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FR Hatchback Towbar Dilemma

Tass

Active Member
Mar 8, 2020
16
6
I need to have a towbar fitted to the back end of my pristine FR hatch. This was all going to plan until I checked the fitting guides of a few of them and discovered that every single one of them required cutting a hole partially into the visible part of the rear bumper! (unlike the ST which has a longer overhang and can fit the hole fully underneath)

Every manufacturer (Westfalia, Brink, Witter & Oris) seem to use a similar diagram showing the hole on the hatchback mostly underneath, but coming around 4cm up the rear face of the bumper.

upload_2020-3-25_12-16-32.png


They suggest buying the official SEAT flap to cover the hole (at a cost of £50 + extra for colourcoding!) but it doesn't look to great from the pics. I really don't want to butcher the back of my car, especially as it's white :/

upload_2020-3-25_12-23-35.png


My question is this:
All of the detachable towbar kits come with chunky electrical sockets which flip down through the hole. If I were cut a hole *just* for the towbar (I'd mount the socket somewhere further back) does anyone know if I could get away with a smaller hole fully underneath?


I've asked a few fitters and they think it *might* work. Since none of the towbars list their dimensions in the manual, there seems to be no way of me knowing for sure without shelling out for a bar, fitting it and and then finding out where the socket for that particular brand ends up. A few cm could make all the difference! Does anyone have experience of fitting a towbar to a hatchback and any recommendations on brand?
 

BoomerBoom

Active Member
Jun 1, 2018
355
124
My facelift FR has a massive letterbox hole where the towbar support member would exit, so I'd presume you have the pre-facelift?

All the tow bars I've previously fitted (not Leons) required the bumper to be cut but, when you line it all up, it's usual that the hole can be made a lot smaller than the fitting guide, it's just a bit harder to do.

The last one I did only really need a 10cm by 5cm hole for the support hanger to drop through, adding the remaining parts and the electrics once I'd refitted the bumper.

I can't say I'd choose to tow anything more than a tiny trailer with the Leon, the suspension just isn't up to it.
 

Tass

Active Member
Mar 8, 2020
16
6
Cheers BB,
Yeah, mine's a 2014 pre-facelift.
I work on building sites and occasionally use a 750kg trailer. (Sometimes it's easier to go "I'm just nipping out for a half-ton of sand" than "where's the half ton of sand I told you order three days ago?!") :D

Interested about the issue with the Leon's suspension when towing? I'd heard the torque made it a pretty reasonable tow-car for a petrol?
 

BoomerBoom

Active Member
Jun 1, 2018
355
124
Have a look at the rear springs, a bent coat hanger would probably be stronger so the rear will bottom out if you stay safe and carry maximum weight in the car, or be pulled around by the trailer if you keep the car empty - which is really not good. I've not towed anything that light so can't say what a 750 trailer would be like though.
 

Tass

Active Member
Mar 8, 2020
16
6
Have a look at the rear springs, a bent coat hanger would probably be stronger...
Haha
Noted, cheers for the info. What kind of thing were you towing with yours? Nicking a mate's 1000kg caravan for a weekend is a thought that had entered my head. I thought the towing-stability function of the traction control would cut in if anything got too out of sorts? (Lots of experience towing big stuff before, so not really expecting to get myself into those sorts of situation. Nice to know it's there though)
 

BoomerBoom

Active Member
Jun 1, 2018
355
124
I've not towed with a Leon, when I got rid of my 1.5t caravan I also went for a much smaller car, with no intention to ever tow with it.

1t with a Leon would be right at the extreme end of the 85% safety limit, unless you fully load the car and keep the caravan totally empty.

I wouldn't ever rely on electronics for stability - I've seen too many roll overs where an unstable tow lifted the rear of the car clear off the ground, ESP won't help any in that situation!
 

dj74

Active Member
Aug 16, 2017
19
22
Wrexham
I have a westfalia towbar on my Leon FR. Again in White and you don't really notice the panel much.
20200325_153020b.jpg
 

RCampbell1

Active Member
Jan 8, 2017
70
24
UK
I used to have a 2015 FR184 ST with a detachable towbar and it needed to have that hatch cut out. I had the cover which matched the car and I hardly noticed it when the towbar wasn't on. The electric point swivelled so you just pushed it up out of sight before fitting the cover. I was always worried the cover might fly off when I was driving so I put a cable tie on it just to make sure it didn't. I have a 1300kg caravan (MTPLM) and it towed it brilliantly
 

Tass

Active Member
Mar 8, 2020
16
6
I have a westfalia towbar on my Leon FR. Again in White and you don't really notice the panel much.
View attachment 13841
Cheers DJ, info from an owner with an identical car to mine is exactly what I was after! Even the same colour (excellent choice) :D
The official flap doesn't look too bad in white.

Two questions for you -
1. Where did you source the flap? I'm struggling to find one at sensible prices.
2. Looking at the Westfalia mount on your car, would you say it was possible to avoid cutting into the visible bit of the bumper if I made the hole only large enough for the towbar (with minimum clearance) and mounted the socket elsewhere?
 

dj74

Active Member
Aug 16, 2017
19
22
Wrexham
You can only get the cover direct from Seat. The towbar fitter I used got it and painted it prior to fitting. Unfortunately you wont be able to get away without cutting the bumper. It wraps under the car too much. Way past were the tow bar comes down.
 

Brian Gordon-Stables

Active Member
Jan 16, 2020
159
48
Leicestershire, UK
I used to have a 2015 FR184 ST with a detachable towbar and it needed to have that hatch cut out. I had the cover which matched the car and I hardly noticed it when the towbar wasn't on. The electric point swivelled so you just pushed it up out of sight before fitting the cover. I was always worried the cover might fly off when I was driving so I put a cable tie on it just to make sure it didn't. I have a 1300kg caravan (MTPLM) and it towed it brilliantly
Similar to me. 2014 FR184 ST. Had one fitted for a tow bar MTB carrier. Also had to have a bit cut out but never bothered with a cover as I never get to see it!

The white one above looks nicely done.

As for towing a 1000kg caravan - that's very much on the limit and check the nose weight on the towbar. Might be a bit windy at the weekend and you don't want the tail wagging the dog.
 

RCampbell1

Active Member
Jan 8, 2017
70
24
UK
I would be quite happy towing up to 100% of the cars weight with most modern cars these days but yes, definitely check the forecast if you're towing something that could catch the wind.

I mind my old man towing at least 3 ton of firewood with an old W reg Cortina in the early 90's without any drama just took it steady. Scottish Highlands though, police few and far between
 

Tass

Active Member
Mar 8, 2020
16
6
You can only get the cover direct from Seat. The towbar fitter I used got it and painted it prior to fitting. Unfortunately you wont be able to get away without cutting the bumper. It wraps under the car too much. Way past were the tow bar comes down.
That's exactly the advice I needed. Ah well, a flap it is!
 

Brian Gordon-Stables

Active Member
Jan 16, 2020
159
48
Leicestershire, UK
I would be quite happy towing up to 100% of the cars weight with most modern cars these days but yes, definitely check the forecast if you're towing something that could catch the wind.

I mind my old man towing at least 3 ton of firewood with an old W reg Cortina in the early 90's without any drama just took it steady. Scottish Highlands though, police few and far between
I also think that in the current climate, you don't want to be risking a rollover and a trip to A&E.
 

Tass

Active Member
Mar 8, 2020
16
6
No worries guys, I've towed all kinds of stuff in the past, from little camping trailers to big unwieldy stuff like twin-axle caravans. I towed high-sided box trailers with my previous Skoda Fabia VRS, which was a similar weight to the Leon, racking up about 4000 miles with that combo. The VRS had no trailer stability program so my towing style is based on having no 'get-out-of-jail-free' card!
 
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