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Towbar on 2011 335i Touring

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Hi There!

I am considering putting a towbar on my 335i, and I got offered a third party one through First Class Automotive for $500. Official BMW Dealers indicate costs of $1500-2000. Is it a bad idea to get it done through a third party?

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It probably won't be integrated into the loom like the factory tow bar is. This can cause faults on the dash when a trailer is plugged in.

It can make the car think their are blown bulbs etc...

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Also try westfalia automotive. They quoted around $480 for a non-removable one & around $900 for the removable type for my E90. both were fitted (they come to you) & included the wiring kit.

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just make sure they knowwhat they are doing on the electrical side.you dont want bulb errors,you need to get it set up for LED trailer lights.I think the pdc is also disabled when the trailer lights are plugged in.

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Personally, given the age of your vehicle, & the future life ahead of it - I'd just suck it up & go genuine. Do it once, do it right sorta thing. Even if you buy the genuine bar / wiring kit, & get Ray or some-one similar to fit it. Or lean on your dealer for a better price, as getting towards 2k is probably starting to take the pi$$ a bit IMO...........

IMO, its something that really 'needs to be right' - its being bolted into critical structural points on your vehicle. Genuine bar will be a perfect match for the vehicle, & will be designed for the vehicle's MTM rating - you can't really go wrong, even if its a bit dearer.

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To my knowledge BMW NZ use Best Bars to manufacture all tow bars for cars in NZ.

I bought in a genuine unit from Europe for a person with an E70, along with the OEM wiring kit. It is the genuine removable tongue type, although didn't have a safety chain connection as we use in NZ. (euro spec don't use a safety chain as they have brakeaway systems fitted)

The NZ X5 unit was approaching $2.5k (inc wiring). I was able to supply the OEM, inc wiring for much less

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Personally, given the age of your vehicle, & the future life ahead of it - I'd just suck it up & go genuine. Do it once, do it right sorta thing. Even if you buy the genuine bar / wiring kit, & get Ray or some-one similar to fit it. Or lean on your dealer for a better price, as getting towards 2k is probably starting to take the pi$$ a bit IMO...........

IMO, its something that really 'needs to be right' - its being bolted into critical structural points on your vehicle. Genuine bar will be a perfect match for the vehicle, & will be designed for the vehicle's MTM rating - you can't really go wrong, even if its a bit dearer.

Thanks for all the good feedback from everyone. The reality is, there is just no way I could justify $1500-2000 on a towbar, we would simply not do it, for us it's a convenience thing, not a necessity and will only ever see occasional use. I am worried about the electrical side of things, and will check with the people making the offer. Anyone have a picture of the genuine one, and perhaps a picture of a bestbars one to compare?

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Dont piss around .. just phone Westifalia Automotive and get the real deal and skip the dealer mark up.

Just in the process myself of getting a westifalia tow hook for my e39 540i .. Already have the carrier installed. Will get the BMW factory motorsport bumper valance which has removable flap too :) No nasty number 8 wire style holes cut into your bumper.

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To my knowledge BMW NZ use Best Bars to manufacture all tow bars for cars in NZ.

I bought in a genuine unit from Europe for a person with an E70, along with the OEM wiring kit. It is the genuine removable tongue type, although didn't have a safety chain connection as we use in NZ. (euro spec don't use a safety chain as they have brakeaway systems fitted)

The NZ X5 unit was approaching $2.5k (inc wiring). I was able to supply the OEM, inc wiring for much less

My E53 was around that price, thank christ I didn't pay for it and it was part of the deal when I bought it. 2.5k for a towbar is just downright robbery IMO.

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Well yes Clinton, given you've just brought a 540 WITH a towbar for not much more than that.......haha ;):lol::)

Word.

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not sure what mine is.The carrier is a bar across the back of the car completely hidden.,the tow bar itself sorta clips into it.Its a bit of a hassle you have to wind it up click it in and then lock it...removal opposite.75 kg tounge load max.wiring all built in and a place for the safety chain.Jeff gray say they fit most of them here,all the cars i have looked at with tow bars never show up on the option list,so all have been fitted here

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Hi

I purchased a made-in-NZ Westfalia removable towbar for my E90. I am an Professional Engineer to I opted to fit it myself. I am glad I did.

According to the website:

"Every towbar is engineered to precisely fit the individual vehicles towbar mounting points. This results in an absolutely perfect fit and quick and easy installation.
"

Well not quite.

These bars are significantly different to the Euro Westfalia bars.

  • The NZ towbar is mounted on the centre line which means you have to cut away some of the plastic bodywork to make it fit. The Euro bars are mounted to the right, but the bar is angled so the ball is on the centre line. They fit perfectly.
  • The NZ bracket for the connector can only be mounted on the left, which means most (if not all) of the plastic has to be cut away. All Euro bars have the connector mounted on the right where BMW left a gap in the body work.
  • The NZ towbar is much shorter than the factory bumper bar is replaces. It removes crash protection from the left and right corners. The Euro bars are the same width as the factory bumper bar and preserve crash protection to the rear corners.
  • The NZ towbar doesn't include the threaded socket for the towbar. The Euro bars include this.

On the plus side:

  • the quality of manufacture is good.
  • the removable towball mechanism is well engineered and easy to use.
  • with the towball removed, the installation is completely invisible.
  • You can choose to fit an electrics kit that is specific to your make/model.

Westfalia make electrical kits specifically for E90s, but I wasn't offered this. I was offered a generic electrics kit.

I had to specifically order the kit for my car. It seems that this is unusual because I had to go through the catalogue to identify the kit for my car myself. They couldn't tell me which one I should select. They didn't have it in stock. It then took 3 months for them to import the electrics kit.

I took the precaution of not paying and not taking delivery of the tow bar without the electrics kit. I could not legally tow my trailer without the electrics kit fitted to power the trailer lights.

So what I ended up with was a genuine Westfalia towbar that is arguably inferior to Westfalia towbars made for other markets. It does include the ability to fit a safety chain(s) and it does comply with NZ regulations.

I am willing to bet that if you had a Westfalia towbar fitted by BMW or an authorised installer to an E90/91/92, the "expert" spanner monkey would just remove and toss the centre plastic panel. The instructions do not say what to do with the panel. There is no cutting template. Nothing.

I got very annoyed when I started to fit the towbar and realised that it wasn't a perfect fit as advertised and it wasn't easy to install to a professional standard. I didn't see why Westfalia should make and supply a product that was clearly inferior to towbars they make for other markets. I contacted Westfalia and complained. They would not explain why NZ gets an inferior product. They said I could return the towbar and get my money back. That wasn't a solution for me because I need a towbar. I decided to fit the towbar with modifications.

Basically, I made a new connector bracket that fits on the right side of the towbar. Fitting this required only a small amount of plastic bodywork to be cut away, but not much. The new bracket allows the towbar to be installed almost as BMW intended.

It is not hard to make an new bracket. I just used a scrap piece of 3mm zinc plated mild steel. Only basic tools were needed (hacksaw, files, hammer, vice).

The bracket is longer than the factory version so I don't bust my knuckles against the connector when I release the towbar. The connector swings up so it is completely invisible. No cuts are required to the bumper skin.

I have no idea why NZ Westfalia choose to mount the connector on the left side. It is just not meant to be there.

The electrics kit is well made. I chose the Euro style 13 pin connector. There is also a 7 pin Euro option. If you don't have PDC installed, the wiring for the tow bar goes all the way to the dashboard so it is quite a job to install. It does fully integrate with the CAN bus and parking distance control system. No coding is required.

The other problem I had with NZ Westfalia was missing bits. Specifically, they didn't supply the bag for the tow ball and two load rating stickers. They didn't tell me they were missing. The only way I knew they were missing is because they were helpfully listed on the instruction sheet. I had to ask for them to be supplied. The bag is a nice accessory but the load rating stickers are required by NZ regulations. I doubt I would get a WOF without them. Not including them in the kit is a serious omission. I don't like the way that Westfalia just didn't tell me things that I had paid for were not included.

So if you buy a NZ Westfalia towbar, don't expect the same features seen on overseas versions. If you can, install the tow bar yourself. Make a bracket to mount the connector on the right side. Pay attention to the layout of the cable. If you order the electrics kit specific to your car, expect a long wait. I am still annoyed that the NZ version doesn't have the same features that Westfalia includes on towbars made for other markets.

Edited by dazz
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That's disappointing!

Hopefully it was cheaper than a euro one!

On Rexbo.eu, a Westfalia one for an E30 with a 13 pin euro socket, works out to 638 euros... shipped, plus GST on arrival,,, not cheap.

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Be careful with new vehicles running electric water pumps. Tow bar systems need an up grade with new cooling fan installations to void warranty. Including BMW warranty and post sale warranties supplied by companies in NZ. ie: Autosure & Protecta

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Hello

I nearly imported a Westfalia towbar from the UK but then I found Westfalia NZ.

The cheapest way to ship items from the UK is with NZ Post Youshop.

The local price is cheaper but lacks many of the features of the euro versions.

The local version, including the E90 electrics kit cost me $NZD800, unfitted.

For that sort of price, I had high expectations that weren't met.

I think I would have been even more annoyed if I had paid to have it installed, because I would have ended up with a generic electric kit, probably not CAN aware, and most, if not all, of the plastic under body panel would have ended up in the bin. Without CAN aware electrics, the parking distance controller would have remained active with a trailer on the back.

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Hi

I ordered the 13 pin connector so I knew that I would need a 13pin to 7pin adapter.

Cheapest source I found was Megatyre.

When I got the adapter and plugged in my trailer, all the lights worked first time.

There were no alarms from the car about the unused pins.

When I ordered the towbar, I elected to buy a 50mm ball. That may have been a mistake. 1 5/8" are more common.

At least with the removable towball I have the option of buying a 1 5/8" version.

I only tow one trailer so I have chosen to change the trailer ball socket to match the car.

Dazz

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I ordered the removable euro version and installed it myself on the 540. Did the wiring / trailer module install myself and made up my own plug. Works mint, cost way cheaper than NZ Westifalia and was a precision fit. No dodgy cutting of trim either / that doesnt sound right at all.

http://bimmersport.co.nz/topic/48640-westfalia-detachable-tow-bar-hitch-e39-540i-motorsport/

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Hi

I ordered the 13 pin connector so I knew that I would need a 13pin to 7pin adapter.

Cheapest source I found was Megatyre.

When I got the adapter and plugged in my trailer, all the lights worked first time.

There were no alarms from the car about the unused pins.

When I ordered the towbar, I elected to buy a 50mm ball. That may have been a mistake. 1 5/8" are more common.

At least with the removable towball I have the option of buying a 1 5/8" version.

I only tow one trailer so I have chosen to change the trailer ball socket to match the car.

Dazz

that would be 1 and 7/8, there are two options.There is a kit called a converti ball(or similar) where you can change the ball .I had my BMW tow ball machined by a local engineering company to match the converti ball shape so i could have either 50mm or 1 7/8 ball on the car

if you have your own trailer you can have a coupling which can be flipped to be either 1 7/8 or 50mm.Hire trailer are almost certain to be 1 and 7/8(at least in Wellington)

Edited by kiwi535

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Bringing this post back from the dead - I am looking into importing a Westfalia towbar from the UK for my F31 335d (as it seems Westfalia NZ are now in receivership). My plan is to use (rarely) in conjunction with a towbar mounted bike rack - hence I really want the Euro style removable swan neck rather than the ugly nz ball style.

Has anyone got any other suggestions?

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my experience of bike racks is they need the flat surface of the tounge as part of their stability.The only other way i can think is a receiver type bike rack ie the bike rack itself is welded to a square section which slides into the receiver in the car which means you will need to have a nice insert in the bumper

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Thanks - I believe the Thule Euro-ride models are compatible with the swan neck bar (but it looks like the NZ purchased one is only compatible with a 50mm ball)

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2 minutes ago, sobanoodle said:

Roof racks + bike carrier not an option? 

That's the current set up. Forever paranoid I'll drive into the garage with bikes on roof.

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