What is a Drawbar?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A drawbar is a piece of equipment which is used as a coupling between an engine and the load it pulls. Drawbars do not transfer the weight of the load to the engine, but rather act as a point of attachment so that a load can be hooked onto a trailer, truck, tractor, or similar type of engine. The load is balanced on wheels and supporting struts of its own.

A tractor is equipped with a drawbar so that it can haul different types of farm implements such as plows, harrows, cultivators and reapers.
A tractor is equipped with a drawbar so that it can haul different types of farm implements such as plows, harrows, cultivators and reapers.

A classic example of a drawbar can be seen on farm equipment. A tractor is equipped with a drawbar so that it can haul different types of farm implements such as plows, harrows, cultivators, reapers, and so forth. In addition, most tractors can pull simple trailers which may be loaded with supplies or animals; anyone who has gone on a hayride, a popular fall activity in some areas of the world, has probably been pulled in a trailer attached to a tractor with a drawbar.

People may use tractors to participate in recreational sports such as tractor pulling.
People may use tractors to participate in recreational sports such as tractor pulling.

Another example can be seen on railroads. On many trains, only one car, the locomotive, has an engine. All of the other cars are supplied with energy to move by being attached to the engine and each other with draw bars. Some locomotives have tremendous pulling power and can handle extremely long and heavy trains, while in other cases, a second locomotive needs to be attached to supply additional energy, especially if the train needs to travel up a grade.

Large trucks can also utilize this type of coupling. Drawbars can be used for towing other vehicles, including boats on trailers, and for attaching a trailer to a truck or car. Some trucks are manufactured with a drawbar and accessories installed, while in other cases it is necessary to add them. The drawbar usually comes with a load rating which is determined in part by the power of the engine it is attached to, and by the materials it is made from.

A mechanic can fit a vehicle with a drawbar or repair an existing one in the event that it is required. It is advisable to avoid loads which exceed the capacity of the drawbar, as the bar could fail during hauling and at high speeds this could be catastrophic. If the rating is not clear, a mechanic can be consulted for advice, and sometimes it's possible to find a drawbar calculator, with the user inputting variables such as the type of vehicle and drawbar model and the calculator returning a recommended load capacity.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


@OeKc05 – Most men do think to check the load bearing capacity of a drawbar and truck before investing in them. I wish I had been that wise.

I had a small sedan, and I don't know why it never entered my head that I probably couldn't tow a boat with it. I had been wanting one for years, and I finally saved up enough money to buy one. I didn't even know what a drawbar was then, so I didn't think to get one.

Well, I live fifty miles from the nearest lake, so I had to tow it. I invited my friend to go with me, and when he showed up to my house, he told me there was no way my car could haul the boat, even if I did have a drawbar.

Luckily, he had a truck and a drawbar capable of pulling the load. I was very upset to learn that I could not do it myself, though.


@myharley – I also live out in the country, and I have seen tractors doing many different jobs. I never knew until reading this article that they used drawbars to attach the various parts needed to do their work.

Just a few weeks ago, I saw a tractor in a big field of tall grass. It was mowing the grass down, and it had some sort of huge mower blades attached to it.

The next day, the tractor was back, but this time, it had a different attachment. It would roll along for a distance and then stop. I didn't know what it was doing until it spit out a big bale of hay!

The hay baler was attached to the tractor by a drawbar. Something so huge and powerful was only linked to the tractor by a small piece of metal.


My uncle uses a drawbar to carry his boat to his lake house several times a month. He has to put it on a trailer, which he then attaches to the drawbar.

He usually takes his wife's car most places, because it's newer and gets better mileage. However, it isn't strong enough to pull the weight of the trailer and the boat combined. So, he has to take his old truck when transporting the boat.

The truck and its drawbar can handle an even greater load than what he normally hauls. He doesn't worry when he catches a few buckets of fish and has to add that weight to the trailer.


Every drawbar I've ever seen has two sections. The part that attaches to the tow hitch is shaped like half a U, and then a straight metal bar attaches to that. There are holes for hooks and bolts to thread through and secure the load.

Sometimes people forget and leave their drawbars attached to their trucks. I have seen people driving in front of me with their drawbars protruding from their tow hitches.

I guess it could serve to keep the people behind from following too closely! There have been times I have wished I had something jutting out from behind my car to deter the bumper-sniffers behind me.


We live on several acres of land and we have a tractor that serves many purposes. Depending on what needs to be done, there is a large variety of equipment that can be hooked to the back of it with the use of a drawbar.

My husband will also use a drawbar hitch on his truck as he is always hooking up different sizes of trailers and equipment to the back of his truck.

We are also surrounded by farm fields. In the spring and fall I will often see the same tractor in the field, but have different attachments depending on what they are doing.

A drawbar makes it much easier to attach the correct piece of equipment to get the job done.


I recently went on a train ride to the Grand Canyon. This locomotive had several separate cars that were all attached by a drawbar.

It was not only interesting to see, up close, how this train worked, but they also had parts of older ones used in years past.

You get a better understanding of how much weight a drawbar can withstand when you are standing next to these big trains.

There were some really steep grades as we were making our way up to the canyon. More than once it felt like the train was coming to a complete stop as it was winding its way up the mountainous terrain.

There were about 10 cars that were all attached to the locomotive. All of them were some type of passenger car with different levels of comfort and service.

Our car was right next to the cafe car where they served drinks and snacks. We had a steady stream of people coming through our car to get to the cafe car.

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