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Old 10-28-2008, 04:03 PM   #1
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We decided that we were pressing our luck with our current Saturn ('94, 165k on the odometer, another 30k as a toad) and found a Vue. We haven't picked it up so I don't have it here to start looking at things to make it into a toad.

First: I was really disappointed with the brightness of our SL1 tail lights with the diodes in. I ended up with magnetic lights because of it. Can we go to separate bulbs on the Vue? I'm going to wire it myself but wasn't sure if there is room for a separate socket.

Second: Our MH hitch receiver is at 16.5 inch height and the SL1 brackets lined up fine. I'm a little worried that the Vue is lower (because the SL1 baseplate had long curved bars and the Vue version doesn't) and that we'll end up needing a drop receiver. This is the 2WD, 4 cylinder, not the V6 AWD so that probably makes a difference.

I have a Roadmaster Falcon2 bar and have found the kit for the Vue to get it working. It looks like I'll need a different seat bracket for our Brakemaster system, too.

I'm just trying to get my ducks in a row so that when I do get the car, I can get it toad ready. We've got a camping trip coming up and while I could leave everything alone until afterwards and just use our old toad, I'd like to make the swap.

Thanks for any feedback.

Charlie
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Old 10-28-2008, 04:03 PM   #2
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We decided that we were pressing our luck with our current Saturn ('94, 165k on the odometer, another 30k as a toad) and found a Vue. We haven't picked it up so I don't have it here to start looking at things to make it into a toad.

First: I was really disappointed with the brightness of our SL1 tail lights with the diodes in. I ended up with magnetic lights because of it. Can we go to separate bulbs on the Vue? I'm going to wire it myself but wasn't sure if there is room for a separate socket.

Second: Our MH hitch receiver is at 16.5 inch height and the SL1 brackets lined up fine. I'm a little worried that the Vue is lower (because the SL1 baseplate had long curved bars and the Vue version doesn't) and that we'll end up needing a drop receiver. This is the 2WD, 4 cylinder, not the V6 AWD so that probably makes a difference.

I have a Roadmaster Falcon2 bar and have found the kit for the Vue to get it working. It looks like I'll need a different seat bracket for our Brakemaster system, too.

I'm just trying to get my ducks in a row so that when I do get the car, I can get it toad ready. We've got a camping trip coming up and while I could leave everything alone until afterwards and just use our old toad, I'd like to make the swap.

Thanks for any feedback.

Charlie
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Old 10-28-2008, 04:43 PM   #3
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Blue Ox makes a bulb kit for the Vue and other vehicles. Check it out.

I used a 4 inch drop receiver on my 2004 Saturn Vue. My 2008 Vue does not need a drop bar so I removed it.
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Old 10-28-2008, 04:45 PM   #4
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Will give you my opinion on towing my '06 Vue. Only difference between the '05 & '06 is the front facia, all the undercarriage is the same. We also have the 4 banger and automatic trans.
We went from an '01 L series to the Vue and needed a 4" drop, which puts us at less than 1" from being level. There are no problems using diodes on the Vue and the lights are fine. Would be tight installing another bulb.
You will need to pull 1 30A fuse, on the ignition, before towing. Myself, I wired in a switch to cut out the fuse when towing and it's really convient.
As for towing, have had no problems and it trails great. Go for it!
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Old 10-28-2008, 05:22 PM   #5
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hi from tn.
i wired direct into the saturn rear light wires to get my 95 SL 1 ready to tow. i used the saturn tail lights and put the lt. turn on the lt. brake filament- rt. turn on the rt. brake filement.(it has amber lens-seperate t/s lights) you have to cut one of the brake wires (going back into the vehicle wiring harness)and make a simple jumper to plug the yellow and green into the car side of the harness. i used an old boat trailer plug. worked on the '95 and also on a '00 sw2. i don't foresee any problem when i get the '03 vue ready for towing. all i need for it is a set of brackets to fit on the frame.
good luck
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Old 10-28-2008, 05:31 PM   #6
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Our 06 Vue is a 4-cyl auto and tows like it is not there. I installed a separate bulb. Fits easily just outside and below OEM bulb. Our Vue has 28,000+ miles under tow and 18,000 under its own power. We've not had a problem one. Use a Roadmaster tow bar, a 5" drop hitch (very high receiver on motorhome)and a Brake Buddy. We love the Vue. Wife uses it like a trailer for large stuff she doesn't want in the coach.
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Old 10-29-2008, 12:39 AM   #7
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Charlie, to answer your question on the seat bracket for the Brake Master; yes you will want to order the new bracket to attach the piston to. I also used the bulb and socket kit. Pull the ignition fuse and set the AWD trans for towing and we don't know it is back there!
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Old 10-29-2008, 04:13 AM   #8
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Charlie - if you're not happy with the brightness of the bulbs using diodes, then (IMO) the separate bulbs could be worse. The existing lights are at the optimum location in the tail light housing to take full advantage of the reflector inside the assembly and the prisms on the lens. If wired correctly, the lights when towing should be essentially the same as the original lights on the toad. If the lights are dim when towing, there may be too much resistance due to loose connections or the wire gauge not being sufficient to carry the current. You may also want to check the connections inside your plugs for corrosion.

On the other hand, when you add an auxiliary bulb to the tail light assembly, the filament will not be located at the optimum location and will probably be dimmer than the original lights.

Since you already have magnetic lights, why not just keep using them? The side panels of the Vue are plastic, but the roof and tail gate are steel, so there will be someplace for the magnetic lights to stick.

As far as tow height is concerned, I am not as familiar with Roadmaster, but Blue Ox lists the tab height of their base plate for the "05 Vue as 15". If your receiver is 16.5" and the Roadmaster base plate is at a similar height, you would be fine without a drop receiver.
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Old 10-29-2008, 05:02 AM   #9
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Thanks for all of the great replies. I appreciate your information.

Our SL1 has two different bulbs and lenses for brake lights versus turn signals(red and yellow). The way it was wired by the dealer, the MH activates just the stop light bulbs for both functions through the diodes. Especially when the running lights were on, the turn signal light change is almost imperceptible using that same bulb. I went to the LED magnetic lights but haven't even been pleased with that same differential change on them either. The turn signals by themselves in both cases were OK, though the standard SL1 taillights were not as visible because of location to the many tailgating SUV drivers that are on the roads today. The Vue's light location is much higher than the SL1 and, as several of you have pointed out, the bulbs may have better illumination. One of the things that I toyed with for the SL1 was to remove the 3-2 converter on the MH side and drive the turn signals and brake lights through the toad connector as different signals to the two different bulbs. I might revisit that situation for the Vue and would appreciate any feedback from anyone about that possibility. IMHO, anything that I can do to better warn those that follow me is worth it. It seems that I always have a tailgater while we are driving the MH. My concern about using the magnetic lights on the Vue is that placing them on the roof may take them out of the line of visibility for a following driver.

I have the installation manual for the new Vue baseplate. Though it doesn't talk about the actual mounting height, it does show me pictures of where the mounting points are relative to the front bumper. My plan is to measure from those approximate points to the ground and then go from there. My hope is to buy everything that I need in one order rather than getting the baseplate mounted and then figuring out that I need the drop receiver. Based on your feedback, I'm optimistic now that it may not be necessary. As of now, I'm considering doing my own baseplate installation. On our SL1, that wasn't practical because holes had to be cut into the frame to reach the newly installed mounting bolts and the dealer had to use a cutting torch for those. The Vue instructions most difficult part seems to be the drilling of a couple new holes for mounting bolts. The rest of the installation looks pretty simple. Again, any feedback from someone who has done it themselves would be appreciated.

I very much appreciate the sharing of ideas that all of you have been willing to do. I'm very thankful for it. If nothing else, it either gives me a sense of confidence for a path that I was already on or causes me to consider other options. I do my best to learn from the experiences of others.

Thanks again,

Charlie
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Old 10-29-2008, 05:27 AM   #10
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Charlie make sure that the transmission in the VUE is towable. Saturn used a VTi transmission in some models that could not be towed.
This is an excerpt from a GM settled law suit.

The settlement applies to owners of 2002 to 2005 Saturn Vues or 2003 or 2004 Saturn Ions with failed VTi transmissions, which cost around $4,000 to $5,000 to replace.
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Old 10-29-2008, 01:06 PM   #11
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Thanks, Bob. I thought I said in one of the earlier posts but this is a 4cyl, manual transmission and it shows on the MotorHome Magazine list as towable.

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Old 10-29-2008, 04:01 PM   #12
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We picked up the car today.
- based on the pictures from the Roadmaster baseplate installation, the hitch height is perfect - drop receiver will not be needed.
- for those who added a switch to cut off the IGN fuse instead of removing it, where did you put the switch? The fuse box is pretty much in the middle of the engine compartment (ours still has the cover over it) and the wiring to it doesn't look accessible.
- the path to the rear looks fine for running the light wires. For those who have done it, what is the easiest way to get into the light assemblies to add the wires? It didn't look easy to take things apart back in that area but maybe I just gave it too much of a casual glance.

Mike, on the seat bracket for the Brakemaster, is it just a matter of removing the front seat bolts to attach it? That's what I did in the SL-1. Since I don't have the bracket in my hands yet, it is hard to tell.

Thanks for any additional help.

Charlie
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Old 10-30-2008, 03:10 AM   #13
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Charlie - congrats on the new toad!

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by chasfm11:
- for those who added a switch to cut off the IGN fuse instead of removing it, where did you put the switch? The fuse box is pretty much in the middle of the engine compartment (ours still has the cover over it) and the wiring to it doesn't look accessible. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
I installed a switch on our Vue across the terminals for the IGN fuse. I ran wires through the firewall and put the switch under the dash.

Remove the access cover for the fuse box and remove the 30 amp fuse. I used male spade plugs to plug right into the terminal on each side of where the fuse originally was. I replaced the original plug-in fuse with a 30 amp inline fuse. Make sure the inline fuse is on the HOT side of the switch, otherwise the fuse will be disabled any time the switch is off.

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">- the path to the rear looks fine for running the light wires. For those who have done it, what is the easiest way to get into the light assemblies to add the wires? It didn't look easy to take things apart back in that area but maybe I just gave it too much of a casual glance. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
Access the driver's side tail light assembly through the compartment where the jack is stored. I removed the trim panel on the passenger side to get at that tail light.

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">One of the things that I toyed with for the SL1 was to remove the 3-2 converter on the MH side and drive the turn signals and brake lights through the toad connector as different signals to the two different bulbs. I might revisit that situation for the Vue and would appreciate any feedback from anyone about that possibility. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
The Vue also has separate brake lights and turn signals, although the Vue turn signals are not amber. I feel the same way as you about providing the best visibility of the lights, so I wired ours separately as you are contemplating doing. All it takes is 1 extra pair of wires and 2 extra diodes.
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Old 10-30-2008, 04:25 AM   #14
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Paz, a million thanks for your details. They help a lot. Since I'm the kind of guy who will shameless milk a situation for all that it is worth, here are yet another set of questions.

- I see the access to the driver's side light through the jack panel. Can I pick up the wiring to the passenger side light there too? If not, how do I get access? I was looking at the passenger side when I determined that it looked challenging.

- I run a flat 4 wire connector on my SL-1. I assume that when you split the turn signal/brake light wiring, you went to a 6 wire cable. Did you go with the standard coiled one and, if so, has that worked out well? Also, I'm assuming that with the signals split, even with diodes, that the turn signal bulb illumination shows up well. My main concern about visibility has always been those cloudy days when I have the running lights on and need people behind me to see the toad's turn signals. The Vue is much higher than our SL-1 (which gave great visibility to the rear of the MH) so I'll be depending on the Vue's lamps to prevent rear end collisions. I sure wish I knew a way to install an airport beacon level light back there, LOL. I'd pretty much decided to use individual wires and run them through the plastic cable wrap rather than buying a standard wiring package. Going to the 6 wire setup seems to confirm that decision. Any feedback about that? And last on the wiring side, a 6 wire configuration should give me a spare wire in the cable for the Vue's brake pedal switch cold side feedback line that the Brakemaster system uses. Has anyone done that? Not having to plug the spare wire for that at every hookup would be nice
- for the Brakemaster system, I installed a wire on the cold side of the SL-1's brake switch. To get to that on the SL-1, I had to go through the top of the dash. That approach doesn't seem possible on the Vue. How bad is the access to the brake pedal switch on the Vue?
- I have the challenge of having to mount a breakaway switch for my brake system on the front of the Vue. When I did it on my SL-1, I was able to use lag screws and go up into the plastic/foam and it is held fine for 4 years. I had to be careful about the air bag sensor location in the front grill. For any who have mounted a breakaway switch on the Vue, do you have any guidance about the location or fastening techniques? A quick inspection last night showed no metal in that area. The switch needs to be reasonably close to the driver's side base plate mount.

I appreciate your help on this. Given time, I can figure all of this stuff out but when my parts come for the Vue, I'm going to have a very short window to get the installations completed. The more information that I have in advance, the faster and easier the installation work is going to proceed.

I'm very grateful for all of your assistance.

Charlie
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