Installed a Bicycle Rack Towbar - Mercedes Benz SLK Forum

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#1 Old 02-29-2016
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Installed a Bicycle Rack Towbar

I wanted to know what is involved in installing a towbar on an SLK R170. I found many comments where most of them asked "can I do it?" and the replies would discuss legal technicalities or where to buy them. Since I could not find any that actually talked about what is involved in installing one, I reckon it might be useful for me to make a contribution.

So today I installed a towbar on my 2001 R170. It was fairly simple once I figured out where it would go, and how to get the muffler out of the way. If I did a second one, it should take less than an hour. If a shop did it, it should take 30 minutes max.

The towbar was advertised on a NZ auction site, and the VIN number showed it came off a 1999. I don't know who manufactured the towbar, but it fit perfectly behind the bumper and is precisely aligned with the body. In hindsight, I should have sprayed it a matching silver rather than black, but otherwise I am pleased.






This is only to be used for a bicycle rack. Except for the right hand bolt that goes through the tow eye, the other five bolts go through boot (trunk) sheet metal. In my opinion, such a mounting is too weak to tow anything of substance but should be OK for a couple of bicycles.

Also, as a bike rack, no wiring is needed, avoiding the question of what happens when one taps into computer sensor wiring.

Installation was very simple:


  • Wire brushed and repainted the towbar with black zinc anti-rust paint.
  • Jacked up the rear of the car, muffler side.
  • I was not sure how the rubber muffler hangers were supposed to be removed, so after the usual tools in the garage did not do the trick I took a very large flathead screwdriver, heated it in a vice using a gas welder, and bent the tip 95 degrees to fashion a hooking, pulling tool to remove the two rubber muffler hangers. It worked well both in removal and reinstall.


  • Disconnected the grounding strap (10 mm)
  • Pushed the muffler out of the way, held with a rubber bungee cord to give me room to work.
  • Unscrewed the two nuts (8 mm) holding the heat shroud in place and moved the shroud out of the way.
  • Used some blocks of wood to hold the towbar near the car (too heavy for one person to hold and install).
  • The right hand side (starboard side) bolts to the towing eye. Bolt that first, but allow wiggle room.


  • Place a jack under the middle and slowly raise the towbar into place.
  • Make sure that the muffler heat shroud clears the bar by pulling it over as you jack it up.
  • When the left side is near the bottom of the car, drill a pilot hole using a small drill bit in a hand-held battery electric drill.
  • Open up the boot (trunk) and drill a 1/2" or 13 mm hole where the small hole was made. Spray with anti-corrosion paint.
  • Presuming you aligned it right, put the upper brace (a large piece of flat steel with three bolt holes in it, and put a large bolt through the plate, hole and town bar below. Tighten, and if it looks aligned:
  • Repeat drilling & painting the other two holes.


  • Remove the spare tyre (so you don't drill a hole in it).
  • Drill two pilot holes from the bottom, then drill the two large holes from above, paint the raw exposed steel and bolt in.


  • Spray anti-corrosion paint on the nuts.











Relatively easy job.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg towbar.jpg (40.1 KB, 104 views)
File Type: jpg Done5894.jpg (33.9 KB, 107 views)
File Type: jpg Closeup_5895.jpg (27.5 KB, 107 views)
File Type: jpg right_5898.jpg (24.9 KB, 108 views)
File Type: jpg Middle5896.jpg (42.4 KB, 108 views)
File Type: jpg Inside5901.jpg (64.3 KB, 103 views)
File Type: jpg HangerHook5903.jpg (7.8 KB, 6 views)
File Type: jpg Rack5910.jpg (63.1 KB, 105 views)
File Type: jpg Bike5906.jpg (66.1 KB, 106 views)
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#2 Old 02-29-2016
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Nice DIY
You got some of the that Munro blood.....
Is it legal?
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#3 Old 02-29-2016
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Some would say it will de value a slk with a tow bar fitted .

I would walk away from buying one but thats my own personal opinion .

Is there not an aftermarket kit to attach a bike on your car that does nor require drilling / tow bar fitting . ?
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#4 Old 02-29-2016
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Originally Posted by Delucas View Post
Some would say it will de value a slk with a tow bar fitted .

I would walk away from buying one but thats my own personal opinion .

Is there not an aftermarket kit to attach a bike on your car that does nor require drilling / tow bar fitting . ?
In NZ R170 SLK's are not collectable, they are just old cars. Value is not on originality but the usual market expectations for old cars. If a buyer felt the car had been abused by using the towbar to haul a trailer, then it may turn them off, but the obvious answer to that is to remove the towbar before selling. Having five 12 mm holes in the boot plugged with normal boot rubber drain hole plugs is unlikely to devalue a car. But I did not buy the car to sell it. I bought it to use it, and to go on tours where we can take our bicycles and enjoy life.

To answer the question, I would find it hard to imagine something that can bolt on and not do damage. The usual boot rack won't work because it interferes with the vario roof... and most strap-on systems damage the paint.
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#5 Old 02-29-2016
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Originally Posted by duserslk View Post
Nice DIY
You got some of the that Munro blood.....
Is it legal?
Yes, it is legal. See https://vehicleinspection.nzta.govt....nd-fifth-wheel
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#6 Old 03-01-2016
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Waiheke View Post
In NZ R170 SLK's are not collectable, they are just old cars. Value is not on originality but the usual market expectations for old cars. If a buyer felt the car had been abused by using the towbar to haul a trailer, then it may turn them off, but the obvious answer to that is to remove the towbar before selling. Having five 12 mm holes in the boot plugged with normal boot rubber drain hole plugs is unlikely to devalue a car. But I did not buy the car to sell it. I bought it to use it, and to go on tours where we can take our bicycles and enjoy life.

To answer the question, I would find it hard to imagine something that can bolt on and not do damage. The usual boot rack won't work because it interferes with the vario roof... and most strap-on systems damage the paint.

Here in uk land most people buying over here sports cars of most makes id say they would walk away if a tow bar was fitted .
Even if it was plugged with gromments and wiring tucked away .
Its just a look most people would not want to see a tow bar showing through .
And yes here it would de value a car like manual slk go cheaper here .

Even the slk 170 still demand a good price if its clean and original .

But NZ way its sounds totally diff market place .

Plus we prob get pulled over and fined for partially blocking / viewing of our tail lights brake lights / indicators .

Were so health n safety now days in uk land .
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