At a time when all fuel savings are good to take, a tow ball can prove to be a weighty ally.

Indeed, in the event of excess baggage, as is often the case when taking the road for vacation, it is strongly advised to rely on a trailer rather than a roof box, which the aerodynamics are much less favourable.

But beware, the legislation strictly regulates all transport, carrying and hitching accessories.

Because the risks of dramatic accidents in the event of non-compliance with basic safety rules are high and nothing should be left to chance.

In full compliance

Like roof bars and bicycle carriers, coupling-towing devices must comply with the European rules in force.

According to the European directive CE 94/20, which governs this type of equipment, a tow ball must be approved and its assembly must comply with the recommendations of its manufacturer.

Although this equipment can tow trailers with a GVW of up to 3.5 tonnes, it will however be necessary to comply with certain specific rules depending on the total authorized weight of the coupling.

Under 500 kg, no document specific to the trailer is required: the fitting of a registration plate identical to that of the towing vehicle is sufficient.

On the other hand, between 500 and 750 kg of PTAC, the gray card is compulsory, the trailer must have its own registration and you must check your car insurance contract to make sure that the coupling is covered.

Beyond 750 kg, you will also need a specific permit and a declaration to the insurance.

Installation and maintenance

An important detail remains unclear in the current legal framework.

The law does not explicitly say if you can keep a hitch ball when you are not towing anything.

The Highway Code only imposes that a vehicle "must be fitted out in such a way as to reduce as far as possible, in the event of a collision, the risk of bodily injury, both for the occupants of the vehicle and for other road users. the road" and prohibits "protruding or sharp ornaments".

But the hitch ball is not specifically mentioned.

No ticket will therefore be drawn up in the event of an inspection and it is above all up to the motorist to assess the dangerousness of an installation.

No need to disassemble your equipment after each use.

This is good news since the installation is relatively simple but tedious.

It is necessary to raise the vehicle, remove the bumper, fix the ball on the coupling head in accordance with the user manual, connect the electrical system (which may require a special box for the most recent vehicles) and reassemble everything.

Regular maintenance is therefore sufficient, which consists of greasing the ball and its attachment.

It is also recommended to cover it with a protection (some use a tennis ball) in order to retain the fat longer.


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The good reflex

If you do not risk being fined by keeping your tow ball all year round, it would still be wise to check the exclusion conditions of your car insurance contract.

Indeed, in the event of a responsible accident, your insurer could consider this hook as an aggravating element not covered and therefore refuse to compensate you.

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