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Subject Topic: Dedicated tow bar electrics. Post Reply Post New Topic
Message posted by Veldom via mobile 13/9/2020 at 1:57pm
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Talking my wife through the tow bar quotes I've had in. And my preference for dedicated wiring over the universal option.

She asked the question will our car benefit from the dedicated wiring. I understand it often enables the car to change certain characteristics when it detects something attached in tow.

I had to confess I don't know. Our meriva is a high spec and a 2012 so quite modern. But I have no idea if it's ECU will be set up to do anything different if it knows it's towing. I've asked on the vauxhall owners forum but thought I'd see if anyone here had a thought.

If my car does nothing extra with a dedicated wiring then I'm inclined to save some money and get a universal fit. Seems about �100 cheaper over dedicated.

Post last edited on 13/09/2020 14:58:24

Message posted by marg613/9/2020 at 2:02pm
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i would have thought, whoever your getting your prices from could/should be able to answer that question to justify the price difference

Message posted by Veldom via mobile 13/9/2020 at 2:15pm
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Quote: Originally posted by marg6 on 13/9/2020
i would have thought, whoever your getting your prices from could/should be able to answer that question to justify the price difference



I don't know if they'd know exactly what my model of car will do given they will fit to lots of different vehicles.

Message posted by marg613/9/2020 at 3:04pm
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you will only find out if you ask them! and like i said make them justify the extra cost

Message posted by Monty1513/9/2020 at 3:20pm
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There's a limited number of things that hanging a trailer off the back will have any impact on, a potential (but no doubt not exhaustive) list is:
* Stability control, may be adapted to improve anti-snaking of trailer.
* Electric motorised tailgate/bootlid, often disabled when trailer sensed to avoid accidental impacts with trailer hardware.
* Auto-lane control, disabled to avoid risk of inducing unexpected snaking.
* Car rear fog lights disabled (but trailer still enabled) to avoid reflected glare from trailer.
* Trailer Lamp failure integrated into standard car system (no need for separate direction indicator sound/visual warning device - some form of bulb function/failure warning is legal requirement)
* Reversing sensors disabled to stop false triggering by proximity of trailer when reversing.

Every car brand, model, and trim level, and manufacturers option list obviously impacts on what is or is not on any particular vehicle.
The above list is pretty much what is affected on my 2017 top trim level plus most option packs car with it's factory fit option towbar, with the obviously dedicated wiring.

TBH, I found out what was affected when hitching the trailer by mostly observation, nothing in the car manufacturers handbook, the car main dealers know nothing at all, the towbar only came with physical fitting instructions and no electrics info at all, even the towbar electrics manufacturer couldn't tell me anything unless I ripped the car apart (new car! - not inclined to do that!) to see model and serial numbers on the actual dedicated module. It seems nobody knew anything about anything and Google didn't do anything to improve that situation - maybe a good fitter may be able to enlighten you, but otherwise, the very best of luck trying to find any detailed info!

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Message posted by Veldom via mobile 13/9/2020 at 3:27pm
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Quote: Originally posted by Monty15 on 13/9/2020
There's a limited number of things that hanging a trailer off the back will have any impact on, a potential (but no doubt not exhaustive) list is:
* Stability control, may be adapted to improve anti-snaking of trailer.
* Electric motorised tailgate/bootlid, often disabled when trailer sensed to avoid accidental impacts with trailer hardware.
* Auto-lane control, disabled to avoid risk of inducing unexpected snaking.
* Car rear fog lights disabled (but trailer still enabled) to avoid reflected glare from trailer.
* Trailer Lamp failure integrated into standard car system (no need for separate direction indicator sound/visual warning device - some form of bulb function/failure warning is legal requirement)
* Reversing sensors disabled to stop false triggering by proximity of trailer when reversing.

Every car brand, model, and trim level, and manufacturers option list obviously impacts on what is or is not on any particular vehicle.
The above list is pretty much what is affected on my 2017 top trim level plus most option packs car with it's factory fit option towbar, with the obviously dedicated wiring.

TBH, I found out what was affected when hitching the trailer by mostly observation, nothing in the car manufacturers handbook, the car main dealers know nothing at all, the towbar only came with physical fitting instructions and no electrics info at all, even the towbar electrics manufacturer couldn't tell me anything unless I ripped the car apart (new car! - not inclined to do that!) to see model and serial numbers on the actual dedicated module. It seems nobody knew anything about anything and Google didn't do anything to improve that situation - maybe a good fitter may be able to enlighten you, but otherwise, the very best of luck trying to find any detailed info!


Well on that score I think I won't bother taking the punt on dedicated electric. My car doesn't have an motorised boot. Does have cruise control but not with auto lane guidance system. So that's two things irrelevant. I'd be interested if it altered my cars braking characteristics and stability control. Will keep digging for answers.

Message posted by dimbles13/9/2020 at 5:20pm
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Whether you have dedicated electrics or a universal a universal option will not make the slightest difference other than how much you are paying out. They both work in exactly the same way with the dedicated being a plug in job and a universal needed to be soldered in. A can Bus trailer wiring unit is nothing more than a series of relays one for each trailer light that are triggered by the activation of the cars lights. If vehicle owners did a bit of research into auto electrics they would possibly do things a differently, for example they would may choose not to connect a caravan battery to a Can bus system. Modern car charging systems are very different in that on most modern Can bus systems the vehicles engine will only charge the vehicles battery to 10.5 volts, the remaining 2 volts bringing it up to 12.5 volts is done through a clutch on the alternator pully this is disengaged on the over run when slowing down, This system has several benefits it helps with the braking effect of the engine, it saves a lot of fuel as the alternator works very hard putting the last 2 volts into the battery the vehicles own momentum is used to good purpose. Owners connecting a caravan battery into a Can bus system will think they are doing a good deed. In reality they are destroying all the benefits of a modern charging system and shortening the life of the alternator I know of cases where alternators have lasted for less than 20,000 miles. My own car will never be connected to a caravan battery or a caravan fridge that can put another 8amps loading on the can bus. Although I am now retired for a time I worked on auto electrics hence my continued interest.

Message posted by Francais13/9/2020 at 8:23pm
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If your car has “Stop Start” it would be a good idea to get the VSK electrics, as on many cars, the “Stop Start” functionality is disabled automatically when towing to prevent damage to the engine, if not using a VSK, it’s a case of remembering to turn off “Stop Start” when towing.

Message posted by Phishing13/9/2020 at 10:31pm
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Dimbles, with respect that is just not right.
Dedicated and universal do not work in the same way at all.
Dedicated wiring is wired to the manufacturers specification and has active components that talk to the body controller to let the vehicle know when it has a trailer connected. This allows the vehicle to utilise the onboard comms systems to make fundamental changes to the vehicle charging and information systems. On high end vehicles it can also change suspension, powertrain and ESP settings to allow for the trailer.
Modern charging systems run typically at 14v, they would not do any good at 10.5volts as you suggest and would not do much at 12.5v either. I could give you chapter and verse on regenerative braking and smart alternators but you can look that up. You do not shorten the life of an alternator by adding a trailer, they can, should and do, run for the life of the vehicle regardless of what is connected. The car companies validate this. If it fails prematurely this is a manufacturing issue not a design issue. If we have the same vehicle and have have the variant of vehicle with heated seats and I choose to drive with my heated seats on all of the time drawing 16A then does my alternator fail prematurely?
Your alternator on your current vehicle will be capable of generating anything between 70 and 100A, but typically running on about 30A so adding a trailer connection will not stress it.

If you have universal wiring it means that the vehicle does not know that you have a trailer attached and if the vehicle has smart alternator the fridge and battery charging may not work, although there are work around for this. Also, the indication of a trailer fitment, turn signal, and bulb failure will not work through the driver information panel.

The use of a canbus is totally irrelevant, as it is with the thousands of products I regularly see for sale claiming to be canbus compliant when they are inherently passive components.


Message posted by Phishing13/9/2020 at 10:49pm
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The dedicated kit for the Meriva B does have active components in the kit so does have some interaction with the vehicle.
Its up to you, a universal fitment will work fine but make sure you tell the fitter that you need power for the fridge and battery or they will not fit them.
You must specify fitment of pins 9,10,11 (i think) or they wont fit them whichever one you choose.

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Message posted by Veldom via mobile 14/9/2020 at 3:55am
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Quote: Originally posted by Phishing on 13/9/2020
The dedicated kit for the Meriva B does have active components in the kit so does have some interaction with the vehicle.
Its up to you, a universal fitment will work fine but make sure you tell the fitter that you need power for the fridge and battery or they will not fit them.
You must specify fitment of pins 9,10,11 (i think) or they wont fit them whichever one you choose.



Thanks.

Message posted by jasie14/9/2020 at 9:12am
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my 2 penneth worth. I will always have model specific wiring...never a bypass system...and have taken this approach on all vehicles since canbus came about.

as an example on my old Audi Q3 it detected the socket was in use and adapted the engine and did loads of other things, deactivated reversing sensors, lights and even told me I was towing on the dash, plus other stuff.

On our current Vito, Mercedes tried to pull a fast one and installed a bypass kit (£20 jobby from halfrauds). It didnt integrate with the electrics. Everytime I used the indicator it had a dying dog sounding sounder in the boot that was anoying.

They have since fitted the proper electrics that I paid for and it has given the following features that the bypass box did not :
- The indicator sounder/dying dog is no longer (the lights/failure check is diplayed on the dash, and is part of the normal checks the car does on startup)
- the stop/start is auto deactivated when on a steep slope
- the rear fogs on the vehicle are switched off when in use as these reflect off the caravan
- it now integrates with the reverse camera

On this vehicle I underatnd that it doesnt remap the engine or anything, but it certainly did on the Audi, which was a factory fit.



Message posted by TrigGLX14/9/2020 at 1:25pm
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Always go for a dedicated system with new cars, its far safer. Depending on the car the electrnics will recogniser a trailer is fitted/connected and alter the traction control and braking characteristics accordingly, some may even change teh engine performance etc. We have had 3 car in the past volvo, vvauxhal x2, where connecting the van has altrered the dynamcis of the car etc.

Volvo - V70 - turned rear lights off whilst braking, and disenabled rear parking snesors, adjusted traction control.

Vauxhall Antara - Adjusted rear ride height, turned off rear lights, disenbled rear parking sensors, adjusred traction control. stop start deavtivated

vauxhall Insignia SRI tourer - Truned rear lights off, disnabled rear parking sensors, changed dynnamics of engine for towing, adjusted traction control and stability prgramme. stop start deavtivated

Currently on a BMW X1- and have not noticed and anything significant apart from lights and sensors.

never have to have any in to dealer for reprogramme either.

Would always now choose a dedicated towing kit.



Message posted by Veldom via mobile 14/9/2020 at 1:58pm
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Quote: Originally posted by TrigGLX on 14/9/2020
Always go for a dedicated system with new cars, its far safer. Depending on the car the electrnics will recogniser a trailer is fitted/connected and alter the traction control and braking characteristics accordingly, some may even change teh engine performance etc. We have had 3 car in the past volvo, vvauxhal x2, where connecting the van has altrered the dynamcis of the car etc.

Volvo - V70 - turned rear lights off whilst braking, and disenabled rear parking snesors, adjusted traction control.

Vauxhall Antara - Adjusted rear ride height, turned off rear lights, disenbled rear parking sensors, adjusred traction control. stop start deavtivated

vauxhall Insignia SRI tourer - Truned rear lights off, disnabled rear parking sensors, changed dynnamics of engine for towing, adjusted traction control and stability prgramme. stop start deavtivated

Currently on a BMW X1- and have not noticed and anything significant apart from lights and sensors.

never have to have any in to dealer for reprogramme either.

Would always now choose a dedicated towing kit.






Sounds like there's a good chance my vauxhall meriva will adjust something when it detects a trailer.

Message posted by Crypto14/9/2020 at 5:03pm
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I have a factory fitted towbar and electrics for my Seat Ateca (2017)

When a trailer is detected the smart alternator function is disabled. I have tested this with a plug in voltmeter. When no trailer connected, the battery voltage is allowed to drop to 12V for much of the time. So a trailer automatic voltage sensing relay (usually at 13.7V) would not operate, thus the trailer battery would not charge and the fridge would not be powered. Even worse, when the smart alternator finally kicks in it can go to to 17V. That would certainly reduce the life of a leisure battery and fridge 12V element.
When my car detects a trailer connected, the alternator has a steady output of 14V, perfect!
so, a cheap electrical wiring of the towbar would be a false economy.


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