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Retro Fit Towbar on to an F11

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Has anyone done this ? - Either using a BMW tow bar or an aftermarket tow bar ?

 

Any advice please as I'm picking up an Ex-Demonstrator in a couple of weeks and it's something that would have been occasionally handy, but not vital.

(There were a one or two cars advertised with the factory fitted option, but they fell short on other options that were essential to me.)

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Yup, retrofitted the detachable type to my F11 535i.

It's the usual bumper off, replace bumper crash bar with new steel bar, attach towbar parts, plug in electrics, put bumper back on.
Frankly putting the bumper back on was the hardest part!

PF Jones is your friend: http://www.pfjones.co.uk/tow-bars/bmw-towbars/bmw-5-series-towbars/5-series-tourer-estate/5-series-estate-f11-2010-on.html

And definitely get the dedicated wiring kit rather than the cheap'n'cheerful bypass kit.

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I had a swan-neck detachable fitted to my F11 520 Msport Touring by Ambrow Trailers -  www.ambrowtrailers.co.uk

 

As verysideways says, you do need the dedicated wiring kit, because it interfaces with the EMS and makes adjustments to the vehicle dynamics accordingly.   Not sure how you'd be situated legally if you had a bad accident, with a trailer, without the proper wiring. Personally I didn't want to be the situation of explaining to a judge why I'd 'gone cheap' and not done things properly.

 

I've not regretted going for the detachable.

 

I have fitted many tow bars to my cars in the past, but on this occasion I was also not sorry for getting a professional company to do the work.  It cost more but its definitely not a 5-minute job. 

 

Another thing to be aware of - the new electrics are 13 pin and twist-to-fit.  Supposedly they are more reliable than the older push-fit 7-pin, but I've found the new type to be more of a faff to connect.

Since most of my trailers are 7-pin, although a ridiculous price for what it is, I bought a 7-pin to 13-pin adapter.

 

Hope this helps

 

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Good Information Chaps, Thank you.

 

So there is no need to cut the bumper at all, it all comes out underneath and a detachable hitch is commonplace ?

 

I nearly bought one with a towbar, only because it came on the radar and already had one fitted and that started me thinking about it being useful to borrow a friends trailer and tow the Alpina Roadster on longer journeys (i.e Scotland & France), rather than drive it to places whilst on a limited mileage policy.

 

What sort of cost am i looking at retrofit ?

 

 

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My tow bar is detachable but they did have to cut a small section out of the very bottom of the bumper.  There's no way you can see it unless you get under the car.

 

The tow bar was a couple of £hundred. Fitting was about the same - it took more them just over a morning, but I don't know how many were working on it.  The wiring kit alone was £120+vat.

 

Hope that helps

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So I'm looking at £500-£600 then.

- Mmmm - not an essential,  just a "useful to have" option really for me so difficult to justify perhaps.

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I purchased from PF Jones they were the best on price including a mobile fitter coming to the house, I have fitted several towbars in the past but as this was a new F11 and it also needed a dedicated wiring kit, the mobile fitter done a excellent job and was all done through P F Jones.

 

http://www.pfjones.co.uk/5-series-estate-f11-2010-detachable-tow-bar-en.html

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PF Jones, top peeps. Very knowledgable, very helpful, great fitters and very competetive pricing. Fitted mine in about 4 hours (don't watch him take your rear end apart, so to speak!).

As above, if you get the Westfalia detachable one (which I believe is OEM, will likley be recommended, and looks identical to the factory fit one on my old E39) they have to extend the factory cut-out in the underside of the bumper to allow for the electrics to swing down. With the bar detached and the electrics folded away, you can't tell it's fitted.

 

Again as above, don't bother DIY, these guys do it for a living and do a good job - and always go for the custom electrics kit, not the general purpsoe one.

 

S  

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Hi

 

I fitted a Westfalia detachable (the OEM supplier) to my dads F10 530d MSport.  We had to cut the bumper to allow the socket room to swing down, but you cannot see the cut unless you are under the car.  

 

You have to take the light clusters out to get to the bumper fixings but straight forward enough.  

 

I also fitted the Westfalia wiring loom which connects into one of the ECU boxes under the steering column and the wires weren't long enough for a right hooker as supplied by Westfalia.

 

Bar was about £250 and the full 13 pin wiring loom with module was almost as much again!

 

I fitted a Westfalia detachable to my E60 but used a bypass relay to power the lights as it was pre LED light days.  £250 for the bar and I spent ~£50 on the electrics, local BMW dealer quoted me £1200 to fit back in 2008!

 

On my F10 I have the factory fitted electrical retractable towbar.  My dad is envious of it and wants to retro fit but the bar is not available.

 

Andrew

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On 24 lutego 2016 at 2:00 PM, 535iAR said:

Hi

 

I fitted a Westfalia detachable (the OEM supplier) to my dads F10 530d MSport.  We had to cut the bumper to allow the socket room to swing down, but you cannot see the cut unless you are under the car.  

 

You have to take the light clusters out to get to the bumper fixings but straight forward enough.  

 

I also fitted the Westfalia wiring loom which connects into one of the ECU boxes under the steering column and the wires weren't long enough for a right hooker as supplied by Westfalia.

 

Bar was about £250 and the full 13 pin wiring loom with module was almost as much again!

 

I fitted a Westfalia detachable to my E60 but used a bypass relay to power the lights as it was pre LED light days.  £250 for the bar and I spent ~£50 on the electrics, local BMW dealer quoted me £1200 to fit back in 2008!

 

On my F10 I have the factory fitted electrical retractable towbar.  My dad is envious of it and wants to retro fit but the bar is not available.

 

Andrew

Hi .Have you got any pictures of your fathers bumper.I have f10 525d m sport as well and I would like to see how this cut looks like?I send a message to pfjones and they said that  the cut in m sport  will be visible to allow the towbar to fit comfortably.

Thanks Sebastian

Edited by Sebastian Szwajnoch

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Hi Sebastian,
In answer to your message - yes, there's a bumper cut but it's not visible unless you're laying down next to the back bumper, the cut is underneath and out of sight.

Tidy, simple, and works really well.

Edited by verysideways

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3 hours ago, verysideways said:

Hi Sebastian,
In answer to your message - yes, there's a bumper cut but it's not visible unless you're laying down next to the back bumper, the cut is underneath and out of sight.

Tidy, simple, and works really well.

Ok,Thanks for your reply.I will order one from Pfjones  as well.

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I have the removable Westfalia too it was on the car when I bought it but I did not receive a key

Excellent Customer service they sent me a key tow ball bag and spare blanking plug free

I have this one:

 

 

 

Edited by Alexak

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6 hours ago, Sebastian Szwajnoch said:

Hi .Have you got any pictures of your fathers bumper.I have f10 525d m sport as well and I would like to see how this cut looks like?I send a message to pfjones and they said that  the cut in m sport  will be visible to allow the towbar to fit comfortably.

Thanks Sebastian

 

You can only see the cut if you lie down and get up close to the bumper.  We were meticulous in getting the cut right as the last thing we wanted was to damage the bumper and cut too much off.  Lots of trial fitting but we got a tidy job.

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Pics as requested by Sebastian

 

DSCN1149.jpg

 

Back end stripped down, note that the trolley jack is supporting the exhaust as the towbar itself has a fitting that replaces the bracket that normally supports the back box.

 

DSCN1150.jpg

 

The bits we removed

 

DSCN1169%20mod.jpg

 

Fully installed no obvious cuts in bumper

 

DSCN1170%20mod.jpg

 

Towbar plugged in no obvious cuts in bumper

 

DSCN1172.jpg

 

Towbar plugged in no obvious cuts in bumper

 

DSCN1173.jpg

 

More or less taken from the same angle as above, showing no obvious cuts.

 

Took a while to fit the towbar, probably the most complex one I've done in terms of having to remove stuff, inc the light clusters on a car that my dad spent upwards of £30k on so no pressure!  The installation of the Westfalia wiring loom was challenging to say the least, not helped by the fact that supplied wire lengths to the ECU aren't long enough.  I had to remove the ECU or lighting module to install the wires.  Felt quite pressurised as I was holding seriously expensive bits of kit on a car that is my dads pride and joy. 

 

But it all worked, quite a step up from fitting a flange ball towbar to a D reg Mk2 Vauxhall Carlton.

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2 hours ago, 535iAR said:

Pics as requested by Sebastian

 

DSCN1149.jpg

 

Back end stripped down, note that the trolley jack is supporting the exhaust as the towbar itself has a fitting that replaces the bracket that normally supports the back box.

 

DSCN1150.jpg

 

The bits we removed

 

DSCN1169%20mod.jpg

 

Fully installed no obvious cuts in bumper

 

DSCN1170%20mod.jpg

 

Towbar plugged in no obvious cuts in bumper

 

DSCN1172.jpg

 

Towbar plugged in no obvious cuts in bumper

 

DSCN1173.jpg

 

More or less taken from the same angle as above, showing no obvious cuts.

 

Took a while to fit the towbar, probably the most complex one I've done in terms of having to remove stuff, inc the light clusters on a car that my dad spent upwards of £30k on so no pressure!  The installation of the Westfalia wiring loom was challenging to say the least, not helped by the fact that supplied wire lengths to the ECU aren't long enough.  I had to remove the ECU or lighting module to install the wires.  Felt quite pressurised as I was holding seriously expensive bits of kit on a car that is my dads pride and joy. 

 

But it all worked, quite a step up from fitting a flange ball towbar to a D reg Mk2 Vauxhall Carlton.

535iAR thanks for the pictures and for your help.I have same bmw like your father, even the same colour.You helped me to decide for westfalia towbar.Nice job :)

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12 hours ago, Alexak said:

I have the removable Westfalia too it was on the car when I bought it but I did not receive a key

Excellent Customer service they sent me a key tow ball bag and spare blanking plug free

 

I'll second that, Westfalia in the UK are terrific.  I e-mailed and phoned them about the fitting of my dads F10.  It's always been a very helpful Tamzin I heard back from.  Very quick response and she knows her products inside out.

 

Although when I asked about info on my 3AC towbar, Tamzin told me that she wasn't allowed to tell me stuff about it....I'm guessing BMW have got a special order or something.

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I've today had a detachable towbar fitted to my M sport 520d F11 and am pleased with the job they've done.  You cant see a thing when its detached and the hitch will also stow nicely in the side boot pocket when not in use.  Towing weight has been quoted on the documents by the installer as 2100kg, although some sites I've referenced are only quoting 1800kg for the M sport model.

 

Having recently been quoted for a Garden Skip at £220 it seems madness not to spend the £440 and borrow a works trailer free, as often as I like.  2 skip hires and I'm in profit.

 

One thing I may wish to tow would be my BMW Z4, as work also have a low, double axle vehicle trailer I can also borrow.

 

The Z4 is quoted at 1365kg   Can anyone confirm  that that is fine to tow, as long as the weight of the trailer itself is no more than 735kg  (or 435kg if its an 1800kg limit)   

i.e.  1365 + 735 = 2100kg   - is it that simple ??

 

Somebody has also told me that the total weight of what is being towed should be no more than 85% of the weight of the towing vehicle ( which is 1800 kg) ?

 

Which is it ?

Edited by Number5

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You are correct in both your lines of thought.

 

23 hours ago, Number5 said:

The Z4 is quoted at 1365kg   Can anyone confirm  that that is fine to tow, as long as the weight of the trailer itself is no more than 735kg  (or 435kg if its an 1800kg limit)   

i.e.  1365 + 735 = 2100kg   - is it that simple ??

 

Somebody has also told me that the total weight of what is being towed should be no more than 85% of the weight of the towing vehicle ( which is 1800 kg) ?

 

Which is it ?

 

According to BMW (the handbook in your car) you will be good to tow 2000 kg so you need to find a car trailer that has an empty plated weight not exceeding 635 kg.

 

But if you speak to the caravaners of this world, I.e. The magazines and caravan club will all bang on about 85% of the cars kerb weight.

 

I would, and always have gone on what the car manufacturer tells me is the cars towing limit.  It's their car after all, they designed and built the thing so are the best placed to tell you.

 

The 2100 kg you have seen may very well the maximum weight that the towbar has been designed for.  Just because it is stamped on a data plate on the towbar doesn't mean you can tow that weight.

 

hope this helps you

 

Andrew

Edited by 535iAR
Reason for edit, a 520d can tow what everything else can, a 520i is the runt of the litter when it comes to towing weights at 1800 kg

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85% is a common sense rule plus it gets damn scary towing anything heavier than the tug imho.

in the book the max is 2000KG (braked trailer) for the F11 but that assumes driver only and not car full of kids luggage etc.

check the plate in the car for the precise values.

 

Going over any of the figures stared there or in the manual will invalidate your insurance plus plod are up to speed on this aspect so and could pull you over and direct you to a weighbridge.

If the car then exceeds the Gross Train Weight you get fined points or whatever and have to find an alternate tug etc.

 

I know this because I read it in the Daily Mail so it must be true.

 

I also had to get a letter from Renault a few years ago because they had a stupidly low figure in their manual and on the plate in the engine bay which was known to be a mistake for the Grand scenic - no letter meant I in theory was invalidating my insurance when pulling our mobile shed around.

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My data plate has 4 weights on it

 

2310 kg I'm assuming that's the mass gross vehicle weight?

4400 kg no idea what that relates too

(1) 1100 kg which I'm assuming is the max front axle weight?

(2) 1275 kg which I'm assuming is the max rear axle weight?

 

(1) + (2) does not add up to 2310 kg so I'm assuming there is a bit of flex in where the weight is placed in the car.

 

Assuming that the 4400 kg is the max train weight, that means I can tow up to 2090 kg.  85% of 2310 kg is 1963.5 kg which if you are generous rounds up to 2000 kg.

 

1 hour ago, Alexak said:

check the plate in the car for the precise values.

 

Are you referring to the plate on the drivers door sill?

 

If you are an old fart like me (test pre 1997) there is no restriction on your driving license to tow under B+E cat, well up to 8250 kg but you would be going some to get a car + a trailer to that weight!

 

If you are slightly younger (passed test after Jan 1997)  you can tow up to a train weight of 3500 kg.

 

 

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What the manuf says it will pull and what it will tow safely are two separate things imo.

 

The 85% rule of thumb is a great example and a tried and tested safe way of towing, although I rarely tow anymore I wouldn't venture over this for safety reasons.

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Yep personally having tried I would never tow a car and car trailer with a tug again where the combined weight is greater than the tug.

You are left with a constant feeling it could all go horribly wrong any moment!

 

My last tug was one of these with the same supercharger (400bhp) but I did not do things like this with it :)

 

 

And for those of you that like their tugs V8s to growl properly this is what mine (the darker blue one) sounded like 

 

 

Edited by Alexak

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