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Old 06-17-2022, 10:43 AM   #1
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Check your base plates annually!

Being the one who installed the base plate on our 2016 C-Max, I Ďknewí I had done a good job and never inspected it. Big mistake! The C-Max is susceptible to the death wobble and it mostly went away when I changed the hitch height. However this winter, it seemed to do it more than in the past. For those of you not familiar with the death wobble, itís when the car for some reason oversteers and violently rocks back and forth. This puts a huge strain on the base plate. As a result, the base plate stayed intact, but frame bolts in on the car itself did not on one side. After the bolts departed, only a plate on the aluminum frame remained, and two bolts back by the axle were holding on the passenger side of the base plate. Enter the death wobble again and the remaining bolts were ripped out. I just happened to see the car didnít look right in the rear camera and pulled over immediately. See the photos to see what I saw when I went back to check. Had the other side broken before I noticed, the car would have been totally disconnected.

We were in the middle of nowhere in VT with no cell service and very little traffic. Fortunately I had enough tools to remove the base plate and front bumper cover, and temporarily reattach the broken frame piece so the car could be driven without the front bumper cover. We still managed to get to the wedding on time- itís a good thing we left early! Moral of the story- check those base plates annually!!!
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Old 06-17-2022, 05:38 PM   #2
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That truly was a good catch, and very fortunate at that!
Very few owners are aware of MH mfgr's requirement to inspect the hitch welds/bolts annually for loose bolts, hole wear, and weld cracks.
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Old 06-18-2022, 07:48 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by photopilot View Post
Being the one who installed the base plate on our 2016 C-Max, I Ďknewí I had done a good job and never inspected it. Big mistake! The C-Max is susceptible to the death wobble and it mostly went away when I changed the hitch height. However this winter, it seemed to do it more than in the past. For those of you not familiar with the death wobble, itís when the car for some reason oversteers and violently rocks back and forth. This puts a huge strain on the base plate. As a result, the base plate stayed intact, but frame bolts in on the car itself did not on one side. After the bolts departed, only a plate on the aluminum frame remained, and two bolts back by the axle were holding on the passenger side of the base plate. Enter the death wobble again and the remaining bolts were ripped out. I just happened to see the car didnít look right in the rear camera and pulled over immediately. See the photos to see what I saw when I went back to check. Had the other side broken before I noticed, the car would have been totally disconnected.

We were in the middle of nowhere in VT with no cell service and very little traffic. Fortunately I had enough tools to remove the base plate and front bumper cover, and temporarily reattach the broken frame piece so the car could be driven without the front bumper cover. We still managed to get to the wedding on time- itís a good thing we left early! Moral of the story- check those base plates annually!!!
All I can say is WOW! Could have been a disaster.
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Old 06-18-2022, 08:00 AM   #4
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Holy Cow.
I hope it all works out ok,
I’m sorry this happened to you
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Old 06-18-2022, 08:08 AM   #5
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Thanks for the heads up! Iíll check mine today, though Iíve never experienced the death wobble towing my CRV.
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Old 06-18-2022, 03:51 PM   #6
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Glad you caught it before it totally disconnected.

Looking at your photos, did the bolts pull through the box like frame rail? I have seen this on newer jeeps. One company made plates for towing that were not connected to each other and there have been similar failures.

Could it be in the search for mpg improving weight loss, those metal frame rails are being made to thin?

This year or last, Jeep deleted the front cross frame. Cars are being make like soft drink cans and water bottle, barely able to support the contents.

Thanks for posting
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Old 06-18-2022, 06:44 PM   #7
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There must be a better solution. I have to remove the entire front of my car to check the bolt. Anyone have ideas?

I had half my base plate come loose after 5,000 miles. The saints at Sierra Truck and Van in Fairfield CA who saved our ass and had us back on the road in 5 hours, said they didnít use to have to but now they use loctite even though itís not in the install instructions.

I guess Iíll be getting good at removing the front of my car.
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Old 06-18-2022, 07:06 PM   #8
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You were fortunate, good advice on checking your base plate.



I do most of the maintenance on my Jeep GC. I did install my own base plate, I did use loctite and I installed the safety cables that were provide.
Every time I'm under the Jeep I inspect the base plate. I check that all the bolts are still tight and safety cables in place. While traveling I take time to take my foot and press against the base plate back and forth with a lot of force looking for any movement. During stops I make sure everything looks good.

Even with this, "Stuff Happens" but at least I did what I could to do to prevent it.
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Old 06-18-2022, 09:24 PM   #9
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I always found it interesting that all baseplate manufacturers do not provide baseplate safety cables as standard. When I was researching baseplates for my 2020 Equinox I saw a big difference between them by watching Etrailer installation videos.

The Roadmaster baseplate used bolts to thin flanges but also picked up one of the structural bolts for added support. But the internal safety cables were optional.

The Blue Ox baseplate just bolted to the same thin flanges but had internal safety cables. There was no other support from the frame.

The Demco, which I chose, bolted to the same thin flanges as the other two but had a massive piece of angled steel that slipped between the impact beam ("the bumper") and the frame on each side and was bolted to the baseplate with 1/2" bolts on each side. It also had internal safety cables and blue Loctite was provided for all bolts.

If you do not know what I mean by "internal safety cables" they are a short heavy steel cable that loops through the baseplate on each side and then loops around a section of the frame. If the baseplate tears loose the safety cables will pick up the slack and keep the baseplate from tearing completely away. It's obviously not as solid as the bolts but will keep both arms working.

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Old 06-18-2022, 09:32 PM   #10
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All to often this is caused by bolts that were not torqued to spec, and / or the installer skipping using thread locker when they installed the base plate.
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Old 06-20-2022, 11:03 AM   #11
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Yes, the bolt plate ripped through the aluminum cross frame, but only because bolts installed at the factory fell out and the major stress was concentrated on fewer attach points. I used loctite on my install, but as I said, it was the factory bolts that fell out. Base plate safety cables are a good idea!

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Old 06-28-2022, 12:43 PM   #12
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I asked my service manager about checking baseplates - do people ask to have their baseplates checked ? - thinking maybe I should be scheduling service to have some peace of mind.

I mentioned this thread and what happened.

His reply - they've never had an issue with baseplates they have installed coming loose, or detached. They use all the parts in the baseplate kits and torque all the bolts.

He confirmed what I was thinking about checking bolts on my baseplate -.that my front fascia would need to be removed just as it was when they were installed, to check.

The only toad towing eequipment they've done is replacing parts on tow bars some of which were damaged by operator error (backing up while connected for example) resulting in a bent arm.
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