The gold towing base plates on this Mini Cooper were made by Blue Ox, and they can be removed when not in use.

Photo courtesy Blue Ox

Purpose of Towing Base Plates

Some towing enthusiasts will tell you using a tow bar is the perfect way to pull a vehicle with all four wheels on the road. They enjoy this method because tow bars are light, convenient, easy to use and generally cheaper than the other options out there.

­If you decide this is the method for you, you'll need several towing components. The first one is the hitch that goes on the back of the towing vehicle. Tow bars, usually shaped like the letter 'A,' with the pointy end toward the hitch, can be attached through a number of basic setups. For instance, some tow bars are rigid (these are usually cheaper but can be trickier to use) and others are self-aligning (these tend to be slightly more expensive but are more flexible and easier to use). Now that you've got your tow bar set up, take a look back at the vehicle you want to pull. What exactly are you going to hook these tow bars up to? Base plates!

The purpose of towing base plates is to connect the tow bar to the vehicle you're about to tow. They're mounted onto the frame of the vehicle and are a fundamental part of safe vehicle towing. If you're towing a vehicle a short distance in your quiet neighborhood cul-de-sac, you might be able to get away with a jerry-rigged system of chains. For real towing, like highway towing, base plates are essential.

On the next page, we'll talk about the variety of towing base plates available, and why you might want to let the professionals handle this installation job.