Warn­ing af­ter cor­roded tow­bar fails

DEMM Engineering & Manufacturing - - NEWS - www.best­bars.co.nz

A warn­ing has been is­sued to mo­torists to ur­gently check the con­di­tion of their towbars af­ter a cor­roded bar on the rear of a ve­hi­cle failed in dra­matic fash­ion while at­tached to a boat trailer. How­ever, ev­ery f leet man­ager with any ve­hi­cle, large or small, that has a tow­bar should be vig­i­lant against cor­ro­sion, whether the ve­hi­cle is in con­tact with salt wa­ter or not.

The tow­bar was se­verely cor­roded and snapped com­pletely in two whilst in use, but for­tu­nately it hap­pened in a park­ing lot and not on the open road and there was no other dam­age or in­juries. The se­vere cor­ro­sion is at­trib­uted to the ve­hi­cle con­stantly back­ing into salt wa­ter when launch­ing and re­cov­er­ing the boat – which had gone un­no­ticed dur­ing use.

The in­ci­dent came to the at­ten­tion of Best Bars Ltd, the largest man­u­fac­turer of orig­i­nal equip­ment towbars and ve­hi­cle ac­ces­sories in the coun­try, and its CEO Stephen de Kriek says it is a warn­ing that all tow­ing mo­torists should heed and they need to be vig­i­lant about check­ing their tow­bar, tow­bar tongue, tow­ball, cou­pling and trailer reg­u­larly.

Whilst it was for­tu­nate there was lit­tle dam­age and no in­jury, the con­se­quences could have been much worse if it had taken place on a busy road, says de Kriek.

“Towbars are a crit­i­cal link be­tween the ve­hi­cle and trailer and it is vi­tally im­por­tant to make sure that all the com­po­nents are in good or­der. Whilst they are ro­bust steel parts, they are not ex­empt from re­quir­ing reg­u­lar in­spec­tion and at times, main­te­nance and TLC.”

The forces ex­erted on a tow­bar can be huge – most mo­torist never look twice at their towbars, and per­haps do not re­alise that all tow­ing equip­ment should be in­spected pe­ri­od­i­cally. Safety of all road users is paramount and tow­ing mo­torists are en­cour­aged to reg­u­larly check for signs of wear and tear or cor­ro­sion.

“Signs of dam­age or cor­ro­sion may mean the set-up is un­safe and once this is dis­cov­ered it should be reme­died be­fore tow­ing. In­spec­tion is es­pe­cially rel­e­vant when the ve­hi­cle is be­ing used in a marine en­vi­ron­ment, es­pe­cially if the tow­bar, tow­ball and cou­pling are im­mersed in salt wa­ter. It’s very cor­ro­sive and, as this ex­am­ple clearly il­lus­trates, with­out reg­u­lar care it will even­tu­ally eat away even the best grades of steel, se­ri­ously weak­en­ing the parts and even­tu­ally lead­ing to a fail­ure.

“My ad­vice would be to con­duct reg­u­lar checks, re­move the tow­bar tongue, check the tow­ball, the cou­pling, the safety chains and D-shack­les for ex­ces­sive wear and tear or cor­ro­sion. If dam­age, sig­nif­i­cant wear or cor­ro­sion is no­ticed, it may be un­safe. Should in­spec­tions raise doubts or cor­ro­sion is se­vere, the equip­ment should be in­spected by an ex­pert and ei­ther re­placed or re­paired by a pro­fes­sional.”

The con­di­tion of tow­bar or trailer com­po­nents should be con­firmed by a rep­utable me­chanic, WOF / COF in­spec­tor or pro­fes­sional tow­bar tech­ni­cian.

If the tow­bar shows ex­ces­sive wear or cor­ro­sion, de Kriek strongly ad­vises re­place­ment with a brand new tow­bar de­signed and made to NZ Stan­dard 5467. Mo­torists should look for this ref­er­ence on any new tow­bar they pur­chase, it is an en­dorse­ment that the tow­bar has been de­signed and tested to a high level. Not all towbars sold in New Zealand meet this stan­dard, he warns.

De Kriek also ad­vises mo­torists to stay away from pur­chas­ing se­cond-hand towbars, es­pe­cially from in­ter­net auc­tion sites, as there is no way to ver­ify their his­tory or con­di­tion. Many of th­ese are sold with worn, or no, fas­ten­ers at all, nor any fit­ting in­struc­tions giv­ing the cor­rect fit­ting se­quence, fas­tener sizes, fas­tener torque set­tings or tow­bar rec­om­mended mount­ing points – thus lead­ing to the po­ten­tial to be in­cor­rectly fit­ted.

“Fit­ting a tow­bar is not a job for the en­thu­si­as­tic lay­man with lit­tle knowl­edge of what is re­quired, it is a safety crit­i­cal com­po­nent of a mo­tor ve­hi­cle and should be fit­ted by a pro­fes­sional in ac­cor­dance with the man­u­fac­turer’s fit­ting in­struc­tions,” he adds.

Best Bars sup­plies its towbars to lead­ing new ve­hi­cle dis­trib­u­tors, fran­chised deal­ers and se­lected spe­cial­ist com­pa­nies in Aus­trala­sia. All towbars made by Best Bars are de­signed, tested and man­u­fac­tured to NZS5467 or higher stan­dards re­quired of gen­uine ac­ces­sories. Towbars are made from pre­mium NZ steel plate and sec­tions that have been mill tested to spec­i­fi­ca­tion. All fas­ten­ings are high ten­sile and the prod­uct goes through an eight tank pre-treat and paint process for pro­tec­tion from the el­e­ments, in­clud­ing a zinc phos­phate treat­ment prior to two coat paint­ing.

Each tow­bar de­sign is put through a se­ries of bench and on-ve­hi­cle tests by spe­cial ma­chin­ery de­vel­oped by Best Bars. Test­ing repli­cates up to two mil­lion load cy­cles and static load­ing up to 1.5 times the tow­bar’s max­i­mum rat­ing to en­sure prod­ucts are de­signed with an ex­tra safety mar­gin. The Best Bars fac­tory is also ac­cred­ited to the in­ter­na­tional Qual­ity Stan­dard ISO/TS 16949, En­vi­ron­men­tal Stan­dard ISO14001 and is ACC Ter­tiary Ac­cred­ited for OH&S prac­tices.

Best Bars has built up a wealth of knowl­edge and ex­per­tise on towbars over the past 35 years and now de­signs and makes towbars as orig­i­nal equip­ment for many ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­tur­ers both in New Zealand, Aus­tralia and be­yond.

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