Takes Effort/Dollars to Make a Car a Toad

He Said…

Now that we’ve bought our RV Toad vehicle (the 2014 Honda CR-V)… see Mariel’s blog about that here… it’s time to figure out what is necessary to make this vehicle a toad.  And no… kissing it doesn’t turn it into a toad.  But it does take some effort and a goodly amount of cash to make it happen which isn’t something that normal people think about.

We actually need to prepare the car to be towed properly.  We’ve obviously already did our due diligence to make sure that our Honda CR-V could be towed with all four wheel on the ground. Turns out that the 2014 model is the last year that this will be allowed.

To prepare it to be towed behind the RV, we need to have a few things installed:

  • a tow bar on the RV
  • a baseplate on the car
  • a brake system connected between the RV and car
  • and a brake/turning light system on the car

There are a variety of manufacturers for all of these. In a recent issue of Motorhome magazine, there were “user” awards on a variety of these products and the winner for the towbar system was Blue Ox and the winner for the braking system was SMI.  So I looked into those companies and found what I think is needed.

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The tow bar attaches to and is stored on the back of the RV. We believe the Avail model from Blue Ox will be sufficient. It can pull up to 10000 pounds and the CR-V is just under 3500 pounds.  We will likely have to lower the hitch receiver by a few inches; but these drop down receivers are relatively inexpensive.

Before you can attach the tow bar to the car, however, you need to install a base plate. Unfortunately, these tow bars can’t just attach to the towing joints built into the car.  And, you have to use the correct base plate (they are made for specific cars and specific model years). So… Amazon has these for our CR-V here.

baseplate

In most states (if not all), when towing something this heavy, you need a supplemental braking system.  There are a variety of types but you basically want to have something that will help stop the car using the car’s brakes instead of relying on the RV’s brakes. These seem to be put into two categories: a removable contraption that sits on the driver side floorboard pushing against the brake pedal and a more permanently installed system that attaches to the firewall under the dashboard and pulls on the brake pedal). I like the idea of having a permanently installed system that is out of the way. It turns out that SMI has two systems that are of interest to me. These two systems depend on whether the RV has air brakes or not.

If the RV that we purchase does have air brakes, we are looking to get the SMI Air Force One system. And if the RV doesn’t use air brakes, we will get the SMI Stay-IN-Play system.

One of the things that I hadn’t really thought about was the turn/brake lights on the back of the car. Since the car is turned off, the built in lights won’t work. So a different system needs to be installed. Great! Since we’re big into permanent solutions and not removable/portable solutions, we’re likely going to go with the Blue Ox system which installs another set of bulbs within the existing light housing of the car.

Although I am a do it yourself kind of guy (I’ll tear apart a computer before I get it out of the box without thinking about it and I’ll rip up plumbing/dry wall/electrical in a house with no problems) cars scare me a little.  I don’t know why – I can work on a diesel engine about four times as big as the car and I’ve worked on all sorts of components in a nuclear power plant – cars are just – bleh.  So, I’ll be paying someone to install these systems for me and one quote I received today was for $1170 for labor.

This same someone who gave me the quote for labor also quoted me about $3600 for the parts!  Ouch… looking at Amazon I can buy the components plus accessory kits and other useful items for $2300-2400!  So, when the time comes, I’ll buy the items myself and take them to the service department.

4 thoughts on “Takes Effort/Dollars to Make a Car a Toad

  1. I bought the add a bulb kit for our Mini Cooper but decided the installation was too much of a hassle. Instead, for a few more $$ bought a wireless magnetic setup.

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