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Old 01-18-2018, 02:59 PM   #1
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How do I evaluate a used tow bar

I've been shopping for a tow bar and was evaluating new vs. used. There are a few for sale locally on Craigslist, but from the photos they all look pretty banged up. I have no idea of how to evaluate a used tow bar, what can go wrong with them and what to look out for.

I'm also wondering if it's worth saving a few hundred dollars vs. new,considering that I'll be trusting my toad, which is also our daily driver, to it.

I'd feel differently if I was buying from a friend and could trust what I'm told about the history of the used equipment.

What are your thoughts?

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Old 01-18-2018, 03:08 PM   #2
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I picked up a Roadmaster Black Hawk 2 for $40 and was able to get a rebuild kit for around ~$30. Normally they are around $900 new. Mine was a little loose but tightened up after the rebuild. Before buying, I just looked it over to make sure it wasn't bent or had any large dings and that the arms extended without binding and locked in place. So far it has worked as expected.

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Old 01-18-2018, 04:09 PM   #3
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I have bought two used tow bars. Both Blue Ox brand. Both were in good visual condition - not banged up. I then disassembled and lubricated. Every couple three years when at a rally where Blue Ox is providing service I have them take a look at it. Usually Quartzite.
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Previously a 2002 Fleetwood Pace Arrow 37A and a 1995 Safari Trek 2830.
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Old 01-18-2018, 04:14 PM   #4
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I wouldn't readily suspect that folks are selling their tow bars because they are defective or otherwise unusable, but simply because they don't USE them anymore...

if it looks good upon close inspection, and especially if you, or they, can 'test drive it', then it's certainly worth the option.
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Old 01-18-2018, 07:59 PM   #5
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I've purchased a couple of tow bars off Craigs list and, Ebay. Never been burned. They've all turned out to be very nice working tow bars, for several years. Obviously, if any of them for sale are close to you, then simply cruise on over and take a look at them. Make sure the extendable arms slide easily and, lock correctly. Then make sure there's no issue UNLOCKING them.
Make sure all the pivot points are in somewhat good shape and are not loosely banging around indicating a seriously worn tow bar. They're pretty simple.
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Old 01-19-2018, 07:59 AM   #6
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Look for worn and loose joints. Look for dry joints, no lub. Moving parts and joints that are stuck is a no go. Excessive rust and wear are another.
Exam thoroughly. Ask how much it was used and how old.
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Old 01-20-2018, 05:41 PM   #7
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My Craigslist search alert came through and I was able to buy an almost new (used 3 times) Blue Ox Alpha tow bar complete with safety cables, all fittings and 7 to 6 wire coiled electrical cable. Amazon wanted $620 and etrailer wanted $788 for the tow bar plus electrical cable.

The seller had sold his motorhome and wasn't getting another.

Thanks for all your comments and suggestions.
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Old 01-20-2018, 08:29 PM   #8
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Congrats, after buying used looking back my biggest question would be age. It seems a lot of owners age out before product wears out. I did get tripped up by used SMI brakes that I did not know were 12 years old. Lost on that deal and went brand new for 2k. Sorta like buying a Honda 3000xi generator, they go back 15 years ,,,but it may look brand new.
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Old 01-21-2018, 07:52 AM   #9
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I agree, in the end, age and condition made my decision. For the same price I could have purchased a Roadmaster Sterling, a top-of-the line tow bar, however, from the Craigslist photos, it was pretty well-used and not worth the risk. I would also needed to buy safety and electrical cables.

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