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Old 01-06-2013, 09:51 PM   #1
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HHR-sized vehicle: Auxiliary Braking?

Looking around the Internet at vehicles that can be easily flat-towed without an extensive initial set-up process, the Chevrolet HHR falls into that category requiring nothing more than pulling a fuse. (You can install a switch so you don't have to pull the fuse every time you want to tow.)

I would like the input of those that flat-tow an HHR or something equivalent in size and weight: did you install an auxiliary or supplemental braking system, such as the BrakeBuddy, into the dingy?

I'm not sure what the legal requirements are for the states, which I will look into; my question is geared more on the 'did you install' part of it and not the state-by-state legal aspect of it.

Thank you. -RT

From the California DMV Handbook:

Trailer Brakes

In California, brakes are required on any trailer coach or camp trailer having a gross weight of 1500 lbs. or more. Usually the braking capacity on tow vehicles is good; however, it may not be good enough to safely stop the several hundred to several thousand additional pounds that your trailer weighs. Most conventional and fifth-wheel trailers have electric brakes, activated by a controller in the tow vehicle. The controller automatically coordinates the tow vehicle and trailer braking so the two systems work together when the brake pedal is applied.

The controller can also be helpful in stabilizing a trailer that sways because of bad road conditions. Manually applying the trailer brakes by using the hand lever on the controller will stabilize a trailer that is likely to sway.

Folding camp trailers and boat trailers are usually fitted with surge brake systems which operate separately from the tow vehicle's brakes.

Surge brakes are applied by a mechanism attached to the receiver/ball connection. As the tow vehicle slows, the forward motion of the trailer compresses the mechanism which in turn applies the trailer brakes.

Motorcycle trailers do not need brakes unless the weight exceeds 1500 pounds gross. If you install brakes on your motorcycle trailer, be sure the brakes do not brake harder than the motorcycle or the motorcycle may flip backwards over the trailer when the brakes are applied. The brakes must always be properly adjusted.


In looking at different RV websites and threads on this type of subject, in California, for example, differing opinions arise due to the term 'trailer'. Some claim that towing a dinghy is not the same as towing an actual trailer, so flat-towing a dinghy isn't a 'trailer' per se.

Now of course I do understand the logic and argument of safety and having auxiliary brakes on towing anything more than 1,500 lbs. I'm just curious if people do in fact tow HHR-sized vehicles (3,155 base curb weight) without auxiliary brakes on a Ford or Workhorse gas-chassis.
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Old 01-06-2013, 10:01 PM   #2
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We have towed 3 Saturns and one Malibu. They all are set up mch like an HHR for flat towing. We use a Brake Buddy auxilliary braking system. Note: many states require an auxilliary braking system in towed units of varying weights.
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Old 01-07-2013, 05:29 AM   #3
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I tow an 09 HHR and use the

http://www.smibrake.com/stay-in-play-duo.html

It works great and the ease of use is what makes it a winner IMO.

Nothing to lug in and out of the tow car. Simply flip a switch.

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Old 01-07-2013, 08:05 PM   #4
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I tow a 2011 HHR and use the Unified Tow Brake by US Gear.
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Old 01-07-2013, 08:36 PM   #5
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You have to meet the requirements for brakes in the state that you tow through. Some are as low as 1500#.

I have yet to see the reasoning that a tow car is any different than a towed trailer load of rocks. All the motorhome knows that it has 3000 plus more pounds behind it pushing when you try to stop.

I strongly recommend a good auxiliary braking system on any dinghy with break away system. Tow bars do break and the break away system will stop a loose auto from running wild.

Even if the dinghy brakes manage t stop you 6" shorter in an emergency, that can be the difference between stopping and having a crash.

Ken
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Old 01-07-2013, 11:11 PM   #6
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To answer your question; yes you can set the HHR up with a switch so you don't have to pull the fuse. We tow an '07 Saturn Vue, same platform as the HHR. I have a high amp capacity rocker switch mounted to the fuse box under the hood with the 30 amp fuse in a separate fuse holder. The switch is wired to one side of the original fuse terminal with a fuse tap post. The other is side is wired to one side of the separate fuse holder with the other side holder wired to the opposite side of the original fuse terminal with another tap post. This was done several years ago. There are a couple of vendors making a switch with fuse for this application that plugs in the original fuse location.

As for the supplimental braking system, I feel it's necesarry. Remember,when you apply the brakes on the motorhome, your 3000 lb toad is applying 3 time it's weight to your motorhome. The brakes on your motorhome are designed to stop it's maximum chassis gross weight, not necesarrily it's maximum gross combined weight.
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Old 01-07-2013, 11:44 PM   #7
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There was a case where a woman was killed because her husband turned left and she was caught by the corner of the trailer ahead. Someone did an analysis of it and determined that they would have stopped short of the trailer had the towed had braking.
Not worth going without IMHO.
And as was said earlier, you must be legal in EVERY state you go through, not just the one you're licensed in. No reciprocity on equipment laws like there is for insurance and drivers licenses.
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Old 01-08-2013, 08:06 AM   #8
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I use a Brake Buddy Classic on my Cobalt. Any is better than none; better safe than sorry. Not that much expense compared to the MH, Toad, or the baseplate tow bar assembly. JM2...
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Old 01-08-2013, 08:50 AM   #9
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On my HHR I have a switch for the 2AMP fuse. I made my own or you can get the Roadmaster 76510 kit.

I use Roadmaster air Brakemaster 9160 with break away.
It will need a 88129 Seat Adaptor to install.
It also took a 751428 brake switch to power the MH dash light to show when brakes have been applied.

You may need a Tow Kit if you have never towed anything with your MH.
Or only a universal wiring kit if you have towed before.
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Old 01-08-2013, 09:02 AM   #10
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Here's where I bought my fuse switch

RVpartsPlus

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Old 01-13-2013, 11:07 AM   #11
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Thank you to all that replied. Looks like an HHR isn't going to make the cut, as my high school-aged son will also drive whatever dinghy we buy and he says that's not the vehicle for him. Looks like we'll have to go up the price-scale and now will be looking at something like the Jeep Liberty, though luckily he doesn't get his drivers license until this summer. -RT
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Old 01-13-2013, 03:41 PM   #12
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A Coblat is the same platform. JM2...
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Old 01-17-2013, 06:02 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RTegarini View Post
Thank you to all that replied. Looks like an HHR isn't going to make the cut, as my high school-aged son will also drive whatever dinghy we buy and he says that's not the vehicle for him. Looks like we'll have to go up the price-scale and now will be looking at something like the Jeep Liberty, though luckily he doesn't get his drivers license until this summer. -RT
You are kidding....aren't you?
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Old 01-17-2013, 08:05 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RTegarini View Post
Thank you to all that replied. Looks like an HHR isn't going to make the cut, as my high school-aged son will also drive whatever dinghy we buy and he says that's not the vehicle for him. Looks like we'll have to go up the price-scale and now will be looking at something like the Jeep Liberty, though luckily he doesn't get his drivers license until this summer. -RT
Solution to that is remind him who is paying fro the vehicle and there are other family requirements other than his sporty image.

Remind him that he can get a job and buy what ever he wants...don't forget the gas, insurance and maintenance.

Ken
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