Have you seen sports cars cruising down the street with metal loops on their bumpers? Or maybe you’ve noticed a short nylon strap attached to the bumper that flaps in the wind. These are aftermarket accessories that are rarely used for towing. They are usually installed to make these vehicles look more like race cars. But maybe you also have one stashed in your trunk for use in an emergency.
Why do race cars have tow hooks?
Some race car classes require competitors to attach tow hooks or tow straps to their cars. This is because the cars are low to the ground and difficult to pull if they slide off the track. It would be unsafe for track personnel to search for a towing eye.
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You can connect tow hooks to 4WD vehicles. And if you’re going off-road, there’s a good chance you’ll get stuck and need towing. Vehicles like the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon and 4xe are easily identified by their uniquely colored tow hooks.
But many racing cars also have tow hooks. When a tow truck driver needs to pull a stock car out of a ditch or load it onto a trailer, they can often climb underneath and find a safe place to hitch it. But a lowered race car is a bigger challenge. Track personnel can attempt to tow a malfunctioning race car while other cars are passing. It’s important that they can connect and get back in their truck.
Many race car specifications include clearly marked tow points. In some classes, these are nylon straps. In others, there are metal loops. They are often brightly painted or marked with decals.
Why do JDM sports cars have tow hooks?
To be honest, most road cars don’t need tow hooks permanently installed. When you see sports cars with brightly colored tow hooks, their owners simply want their vehicle to look more like a race car.
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Various road-legal sports cars came from the factory with tow hooks fitted. Among them were several racetrack-ready sports cars that were built exclusively for the Japanese domestic market (JDM) and only later imported to North America.
For this reason, many fans of Japanese-brand cars associate bumper-mounted tow hooks with top-of-the-line sports cars. Many aftermarket tow hooks are actually marked as JDM tow hooks.
Does your car have tow hooks?
According to Slate.com, in recent years, automakers have begun threading the bumpers of many cars to make it easier to install tow hooks. These cars have a removable tow hook in the trunk. They also have a removable coin-sized plastic door built into their bumper.
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Why do car manufacturers integrate tow hooks in new cars? It may be because each generation of cars is a little lower to the ground, making it a little harder to find safe tow points. It’s even possible that JDM sports car enthusiasts installing tow hooks inspired the change. Or it can just be a sensible feature for security and convenience.
Next, watch the Red Bull F1 car do donuts around downtown Manhattan, or learn how to install an aftermarket JDM tow hook in the video below:
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