vehicles that are higher than 2.5 meters. But even then, the load may only protrude forward by half a meter.

If you are transporting cargo that protrudes to the rear, an overhang of 1.5 meters is still permitted. However, loads that protrude more than 1 meter beyond the reflector must be labeled. For this you need a red flag. This must be 30×30 cm. A red, cylindrical body with a diameter of 35 cm is also permitted. You have to attach both below a height of 1.5 meters so that it is visible to the following drivers in traffic.

Warning signs for trailers and rear bike carriers

If your trailer is too long, red and white warning signs are required. When you buy a new trailer, these are in most cases pre-assembled. Otherwise you can reorder them online.

Such warning signs are also compulsory in some countries when using the rear bicycle rack. In Spain and Italy for example, you have to mount a warning sign on the rear bike rack. This is also red and white, square and usually made of aluminum. If you do not mount the warning sign and are checked at a traffic control, you will be charged a penalty. Since the regulations for these warning signs are not uniformly regulated across the EU, you should definitely inform yourself before going on holiday abroad in order to avoid these sometimes sensitive penalties.