Jump to content

Removable Tow Bar Failure While Pulling


simonlane
 Share

Recommended Posts

We've just experienced a very scary event. While towing our caravan, the 'van came loose while descending a steep hill (out of the camp site). Fortunately, the van ran downhill, hit the rear of our car and into the banking - if it had rolled the other way,it would have gone over the edge of the hill, probably falling to a busy beach below!

 

The tow-bar had actually come off of the car - it was still attached to the hitch on the van. Because of this, the break cable had not activated (it was still wrapped round the tow bar). It looks as if the bar had managed to unlock itself (although the key was removed, so was definatly installed correctly). It looks and appears to be fully working, no visible damage.

 

I was not confident to reattach and try again - the incident could clearly have been a lot more serious than it was, so have returned home without the caravan. I plan to take it to the installer tomorrow, and will then need to return to the site to pick up the van.

 

To be honest, I've really lost confidence in the tow bar. Even if the installer confirms it is fixed and working, who can say this wouldn't happen again.

 

Has anyone else experienced this? Any advice on what to do?

 

The tow bar was fitted to the car at the start of this year, and we've had no problems up to today, despite several caravanning trips.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We've just experienced a very scary event. While towing our caravan, the 'van came loose while descending a steep hill (out of the camp site). Fortunately, the van ran downhill, hit the rear of our car and into the banking - if it had rolled the other way,it would have gone over the edge of the hill, probably falling to a busy beach below!

 

The tow-bar had actually come off of the car - it was still attached to the hitch on the van. Because of this, the break cable had not activated (it was still wrapped round the tow bar). It looks as if the bar had managed to unlock itself (although the key was removed, so was definatly installed correctly). It looks and appears to be fully working, no visible damage.

 

I was not confident to reattach and try again - the incident could clearly have been a lot more serious than it was, so have returned home without the caravan. I plan to take it to the installer tomorrow, and will then need to return to the site to pick up the van.

 

To be honest, I've really lost confidence in the tow bar. Even if the installer confirms it is fixed and working, who can say this wouldn't happen again.

 

Has anyone else experienced this? Any advice on what to do?

 

The tow bar was fitted to the car at the start of this year, and we've had no problems up to today, despite several caravanning trips.

Make and model of the bar and the car would be good. ..it's not however un heard of. ....

Martin. ..........

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's a Westfalia towbar, fitted onto a Skoda Oactavia. It was an "aftermarket" fitting - ie fitted by a towbar specialist, not by Skoda. Because of this, the AA were unable to do anything with it. ..

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's a Westfalia towbar, fitted onto a Skoda Oactavia. It was an "aftermarket" fitting - ie fitted by a towbar specialist, not by Skoda. Because of this, the AA were unable to do anything with it. ..

Westfalia are a reputable make of tow bar.

 

Are you sure as in 100% sure you attached the ball/neck correctly?

 

Ps - what were the AA not able to help with?

Edited by The Dog House

Martin. ..........

Link to comment
Share on other sites

simonlane: If the detachable part was fitted correctly and locked, how was it not locked when you checked it after the failure?

The Dog House: Do you have facts to substantiate this?

The report worries me as I have a detachable tow bar, and I find it very hard to believe that it could happen, unless it was not fitted correctly.

Ern

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The AA took the view that the failure was with the car (which was covered) not the caravan (which wasn't) so WOULD have taken the van back home for us - IF we had Relay cover. Which we didn't.

 

Lesson learnt there.

 

But no, it was a sealed device - not really anything they could do without understanding the mechanism inside.

 

Their only observation was that it appears to be held in place with three ball-bearing pins, which now that I look at it, does seem a bit 'minimal'.

 

But, as you say, it's a decent make of bar - and certainly cost a lot to install; I wanted to pay for the best precisely to avoid this sort of issue.

 

To be honest, I'm really scared about going back and picking up the van, which I'll probably have to do next weekend. (We were in South Wales, live in Nottingham).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Five Star: You can only remove the key when it's in the locked position. I had the key with me, so I know it was correctly fitted. (Plus I remember checking and giving it a good 'wiggle' before attaching the van.

 

When I picked the towbar up from the floor (Still attached to the hitch on the van), it was UNLOCKED - i. e. I could push in the fitting to the locked postion, without the key present.

 

I agree - surely this sort of thing shouldnt / couldn't happen!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

TheDog House: (Sorry I can't quote) Do you have any facts to substantiate that "this is not unheard of" If I thought this could really happen to my caravan with me towing it I would not go on the road at all!

Ern

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think you should wait to see what the towbar installer has to say before further speculation, Westphalia are a good brand of towbar, as factory fit to Land Rover amongst others I am sure.

 

I still don't get the bit about the AA not being able to help, was it the lack of cover, or a loophole on who fitted the towbar.

Land Rover Discovery and Conquerer 630

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A prime example of why the breakaway should never be looped around the towball .

On a detachable towbar, what else is there.

Land Rover Discovery and Conquerer 630

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A prime example of why the breakaway should never be looped around the towball .

But on modern cars fitted with swan neck or detachable balls options to do otherwise can be limited.

 

Ok some cars or tow bar fitments may offer an alternative but this is far from universal.

Martin. ..........

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Happened to me but not as drastic . i thought I inserted the tow bar correctly but the wheel on side never fully engaged .( it clicks into position & a wheel on side turns 90 degrees ) it was when I put my van on tow ball that the neck come away from the car . i just gave it a good clean & squirted some wd40 into the mechanism . worked fine after that .

2012 Static Willerby Severn, Sitting in Hidden Valley Welshpool . B)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A prime example of why the breakaway should never be looped around the towball .

No choice on ours as no looping point so advice is to loop around the tow ball and Alko sell a cable with such a fitting.

 

Easy to say after an event like this hat you shouldn't do this and that but what is more worrying is fact it came off car. You cannot release the red key on these Westfalias unless bar is locked into its receiver we so should be failsafe

Unless you've tried it, you simply won't understand. .....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Simon, I have a westfalia and this is quite worrying, to take mine off I have to insert key and turn, pull the knob thing out and twist it to release the hook, was the twist handle pulled out and locked when you retrieved it.

Edited by F185

Compass Corona (Magnum) 524 (2003) -----------VW Passat Alltrack 170 BHP DSG

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a detachable towbar (brink) and it has a eye either side of the towbar housing . I'm getting a new car tomorrow and have book it in to get a towbar (detachable again) fitted on Wednesday, I asked the company that is doing the job about an "eye" for the breakaway cable and the was a bit perturbed with my question then said it's law that there must be an anchor point for the breakaway cable . .. Not a Micky mouse company, Scotland's largest towbar specialists . . Don't shoot the messenger, if you don't have a separate anchor take it up with whoever put your towbar on.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A prime example of why the breakaway should never be looped around the towball .

This is exactly what the breakaway cable is designed to do. No problem if you don't have an 'allegedly' faulty towbar.

http://www. al-ko. co. uk/edit/files/how-to/how-to-attach-your-breakaway-cable-rev2. pdf

 

A prime example of why I use a fixed towbar. I just don't have faith in a removable one.

An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.

Mahatma Gandhi

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is exactly what the breakaway cable is designed to do. No problem if you don't have an 'allegedly' faulty towbar.

http://www. al-ko. co. uk/edit/files/how-to/how-to-attach-your-breakaway-cable-rev2. pdf

 

A prime example of why I use a fixed towbar. I just don't have faith in a removable one.

Kia Sorento KX-1 CRDI 4WD towing an Elddis Affinity 530

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I thought all westfalia detachables have a fixed anchor point for the breakaway cable, mines got one next to the tow hook socket

Compass Corona (Magnum) 524 (2003) -----------VW Passat Alltrack 170 BHP DSG

Link to comment
Share on other sites

F185. Yes, exactly that. When I picked it up from the floor it was unlocked, knob thing pulled out. Key was in the car. My first thought was I hadn't inserted correctly, but I had been able to remove the key.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I thought all westfalia detachables have a fixed anchor point for the breakaway cable, mines got one next to the tow hook socket

You should only use a fixed anchor point if your breakaway cable has a caribinar type clip. If it has a spring type clip then you must loop it, otherwise it will not have the strength to apply the brakes before breaking itself.

Edited by dreadly

An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.

Mahatma Gandhi

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We have been here before. ....when I ran Jeeps with detachable towbars I was warned by Service Dealer that Durham Police were looking for people like me!!! They insisted I didn't leave their site until I had constructed a loop (out of an old breakaway cable and a shackle) which fitted through a hole on the back plate of the towbar. ....the breakaway went to this loop. I told the Jeep dealers about this device and they said a couple of horse trailers had come adrift and they had made up something similar. .

 

Geoff

Kia Sorento KX-1 CRDI 4WD towing an Elddis Affinity 530

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You should only use a fixed anchor point if your breakaway cable has a caribinar type clip. If it has a spring type clip then you must loop it, otherwise it will not have the strength to apply the brakes before breaking itself.

 

Not the case, years ago my wife pulled the car forward before I unclipped the breakaway cable . Break handle shot up and the breakaway cable was knackerd (1shot use) . I had to buy another cable and fit it .

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...