Originally Posted by efstewart
I have read a lot of threads about tow bars, so I now know enough about them to be dangerous (pun intended)!
I found a few Sterling tow bars for sale on Craig's list and they look pretty good. Before I go out and look at one, I have a few questions!
Is there a difference between a Sterling tow bar, and a Sterling all terrain tow bar? The ads that I have seen do not say "all terrain", but they look just like the "all terrain" on Road master's website.
Should I stay away from the aluminum tow bars because of the posts I read about possible failure through fatigue or other problems? (I will be towing a used Honda CRV)
Is stainless steel better than aluminum or regular steel (I have some concerns about rust developing on regular "blued" steel, as I have a tendency to travel in the winter with snow all around..also near the ocean as well)
When I look at these used tow bars, where are the points of fatigue, wear, rust, that I should be wary of? If they look too worn, I may just buy a new one, as I don't want to take chances with safety!
The Sterling is the fore runner to the Sterling All Terrain. The major difference between the two is the newer All Terrain models have a different profile where the locking arms slide into the extension bars. The older Sterling has a square cut locking pockets in the extension arms, while the all Terrain model has more tapered pockets. The tapered pockets allow the locking levers to be activated when the towed vehicle is at a greater angle or different height than the towing vehicle.
The newest Sterling models are at least 9 years old. We bought ours in 2005 just before they switched to the All Terrain model. They are good bars and can take a lot of abuse. We have used ours to tow a 2004 Jeep Wrangler (3750 lbs.) over 100,000 miles.
Having said that parts are only available for the last generation of these tow bars. When I needed a bushing kit for ours last year I had to provide Roadmaster with a serial number. Luckily it was one of the last ones built so parts were still available. I was told however that there won't be any more parts made for these units, so when the current stock is depleted there will no longer be any parts available.
Unless you can get one at a bargain basement price, and be assured it's in like new condition I would stay away. You don't want to spend hundreds of dollars for a unit that needs repair, and take the chance it's one they still support.
We love our Sterling, and when it finally wears out we will replace it with the Sterling All Terrain model. I like the way the safety cables and electrical cord runs through a channel in each arm. They are protected from dragging on the ground. Also everything folds into a compact bundle when the towed vehicle is disconnected. You can slide the cover over everything and it stays neat and out of the way.