To Tow or Not To Tow?

Whether we are in a campground for a few days or in an area where the terrain is unfriendly to large motorhomes it would be nice to very quickly unhitch a small car and drive into town or into the mountains. It looked like we needed manual transmission so I figured that we would buy the cheapest, oldest little car to tow and if it died somewhere too bad. It turns out that my husband and I don’t see eye to eye on this. His idea of an extra car is one a couple of years old that is still in good condition i.e. $$$. Our Cadillac that my mother drives is on its last legs and we will need to replace it very shortly. The thought of buying two additional cars makes me cry.

We recently met a couple flat towing a manual SUV in Michigan. We heard very different stories from the husband and the wife – surprise. The husband was telling us the standard story about getting even fewer miles per gallon when towing the car. The wife had an interesting perspective. She said that on their recent four month trip they put 7,500 miles on their motorhome and yes paid more for the gas than if they hadn’t towed her car. She went on to say that they had also put 4,700 miles on the car at much lower fuel rates. Overall, in addition to the convenience the fuel costs where probably lower than without towing. Knowing how I like to run around when we travel I thought that sounded great.
Almost by accident I found out that the automatic Lincoln MKZ hybrid could be flat towed. This was ideal as we could tow it for three months and then it could replace the Cadillac for mum when we got home. In addition it barely sips fuel which is great. Lincoln hybrids are in very short supply. We found one in Ontario, saw it on a Friday night and owned it on Saturday. We then ordered the parts that we had researched for both the towing system and the brake system. For towing we went with Blue Ox which seems to be the most common. For the brakes we went with Roadmaster’s Invisibrake system. Blue Ox’s system requires you to actually detach the braking device and move it every time you want unhook the car. Invisibrake has a box that can be installed in the trunk and you do NOTHING extra when you want to use the car. Based on there being some truth in advertising we made our selection and the parts arrive two days ago. We dropped the car off Tuesday evening and were supposed to pick it up Wednesday afternoon.

Trouble in Paradise
Lunch time on Wednesday and our brand new vehicle is in pieces across three bays at Hitch City. Apparently it will be a little harder than they expected and it might not be ready Wednesday night. We said that Thursday would be fine. Thursday lunch and what remains of the car looks even worse. It turns out that they are having problems with everything. Apparently the Invisibrake system needs to go through the firewall at a very congested area where the electrical motor is on our hybrid. Supposedly this makes it very difficult for the mechanics. My position is that the mechanics can work harder and longer once rather than me having to do something every time I attach or detach the car. They don’t exactly agree and are trying to talk us into the Blue Ox braking system which we don’t want. In addition the Blue Ox hitch system doesn’t fit, it is too big! The mechanics have talked to Blue Ox. They are now going to shave off about ¼” of the baseplate. Supposedly this won’t affect the structural integrity. I really hope they are correct. If this doesn’t work the next option is to have the car shipped to Blue Ox in Nebraska which is over 1,000 miles away. Blue Ox won’t charge us for the parts or work but we have to get the car there and back. How we get a car to Nebraska and back in time I don’t know. Fingers crossed that this ¼” shaving works. I will let you know.

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