Towing 4 wheels down a heads up

Discussion in 'General RVing' started by rubinontheroad, Dec 7, 2009.

  1. rubinontheroad

    rubinontheroad New Member

    Hi folks, my name is Stan Rubin, first let me apologize for this long entry, but feel it is important to the safety of those RVers, who tow a vehicle. We have been RVing since 2000, so we have about ten years experience on the road. In 2007, we purchased a 2007 Honda CRV to tow, four wheels down. We purchased the Blue Ox Aventa LX, BX7445 Tow Bar Class IV (10,000 lb for a 2 inch Receiver) and the Base Plate BX2246 made for the 2007 Honda CR-V. A highly recommended RV dealer in Winnipeg, Canada, installed the towing system, in July of 2007. We had trouble free towing until Sept 2009. We were again in Canada, between Vancouver and Kelowna and noticed our car could be seen in the side mirror, which is not normal. We were on an upgrade and going about 40 MPH when we pulled over, We found that the front fascia of the Honda had pulled away and upon further inspection, discovered the Blue Ox base plate had failed. I mean, totally failed, the metal (not the bolts) had ripped, this happened on both sides, where the base plate is attached (bolted) to the frame. The base plate, was now only being held (and also our vehicle) only by the safety cables, which are also attached to the frame, as a safety backup. The metal, where it is bolted to the frame, could now be seen as the fascia, and the skid plate, which normally hides it, had pulled completely away exposing the front end and the failure of the part. We disconnected the vehicle and drove separately on to Kelowna, BC. At West Lake RV, where we took the vehicle, we contacted Blue Ox. After explaining what happened, their representative quickly sent us a replacement base plate. When it arrived, I was with the tech who was doing the work of removing the rest of the fascia of the Honda and removing, what was left of the failed base plate. All the bolts were tight and the cause of the damage, appeared to be metal fatigue (the failure of the metal itself. The new base plate was installed using the same attachment points, as these were not damaged. The West Lake tech, was also able to reinstall the fascia of the car, saving me having to go to the local Honda dealer for bodywork. Blue Ox, sent the replacement part, free of charge and without freight charges. Blue Ox, asked that I send them, the damaged parts, at my expense, which I did. It was explained that I was to be responsible for the labor for the removal and reinstallation of the new part. I would also be responsible for the shipping of the failed part back to Blue Ox. I was under the impression that after Blue Ox saw that the total failure of their product, due to metal fatigue, that they would agree to cover the labor and the cost of shipping the failed product back to them. I guess I was being naive. After a month, in which I heard nothing from Blue Ox, I contacted them, by phone. I talked to a Ms. Deanna Graham, who was also the person who expedited the shipping of the replacement part to Westlake RV. I asked her, if Blue Ox, had come to any conclusion about the failure of their base plate. I also asked when I would be reimbursed for the cost of the labor and the shipping of the part. At that time, Ms Graham, informed me that the company had decided that the base plate was installed improperly (bolts not tight enough) by the company in Winnipeg, who had installed it in 2007, over two years previously. When I informed Ms Graham, that I was present when the tech removed the failed part and he stated, that there was nothing wrong with the original installation and that nothing was loose. Ms Graham, then asked me if I had any of the original nuts and bolts? I told her yes, I had some of them and at her request, again, at my expense, sent the fasteners off to Blue Ox. In a subsequent email, Ms Graham, asked me to give Blue Ox, more time to resolve the issue, this was on, Oct 15th 2009. Today, Dec. 7, 2009, I have received from Blue Ox (MS Graham), the company’s decision, that they will not reimburse me the labor and shipping costs.

    The money is no longer an issue with me, the issue is, my safety as I still am towing the CR-V. Also, I think of the safety of other folks like me and of the RV towing public in general. Also whether companies like Blue Ox, will stand behind the products that they advertise as safe.

    One additional item, that may be of interest.
    On January 5, 2006, blue Ox issued a service bulletin as follows:

    To: Blue Ox Customers, Towing Dealers & Distributors, & Blue Ox Team
    Subject: Safe Towing Guidelines

    As detailed in our instructions, it is the user’s responsibility to look for metal fatigue and loose bolts on the base plate before each towing trip. The user should also inspect the frame of the vehicle near the mounting points for sign of fatigue. Any deficiencies need to be dealt with immediately. We strongly recommend that the base plate be attached to the towed vehicle frame by means of a set of two short cables. Removable tabs should also be inspected prior to each trip for signs of wear and fatigue.

    Not mentioned in the installation instructions for the Blue Ox BX2246 2007 Honda CR-V base plate is the fact that when the base plate is fully installed on the Honda CR-V, the fascia and skid plate make inspection prior to each trip impossible. There is also no mention of metal fatigue anywhere in those instructions.

    It seems that metal fatigue is a problem that has cropped up before with Blue Ox products. My suggestion to Rvers that tow, check carefully for signs of metal fatigue (I’m not exactly sure what to look for, but look)

    Metal fatigue is mentioned three times in this service bulletin. As stated above because of the configuration of the Honda CR-V, inspection is not an option. There is an option that is available to Blue Ox. That option is to use thicker and/or higher grade steel in the construction of all their base plates, not just in the base plates of vehicles whose design prevents easy inspection. This option may cost Blue Ox more in production costs and reflect on Blue Ox’s bottom line, but is the bottom line at Blue Ox, more important then say your vehicle, or say your life.
  2. H2H1

    H2H1 Senior Member

    Re: Towing 4 wheels down a heads up

    Hello Stan, I must admit it was a little long, but well written and very informative. I now tow a Saturn 4 wheels down. I have had 2 car dollies before I went this way. I just bought a 2010 car dolly and will start towing again on a dolly. I just put in a new transmission in the Saturn which wasn't cheap. Good luck with your adventures
  3. C Nash

    C Nash Senior Member

    Re: Towing 4 wheels down a heads up

    My question to Stan would be have you ever backed the rv with the toad stilled hooked. Hope Stan comes back with more than just the post which he posted on all topics.
    Hollis what did you do forget to take the saturn out of park? :laugh: :laugh: ;) Have towed our Tracker 4 down for 40K and it has 180K total on it and so far no problem.
  4. LEN

    LEN Senior Member

    Re: Towing 4 wheels down a heads up

    An other thing was the angle of the tow bar flat. I have seen a bunch of flat tow with the bar at an extreme angle, this causes a lot of stress on the mounting plate and can cause fatigue.

  5. Kirk

    Kirk Senior Member

    Re: Towing 4 wheels down a heads up

    There is more to this than mentioned thus far. This exact same post, word for word has now appeared on at least five different RV forums. If you check his profile you will find that he joined just to make this post. What he is doing is to use the RV forums as a means of retaliation against what he believes was bad service. It is the "give me my way" syndrome.

    After many years of outstanding service from Blue Ox on their products and support by them, and this being only the second time in more than 15 years of active participation in many RV internet forums, I have to question this entire post. I wonder what we would hear if we could talk to the folks at Blue Ox? Do you think there may be another side to this?

    His attacks have not effected my belief in the company because I am writing this as I sit in the waiting room for the Blue Ox base plate to be installed on our new CR-V so that I will be able to continue towing with all Blue Ox products. Something smells bad about this post!
  6. LEN

    LEN Senior Member

    Re: Towing 4 wheels down a heads up

    Agree with Kirk have seen this same post on several sites. Didn't want to hit on a guy when he's down but in his own post is stated "inspect" and it appears he did not. Although I feel for him I think the company came through. Things wear and break, we must inspect. We have very complex RV's that need some attention not just jump in and drive, check oil, check anti freeze, check tire air, check the hitch. Machinery fails with use no matter how good it is and we never want to be the ONE.

  7. TexasClodhopper

    TexasClodhopper Senior Member

    Re: Towing 4 wheels down a heads up

    Folks, here's another thread with with some very pertinent information concerning this original post.

    The posts by "Stan Rubin" are a good example of why you should only post once in one forum. It spreads the discussion out and someone is liable to miss some very important information!

    Unless that was your purpose from the start .... :(
  8. Kirk

    Kirk Senior Member

    Re: Towing 4 wheels down a heads up

    From Blue Ox:


    Thank you for sending your email. We have been notified of the post and have sent a response, I have attached a copy of the response for your review.

    Stan Rubin and other interested parties.
    Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Jim Huston and I am the President of Automatic Equipment Manufacturing Co. dba Blue Ox. We have been in business since 1925 and are proud of the products we make. We have not stayed in business all of these years by producing inferior products and ignoring customer inputs. Being from the “old school” I have a deep sense of responsibility for our actions. If we, as a company, do something wrong we will make it right. I do not post to these venues but feel I must present the “other side” of this story.

    Mr. Rubin tows his Honda behind a 5th wheel travel trailer, a practice we can not endorse. Mr. Rubin also chose not to submit his warranty card which points out the fact that the product needs to be returned, at the customer expense, for an evaluation if there is a problem. To date, we have produced in excess of 3300 BX2246 base plates – this is the only one in our extensive data base that has failed in this manner.

    When we do receive a product for evaluation it is inspected by our quality control department. Any out of the ordinary observations are passed along to the product development team and engineering for further analysis. In this case, it was apparent from the elongated holes, wear, rust marks and the condition of the fasteners that the base plate had been loose for an extended period. Mr. Rubin takes us to task for asking him to take responsibility to inspect his base plate as being too difficult. . A simple shake of the base plate by hand or foot and notice any unusual movement is sufficient. Mr. Rubin did note that we sent a replacement base plate immediately, at no charge, on notification so he could continue his journey. Our warranty covers material and workmanship on the product for some period of time to the original purchaser. We have not received a warranty card from Mr. Rubin nor have we asked for proof of purchase – we took him at his word. We do not warranty the proper installation, usage or maintenance of our product as we have no control over those items. We did not, and do not feel, this was a defect in material or workmanship, even in the face of the public blackmailing that has taken place. I presume Mr. Rubin is still using his Blue Ox base plate and tow bar in his travels.

    Thank You
    Deanna Graham
  9. Triple E

    Triple E Senior Member

    Re: Towing 4 wheels down a heads up

    Thank you for sharing this. It is nice to know that Blue Ox is responding to this problem. ;)


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