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Old 07-10-2016, 07:26 PM   #1
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Blue Ox breaks on interstate

Just wondered if anyone has had this experience. I'm driving a 45' Showhauler on a Cascadia chassis and so I did't feel much out of the ordinary, but I did notice through my driver's mirror a black rubicon that appeared to be tailgating me and swerving back and forth; then it occurred to me that it was my jeep. I turned on the rear camera and saw that one of the arms on my towbar was broken as it had pulled straight apart out of the shaft. I have a roughly 5 year old blue ox aventa lx with a 10K rating. My safety chains did their job and along with the one remaining arm which was holding onto the jeep from the passenger side, I was able to modulate my speed and get the receiver to wedge up tight to the jeep front bumper and slow to a stop on the shoulder. Amazing as it was, the jeep didn't hit the rear body of the truck, it didn't take out any other 4 wheelers, and because the jeep has an aftermarket bumper/winch combo the last owner put on it, I can't say for sure that it even scratched the bumper. The bumper still has hair on the front of the winch assembly where my wife clipped a deer with it a few weeks ago, and the deer did no damage to it either. Only one of the safety chains got pinched between the bumper and receiver and needs replaced.
I hope this is a freak occurrence, but as I'm shopping for another tow bar in the next couple days, I thought I would see what others suggested for a more bulletproof tow bar. FYI, although I lube the towbar well and keep the hardware tight, I don't run brakes on the Toad and I drive faster than I should drive most of the time I'm behind the wheel. The jeep occasionally has a dirt bike or two on the hitch carrier and some gear in it so can be as heavy as 5500 lbs loaded. I use the aftermarket blue ox two prong claw instead of the standard 3 prong claw because I hook directly to my tow recovery hook single tabs in lieu of having a base plate with the two smaller tabs on each side. I'm going to try to attach the pics, but have failed to do that successfully in previous posts. Thanks for your input!
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Old 07-10-2016, 07:45 PM   #2
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I've read about them breaking, but not a steel one like this. Are you planning on informing Blue Ox of the failure? It would be interesting to hear what they had to say about it.
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Old 07-10-2016, 07:49 PM   #3
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There is a fairly recent thread on this forum citing very similar circumstances. You might search for it.

I had our Aventa tow bar inspected and serviced at the factory in Pender, NE last year. Everything checked out OK on ours.
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Old 07-10-2016, 08:03 PM   #4
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Blue ox

I sent blue ox a message. It just happened early this evening, so I'm sure they won't respond until at least tomorrow, and I will check out the similar forum mentioned. Thanks for both of your responses. Any thoughts on a heavier duty model?
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Old 07-11-2016, 07:18 AM   #5
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Not sure they come any heavier. That and the fact you're only running it at half capacity is kinda my concern! Guessing something like this might be easier to swallow if you had just turned into/out of a gas station or something involving a tight turn, or possibly dragged the Jeep through a ditch or something, but Geez, a failure like this going down a freeway? For Pete's sake....

-Al
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Old 07-11-2016, 11:27 AM   #6
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Blue ox

Good point. I was on a relatively smooth section of interstate. Blue ox has a 20K and 40K tow bar product, but neither look like they're designed to fit in a 2" receiver. I guess I'll call them and ask.
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Old 07-11-2016, 12:23 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RBowman View Post
I don't run brakes on the Toad and I drive faster than I should drive most of the time I'm behind the wheel. The jeep occasionally has a dirt bike or two on the hitch carrier and some gear in it so can be as heavy as 5500 lbs loaded. Thanks for your input!
Maybe time to think about brakes and a break-away system. Take a look at NSA Ready Brute Elite.
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Old 07-11-2016, 01:19 PM   #8
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I have a fixed tow bar (it came with my Jeep). Though it takes maybe an extra minute to hook up, there is almost no possibility of a problem like yours. And I NEVER travel without both the aux brakes and break-away operating. Click image for larger version

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Old 07-11-2016, 01:31 PM   #9
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Was your tow bar fairly level with the jeep and your vehicle?
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Old 07-11-2016, 07:39 PM   #10
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I tow a full size pickup truck and recently moved to a ReadyBrute tow bar with the integrated brake. It's well built by a family owned company with great customer service.


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Old 07-12-2016, 06:45 AM   #11
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Blue ox.

I will look at a breaking system that could function of the tow bar were to break and I like the idea of an overbuilt fixed tow bar. As for the jeep and receiver being level, not completely. The jeep bumper is slightly higher, probably 2-3", than the receiver.
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Old 07-12-2016, 10:05 AM   #12
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I will look at a breaking system that could function of the tow bar were to break and I like the idea of an overbuilt fixed tow bar. As for the jeep and receiver being level, not completely. The jeep bumper is slightly higher, probably 2-3", than the receiver.
It don't get any simpler than this https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=...cPTL8o0M9o0VVg
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Old 07-12-2016, 08:49 PM   #13
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Thanks for everyone's input. I did get a final ruling from Blue Ox. I was straightforward with them regarding the estimated mileage and usage. I probably have 40-50K on the 2012 tow bar. It was sold as a NASCAR promo towbar used in some function for NASCAR. Their take is that NASCAR put so much wear and tear on it during the 6-12 months that they used what appeared to me to be a nearly new towbar when I bought it, that the steel fatigued and broke. They conceded that even when running a 5000lb vehicle on a 10000lb towbar that I must replace the towbar every 5-10 years or 100K miles to prevent fatigue failure. They offered $150 off the suggested $895 cost of another aventa at a blue ox dealer or for about $550, two new aventa arms.
I liked the function and reluctantly picked up another lightly used aventa LX 10K towbar online for $500 w shipping and hope to get a hefty fixed steel towbar welded up this winter when time allows.
Thanks again for all the thoughts and suggestions!
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Old 07-13-2016, 07:11 AM   #14
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The fact the steel fatigued and broke, when working at half capacity, is an issue here.

If they're going to say that failure is something I can expect at some indistinguishable point in time, that fact needs to be more widely known/advertised. Like a warning label placed on it somewhere. That's not something people are going to just automatically pick up on - especially considering what these things go for.

Consider other comparably heavy steel components in use on your car. Would you expect an axle or a spindle to break - ever - in normal service? If you did break one, would you expect it normal for the manf. to say that's normal for a high time component?

As much as a I like how the design works and the customer service, if this is the standpoint they're taking on the issue, I'm done with them. That's a serious design flaw that's not going to be easily inspected, even by those that know what they're doing.

Use it for a while, then dispose of it and get a new one? Sorry, that's total horse puckey from ANY engineering perspective......
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