If this component is missing from a vehicle's front bumper, it has probably been towed before

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Front bumper tow hook cap on a Volvo XC40 T4
Front bumper tow hook cap on a Volvo XC40 T4
Robin Classen

Most new vehicles come with tow hook eye caps.

It is found in the middle section of the front bumper and near the bottom of the rear bumper.

Its purpose is to allow a tow hook to be screwed into a beam found on the inside of the front bumper.

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One of the worst things you can experience as a driver is when your vehicle fails to start, or it unexpectedly breaks down, leaving you stranded on the side of the road.

The first thing most people do is call friends and family, hoping to come as quickly as possible - especially if it's at night - in the hope they have a towing rope in their possession too.

For this reason, insurance and roadside assistance cover becomes a life-saver, where professionals load up and transport your vehicle on a flatbed to a designated spot until such time your vehicle could be sorted out. As a side note, all new vehicles, and those purchased pre-owned, must be insured before it gets handed over to the customer.

If it's an older vehicle, the rope is generally tied to a free section of the chassis frame, but with newer models, they have a special place reserved for such scenarios.

Tow hook eye cap

Most modern vehicles today come with a tow hook eye cap - distinctive by its round, square or rectangular shape usually found on the middle part of the front bumper - this allows a steel hook (provided with the vehicle) to be screwed into the bumper stiffener beam via a threaded nut.

Crashed car gets hoisted up and removed from the s
Crashed car gets hoisted up and removed from the scene of the accident.


Have you been in a situation where you had trouble towing a vehicle? Email us, or share your thoughts in the comments section below.


The tiny piece of plastic can be removed by pressing on a certain point and is usually affixed to the bumper via a strip of hard plastic so that it won't get lost. If it might have gotten lost or fell out because it wasn't inserted properly, some vehicles have the front section exposed and gives the impression that it was towed before. Having the rear cover missing means that the vehicle in question could have been the one doing the towing.

According to a European Union Commission Regulation Number 1005 depicted on Jalopnik, all motor vehicles must have a towing device fitted at the front. Where loads are concerned, each towing device fitted to the vehicle must be able to withstand a tractive and compressive static force equivalent to at least half the technically permissible maximum laden mass of the vehicle.

Close-Up Of Car In Truck
Close-Up Of Car In Truck

South Africa's National Road Traffic Act, 1996 (Act No. 93 of 1996) and the National Road Traffic Regulations published in Government Notice No. R.225 of 17 March 2000 states: "No person shall operate a vehicle on a public road towing another vehicle - if the length of the tow rope, chain or tow bar between the two vehicles exceeds three and a half metres, if the towed vehicle is connected to the towing vehicle in such a manner that both vehicles are not under control and the device connecting the towing vehicle to the towed vehicle is such that the steerable wheels of the towed vehicle are controlled by such device."

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The most common things people use to tow can range from chain, rope, steel wire and even extended seatbelts - yes, stranger things have happened. A vehicle's towing capacity (generally found in the owner's manual) refers to the amount of weight it can pull behind it. For example, a Volkswagen MK1 Golf is not supposed to be towing a Toyota Fortuner SUV.

Beneficial purpose

Its positioning on the front bumper lends itself to be convenient. Also, it eliminates the risk of the bumper sustaining damage from the rope gaining and losing tension if it were attached underneath or through it. The vehicle in question might have a lowered suspension, which would make it difficult for someone to find a point on the chassis to secure the rope onto.

Front bumper tow hook cap
Front bumper tow hook cap on a Volvo XC40 T4

Whether it be a Nissan GT-R, Hyundai Getz, Toyota Corolla or a Volkswagen Polo, more new vehicles have this feature - one that can significantly reduce towing time. If you're buying a later model pre-owned vehicle, it's best to make sure that it has the factory tow hook still there.

If your vehicle does not have compensation for a tow hook to be screwed in, some already have a hook bolted to the chassis, which can usually be found directly behind the front bumper.

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