D-Ring Tow Bar Adapters: Flat Tow with Your Rig's Offroad Bumper
If you need to flat-tow a 4x4 with an aftermarket bumper, it can be difficult to find fittings that'll connect the tow bar to your bumper's D-Ring mounts.
We've compiled a list of available D-Ring tow bar adapters and what you need to know to mount them.
Want to tow safely?
Make sure you buy an adapter that properly fits your D-Ring mounts!
We'll show you how.
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How to Safely Use D-Ring Tow Bar Adapters
The number one problem we see with D-Ring tow bar adapters is that people set them up incorrectly.
Bad setup will cause:
- Wallowing out of holes: Holes get bigger when hardware is slammed fore and aft
- Broken hardware: Hardware and pins are loaded more than rated when they don't fit holes
- Broken adapters: Improper fit will stress metal until it breaks
Here are some tips:
1) Loose adapters + Your driving = Broken stuff
If you've got lots of play in your flat-towing setup, you're going to break stuff.
Some play is inevitable. If your flat-tow setup was all interference fit, it would take a hammer to put it together and take it apart again! But try to reduce gaps between moving parts to 1/16" or less.
If the D-Ring adapter you get has an inside width of 1" and your D-Ring mount is 5/8", you'll have a lot of side to side play. There is no universe where this much play will be acceptable - it'll just put a lot of strain on the adapter and tow bar.
To fix this, you'd need to shim the adapter with washers to make up 3/8" of width.
If you buy a tow adapter with a 5/8" pin size, but your D-Ring mounts are for 3/4" shackles, the pin will be undersized by 1/4". Note that 3/4" D Ring have a 7/8" pin size.
To fix this, you need a larger pin. However, you should really be buying the next size up adapter as the adapter unit is simply too small.
Use the correct size pins and shim where necessary.
2) Replacing hardware may be a bad move
If you decide to replace pins or bolts, be very careful about the decisions you make.
The manufacturer has made specific choices in hardware. If they are using a bolt instead of a quick-release pin, there's probably a reason for it.
If you do replace hardware, make sure it's properly rated and has a good fit with all parts.
What's that mean?
New bolts should be Grade 8 (inch sizes) or Grade 10.9 (Metric). New pins should have shear strength comparable to what you take out.
Be careful about replacing bolts that provide light clamping force with cotter-pinned pins, primarily because of our next entry:
3) You ain't towing a compact car
If you're reading this, you probably have an aftermarket bumper. You might have a lift and larger tires. If you have lockers, they might be non-selectable.
You aren't towing a small, low car with short, firm suspension travel.
What you are towing is a 4x4 with:
- Soft long-travel suspension
- Big tires with flexy sidewalls
- A tall center of gravity
- No "trailer brakes"
- Heavy weight
- Lockers/traction aids that might act funny
probably have a bunch of other mods that add weight. Be mindful that you
are flat towing a big, heavy 4x4 and not a compact car. This should dictate how you drive AND how you set up your tow bar.
Measure It! - KNOW THESE DIMENSIONS BEFORE YOU BUY
If you want your mounting experience to be painless, do yourself a favor and take some measurements.
You should know:
- Your bumper's D-Ring mount width
- Your bumper's D- Ring mount pin size
- Your tow bar's end width
- Your tow bar's pin size
If you don't have a tow bar, most companies that make a D-Ring tow bar adapter also make a tow bar. Some even make bumpers!
If you're lazy or terrible at measuring, it would be smart to buy a bumper-adapter-tow bar package from one of these manufacturers.
Let's take a look at the measurements:
1) Bumper's D-Ring Mount Width
It's important to measure the tab width for your D Ring mount because they vary widely. We have seen D Ring mount tabs that are 1/2", 5/8", 3/4", and 1" thick.
Why does tab width matter so much for towing but not recovery, you ask?
Recovery happens in brief spurts where all your recovery gear is designed to work together.
When you flat tow you have lots of little movements and shock loads that could occur over hundreds of miles. Towing equipment is not designed for high loads like recovery gear, so you need to make sure that everything fits.
2) Bumper's D- Ring Mount Pin Size
This is pretty easy to determine:
First, you should know that shackle sizes are standardized - a shackle from one manufacturer will measure the same as from any other.
If you know the size of your shackles, you don't even have to measure (as long as they fit well in your D ring mount).
The most common shackle size for recovery is 3/4". This does not have a 3/4" pin! The pin diameter is 7/8", so your shackle mount's hole will also be 7/8".
Some bumpers will use a 7/8" shackle with a 1" pin or a 5/8" shackle with a 3/4" pin.
If this is confusing, whip out your tape measure - the hole will usually be 3/4", 7/8", or 1".
|Shackle Nominal Size||Shackle Pin Size|
3) Tow Bar's End Width
You need to know this so that you can determine whether the D Ring adapter will fit the tow bar you have.
4) Tow Bar's Pin Size
This tells you whether the D Ring adapter will fit the tow bar you have.
9 D-Ring Tow Bar Adapters
There aren't a ton of these out on the market. If you have some we should add to the list, let us know.
Here are dimensions and fun facts:
Warrior Products D-Ring Tow Bar Adapter - BUDGET UNIVERSAL
|Meant for shackle size||5/8"||3/4"|
|D-Ring mount hole diameter||3/4"||7/8"|
|D-Ring mount width||1"||1"|
|Tow bar end width||2"||2"|
|Tow bar end hole diameter||1/2"||1/2"|
These adapters from Warrior come in two sizes: 3/4" pin and 7/8" pin. 3/4" pin is generally a 5/8" shackle. Basically most wheelers should expect to use the larger 7/8" size that corresponds to a regular 3/4" shackle. If you have no idea what that means, you need to go up and read again.
These adapters have a welded design.
All hardware is included and Warrior uses bolts instead of pins for mounting everything. We don't particularly mind the use of bolts - it is a few seconds more with an adjustable wrench to pull the D-Ring pins.
If you choose this adapter, make sure your tow bar has a 2" wide ends with a 1/2" hole.
- Only adapter with a 3/4" pin option
- Works with Warrior's tow bar AND other tow bars that fit
- Made in USA (Tualatin, Oregon
- Less burly design than other brands
- No 1" pin size
- Bolts always require a wrench
Roadmaster D-Ring Tow Bar Adapter - SOLID, FOR ROADMASTER TOW BARS
|Meant for shackle size||3/4" or 7/8"||3/4" or 7/8"|
|D-Ring mount hole diameter||7/8" and 1"||7/8" and 1"|
|D-Ring mount width||3/4"||1"|
|Tow bar end||Roadmaster||Roadmaster|
This is a great unit from Roadmaster that is pretty versatile and reasonably priced. Each model fits a 7/8" or 1" diameter shackle hole on your bumper.
Where they differ is the width of the shackle tab on the bumper: one model is for 3/4" thick tabs and the other is for 1" thick tabs.
This is good because a 3/4" thick tab would need to be shimmed with a 1" wide adapter.
We like the quick release pin that also comes with a leash for the ring pin on the end - that makes it hard to lose.
- Each model fits a 7/8" or 1" diameter D-Ring hole
- Models for 3/4" or 1" thick D-Ring tabs
- Thick one-piece cast construction
- Quick release pin on bumper side w/leash
- Made in Vancouver, Washington, USA
- Only fits Roadmaster
Blue Ox D-Ring and Off Road Bumper Tow Bar Adapters - STRONGEST MACHINED ADAPTERS
|Fits||Generic||Generic||Smittybuilt XRC Atlas||Rugged Ridge XHD||Bulldog|
|Meant for shackle size||3/4"||7/8"||3/4"||3/4"||3/4"|
|D-Ring mount hole diameter||7/8"||1"||7/8"||7/8"||7/8"|
|D-Ring mount width||1"||1"||1"||1"||3/4"|
|Tow bar end||Blue Ox||Blue Ox||Blue Ox||Blue Ox||Blue Ox|
First, let's say that these are very beefy D-Ring adapters. They are the only ones that are machined instead of being welded or cast. It's likely they are the strongest adapters you can get.
However, that beef comes at a price.
The time spent machining these adapters is vastly more that it takes to weld or cast one of these pieces. This makes them very expensive. And the terrible thing about the price is that they aren't even powdercoated!
While these are probably the strongest adapters you can get, if you don't want to pay the machined in America tax, you should buy another set.
They offer universal adapters that will work with most bumpers and specific adapters to work with certain brands.
- Adapters to fit a wide variety of bumpers
- Very well built - one-piece machined
- Made in USA (Pender, Nebraska)
- Only work with Blue Ox tow bars
- Very expensive
- Not powdercoated
Blue Ox Custom Fit Adapters
If you have a Smittybilt, Rugged Ridge, or Bulldog bumper, take a look at the other adapters that Blue Ox has.
Note that the Rugged Ridge adapter is a set of base plates and hardware, NOT a D-Ring adapter.
The Bulldog adapter is the only D-Ring adapter that will fit D-Ring tabs with 3/4" width. These should be okay if you want the Blue Ox beef but one of the generic ones won't fit your use case.
Last updated: November 5, 2019