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-   -   OMG! The People's Court and Flat Towing!!... gotta see this (

MisterT 03-23-2018 02:51 PM

The People's Court is on many different local channels...

Originally Posted by DFitz (Post 4099931)
Spoiler Alert! I saw this episode on my local channel a couple months back...
Nothing too earthshaking - couple felt it was OK to tow a Honda Fit (CV transmission) because Blue-ox offered a baseplate for their car. Blew up the transmission and felt installer/mfg should be responsible.
Final result: Judge Millian ruled against the defandents. FOR the Blue Ox installer defendents.
Take away: As the owner YOU are responsible to determine the suitability and to read your toad's owner's manual before flat towing. (or at least check with the knowledgeable members of this forum!)

The People's Court is on many different local channels... you'll have to search for it in your area

...this episode was very interesting for those contemplating 4-down flat towing their vehicle, or one in the future, if they're not sure how to do it, or whether their vehicle CAN be towed, at least without further modifications.

What I found lacking about the episode, though, is that the defendents, the Blue Ox installer shop, did not elaborate on much of 'how' the base plate and tow bar works - the audience and People's Court folks were all unsure as well... only adding to the 'funny' of the show. The plaintiff RV owner certainly wasn't very sure, either...

The judge, did though, read a Blue Ox letter to the shop stating that the 'owner is purely responsible to know whether their own vehicle can safely be towed, not the company nor the installer'. Blue Ox's letter, she read, even stated that 'they make baseplates for many makes and models of cars, even some that cannot be towed 4-down without modifications such as supplement lube pump or drivetrain detachment'.

I kept waiting for the defendents(the shop) to throw out the fact that the new owner probably did not correctly setup his vehicle for towing, and therefore ruined his own vehicles' transmission. He never said whether it was an automatic or a manual tranny, but did say several times that he 'relied' on the shop's experience and their call to Blue Ox to confirm that he 'could' tow it. He had even towed it for 5 or 6 months before this happened.

I believe the judge was correct in her ruling, saying that the plaintiff(new owner of an RV and the tow vehicle) did not bring sufficient proof that the shop should have 'known' that his vehicle could not be properly towed, 4-down. The shop won, and rightly so, but it goes to show that no matter what someone 'tells' you, you have to confirm it yourself, by reading the OWNERS manual. But, it also reiterates the fact that a 4-down towable vehicle is not simply the addition of the base plate and the tow bar, but the correct setup of the vehicle to BE towed(transmission in neutral,etc).

What I found interesting is that the plaintiff RV owner stated more than once that 'some folks at the rv park told me that they were surprised that I could tow 'that' type of vehicle'... and used that as part of his 'defense', yet he DROVE AWAY WITH IT ANYWAY... and now wants the shop to 'pay' for his damages! Crazy, but true. Aggravating for sure.:facepalm:

Many folks come on these forums and ask basic questions just like he did to the shop where the work was being performed. We give our best 'knowledge' and 'experience' on the subject. It gets a little confusing, for sure though, when you see everyone saying that 'such and such' can't be towed, and yet you saw one just yesterday being towed! It's true, but that owner may have modified the vehicle to BE towed 4-down, not as it came from the factory. Just a head's up...:popcorn:

I could upload the video of the full episode, but I'm not sure about copyright laws, though a search may find the episode on another website.

Dutch Star Don 03-23-2018 06:53 PM

We watch People's Court al the time.....very entertaining. The RV/Toad owner was brain dead in this episode. He ignored multiple warnings about towing his Honda. It was sad because he was an older gentleman with a younger generation's attitude......I did something stupid, so it must be someone else's fault....they need to pay....

hohenwald48 03-23-2018 08:21 PM


Originally Posted by LJowdy (Post 4099981)
Marc, not necessarily so. Toyota made a 4x4 vehicle called a FJ Cruiser. I wanted one but when I found out the owners manual said it can't be flat towed I passed. Later I found out that with the trans in neutral and the transfer case in neutral it could be towed contrary to the owners manual instructions. Found out that Toyota didn't want to deal with cars being towed so they said it couldn't be towed. I met a guy last year who has towed his FJ for more that 20,000 miles with no adverse consequences. So the bottom line is the owners manual isn't always correct.

Of course you can do anything you want with your own vehicle. However, the owners manual will tell you what the manufacturer recommends. You can still ignore their recommendation and do as you wish. Just like the folks on this TV show did.

777 Driver 03-23-2018 09:54 PM


Originally Posted by hohenwald48 (Post 4100454)
You can still ignore their recommendation and do as you wish.

Not only as you wish. Perhaps more importantly, at your own risk.

Take care,

NLOVNIT 03-23-2018 10:56 PM

I've been watching The People's Court since Judge Wapner presided. It's amazing the silly cases that get brought forth, but then that's reality TV for you.

In the end Judge Milian's ruling was correct since it's the RV owner's responsibility to know if/how/& with what their vehicle can be towed. That comes from the owner's manual & the mfr, not some installation shop.


momdoc 03-24-2018 08:14 AM

It is your responsibility.
Our owners manual (Hyundai Veloster) did not say anything about towing. Our dealer said no you cannot tow it. Blu Ox did make a plate for it so I called Hyundai directly (from the dealers office) and talked to a technician there who said you can tow it no problem if a 6 speed manual trans and in neutral.
So now 15,000 miles later it still tows just fine.

hohenwald48 03-24-2018 10:40 AM


Originally Posted by momdoc (Post 4100928)
It is your responsibility.
Our owners manual (Hyundai Veloster) did not say anything about towing. Our dealer said no you cannot tow it. Blu Ox did make a plate for it so I called Hyundai directly (from the dealers office) and talked to a technician there who said you can tow it no problem if a 6 speed manual trans and in neutral.
So now 15,000 miles later it still tows just fine.

Even that was a risk. Had you done damage to the vehicle the manufacturer would have pointed to the manual and disavowed the technician since you probably got nothing official in writing. I doubt you even know if you actually talked to a technician. Could have been a floor scrubber pretending to be a technician. No way to know.

It's always a risk when you stray from the vehicle manufacturers recommendations. Even using a different engine oil or oil filter carries some risk. Glad it worked out well for you and not the way it did for the folks on TV.

OlYeller 03-24-2018 11:05 AM


Originally Posted by DFitz (Post 4099931)
Final result: Judge Millian ruled against the defandents.

Actually, the Judge ruled against the plaintiffs (the Honda owners who brought the suit). The defendants (the shop being sued) prevailed.

MisterT 03-24-2018 11:20 AM

it was a Honda FIT
I know remember that the Plaintiff mentioned that it was a Honda FIT... but didn't mention year model, or whether auto or standard.

rlott2k 03-24-2018 11:33 AM

Shop should also refuse to do work that they know will result in damage. That said I didn’t watch the show. The shop I worked in often refused work that “could” result in liability. Like adding seats in cargo vans, suspension changes that could result in control loss etc.

MisterT 03-24-2018 11:37 AM

some shops do, such as ones who will not add 'used' tires to your vehicle - too much risk coming back on them later. But, Blue Ox building a baseplate that fits a vehicle does not in itself mean that the vehicle can/could/should be towed 4-down WITHOUT other modifications that MIGHT be required. Bue Ox simply can't be held responsible for each and every situation for each and every owner out there - they manufacture base plates, period. It's up the the OWNER to know 'how' they are going to tow the vehicle, some can do it without modifications, some can't. Same for the shop, they can't be held responsible for an owner who doesn't understand what is required for them to tow their own vehicle - the shop doesn't know if they are doing it with, or without, further modifications, if any are required, OR whether the owner actually sets up his vehicle properly prior to towing it for each trip.

This episode did not do any duty in 'explaining' base plate towing of vehicles, but it does highlight the need for owners to be responsible for whether their own vehicle CAN be towed without modifications, AND that the owner knows HOW to properly setup the tow each and every time they get ready to tow it, which was never even brought up in the suit. The owner could have easily missed something on the setup the day he had issues with his transmission, especially since he admitted himself that he had already traveled with the vehicle in tow on several other trips.

rlott2k 03-24-2018 03:45 PM

Your right , for example a car may be towable with a manual tranny but not with an automatic. A great shop would check/confirm for you, others rely on your research. The onus is on the owner.

Alan_Hepburn 03-24-2018 04:24 PM


Originally Posted by dexters (Post 4099969)
I think the loser get an appearance fee even if they lose the case.

The way these shows work is that there is a "budget" assigned for each case, and the winner gets paid out of that budget. Anything left over gets split between the winner and the loser. Both sides also get paid for travel, and lodging.

stepside454 03-24-2018 04:29 PM

Peopl do amaze me sometimes .
I met a guy recently who was having a baseplate installed on his Corolla wher my wife worked. It was an automatic .
He assumed that because Blue Ox made a plate for it , it was towable . I told my wife’s boss he ought to check into that . It cost the guy a bundle .

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