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Old 07-01-2015, 07:32 AM   #1
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Flat tow brakes

We are totally new to the Class A world, traded our 5er for a Georgetown 2 months ago.

We want to tow a car four down and have been investigating various cars. The one we are looking at now is a 2014 Ford Focus. Any opinions? The steps to flat tow it include disconnecting the ground lead from the battery, if we get this car we will install a disconnect switch, using a wrench each time is dumb!

We went to a scale and the car weighed 2,960 lbs, well within our 5,000 limit.

The problem we see is with the braking system. As we understand it you must have a braking system for the car when towing in most states. Will it even work with no battery power?

Any suggestions on were to buy and have installed the various flat tow components?

Thanks in advance for any help we can get here.
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Old 07-01-2015, 07:56 AM   #2
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We flat tow a Jeep Cherokee with active II automatic transmission,Dw doesn't like driving manual transmission. Tow setup is Blue ox all the way,Patriot braking system, baseplates and tow bar. Connects in about 10-15 minutes and Jeep does not require any disconnects or battery charger and no key in ignition. Curb weight is about 4000#
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Old 07-01-2015, 09:21 AM   #3
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Flat tow brakes

We also flat tow a Jeep, but it's a Wrangler Unlimited. Automatic is easy to tow; transfer case in N, transmission in P, brake off. No key required as the steering does not lock. We have Blue Ox tow bar, base plate and lights but went with the Roadmaster Invisibrake. Some people, not all, report battery drain with a lot of other systems (they plug into the lighter for power). The Invisibrake does not require any type of controller as it triggers off the MH's brake lights. The unit installs under the front seat, completely out of sight, and stays in the vehicle at all times. Don't have to take it in and out and store it. The toad battery is charged from the MH while driving by turning on the MH lights. Also about $100 less than other systems. Works great for us.
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Old 07-02-2015, 09:54 PM   #4
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I have a Honda CRV with a stay and play brake system. It stays in the vehicle all the time and you can't see it. It is hidden under the dash.
Nothing to disconnect before towing.
Mileage does not accumulate when towing.
I can hook up or unhook in less than 3 minutes.
I do have a "battery minder" installed on the car to keep the battery charged.
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Old 07-03-2015, 08:04 AM   #5
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An update on the Ford Focus!

First of all, thanks for all the replies!

The situation with the Focus has gotten interesting. The Focus can be flat towed, but it has a 6 speed auto transmission that senses the engine and road speed using, for the lack of a better term, a computer. The system then sends a signal to the transmission, as if it were a stick shift, to tell it what gear to be in. If the system has battery power you can only tow at 35 mph and have to stop and run the engine every 50 miles.

They give you a procedure to insure you are in neutral and then disconnect the battery ground. This disables gear shifting and you can go 70 mph any distance.

With no electric in the car, most of the breaking system will not work, at least as an emergency tear away.

We found one tow bar that can handle this at readybrake.com, their ReadyBrute Elite which has a built in surge brake.

Our RV dealer does not want to install this tow bar since you have to drill separate holes in the firewall for wire cables for the normal braking and the tear away brakes. The cables are then connected to your brake pedal. Our Ford dealer says he will do the job, but it will be the first time they have ever done it.

The solution we are now trying to work out is to have the RV dealer install the Base. We will pre-buy the the tow bar so he can also install the dash mounted brake indicator and drop bar so we are towing about level, but no brakes or lights! We will then take the car and motor home to our Ford dealer so he can install the necessary brake cables through the firewall and insure that the tail lights are run completely from the motor home.

The Focus is a nice FWD car that can be flat towed, but they sure do not make it easy to have it set up.

PS: Camping World, about 100 miles from us, will do the complete job for just under $3,500. We can get it done way cheaper by two local dealers.
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Old 07-03-2015, 12:41 PM   #6
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Flat towing is not made simple by the auto manufacturers, for sure. If you walk into a dealership and ask if a certain vehicle can be flat towed you'll inevitably be asked "How much does your RV weigh?". They simply don't have a clue! Once you do find a resource that can lead you through it, even that can be confusing. I actually saw one model of car (a Ford) that indicated it could be flat towed, you simply had to remove 1/2 of the transmission fluid! Bet the RV parks would just love you dumping that on the ground, not to mention the fact that the only way I know to get the fluid out is to remove and replace the transmission filter! Want a real treat? Read the instructions for flat towing a Ford F150 4x4 (the 2wd is not flat towable). You do everything except sneeze while standing on your head with a balloon in your teeth! SO glad I finally bit the bullet and got the Jeep Wrangler! I could not believe how well it was set up to be flat towed! Good luck figuring it all out - I feel for you! Have a safe holiday weekend!
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Old 07-04-2015, 05:17 AM   #7
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The Focus isn’t that bad to hook up, but it does throw a few wrenches into the mix. You have to be hooked the car to the RV first or you can’t move the car after, make sure the parking brake is off, turn the ignition on but don’t start it, press the brake pedal so you can move the gearshift to N, wait for “Transmission Ready” to appear on the console, then disconnect the battery. Fairly simple instruction, then comes unhooking!

The last step is what throws all the wrenches. When you reconnect the battery you MUST restart the car within 15 minutes or the anti-theft system will disable the car, you also lose all your radio stations and phone connections, and of course the clock time. Also, and most important, there is no electrical power for a break away braking system, you have to find a system that will control the brakes with steel cables and so far I’ve only found one tow bar system that can do that, the brake ready system with surge brakes.

If anyone knows of another tow bar that can provide regular and break away braking with no electrical power, please post where to find that system so I can choose from a list longer than one. I’d love to make a post, which is better – ready brake or googleplex?
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Old 07-04-2015, 06:37 AM   #8
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[QUOTE=Sandy and Shirley;912325]An update on the Ford Focus!



We found one tow bar that can handle this at readybrake.com, their ReadyBrute Elite which has a built in surge brake.

/QUOTE]

I us the ready brake system and installed it myself. Not hard to install if you have tools and place to work.
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Old 07-04-2015, 08:15 AM   #9
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30 years ago, maybe even 10 years ago, I would have done it myself also -- but at 68 I'm beginning to act like my kids, "call the guy". Funny how the things we tell our kids not to do eventually becomes what we do!
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Old 07-04-2015, 09:24 AM   #10
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Sounds like you really are trying to get the Focus to work. I believe the Blue Ox Patriot brake system has a battery backup for break away braking, you still would have to power the unit from the coach for normal driving. We also use a magnetic tow light bar
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