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Sunday, May 2, 2010

What are they thinking? Tow Bar Safety Issue - The 4 Inch Rule.

I am amazed at how RVer's can be so concerned with safety issues, but overlook the obvious. 

It is all over the RV forums and rally seminars about safety topics like:  Tires - how old is too old, or Weight - knowing that you are within manufacturers specifications, or Fire Extinguishers - what type, how many to have, where to place them.  Then there are discussions on safe driving speeds, seat belts, driving with the TV on, etc, etc, etc.

Yet I never hear anybody talking about the tow bar height issue.  To illustrate this I stopped at my local Flying J and took a few pictures of various tow bar set ups.  These pictures are typical of what I see every day.  What I find even more shocking is that most of these tow bar set ups were installed by dealers and other RV repair shops where the technicians should know better.

Here is a picture of what a tow bar set up should look like when installed correctly.  The bar is almost perfectly horizontal and will tow safely, even in a hard or panic stop.

Now look at these following pictures for examples, from bad to worse of incorrect tow bar set ups:

According to proper tow bar set up procedure, the height difference should not be more than 4 inches between the hitching points on the tow set up. 

Here is Roadmaster's bulletin on this:

So how do you correct this?  You can go to Camping World or most any RV or trailer dealer and buy one of these. 

 This is a picture of an 8 inch drop receiver, which costs about $150 but can be used to level the tow bar. It can be installed down or up to get the right level.  They are available in 4, 6 or 8 inch sizes like the one pictured here.  They install easily and prevent the tow car from over or under riding the tow bar and hitting the back end of the motor home in a hard stop.  Typically the motorhome nose dives under hard braking, the back end rises up, the tow bar bends and BAM!   Severe damage to the motorhome and tow car.

I have a 4 inch drop receiver on our Journey to get the tow bar level.  I have it mounted upside down and it works perfectly.  Just one more safety item I use.

Fortunately for me, I have good supervision to ensure I get my tow bar hooked up right! :c)

Thanks for reading and please feel free to post a comment!  We love to hear from our readers.


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