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Old 07-02-2015, 05:42 PM   #1
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Mini Toad - Not a new question

So, we just got a new Class C Motorhome. Neither of the cars my wife and I drive are suitable for towing. Before the Motorhome we had a Travel Trailer so I have a brand new Ford Expedition EL. (It's a long story but we didn't plan on buying our MH until one day we fell in love with it on a RV Lot)

Anyway, since I no longer need the Expedition for a tow vehicle I'd like to sell it and buy something smaller, more affordable and more fun - as long as it can be flat towed behind the MH.

Everyone says they love towing their Mini behind their RV and as long as it's a manual transmission it works great. I am aware of the owners manual claiming that the mini can't be flat towed.

So, I went to the mini dealer today they had only a couple 6-speed minis and one I really liked. I drove it I'm excited about it.

However, I told the salesman what I planned on doing with the Mini and he immediately said "Are you aware of the prohibition of this in the Mini owner's manual?" He added. "If you had engine/transmission issues Mini could void your warranty."

OK, that's a bit scary. But it's a MANUAL transmission. Put it in neutral and tow away.

Outside of the fact that there are dozens, maybe hundreds of folks here that do flat tow their mini I don't really have any way of knowing if this is OK or not.

Sure I could use a dolly, but if I was going to do that I wouldn't get a manual Mini in the first place.

Is there any authority I could turn to to be reassured in this issue? Or am I on my own here.

PS. I just noticed my TT is in my Avatar. Gotta get a new avatar.
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Old 07-02-2015, 08:35 PM   #2
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I was advised that it is the electronics that might be compromised if not wired properly.
Bought a used one to avoid warranty issue.
Have towed it two years for 20000 miles plus with no problemClick image for larger version

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Old 07-02-2015, 11:51 PM   #3
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I'm not a lawyer but my interpretation is that under the Magnuson-Moss Act or 1975, a manufacturer and/or the dealer must prove that towing 4-down caused the need for repairs before it can deny warranty coverage. If the dealer cannot prove such a claim or it proposes a questionable explanation, it is your legal right to demand compliance with the warranty. The Federal Trade Commission administers the Magnuson-Moss Act and monitors compliance with warranty law.

They can't just deny any and all warranty claims because you were towing 4-down. They have to prove that it was towing that caused the problem. As you have stated, there are hundreds of Minis being recreationally towed so we know that towing itself, if done correctly, will not cause mechanical malfunction. I think it's just a CYA thing on their part.

However, if you tow incorrectly, i.e., forget to release the parking brake and burn out the linings, they will not replace the linings under the warranty or if you forget to put it in neutral, they will not cover any warranty repairs as a result of your mistake. So they can void the portion of the warranty that has been compromised by the use of your towing 4-down incorrectly.

Also, I don't know how and if they address it in their manual or other conveyances but if they state, for instance, "recreational towing with all four wheels on the ground is strictly prohibited," then you may have a more difficult time trying to prove that 4-down towing didn't cause the repairs you're trying to claim under the warranty.

But again, even if they do state that recreational towing is strictly prohibited and you do it anyway, I still don't think they can, for instance, deny your claim for a leaky rear window or some other claim that has absolutely nothing to do with towing 4-down. In other words, my belief is that they can't void your entire warranty just because you were towing 4-down.

Personally, I wouldn't worry about it. Just as we have had discussions here about towing VWs, as the same thing applies there --VW does not endorse towing 4-down but hundreds of manual transmissions VWs are being recreationally towed without any mechanical issues-- I plan to purchase a new TDI within the next year with a manual tranny. I'll take my chances with whatever warranty issues it could create. I don't anticipate there will be any, however.
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Old 07-03-2015, 12:05 AM   #4
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The problem with the Moss-Magnusson Act is that YOU have to fight the manufacturer in court, the gov't won't help you. Plus I remember reading somewhere that your loss has to be over $25,000 before they will even consider it. In the meantime you're out the use of your rig or you have to pay it, then take it to court. The Act really isn't much help. Dodge was famous for denying coverage for many years if you modded the engine and nothing was ever done to them that we heard about.
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Old 07-03-2015, 01:31 AM   #5
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Well, it's just a decision you'll have to make then. It sounds as if you're not willing to take the chance so, as Displaced2 has done, it may be best to buy a used one that is out of warranty.

I'm willing to take my chances with a VW as I've been researching it for years, conferring with VW mechanics, and have been talking with multiple people who are towing 4-down with them. I'm satisfied that doing so will not cause mechanical failure. I also would be willing to take the chance if interested in a Mini if I observed multiple people doing it without any detrimental consequences.

That's just me, though. Most here will only tow what's listed in the FMCA guide (or ones where the manufacturer specifically endorses recreational towing) ...period.
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Old 07-03-2015, 07:58 AM   #6
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After discussions with my wife I think we're willing to take the chance. And, even the salesman said that the only warranty issues would be in the event something catastrophic with the engine/transmission or similar "towing related" claims.

He also told me that personally he was not aware that flat towing was even a thing until he started working there but that now he gets asked about it ALL the time.
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Old 07-03-2015, 04:15 PM   #7
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Well, Darn. We had a 2nd car on our list and I test drove that one today. Now I'm torn.

This "other" car is the Ford C Max Energi. It's a flat-towable plug-in hybrid.

All those years I drove an extended size SUV day in and day out just so I could use it as a tow vehicle for our travel trailer I thought about getting a hybrid, plug-in hybrid or electric car. The C Max Energi is one of the only such vehicles that can be flat towed.

The pricing is right. It's equiped right. I really liked it. But it weighs 1000 lbs more than the Mini. Ouch. Not good for a toad. It's 3800 lbs dry.

I think I can get it cheap and there is a $4000 tax credit for the purchase.

This will take serious thought and research.

UPDATE: The mini I was looking at actually weighs 3000 lbs. So, it's only 800 lbs more (only). However I see that it's still less than a Honda CRV or Jeep Wrangler which are the two most popular toads.
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Old 07-03-2015, 05:18 PM   #8
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Some of our Florida neighbors own and tow a Fiat 500, and I've seen others tied to the back of coaches going down the road. Might be another for you to consider.

I've met up with a few people towing a Mini, all reported no issues. My interest is because the wife has been pressuring me to get a Mini convertible for a long time now. I like them, but don't hold your breath waiting for me to trade the Jeep in on one.
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Old 07-03-2015, 05:39 PM   #9
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Might want to look at the 6 speed standard Kia Soul weigh is about 2700 lb and a extreamly well made car and comes fairly loaded except cruse and you can add the factory cruse yourself in about 1. Hr for about $70 and cost would be with shopping about $14000 or below.
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Old 07-03-2015, 06:24 PM   #10
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My daughter has a Fiat 500 (auto) and I've driven it enough to know that that is not something I want.

I've got a really short list and just need to work through the emotional car ownership part of this decision.

I think the Mini is a better car and would have more long term appeal and certainly better resale. The Energi is super interesting in its electric car features. Both are around the same price. I have to admit I go back and forth.

It's a holiday weekend, I can just let it go for now.

Thanks All!
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Old 07-03-2015, 06:35 PM   #11
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Gotta believe the Mini would have a higher fun factor.
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