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Author Topic: WARNING FOR BLUE OX Users-Epic Failure of a Blue Ox Tow Bar  (Read 604 times)

RVFam

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WARNING FOR BLUE OX Users-Epic Failure of a Blue Ox Tow Bar
« on: October 01, 2018, 02:05:48 PM »
On our way to Canada we experienced an epic fail of our Blue OX Tow bar. We are towing a Ford Edge 2012 vehicle with a 2005 Beaver Santiam.
We have an air force braking system and this was installed by a well known RV Service/Dealer in our area of Atlanta. The tow bar came with the coach and everything else was new. We called Blue Ox before we used the Tow Bar to ask questions about if it was safe etc. When the install on the 3600.00 air force braking system was complete we had the dealer look at the tow bar and all said it was fine. We also called Blue ox and asked them and they also said it should be just fine.

--The incident-

Long haul from Atlanta to Montreal. Normal trip, mostly freeway and we pulled off to find propane to a level off ramp. We slowed down and applied the brakes and then sped up again and felt a thud and heard a dragging sound. That dragging sound was the blue ox hitch AFTER it severed bent under the front of our car (being held by one wire) and dragging. We had no idea what had happened but the blue ox hitch severed and I mean severed in two pieces and the car lunged forward and slammed into the RV and the Car bounced back on top of the blue ox with the severed part imbedded into the asphalt. The car was drivable sort of and the RV and car were damaged to the tune of 25,000.

Fast forward to our discussion with Blue Ox. They sent us a new Tow Bar and the base plate was cracked as well so a new base plate. We were able to tow the vehicle back to Atlanta when we returned from our vacation.

Blue Ox told me today they warranty the Blue Ox Tow bar for 3 years. This is not a warranty item I said it is an epic failure item. They said the tow bar is 20 years old? It may be 10-12 years old but not 20 which doesn't really matter. I had the place they recommended for install and also called Blue Ox and no one mentioned the condition or the year of the blue ox. It was in great shape, no rust or wear on it at all. The age isn't really important because what Blue Ox said is very important. OUR HITCHES ARE GOOD FOR 7-10 YEARS. I asked why they don't say that anywhere or tell anyone and he says we tell people if they call us. I called an no one said that to me. He then said well they are very expensive so people don't want to replace them every 7-10 years and some are happy using them for 20 years. I said well you just told me they are not good past 7-10 years so aren't you doing a bad thing here?

I am writing everyone on the forum to tell you to be very careful. Your hitches are not going to last forever and Blue Ox specifically said this to me today.

We also bought a base plate less than 2 years ago from Blue Ox and the plate cracked and bent. They are now looking into this because it is very new and under warranty.

Be careful and just because your Blue Ox tow bar looks fine this means nothing in regard to safety.


steveblonde

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Re: WARNING FOR BLUE OX Users-Epic Failure of a Blue Ox Tow Bar
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2018, 07:21:16 AM »
Sounds to me like you used parts that were quite old nothing lasts forever especially if used alot, and if it has a date stamp they figured its 20 yrs old.

I dont think i would personally would have tried using it. Knowing its 10 or 12 yrs old. My Curt hitch has a 10 yr warranty but at 10 yrs i will replace it knowing that in 4 yrs ive had it i have already put on 15-20000 miles

"People that make the most noise are usually the most wrong " (guilty)
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SargeW

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Re: WARNING FOR BLUE OX Users-Epic Failure of a Blue Ox Tow Bar
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2018, 08:03:31 AM »
I also had a Blue Ox tow bar and baseplate fail on me. It was less than 3 years old. I got a lot of denial from Blue Ox. I dumped the system. I don't use or recommend their products. 
Marty--
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Old_Crow

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Re: WARNING FOR BLUE OX Users-Epic Failure of a Blue Ox Tow Bar
« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2018, 08:24:18 AM »
Personally I don't trust a tow bar with moving parts.  I much prefer the old fashioned solid Curt unit I have on my Jeep. 
Wally Crow
Retired 30 year ASE Master Auto Tech
Y2K Bounder 36S F53
'03 Jeep Wrangler Sahara

Bill N

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Re: WARNING FOR BLUE OX Users-Epic Failure of a Blue Ox Tow Bar
« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2018, 08:41:30 AM »
Personally I don't trust a tow bar with moving parts.  I much prefer the old fashioned solid Curt unit I have on my Jeep.

I agree.  I towed for years with the standard old A frame tow bar.  A bit more difficult to hook up but doable with some practice and a helper.  I never questioned the new model I bought after getting the motorhome but have since given a lot of thought as to why such an item has to be so expensive and the value of the sliding arms to hook up should also be considered an issue with adding too much pressure on hard stops.  Oh well, I have it and will use it but since this is our last coach/toad its too late to do much about it.

Bill
Bill & Joan N in Missouri
USAF (Ret - 1961-1981)
2002 Winnebago Adventurer 35U
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: WARNING FOR BLUE OX Users-Epic Failure of a Blue Ox Tow Bar
« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2018, 09:06:27 AM »
I think this warning is apt, but I do not see any malfeasance on Blue Ox's part.   This is another case where an elegant design and increased convenience & usability lead to new failure modes.  The swiveling tow bars are a fairly complex device that needs some care as well as regular checks for loose couplers and such.  Even then, I'm not sure a typical RV owner would recognize signs of joint wear.  As in RVFam's report, lack of rust is not a reliable indicator.  A mechanical device that moves a 4000-7000 lb object over miles of varying terrain is not something you can just install and forget.

I do not think Blue Ox or any other manufacturer of a similar device can accurately forecast its useful life. Far too many operation and environmental variables in play.  Some of the more obvious factors include  frequency of use, miles traveled, towed vehicle weight, use on rough or rutted roads, exposure to weather and road salts/chemicals, off-season storage, and amount of owner maintenance (if any).
Gary
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Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

garyb1st

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Re: WARNING FOR BLUE OX Users-Epic Failure of a Blue Ox Tow Bar
« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2018, 12:21:38 PM »
We have the Blue Ox Avail.  Purchased it two and 1/2 years ago and had it serviced by Blue Ox while at Quartzsite last January.  Since we had it serviced, it is very difficult to use.  The arms are so tight, my wife can not spread them apart.  Hopefully that's a good thing.  But the warning is a concern.  Another concern I have is breaking on a long down hill grade.  When I use the Grade Brake, I'm pretty sure the toads braking system is not working which I assume puts more stress on the transmission.  It seems to me a surge brake would work on any grade and be the most practical.  If the Blue Ox fails that's likely what I'll purchase.   Hopefully I'm not missing anything.   
Gary B1st

2005 Pace Arrow 35G
2016 Jeep Wrangler


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PJ Stough

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Re: WARNING FOR BLUE OX Users-Epic Failure of a Blue Ox Tow Bar
« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2018, 12:33:35 PM »
We have a Blue Ox towbar, and I am curious as to where on the towbar it failed?  A picture would be nice, but I am guessing at the time of the incident, taking a picture was probably the last thing on your mind.
PJ Stough   Iowa
2005 Winnebago Voyage 38J

taoshum

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Re: WARNING FOR BLUE OX Users-Epic Failure of a Blue Ox Tow Bar
« Reply #8 on: October 04, 2018, 12:46:49 PM »
We have a Blue Ox towbar, and I am curious as to where on the towbar it failed?  A picture would be nice, but I am guessing at the time of the incident, taking a picture was probably the last thing on your mind.


Yes!  Please share any info you have about the failure mode... what broke, where, pics, etc????
07 Itasca Meridian 34SH.  '08 Jeep Sahara.
Taos, NM.

WILDEBILL308

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Re: WARNING FOR BLUE OX Users-Epic Failure of a Blue Ox Tow Bar
« Reply #9 on: October 04, 2018, 12:57:49 PM »
I would need to see pictures of what failed. See the installation. Most likely the damaged base plate was caused by the car coming partially loose. Without good pictures everything is a guess.
Bill
2003 Bounder 38N
300 HP 5.9 Cummins
Allison 3000MH Trans.
Towing 2014 Honda CRV
Home base Fort Worth, Texas
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SargeW

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Re: WARNING FOR BLUE OX Users-Epic Failure of a Blue Ox Tow Bar
« Reply #10 on: October 04, 2018, 02:27:05 PM »
OK, since you asked, here is the text and pics from a post I made in June 2011. 

"During a hard brake situation from about 45 MPH, felt a "thump" didn't know what it was. Looked in the back up camera, the Jeep was missing! Looked behind me, it's sitting in the middle of the street, about 100' behind me. Later determined that the connecting "bolt" that secures the articulating ball that the tow arms hook onto, and holds the ball to the main body of the tow bar snapped off. This was troubling enough, but the safety cables that attach the MH to the Jeep via the eyelets on the Blue Ox tow bar ripped out leaving the cables intact, attached to the MH.  My brake system locked the toad brakes preventing a major crash on a heavily traveled 6 lane highway at rush hour. 

I called Blue Ox, sent pics of tow bar and base plate. I get ignored for about a week. Finally I get a hold of some one at Blue Ox who sends me to a dealer about an hour away. I take him my tow bar and he is floored. He gives me a replacement and says he has to get it authorized with Blue Ox for the trade, but is sure that there will be no problems. He calls me the next day and says that Blue Ox is denying to cover it because the serial # on the tow bar shows that the MANUFACTURE DATE MADE IT TWO WEEKS PAST THE WARRANTY DATE.  Not the day it was sent to a dealer, or sold to me.  I was furious. The Dealer I went to called a few more of his contacts at Blue Ox until he found someone that would agree to warranty the failure. 

I took the new tow bar and immediately sold it on e-bay. My Jeep still has the base plate with the ripped out eyelets. My new Ready Brute tow bar has Blue Ox ends on it. I connect the safety cables to 2 WARN D-hooks that are mounted next to the winch.  I use the base plate to show others the quality of their base plate. 

Sorry for the rant, I have not posted this before but I was asked. See why I recommend Road Master or some other brand of tow bar?"

Pic 1) This is all that was left on the back of the Motor Home after the break away.
Pic 2) This is the failure part. A connecting rod inside the articulating ball failed. BTW there is no way to check or tighten this part.
Pic 3) This is the failed base plate connections. Both safety chains ripped out of the eyelets. This was the really disturbing part. 

The base plate and tow bar receiver are still firmly attached to their respective vehicles. Neither of which mattered.
Marty--
2017 Tiffin Allegro Bus 40SP
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Bill N

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Re: WARNING FOR BLUE OX Users-Epic Failure of a Blue Ox Tow Bar
« Reply #11 on: October 04, 2018, 03:47:32 PM »
My Blue Ox is a model without the ball system but what is most disturbing is those eyelets for the safety cable being torn out.  That should never happen - bad engineering.

Bill
Bill & Joan N in Missouri
USAF (Ret - 1961-1981)
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PJ Stough

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Re: WARNING FOR BLUE OX Users-Epic Failure of a Blue Ox Tow Bar
« Reply #12 on: October 04, 2018, 03:57:43 PM »
Thanks for the description of what happened and for posting the pics.  I am trying to figure out the exact forces that caused the failure.  At any point did the Jeep strike the back of the motorhome?  I cant imagine how that bolt would break under compression as would happen in a hard braking situation.  Thankfully, we have a different model, so I dont expect the same failure.

Thanks for any additional information you can provide.
PJ Stough   Iowa
2005 Winnebago Voyage 38J

SargeW

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Re: WARNING FOR BLUE OX Users-Epic Failure of a Blue Ox Tow Bar
« Reply #13 on: October 04, 2018, 05:14:43 PM »
I wasn't watching the camera so I can't say exactly how the chain of events went down. Yes, the Jeep did contact the rear cap of the RV, but just minimally. Lucky for me, right after the hard brake traffic started to move. I let off of the coach brakes and was still moving forward. I am speculating that after the tow bar failed, the Jeep vaulted forward using the tow bar as a vault. Then when I rolled forward, the cable for the surge brake was still connected and the brakes on the Jeep were pulled HARD.  The brakes locked, and the safety cables, still attached to the motor home should have dragged the Jeep behind us. Instead, both eyelets on the base plate failed and the Jeep was left sitting in the road as we moved off dragging the safety cables behind the rig. 

Then the rest is a described above.

I could have went on a rant and try to discourage anyone from ever purchasing another Blue Ox product. But it wouldn't have made much of a difference. I get that it was probably a "one off" situation, and most of the products are probably OK. But the treatment I had from them, and the "head in the sand" approach about the base plate failure convinced me that they were a company that I didn't need to deal with. I figure that everyone can draw their own conclusions and make their own decisions.
« Last Edit: October 04, 2018, 05:20:32 PM by SargeW »
Marty--
2017 Tiffin Allegro Bus 40SP
Cummins ISL 450 HP/Powerglide chassis
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Chet18013

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Re: WARNING FOR BLUE OX Users-Epic Failure of a Blue Ox Tow Bar
« Reply #14 on: October 04, 2018, 05:18:41 PM »
I have been towing using Blue Ox products since 1995 when we got our our Beaver Marquis. In 2002, the swivel part of our Aladdin aluminum was showing wear and elongation in the boltholes, - we happen to be in Alaska at the time. Blue Ox sent me replacement parts overnight FEDEX to AK at their expense and did not charge me for the parts or freight.

I have towed, using Blue Ox hitches (wore out 3 Aladdin aluminum hatches and now have a steel one) over 130,000 miles with 2 motorhomes. I am quite happy with their products and their service.
Chet18013
Full time in a 45' '04 Monaco Signature
towing a 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: WARNING FOR BLUE OX Users-Epic Failure of a Blue Ox Tow Bar
« Reply #15 on: October 04, 2018, 08:32:40 PM »
Several years ago our coach made an unplanned stop against another vehicle. The 4900 lb toad got stopped quickly too, but the stainless steel arms of the 4 year old Blue Ox Aventa LX bent very slightly, enough so they were difficult to slide in/out.  My local Blue Ox dealer called them and they said "should not have happened", even in a sudden stop,  and they rebuilt the Aventa for free (though it cost me $50 to ship it to them).

It is my perception that nearly all manufacturers have now tightened up on their warranty and customer satisfaction repairs. Maybe Ble Ox would not be so accommodating now...
Gary
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PJ Stough

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Re: WARNING FOR BLUE OX Users-Epic Failure of a Blue Ox Tow Bar
« Reply #16 on: October 04, 2018, 09:55:50 PM »
My Blue Ox is a model without the ball system but what is most disturbing is those eyelets for the safety cable being torn out.  That should never happen - bad engineering.

Bill

I was thinking about that as well.  So if the eyelets were not the failure point, what would be the failure point?  During the hard braking, the Jeep vaulted over the towbar, breaking the large bolt, and contacting the back of the motorhome, then as the motorhome rolled ahead the Jeep dropped back to the ground, and after moving forward some, the break away cable engaged and locked the brakes on the Jeep.  Then as the motorhome moved froward some more, the end of the safety cables were reached.  So at that point one of the following was going to happen; the eyelets would fail, the safety cables would fail, the eyelets on the motorhome hitch would fail, the hitch would fail, the mounting bolts on the baseplate would fail, or the shock of reaching the end of the safety cables would be transferred to frame and the drive train of the motorhome.

So I would say that the eyelets on the baseplate failing was the better outcome than any of the other possibilities.
« Last Edit: October 04, 2018, 09:57:58 PM by PJ Stough »
PJ Stough   Iowa
2005 Winnebago Voyage 38J

SargeW

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Re: WARNING FOR BLUE OX Users-Epic Failure of a Blue Ox Tow Bar
« Reply #17 on: October 04, 2018, 10:33:20 PM »
Actually, the best outcome would have been for the safety cables to drag the Jeep, wheels locked and all. That is what they are designed to do. The base plate eyelets failing is a HUGE product defect.
Marty--
2017 Tiffin Allegro Bus 40SP
Cummins ISL 450 HP/Powerglide chassis
2018 JLU Jeep Sahara
Visit our new travel blog! http://www.mytripjournal.com/rvnchick2018
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UTTransplant

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Re: WARNING FOR BLUE OX Users-Epic Failure of a Blue Ox Tow Bar
« Reply #18 on: October 05, 2018, 06:40:56 AM »
Yeah, I am with Marty here. Better to drag the toad than leave it dead stopped in the middle of the road for unsuspecting motorists.
Pam and Kevin plus Lily the cat
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Bill N

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Re: WARNING FOR BLUE OX Users-Epic Failure of a Blue Ox Tow Bar
« Reply #19 on: October 05, 2018, 06:49:41 AM »
Yeah, I am with Marty here. Better to drag the toad than leave it dead stopped in the middle of the road for unsuspecting motorists.
At least it would be kept aligned with the motorhome.  When the cables fail the toad could just as easily swing left or right before stopping.  I favor damage to a vehicle rather than injury to a person.

Bill
Bill & Joan N in Missouri
USAF (Ret - 1961-1981)
2002 Winnebago Adventurer 35U
Workhorse W22, 8.1L Chevy V8
2013 Chevy Sonic Toad
Furbearers:  Heidi-17(Forever), Cats: Grace-11 & Squeak-6, Winnie the ShihTzu - 16 mos

moisheh

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Re: WARNING FOR BLUE OX Users-Epic Failure of a Blue Ox Tow Bar
« Reply #20 on: October 05, 2018, 05:28:53 PM »
Although some of the posts seem to show that Blue Ox should change their policies I would bet that most failures are due to some sort of neglect. Tow bars can only be built so strong. They are doing a difficult job. They need to be serviced every so often. My older  B!ur ox has been serviced 4 times at Q. Used to be $25.00. but it is now just aspare. The other towing bar performs as it should. I don't back up  and never turn so sharp that the bar might be stressed to failure. Many of  the installations are horrible and doomed to fail. When the pins won't come out you have stopped with the toad at a angle. I have noticed that there seems to be an abnormal amount of Jeep as plates that have broken. I will continue to use their products as I feel they are the best.