Warning about A-Frame towing

John Thompson

Full Member
Posts
1,963
Likes
1,221
Warning about A-Frame towing posted on MHFun forum
Ensure you regularly check the frame mountings on your car and that the car is not suffering with any distortion or metal fatigue.

Report 1...
Ford Ka 8 or 9 years old - a part of the "chassis" on the near side has broken allowing the a-frame to twist and pull the front of the car forward. ... Both front wings have popped out & forward by a couple of inches. it had a strong sub frame bolted to the car chassis. The vehicle had to abandoned while on tour in Scotland to be returned by the breakdown service.
The car was MOT'd last month and is in excellent condition otherwise with absolutely no rust and very low mileage.
The poster in the past had been an avid a-frame user but has always considered they should be subjected to annual testing along with the MOT.
The poster said, If the car is repairable, which he doubts, he will not continue towing it or any other.
The A-Frame was attached to a solid bar which is in turn fixed to strong steel plates bolted to the "chassis" ..... All very strong but possibly maybe too strong, putting a load of stress on the car.

Report 2.
Another user posted on the same thread regarding a 5door hatchback fitted with a new A frame and only a couple of years old.
The whole front end was loose where the chassis had snapped, luckily it all got noticed before the front of the car was pulled off..

The law for tow bars has been strict for many years that you can only bolt to reinforced points on the car designed for the purpose. a frames are bolted through thin pressed steel at the front of the chassis. in no way are cars designed for this or it would have to be type approved and crash tested etc.
Another reason that a frames are not legal, but rely on grey areas of the law.

Check them all regularly. Maybe the Spanish and Germans are right after all.
 
Last edited:

harrow

Full Member
Posts
7,213
Likes
8,981
Warning about A-Frame towing posted on MHFun forum
Ensure you regularly check the frame mountings on your car and that the car is not suffering with any distortion or metal fatigue.

Report 1...
Ford Ka 8 or 9 years old - a part of the "chassis" on the near side has broken allowing the a-frame to twist and pull the front of the car forward. ... Both front wings have popped out & forward by a couple of inches. it had a strong sub frame bolted to the car chassis. The vehicle had to abandoned while on tour in Scotland to be returned by the breakdown service.
The car was MOT'd last month and is in excellent condition otherwise with absolutely no rust and very low mileage.
The poster in the past had been an avid a-frame user but has always considered they should be subjected to annual testing along with the MOT.
The poster said, If the car is repairable, which he doubts, he will not continue towing it or any other.
The A-Frame was attached to a solid bar which is in turn fixed to strong steel plates bolted to the "chassis" ..... All very strong but possibly maybe too strong, putting a load of stress on the car.

Report 2.
Another user posted on the same thread regarding a 5door hatchback fitted with a new A frame and only a couple of years old.
The whole front end was loose where the chassis had snapped, luckily it all got noticed before the front of the car was pulled off..

The law for tow bars has been strict for many years that you can only bolt to reinforced points on the car designed for the purpose. a frames are bolted through thin pressed steel at the front of the chassis. in no way are cars designed for this or it would have to be type approved and crash tested etc.
Another reason that a frames are not legal, but rely on grey areas of the law.

Check them all regularly. Maybe the Spanish and Germans are right after all.

I had an accident when I was driving a Ford KA.
A builders lorry slipped past and in passing caught the rear edge of the front wing.
The lorry took the KA wing off like it was held on with blu tack.
As the lorry went forward the KA wing was hanging from the lorry like cooking foil.
The little KA is a death trap, every spot weld came/popped apart the metal did not tear, maybe it was glued together with super glue, the KA was a car I had from new, so it had a know history.
 
Last edited:

John Thompson

Full Member
Posts
1,963
Likes
1,221
There is a further report from Tony in Taunton.

"My Peugeot 207 was a complete right off after the cross bar that attaches between the main fixing to chassis on the car that was fitted by Car-A-Tow system snapped while towing in the south of France on the Motorway."

It seems like there is problem.
 

John Thompson

Full Member
Posts
1,963
Likes
1,221
Reply from VOSA

Reply from VOSA
Before I deal with your concern, it maybe helpful if I explain the role of
DVSA in regards to investigating vehicle safety defects. DVSA
investigates, in conjunction with the relevant producer, incidences whereby
failure of a vehicle or its component systems are alleged to be
attributable to design or construction deficiencies. In addition DVSA is
responsible for the supervision and monitoring of the UK Recall Scheme as
it applies in the automotive sector.

This work is carried out under the terms of a Code of Practice, which is an
agreement between the Department for Transport and the Trade Associations
representing vehicle and component producers, and is supported by the
General Product Safety Regulations 2005.

A ‘safety defect’ is defined in the Code as "A safety related defect is a
failure due to design and/or construction, which is likely to affect the
safe operation of the product without prior warning to the user and may
pose a significant risk to the driver, occupants and others. This defect
will be common to a number of products that have been sold for use in the
United Kingdom". In addition, before we can require a manufacturer/producer
to instigate a safety recall, there has to be a significant risk of serious
injury or death.

The issues you have supplied are the type of concerns we investigate.
However, without these concerns being reported to us, we would not know
about them. We do search the internet for reports of safety issues or
possible safety recalls that have not been reported to us and conduct carry
out surveillance role but I am afraid that we would not have found these,
as we do have difficulty in entering web forums, because they are either
only available to members or our IT security systems will not allow us to
enter them.

However, can I request that you pass the attached documents and defect
reporting form onto the people who have suffered these issues, so that they
can report them to use, as we will need specific information and contact
details.

Should you wish to discuss anything, please do not hesitate to contact me
on telephone number below.

Andrew Tudor
Acting Head of Vehicle Safety Branch
Vehicle Safety Branch | Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency | First Floor |
Berkeley House | Croydon Street | Bristol | BS5 ODA
Phone: 01179-543300

I am having problems loading the attached files. The Report form is to big to load to this forum.
I am happy to forward the email to anyone who wants a copy with the attached files and report form. Please PM me with an email address.
 

Attachments

  • 2381 Code of Practice.pdf
    254.3 KB · Views: 154
  • 2261B Consumer guide to vehicle safety defects Nov 11.pdf
    1.7 MB · Views: 147
  • 2402 Consumer guide to vehicle safety recalls Feb 2013.pdf
    1.3 MB · Views: 187
Last edited:

colinm

Full Member
Posts
2,943
Likes
2,757
Donna on OAL reported seeing a toad with half the front ripped out.
p.s. just checked and it was near Swansea, and was a Hymer towing a Toyota.
 
Last edited:

colinm

Full Member
Posts
2,943
Likes
2,757
This sort of occurrence is probably to be expected when the towing equipment is attached to the part of the car that is MEANT to break up/off in accidents.
Perhaps the A frame should be attached to the part of the car that is designed to take these loads i.e. the tow bar mountings. Yes it means the car car would have to travel backwards (no great disadvantage) and yes, most small cars are not designed to have tow bars fitted which would limit choice.

That doesn't work for several reasons, and might also damage towing vehicle.
 

molly 2

Full Member
Posts
3,988
Likes
3,823
This sort of occurrence is probably to be expected when the towing equipment is attached to the part of the car that is MEANT to break up/off in accidents.
Perhaps the A frame should be attached to the part of the car that is designed to take these loads i.e. the tow bar mountings. Yes it means the car car would have to travel backwards (no great disadvantage) and yes, most small cars are not designed to have tow bars fitted which would limit choice.
All modern cars are built with front end crumple zones designed to absorb the impact on a front end smash, fastening a tow bar to those weak points is the opposite to design of crumple zones. Some cars may be strong enough to take the strain, some won't I would recommend regular checking of the fixing points looking for body distortion and for cracking and any signs of metal fatigue. Also check the gaps between the the wings and bonnet are not distorted also check the bonnet opens and shuts properly looking for any front end misalignment.
 
Last edited:

colinm

Full Member
Posts
2,943
Likes
2,757
I never knew that. So it wouldn't work like a four wheel trailer then?

No the axles are much too far apart, even a conventional two axle trailer with axles close together places much more load on the tow hitch than a single axle.
 

Tezza33

Full Member
Posts
11,072
Likes
18,699
I never knew that. So it wouldn't work like a four wheel trailer then?
If you look at farm trailers the front axle/wheels are part of the A frame so turn with that.
I am pleased I made my own A frame at least I know it is safe:sleep-040:
 

grandadbaza

Guest
The system I have on my Citreon C1 was fitted by TowBars2TowCars of Grimsby and they offer a bi-annual check on their systems ,and after speaking to them today like mine they have not had any failures of any kind . I just feel that bit safer having it checked at regular intervals .
 

grandadbaza

Guest
Sorry thats my spelling for you it should have said biennial :hammer: which is of course every 2 years
 
Last edited:

mistericeman

Full Member
Posts
3,544
Likes
7,970
the situation is probably not helped by the amounts of shock loading applied under even normal towing conditions...
manufacturers spend many hours and heaps, of money designing and then testing to destruction their vehicles structures... however I'm pretty certain after market A frames don't even cross their minds.

I've never liked the idea of a frames other than for emergency useage.
 

witzend

Full Member
Posts
5,037
Likes
3,764
If you look at farm trailers the front axle/wheels are part of the A frame so turn with that.
I am pleased I made my own A frame at least I know it is safe:sleep-040:

But possibly not Legal as not type approved marking CE marks
 

QFour

Full Member
Posts
3,729
Likes
3,758
Wonder what the manufacturers would say if they told them what they were doing. How can you asses what is going on in a monocoque construction if all you do is look for what you think is a strong bit and weld / bolt chunks of metal to it. I found a YouTube video of one being fitted. One side was ( Ok ) because they were using the towing eye but they had to construct another towing eye support for the other side. Lot of strain on this part of the vehicle and forcing the vehicle to turn by pulling it must also put a tremendous strain on all the front body panels. With more and more MH's being purchased more and more are going to want to tow a vehicle. They will all be looking for the cheapest solution as they have just blown all their cash on the main part.

Someone on the Caravan and Motorhome Club Forum wanted to know the etiquettes for arriving on site towing a car :lol-061: :lol-053:

Hate to think how much type approval would cost. Can you imaging fastening a car to the back of a MH and driving it into a concrete block at 50 mph to see what happens. That would certainly test the A Frame. If it failed you would be in a really bad place.

..
 
Last edited:

jeffmossy

Full Member
Posts
1,218
Likes
1,700
Wonder what the manufacturers would say if they told them what they were doing. How can you asses what is going on in a monocoque construction if all you do is look for what you think is a strong bit and weld / bolt chunks of metal to it. I found a YouTube video of one being fitted. One side was ( Ok ) because they were using the towing eye but they had to construct another towing eye support for the other side. Lot of strain on this part of the vehicle and forcing the vehicle to turn by pulling it must also put a tremendous strain on all the front body panels. With more and more MH's being purchased more and more are going to want to tow a vehicle. They will all be looking for the cheapest solution as they have just blown all their cash on the main part.

Someone on the Caravan and Motorhome Club Forum wanted to know the etiquettes for arriving on site towing a car :lol-061: :lol-053:

Hate to think how much type approval would cost. Can you imaging fastening a car to the back of a MH and driving it into a concrete block at 50 mph to see what happens. That would certainly test the A Frame. If it failed you would be in a really bad place.

..


Easy answer to the problem .............. IF YOU WANT TO TOW GET A CARAVAN
 

IanH

Guest
Sorry, and Hard Hat now on, but I'll go for it anyway............................

If you have a Motorhome, you have a car and a caravan, all in one, in many guises

If you need to tow, in any way shape or form, a CAR behind it, then you have a reversed image CARAVAN

So why not simplify things, a lot actually and simply buy a CAR and tow a CARAVAN behind it, thereby having...........Only one vehicle , a means of transport once at your destination................... a much bigger living space than even quite big motorhomes.................

I really cannot see any possible reason to tow a car behind a motorhome..............BUT, as I said, Hard Hat now on!!!:mad2:
 
Last edited:

Users who viewed this discussion (Total:0)

Top