Retrofit towbar to W166 ML63 AMG

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Bobby Dazzler

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I'm posting this to help others who Google search whether a towbar can be retrofitted to an ML63 AMG.

A few weeks ago we took delivery of our new W166 ML63 AMG and having a towbar is essential for us, so before I committed to the car I checked the VIN or data plate showed the Gross Train Weight (GTW) meaning it's legal to tow, and dropped Tamzin at Westfalia an email to see if they've done one yet.

When we had a towbar fitted to our W164 ML63 AMG we had a bit of game to begin with, as pretty much every towbar manufacturer and every towbar fitter said it couldn't be done as the kit didn't fit the AMG or it simply wasn't type approved for towing, and was therefore illegal. Read more in this thread.

Last time, to make sure it went smoothly I bought the towbar kit from Mercedes, and had the towbar specialist they used to fit it. It fitted fine, and with the exception of finding the right relays it went relatively smoothly with help from Mercedes, Westfalia, and our very own Richard from MBClub.

Westfalia supply the towbars to Mercedes for factory fit and for the parts counter, so this time I went straight to Tamzin at Westfalia, who recommended a fitter who had installed the towbar on a W166 with AMG kit, which was Towcraft in the heart of the Black Country, not too far from me.

Westfalia warned that the mounting plate for the electrics would need to be "persuaded" (ie bent a bit) and sure enough it fit. Westfalia also supplied the integrated wiring module, again just as it would be supplied if you buy it from the MB parts counter, so much more simple this time around.

The integrated kit does things like illuminate only the caravans rear fog lamps when the switch is turned, and not on the car, so there's no glare reflecting back at the driver from the front of the caravan. It also adjusts ESP, disables rear parking sensors, etc. Clever.

So today, Towcraft installed the towbar:
  • The bar/beam behind the bumper bolted straight on in place of the standard item.
  • The lower bumper valance has a removeable panel so no need to trim or cut.
  • After fitting the panel is secured with one 10mm bolt rather than 2 trim clips, as the second fouls on the 13-pin socket.
  • The 13 pin electrics socket was fitted and positioned perfectly on the bracket welded to the beam, once the bracket/plate had been "persuaded".
  • The integrated wiring module was plumbed in between the standard wiring loom and the 13 pin socket.
  • The coding was done without issue, so the car knows that a towbar is fitted, and enables the electrics, etc.

The Westfalia part number is 313406 and here are the fitting instructions if you're considering installing it yourself.

So all in all even smoother than last time. Last time we were the first to retrofit a towbar to the W164 ML63 AMG or AMG kit, however given the popularity of the AMG kit on the W166 it was inevitable that it would have been done before on a car with the AMG kit, although we don't know if an ML63 has been done before.

The car is being detailed so I won't have it back for another week, so I have no idea how it tows. Once I have some photos I will update this thread.

Finally in case you're wondering whether the Performance Package affects the towing weights or type approval ...it doesn't, and it fits fine;

Thanks to all involved
 
Thats very good to know. I have recently fitted the ML63 bumpers to my 350 and was going to have a tow bar fitted before I carried out the conversion (just for a tow bar mounted bike carrier) but ended up purchasing the wrong towbar! Bought (and will be up for sale when I get round to it) a genuine MB electrically retractable tow bar and then found my car wasn't prewired for it (didn't realise this at the time of purchase).
Have been quoted for a detachable westafalia tow bar incl electrics to be fitted, but there was some confusion as to whether or not it would actually fit, as they have it listed 'not suitable for AMG styling package'!
Was waiting for them to get back to me, but it is the same part number as you have listed. So thank you very much for saving me some headache!
 
Thats very good to know. I have recently fitted the ML63 bumpers to my 350 and was going to have a tow bar fitted before I carried out the conversion (just for a tow bar mounted bike carrier) but ended up purchasing the wrong towbar! Bought (and will be up for sale when I get round to it) a genuine MB electrically retractable tow bar and then found my car wasn't prewired for it (didn't realise this at the time of purchase).
Have been quoted for a detachable westafalia tow bar incl electrics to be fitted, but there was some confusion as to whether or not it would actually fit, as they have it listed 'not suitable for AMG styling package'!
Was waiting for them to get back to me, but it is the same part number as you have listed. So thank you very much for saving me some headache!

I'm glad it's helped someone already.

After we retrofitted the towbar on the W164 ML63 AMG, Westfalia changed the description to remove the "not suitable for AMG kit" reference. They've changed it back though in between, not sure if this was deliberate or not.

If you have any queries in future, go direct to Tamzin, she knows her onions and is an absolute pleasure to deal with. Tamzin kindly invited members of MB Club to contact her directly after she helped me with the W164, here are her contact details lifted from that thread:

Tamzin Halpin
Westfalia UK Ltd
[email protected]

westfalia-loadcarrier.co.uk
www.westfalia-automotive.co.uk
 
PS Top-tip for anyone struggling to get a UK-based tow bar fitter to accept that it's possible - confirm it with Tamzin first, and then when you speak to the fitter just say "Tamzin at Westfalia has confirmed..." and the conversation changes! Always best to supply a photo of your data plate too as this confirms that your vehicle is legal to too.
 
I fitted a Boris towbar to my 212 along with a Westfalia wiring kit. All got from PJ Jones who were very good. My problem with the Westy 13 pin wiring kit is that it doesn't have the heavier gauge cable reqd for the fridge current. Jones agree with this and have challenged Westfalia who just shrug off the criticism.
 
I fitted a Boris towbar to my 212 along with a Westfalia wiring kit. All got from PJ Jones who were very good. My problem with the Westy 13 pin wiring kit is that it doesn't have the heavier gauge cable reqd for the fridge current. Jones agree with this and have challenged Westfalia who just shrug off the criticism.

That's interesting to know. I told the fitter I wanted the circuit for the fridge so hopefully used appropriate cabling.

I got a quote from PF Jones, and they were really good value compared to other quotes I received, but I went with the fitter which Westfalia recommended based upon the having done W166 AMG before (although a little more expensive).
 
Try and get a look at the cable sizes in the loom. There should be two, maybe three if battery charging is also taken into account (can't remember the colours although one may be white :dk:) that are significantly bigger in size than the rest. My Westfalia loom has them all the same. My solution was to double up on the fridge wire using the spare from the caravan reversing lights which my van doesn't have. Have a search on here for a similar post of mine which also highlights the inadequate fuse rating on the Merc rear Sam. iirc it's not up to the rating for a fridge and as such I added an additional power relay triggered by the Sam circuit just for fridge power.

Remembering this is all relevant to a 212 but that yours may be the same.

PF Jones is aware of this problem and offers an aftermarket loom with the correct cable sizing.

This is the one for the E Class I wished I had bought instead of the Westy one...

Right Connections: http://www.pfjones.co.uk/mercedes-e...d-wiring-kit-may-2009-onwards-29040510rc.html

Derek.
 
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Would it not just be easier to fit the factory Oris tow bar and factory wiring kit as it rolls up out the way?
 
Would it not just be easier to fit the factory Oris tow bar and factory wiring kit as it rolls up out the way?
The installation is straight forward for any brand of towbar, the problem is than towbar manufacturers and therefore fitters state that AMG models are not type approved for towing. This is true for most AMG models, but not R/ML/GL/GLE/GLS/G. Once you get over that hurdle it’s straightforward.

Even though they’re removable, I leave the towbar on our cars whether they’re in use or not, to provide a little extra protection.
 
Hmm, factory fitted on the ml63 anyway, electric and folds away and is a kit of parts from MB and with full retro fit instructions.


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