Monthly Archives: April 2021

Product Spotlight – Tow Pro Elite Electric Brake Controller

An essential piece of equipment for any caravan or trailer that is being towed by a vehicle is an electric brake controller. This component is fixed either below or behind the dashboard of the towing vehicle. It sends an electric brake current to the towed vehicle which enables it to stop or slow down as the towing vehicle does. Fivestar Towbars is proud to add a new product to our range of brake controllers in Melbourne – the Tow Pro Elite electric brake controller from REDARC. We supply and install across the entire metropolitan area, ensuring your vehicles remain safe on the roads.

Tow Pro Elite Features and Benefits

An electric brake controller will typically feature two different types of braking. The first type is automatic braking, which is best suited to highway travelling. It uses inertia sensing to activate the trailer brakes at a level proportional to the braking level of the towing vehicle. The other type of braking is user-controlled, which works best in off-road conditions where the driver sets the level at which the trailer brakes are applied. The Tow Pro Elite allows you to easily switch between these two braking types depending on where you’re driving, ensuring optimal safety.

The Tow Pro Elite also features groundbreaking Active Calibration technology. Active Calibration frequently observes the direction of travel, eliminating the need for an initial calibration process. Even without a trailer or caravan attached to your vehicle, it is capable of undergoing calibration.

Coming with a two year warranty and meeting ADR21 safety standards when installed correctly, the Tow Pro Elite electric brake controller from REDARC makes a wonderful addition to the product range available from Fivestar Towbars. Tow Pro Elite brake controllers are also suitable for 12V and 24V vehicles and can be fitted to electric or hydraulic brakes, making them a versatile option.

Enquire About Electric Brake Controller Installation in Melbourne

As a mobile provider of electric brake controller installation and maintenance services across Melbourne, Fivestar Towbars is able to come to you anywhere in the metropolitan area. To have the Tow Pro Elite installed in your vehicle, whether you’re at home or at work, get in touch with us today.

How to Choose a Bicycle Hitch Rack for Your Car

It’s November and the weather is getting considerably warmer, which means that many of us will be getting out to enjoy the great outdoors. One activity that many people like to do in the warmer weather is cycling, whether it be mountain biking on a holiday to the Grampians or just getting on the push bike early on a Sunday morning for exercise.

Of course, if you are going away on holiday with family or friends and several of you want to bring bicycles, you’ll need to attach them to your vehicle for easy transportation. In this situation you’ll need to fix a bicycle rack to the back of your car. Specialist towbar fitters in Melbourne, Five Star Towbars, offer their advice as to how to choose the best bicycle hitch rack for your vehicle.

Attaching the Hitch Rack to Your Vehicle

If you’ve gone as far as to install a towbar to the back of your vehicle, half the job of attaching the bicycle hitch rack is already done! Once you’ve chosen the right hitch rack for your tow bar, simply fit it onto the ball and lock it in place with the supplied pin.

Points to Consider

So, you’re asking yourself the big question… how do I choose the right bicycle rack for my vehicle? While there are the options of roof racks and strap-on trunk racks, as specialists in tow bar installations, we’re more partial to the hitch-mounted rack. It’s one of the easiest to install on your car, as described above, and is less likely to cause damage to your vehicle like the strap-on racks have a tendency to do.

There are also many other points to consider when selecting the right product:

  • You’ll want to determine the maximum number of bicycles you’ll possibly want to transport at one time. Many can accommodate up to four per rack.
  • You’ll want to set your price range; variance in prices can often be attributed to the materials from which the bike rack has been made from.
  • You’ll want to consider whether you choose a fold away hitch rack or prefer a swing away rack. The swing away will typically add more to the price, but they also offer easier access to the back of your car.
  • You’ll also likely want to purchase an anti-rattle device. When you travel long distances on potentially bumpy and uneven roads, you won’t want to put up with the natural rattling sound that the hitch rack will make along the way. An anti-rattle device will nip that in the bud quick smart.

Bicycle hitch racks typically come in a range of sizes so you’ll want one that best fits your car and accommodates your bike(s). So this summer, if you’re going away with family or friends, why not take your pushie with you? You’ll be surprised by how easy it is. Get in touch with FiveStar Towbars about towbar installation in Melbourne today.

Are You Sure Your Trailer Is Travel Ready?

Back when I learned to drive a car, my instructor took me through a process called the ‘cabin drill’. The cabin drill was something I was taught to do every time I got behind the wheel, before I even put the key in the ignition. It involved checking that all doors were closed and that the handbrake was applied. If necessary, I would then adjust the seat, the head restraint, and the steering wheel. I would fix up all the mirrors – inside and out of the vehicle – to ensure I had as clear a view as possible. I was then required to locate all essential controls and know how to work them. The final step of the cabin drill was to fasten my seatbelt, and it was only after completing all those steps that I could turn the car on.

This is all common sense stuff that becomes second nature once you’ve been driving for a while. You barely think about doing these things; you just do them. But what about those times when you’re towing a trailer or caravan on the back of your vehicle? How often do you check that everything on the trailer or caravan is in working order and ready to hit the road? By checking your towed vehicle before you travel, you can identify potential problems early on and avoid paying for expensive trailer repairs. Fivestar Towbars in Melbourne explains how.

What Should I Check?

If you haven’t been particularly vigilant with your caravan or trailer maintenance, we suggest making sure you get it seen to before you set off on your trip – and you shouldn’t leave it to the last minute. Before leaving with trailer in tow, we always recommend completing an inspection of the towed vehicle. Make sure all lights are working and are clearly visible when activated; front, back, brake lights – the whole lot. Ensure the handbrake on the trailer or caravan has been disengaged once attached to your vehicle (it could make getting from A to B considerably difficult if the brakes are still on!). You should also be on the lookout for any loose items that should not be loose and fix them accordingly.

Once you’re on the road, pull over every two hours to check the wheels for any heat around the centre hub. Any excessive heat that generates is typically a sign that there may be some sort of problem, ranging from tight wheel bearings or a bent axle to faulty brakes.

For those who want to be a bit more thorough, here’s a fairly detailed checklist to help you keep your trailers and caravans properly maintained.


  • Check tyre pressure and the amount of tread – bald tyres can be your worst enemy!
  • Check that all trailer / caravan lights are working properly.
  • Test the electronic brake controller that operates the trailer / caravan brakes to make sure it’s working.
  • Tighten the wheel bolts to the specified torque (i.e. turning force) value.
  • Examine your wheels for cracks and/or dents.
  • Check for damage or wear in the wheel bearings. Repack if necessary.
  • Make sure the seals aren’t leaking.
  • Change the brake fluid.
  • Ensure the suspension is working as it should by checking for loose or worn fasteners.

Why Are We Telling You This?

At Fivestar Towbars, we often see people bringing in trailers and caravans that need repairs because they didn’t do these checks before they got on the road. By simply examining your trailer or caravan before hitching it to the back of your vehicle and setting off, you can identify potential issues before they blow out into much larger, costlier problems.

The cost of your trailer maintenance and repairs will be significantly less if you don’t wait until a major problem exists before you sort it out. We’d rather that money stay in your pocket for the things you want to do, so before you set off, be sure to book with FiveStar Towbars in Melbourne for our caravan or trailer repair services.

Genuine vs. Aftermarket Towbars – Which Are Better?

About a month ago I got sick with the flu, so I went to the doctors to get some prescription medication. I went to my local chemist and was asked if I wanted a generic substitute. It’s a question I’d been asked many times before and had always said yes, just as I did on this occasion. But on my way home, I thought about other situations where the ‘genuine article vs. after market or generic product’ choice might arise and how it might affect me.

I might make a meal that ‘requires’ a certain brand of Canola Oil, but will replace that brand with a generic substitute and the recipe thankfully won’t fall to pieces. When it comes to my car, though, safety is paramount, so I’m happy to pay that little bit extra for the added peace of mind that comes with buying genuine parts or even an original equipment manufacturers product. It’s a fine rule to apply for items that are essential to the car’s safety, but is it necessary to go that far for something like a tow bar? Will I be compromising on safety by purchasing an aftermarket tow bar, and from a value standpoint, will I be saving enough money to justify that decision? Let’s take a look at both questions below with professional Melbourne towbar installers Fivestar Towbars.

An Explanation of Each Towbar Type

Before we go any further, it would be wise to explain the key terms here before you shop around for towbars in Melbourne. A genuine towbar will display the logo of the car manufacturer (e.g. Toyota, Ford, Mercedes), indicating that it is a genuine part. It’s important to note that the car manufacturer might not be the actual manufacturer of the towbar, but by simply adding the logo it becomes their ‘genuine’ part. These parts are typically the most expensive, as people ultimately pay for the logo.

Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts are exactly the same products made by the companies who make the ‘genuine’ parts for car manufacturers. The only difference is that the car manufacturer’s logo doesn’t appear on the product and so the product is less expensive than its ‘genuine’ counterpart.

Aftermarket towbars, however, come from third party, independent companies such as Hayman Reese and Westfalia who specialise in towbar design and manufacture. Like genuine and OEM parts, all aftermarket towbars sold by trusted retailers are designed and manufactured to conform to all Australian Design Rules. They are just as safe as genuine and OEM parts but are considerably less expensive, as you’re not paying for the privilege of the car maker’s logo. However, you should be aware that there might be some sub-par products on the market, so you should always go through reputable retailers like Melbourne towbar specialist FiveStar Towbars, who only deals with ADR approved parts.

How Much Can You Save?

Just like my initial example of saving money by opting for the generic substitute medication at the chemist, so too can a towbar purchaser potentially save – often anywhere between $400 and $600 – by opting for an ADR approved, aftermarket towbar instead of the genuine article. In some rare cases, you might save thousands! If you’re looking at price alone, bear in mind that the cheapest products that fall well below Australian standards might end up costing you more in the long run, so it’s always best to choose aftermarket towbar brands like Westfalia and Hayman Reese that have built up a strong reputation over the years. As for the installation process, you can either opt to do it yourself or find a specialist to install your towbar in Melbourne, such as Fivestar Towbars.

Many people remain hesitant about purchasing aftermarket towbars in Melbourne for a number of reasons, including uncertainty about the quality and the possibility of a third party towbar voiding your car’s warranty among them (don’t worry, it won’t). Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help you.

Laws and Legislations Regarding Safe Caravanning and Trailer Towing

Towards the end of 2015, the Victorian Government made some changes to the laws and legislations around the safe towing of caravans. Let’s take a closer look at some of these changes.

The “D” Shackles on Safety Chains

When you’re towing a trailer or caravan, it’s crucial to have measures in place to prevent the towed vehicle separating from your car. The tow coupling is the standard, but you’re also required to have a safety connection device in place to act as a backup if the tow coupling somehow fails and it either breaks or the caravan or trailer detaches from your car. This essential plan B can be anything like a metal chain or a cable and is connected to the towing car with a part called a D shackle.

In the past, the D shackle did not have to be load rated; the weight of the load it was responsible for did not have to be regulated. It simply needed to connect the towed vehicle to the towing vehicle, much like how a ligament connects muscle to muscle. But the D shackle now has to be capable of safely carrying the particular load capacity it has been designed for. For example, a D shackle that meets Australian Standard 2741-2002 is capable of securing safety chains up to a 3500kg capacity. If you are unsure as to whether your D shackle is suitable for your safety chain, consult a towbar specialist like Fivestar Towbars.

Braked and Unbraked Towing Capacities

If a person intends to tow a caravan or trailer on the back of their vehicle, they must be aware of their vehicle’s towing capacity. They will either have what is called a Braked Towing Capacity, which indicates the weight a vehicle is capable of towing with trailer brakes applied, or an Unbraked Towing Capacity, which is the maximum towing ability of a vehicle towing a trailer without its own braking system. The Braked Towing Capacity is most common for caravan enthusiasts, as the unbraked figure cannot exceed the legal limit of 750kg – a weight that is significantly less than a standard caravan.

Australian law requires that any trailer or caravan that exceeds the 750kg weight must be fitted with electric brakes and therefore require brake controllers. Brake controllers are installed in the towing vehicle and enable the brakes on the trailer or caravan to work. They are connected to the brake lights in your car, and as you slow down or stop suddenly, they communicate to the brakes on the caravan or trailer that it must also slow down or stop as well. Without brake controllers, whatever you are towing can collide with the back of your car.

If you’d like to make sure your brake controllers are connected correctly, or if you have any concerns or queries about your towing capacity, it’s important to get these issues resolved before you take to the open roads. Contact FiveStar Towbars today for expert advice and assistance.

Discover the Ecohitch Towbar – The Latest in European Tow Bars

Back in September, we looked at the revolutionary Invisihitch tow bar. As far as European tow bars go, the Invisihitch has become widely popular for its hidden design features, its ‘behind the bumper’ installation, and for the fact that it’s virtually unseen once the ball mount has been removed. It can also fit onto just about any make or model of car such as BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Mitsubishi, Nissan and many more. However, for those people with smaller vehicles, these Euro tow bars could potentially be a little larger than necessary.

Fortunately, the Ecohitch tow bar has come along at just the right time. Boasting similar design features to the Invisihitch (both are designed by Execuhitch, specialists in European tow bars), the Ecohitch has been designed particularly for smaller vehicles – and it won’t burn a hole in your wallet!

Features and Benefits of the Ecohitch

Preparing your Ecohitch towbar for towing is so simple; all you need to do is insert the ball mount into the locking mechanism, lock it in place with the key, and away you go! To remove the ball mount, you just need to unlock the mechanism, turn the handle, and take the ball mount off. There are three ball mount options to choose from: the 4 Hole Drop Plate, the Ball & Lip, and the Recovery Hitch.

Here are just some of the key benefits of choosing an Ecohitch, or any of the Euro tow bars designed and manufactured by Execuhitch:

  • They meet strict Australian design rules and regulations.
  • They are rated to the vehicle’s maximum towing capacity.
  • They are user-friendly and incredibly easy to install.
  • Ecohitch, Invisihitch and other Execuhitch European tow bars are lockable and secure.
  • They come with a powder coated finish.

You’ll also enjoy the benefits of a lifetime warranty, and unlike some warranties on Euro tow bars that are voided when they’re used for bike racks, an Execuhitch lifetime warranty will not be invalidated.

Get in touch with Fivestar Towbars today to find out about having an Ecohitch or Invisihitch tow bar installed on your vehicle.

Post Road Trip Towbar Maintenance

The Christmas and New Year period is now behind us; a time when many people hit the road with their caravans in tow for a camping holiday, a surf trip, or perhaps a relaxing week at a coastal caravan park. Maybe you’ve just gotten back from such a trip yourself. You’ve got the caravan safely under cover, protecting it from the elements, but what about the tow bar that it was hitched to? That probably took a few bumps throughout the journey and might even need a little maintenance of its own.

The tow bar is often overlooked when it comes to vehicle maintenance; many people just see it as the attachment at the back that we hitch our caravans to before we go on holiday. We see it all the time; a customer will contact us for electric brake controller installation or trailer maintenance and when we check the tow bar, the pins have worn or the bolts no longer provide the security that they should. Tow bars experience wear and tear just like anything, so maintaining it is important to prevent it from becoming a hazard to you and others at an inconvenient time – like when you have a caravan attached as you drive down the Hume Highway. Here are some important towbar maintenance tips to ensure yours remains loyal to you and your car for some time to come.

How to Determine If Your Towbar Is Experiencing Wear and Tear

One of the easiest parts of the tow bar to inspect and replace if necessary is the pins that secure the tow bar to the base plate. If you take the pins out and run your finger along them, you might notice grooves running along them or some similar signs of wear and tear. Also, if the pins wiggle rather than sit nicely in place, they most likely need replacing. You can also check that the bolts are in place, allowing the tow bar to enjoy a full range of motion without being either too tight or too loose. Your safety and that of others you share the road with is paramount when you’re carrying a trailer or caravan on the back of your car, so the bolts need to enable free movement without becoming hazardous.

In addition to these factors, any reputable tow bar installation service provider will tell you it’s just basic towbar maintenance 101; things like making sure your towbar is free of dust and grime, and making sure you don’t tow above your recommended weight limit.

A mobile towbar fitting professional like Five Star Towbars in Melbourne will be able to determine whether these factors require your towbar to undergo some basic repairs or if it simply needs to be replaced. Make an appointment with us so you can be 100% confident in the safety of your tow bar before your next road trip!

Safe Towing While on the Roads This Summer

At this time of the year, over the Christmas / New Year period and the weeks that follow, the roads are noticeably busy. Some might be road tripping it to their nearest music festival; others might be travelling to catch up with family or friends, while many may just be getting away for a few day. Whether you’re roughing it out in the bush or staying in a caravan park by the beach, the temptation to get out of the city and relax for a few days in the hot Australian summer is hard to resist.

Of course, if you’ve got a caravan or trailer attached to the back of your vehicle as you make your way to your holiday destination, it’s crucial that you alter your driving practices to ensure you arrive safely. Let’s look at safe, responsible towing a little closer.

Before You Head Off

As every state has its own slight variations regarding towing laws and regulations, for ease this article will refer specifically to Melbourne; the primary market for FiveStar Towbars.

If you’ve never driven while towing a caravan before, be aware that you cannot drive as you normally would. You’ll need to adjust the way you drive almost completely because of the extra length and weight that you’re carrying. But before you even hitch the caravan to the tow bar, ensure your vehicle ticks these boxes:

  • It actually has the power to tow a caravan.
  • You have the correct type of tow bar for your caravan (a towbar installation specialist will be able to help you with this).
  • The car has suitable rear vision mirrors fitted that enable you to see beyond the caravan.
  • Brake controllers that control the slowing down and stopping of the caravan have been fitted to the car.

The caravan must also not exceed the maximum weight recommended by the manufacturer, the towing limits recommended by the car manufacturer, or the weight rating of the towbar.

How to Drive While Towing A Caravan

As we mentioned earlier, you will need to adjust the way you drive when you’re towing a caravan behind you. Before you leave on your road trip, perhaps try driving a shorter distance with the van attached, allowing you to gain a sense of how it feels.

It’s important to remember that towing a caravan or a trailer noticeably reduces your braking ability as well as your ability to decelerate. So when you’re going around sharp corners or find yourself needing to come to a sudden stop, slamming your foot on the brake is not recommended. Ever found yourself walking behind someone who suddenly stops and you end up crashing into them because you weren’t paying attention? That’s basically what the caravan will do to the back of your car if you don’t give the brake controllers in your vehicle time to tell the caravan to slow down and/or stop as well.

Click here for more information on safe caravan towing. It should go without saying, but we’ll say it any way: always drive responsibly, but even more so when you have a caravan attached to the back of your vehicle. If you want to be sure that your car is caravan-towing friendly, get in touch with FiveStar Towing today. We can provide you with everything you need, from mobile tow bar fitting to the installation of electric brake controllers and much, much more.

Tips for Safely Towing a Horse Float

It’s Spring Racing Carnival Time in Melbourne at the moment, and ‘The Race That Stops a Nation’ is (at the time of writing) just a week away. As a result, equestrian activities are likely on the mind of many horse lovers. As the weather slowly warms, you might feel more inclined to take your horse for a ride at the nearest equestrian club or even out in Victoria’s beautiful bushland.

When it comes to transporting your horse, it’s likely that you have a horse float that you tow on the back of your vehicle. Fivestar Towbars, the towbar installation specialists in Melbourne, offers some tips for safely towing a horse float while you’re driving.

Things to Consider

Horses are not known for being petite; in fact, they’re the opposite, and can weigh a literal half tonne each. When it comes to installing a towbar, you need to know what your vehicle’s towing capacity is. If the combination of horse and horse float exceeds your 4WD’s legal towing capacity, you’ll not only be breaking the law, but you also run the risk of putting other users on the road in danger – not to mention your horse as well.

Just as you’d have an electric brake controller fitted to your towed caravan or trailer, so too should you have one for your horse float as well. This device effectively alerts the towed float that the driven vehicle is slowing down or braking to stop and that it too needs to follow suit.

When you’re driving, it’s best to avoid suddenly changing lanes or braking, as these unexpected movements could potentially injure your horse. By braking or changing lanes gently, your horse should remain safe, comfortable and happy.

Consult your Equestrian Club

Above, we have listed just a few points to consider; it is by no means the be-all-and-end-all though. We recommend speaking to an equestrian expert first about safe towing. And once you’ve gotten the information you need, we can certainly help you with the products and towbar installation! Get in touch with us today; we’ll happily come to you anywhere in metropolitan Melbourne.

When Should I Replace My Towbar?

I’m sure this comes as a shock to no one, but we live in a time where nothing lasts forever. Some products will last longer than others, sure, but everything has a shelf life. Even your car’s tow bar will at some point need to be replaced by a towbar fitter. But how do you know when that point is? FiveStar Towbars in Melbourne is here to advise you on the signs to look out for that tell you it is time to replace your towbar.

Things to look out for

Though it might seem like an innocuous part of your car, your towbar’s ability to carry extremely heavy weights (boats, caravans, trailers etc) actually makes it quite invaluable. And when that ability fails, the results can be extremely dangerous!

If the tow bar is used frequently, it will eventually experience wear and tear. The major parts to assess for wear are the pins and bolts. The pins secure the carried load to the tow bar, while the bolts provide the tow bar with the necessary flexibility to withstand hitting bumps in the road or taking corners without causing damage to the tow bar and carried load. Inspecting the pins and bolts in the tow bar to make sure they’re not worn out and are in the right place is crucial. If they are worn out the time is probably right for a new towbar installation.

So when should I do it?

Ultimately the decision to replace your towbar comes down to how often you use it. If you’re the type of person who hitches a caravan to the back of the car every weekend to get out in the great outdoors, then you might need to replace your towbar every five years. If you only use it once a year to take a trailer load of rubbish to the dump, then you might only need to replace your towbar once every ten years. Then of course there are situations where it might require instant replacement, such as a car accident that causes damage to the tow bar. For more information on towbar installation in Melbourne, get in touch with FiveStar Towbars today.

Our Suppliers

All types of towbars and tow hitches for all applications are available to be installed by Five Star Towbars. Many other accessories such as brake controllers, load levelling systems, airglide systems and anti away systems are also available.

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