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Have you seen sports cars driving down the road with metal loops attached to their bumpers? Or perhaps you’ve noticed a short, nylon strap attached to the bumper and flapping in the breeze. These are aftermarket accessories, rarely used for towing. They are usually installed to make these vehicles look more like race cars. But you may also have one hidden in your trunk, ready to install in an emergency.

Why do race cars have tow hooks?

Some race car classes require competitors to install tow hooks or tow straps on their cars. This is because the cars are low to the ground and difficult to tow when they slide off the track. It would be unsafe for track personnel to be looking for a tow loop.

Closeup of a red aftermarket JDM tow hook installed under the rear bumper of a car.
JDM tow hook | Macdaddy Pimpping via Youtube

You may connect tow hooks with 4x4s. And when you are off-roading, there is a good chance you will get stuck and need a tow. Vehicles like the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon and 4xe are easily recognized by their uniquely colored tow hooks.

But many race cars also wear tow hooks. If a tow truck driver needs to pull a stock car out of a ditch or load it onto a trailer, they can often climb under it and find a safe place to hook on. But a lowered race car presents more of a challenge. Track personnel may try to tow a malfunctioning race car while other cars are driving by. It’s important they can hook on and get back in their truck.

Many race car specifications include clearly signed towing points. In some classes, these are nylon straps. In others, they are metal loops. Often, they are painted a bright color or marked with decals.

Why do JDM sports cars have tow hooks?

To be blunt, most street cars don’t need permanently mounted tow loops. If you see sports cars wearing brightly colored tow loops, their owners simply want their vehicle to look more like a race car.

Product photo of a JDM tow hook complete with race-car like decals.
JDM tow hook | BDL Industries

Various road-legal sports cars have come from the factory with tow hooks installed. Among these were several track-ready sports cars built exclusively for the Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) and only later imported to North America.

Because of this fact, many fans of cars built by Japanese brands connect bumper-mounted tow hooks with top-tier sports cars. Many aftermarket tow hooks are actually labeled as JDM tow hooks.

Does your car have tow hooks?

In recent years, automakers have begun threading the bumpers of many cars for easy tow hook installation–according to These cars have a removable tow hook in their trunk. They also have a removable plastic door the size of a coin built into their bumper.

A loop-style tow hook screwed into the front bumper of a Mazda Miata sports car.
Front tow hook | Carbon Miata

Why are automakers including tow hooks with new cars? It may be because every generation of cars is a bit lower to the ground, and thus a bit more difficult to find safe tow points for. It’s even possible JDM sports car enthusiasts installing tow hooks inspired the change. Or it just may be a common-sense feature for safety and convenience.

Next, watch the Red Bull F1 car do donuts in downtown Manhattan or learn how an aftermarket JDM tow hook is installed in the video below:


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