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Old 11.05.2015, 04:27
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Should I install a trailer hitch before importing my car?

I'm thinking it would be convenient to have a trailer hitch for a bike or cargo rack. Are racks like this allowed? Is it better to bring them, or buy them in Switzerland? They're very inexpensive in my current locale.
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Old 11.05.2015, 08:36
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Re: Should I install a trailer hitch before importing my car?

Hi. These bike racks are allowed but be aware that the U.S. style trailer receiver and ball system is not the same as the European style, so not interchangeable.

I see MASS plates in your photo. I would recommend you buy your rack in the states and install the hitch prior to shipping your car. It will be much cheaper. As mentioned, you won't be able to use anything else purchased here however (I'm sure they make some type of adapter - I just never found one). There are some gear heads on this forum that might have another solution.

In my case, I sent my hitch mounted Thule bike rack over with my shipment but didn't realize the hitch receivers were different. I eventually mounted a U.S. style hitch on the car that I acquired here. $$$$.
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Old 11.05.2015, 08:41
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Re: Should I install a trailer hitch before importing my car?

They are used and readily available here - in a variety of forms and prices.
If you're importing your vehicle anyway, and prices are cheap, where you are, then do it there.

Tow hitches need to be fitted in accordance with (car) manufacturers guidelines, in order to conform to the requirements of the vehicle test (MFK).
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Old 11.05.2015, 10:46
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Re: Should I install a trailer hitch before importing my car?

I'm sure the fitting has to be done according to manufacturer specification and that's just sensible anyway, but unless it's a obvious bodge job I don't think the MFK guys will check in detail.

Having watched the process, the standard towbar test for the UK MOT seems to be - check for rust underneath, then stand on it and bounce a few times. Which is probably the best you can do, and also my home check and my dad's before me
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Old 11.05.2015, 10:59
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Re: Should I install a trailer hitch before importing my car?

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I'm sure the fitting has to be done according to manufacturer specification and that's just sensible anyway, but unless it's a obvious bodge job I don't think the MFK guys will check in detail.

Having watched the process, the standard towbar test for the UK MOT seems to be - check for rust underneath, then stand on it and bounce a few times. Which is probably the best you can do, and also my home check and my dad's before me
Having had one tested - they check the fitting is done well, that the towbar is up to standard and specified for the vehicles - and upto the limits of towing laid out by the towbar and vehicle manufacturer.

If the job is done properly it shouldn't be an issue
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Old 12.05.2015, 04:50
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Re: Should I install a trailer hitch before importing my car?

Thank you, everyone. I'll plan to arrive with a hitch, bike rack, and cargo rack ready to go.
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Old 12.05.2015, 13:12
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Re: Should I install a trailer hitch before importing my car?

I believe they would need to be inspected, certified and entered in your car registration here. A maximum load capacity is entered in your car registration.
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Old 19.11.2015, 23:23
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Re: Should I install a trailer hitch before importing my car?

Update: My car was rejected during the first "Expertise" because of the receiver hitch. Turns out that the Swiss don't like the concept of a trailer hitch which provides the option of just changing what you have in it whenever you want.


You mean the same hitch can be used for trailers, bike racks, or cargo? That's some crazy foreign concept that certainly isn't welcome here! A proper Swiss hitch does just one thing, as hitches are intended. Don't try to bring in this kind of mayhem.


Removed the receiver hitch, and the car passed.


Anyone want to make an offer on a receiver hitch and bike rack--never used?
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Old 19.11.2015, 23:32
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Re: Should I install a trailer hitch before importing my car?

Once somebody's passed the MFK, what is to stop that someone from, say, hypothetically just remounting the hitch until due for the next MFK?
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Old 20.11.2015, 00:31
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Re: Should I install a trailer hitch before importing my car?

I have seen that type of "tow bar and bike carrier" many times in Germany, it's difficult to believe they are not allowed on Swiss cars.

Maybe ask your VW garage if they have this option for sale on new Swiss cars, then go back to the inspector and show him the VW product?

I have sometimes seen Swiss officials making things up, because they cannot be bothered to look up the regulations. Another way might be to ask the local VW garage to fit it again and ask the VW garage to get it tested: it might be waved through.

Is your tow bar wired up for lighting? Maybe the problem is with the absence of any trailer light socket.
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Old 20.11.2015, 08:56
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Re: Should I install a trailer hitch before importing my car?

The standard fit Disco3 tow hitch is a receiver type
(and that passed the MFK)
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Old 20.11.2015, 12:18
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Re: Should I install a trailer hitch before importing my car?

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Once somebody's passed the MFK, what is to stop that someone from, say, hypothetically just remounting the hitch until due for the next MFK?
Exactly, just remount it and get the use of it for the next two years or so. My understanding of these things is that they need to have the proper type-approval and that might mean EU or Swiss approval. For example you can't just make your own like in the good old days.
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Old 20.11.2015, 12:36
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Re: Should I install a trailer hitch before importing my car?

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Exactly, just remount it and get the use of it for the next two years or so. My understanding of these things is that they need to have the proper type-approval and that might mean EU or Swiss approval. For example you can't just make your own like in the good old days.
And when you have an accident or reverse into somebody forgetting you have a tow hitch on......

The insurance is technically invalidated to start with, you leave yourself open to a big fine also.

Lets say i hit/rear end you and do damage to both cars, so at first sight, 100% my fault. As soon as i find out you have no authourisation for a tow hitch (see Grey card) well bingo, i'm off the hook (no pun intended) and it's well and truely up yours where the sun doesn't shine.

Tow hooks do enormous amounts of damage, they are hard and pointy, insurance companies look to see if it is authorised first when asssesing damage.

But otherwise, a fine idea, you'll go far here !
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Old 20.11.2015, 12:59
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Re: Should I install a trailer hitch before importing my car?

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And when you have an accident or reverse into somebody forgetting you have a tow hitch on......

The insurance is technically invalidated to start with, you leave yourself open to a big fine also.

Lets say i hit/rear end you and do damage to both cars, so at first sight, 100% my fault. As soon as i find out you have no authourisation for a tow hitch (see Grey card) well bingo, i'm off the hook (no pun intended) and it's well and truely up yours where the sun doesn't shine.

Tow hooks do enormous amounts of damage, they are hard and pointy, insurance companies look to see if it is authorised first when asssesing damage.

But otherwise, a fine idea, you'll go far here !
Pretty sure it doesn't work like that but I agree it's not the best solution.
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Old 20.11.2015, 13:02
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Re: Should I install a trailer hitch before importing my car?

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Tow hooks do enormous amounts of damage, they are hard and pointy, insurance companies look to see if it is authorised first when asssesing damage.

But otherwise, a fine idea, you'll go far here !
A few years back I drove back to the UK for a race - I was to pick up the car and trailer - head up to Oulton Park - race - drop the car back off again - and then head back to Switzerland. What could possibly go wrong??

Well, driving through a wet London (A3220 to be precise) I picked up in my mirrors a car driving erratically - swap lanes a lot, under and overtaking. I tutted in my head thinking "that driver will have an accident sooner or later"

Turns out it was sooner - I slowed to allow car out from a side street and noticed that the above driver had perhaps misjudged the conditions and was about to plough into the back of the car. SMASH!!!

The problem was that I had the towbar on the back and the other car was now embedded on it. Apparently her "brakes had failed" (in other words she hit them hard the ABS kicked in and she didn't realize that was what it felt like). I called "bollocks" she threatened to phone the police, I did. And before they had chance to get the details a couple of police motorbikes arrived - with the Inspector wearing a "you've been hit by a f%^&tard" look on his face.

Next thing a mobile Mercedes mechanic arrives as we try to figure out how to remove the f%^&tard's car from the bent tow bar. The police were up for me to make sure she was in gear and handbrake on and just yank the bar out by just gunning it!!

Instead, the wife drove forward while the 4 of us (2*police, mechanic and myself lift the nose of the other car). Throughout all of this the f%^&tard was repeating the line that her brakes had failed, much to the police's amusement.

Insurance details swapped and once at my parents we called up - f%^&tard's insurance admitted full liability immediately

What followed was 24hrs of impossible searching to find a hire vehicle with a towbar that could arrive in time to get me to the race

Looking back I suspect the towbar saved more damage being done to the back end. The car needed a new bumper and towbar but without the latter it could have been a lot worse
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Old 20.11.2015, 13:14
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Re: Should I install a trailer hitch before importing my car?

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Update: My car was rejected during the first "Expertise" because of the receiver hitch. Turns out that the Swiss don't like the concept of a trailer hitch which provides the option of just changing what you have in it whenever you want.


You mean the same hitch can be used for trailers, bike racks, or cargo? That's some crazy foreign concept that certainly isn't welcome here! A proper Swiss hitch does just one thing, as hitches are intended. Don't try to bring in this kind of mayhem.


Removed the receiver hitch, and the car passed.


Anyone want to make an offer on a receiver hitch and bike rack--never used?
I don't really get it, sorry... I have a removable trailer hook on my Mercedes and even Benz themselves sell some (grossly overpriced) bike racks like the one on the photo. They go on the same hook a trailer would and I am 100% certain they are legal and approved in CH.

Some of the systems dont even need the hook at all like this one: https://paulchensystem.net/en

However: The photo in the first post clearly shows that the bike rack is in the way of your number plate. That would not go through in Europe.
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Old 20.11.2015, 15:18
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Re: Should I install a trailer hitch before importing my car?

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Pretty sure it doesn't work like that but I agree it's not the best solution.
Pretty sure you'll find out after you been here for a while !

Everything is marked on Grey card, including if you need to wear glasses, whether the wheels are standard and fitted afterwards (you'll also need a seperate paper showing relevent details) and other modifications that are added and authorised.
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Old 23.11.2015, 16:16
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Re: Should I install a trailer hitch before importing my car?

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Pretty sure you'll find out after you been here for a while !

Everything is marked on Grey card, including if you need to wear glasses, whether the wheels are standard and fitted afterwards (you'll also need a seperate paper showing relevent details) and other modifications that are added and authorised.
I mean that if you drive your car into the back of a non-100% legit car that you're automatically cleared of any blame and the owner of the car you hit has to pay your repairs, but we can agree that we disagree.
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