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Towbar Attached, Ready to Roll

May 25, 2013


The guys at Master Hitch in Houston called a day early, said the two new brackets they ordered had come in, and we could bring the CR-V in at any time.  These guys really know their stuff, and have a wonderful customer service approach.  When I first emailed them for an estimate to install a new towbar, I got a message back from Scott, one of the managers, who said he had about fifteen questions.  One of them was why I wasn’t reusing the towbar from the Jeep.  As it turned out, the only parts Mater Hitch provided were two brackets to specifically fit the CR-V frame, and new wiring for the lights and turn signals.  We already had all the necessary safety cables and wiring harness.   I gathered all the parts together in the cargo area in back and headed out around 10am.


The only parts we didn’t already have were the two brackets that are specific to the CR-V frame.  The front lower “fascia” (the black part in the photo above) on the CR-V’s nose is removed, the bumper core behind that is removed, and the fascia is put back on.  The new brackets slide into the square steel tubes where the original bumper core was attached.  These brackets are held on with a steel rod with a cotter pin, which I replaced with a rod with a lock on the end.  Then the brackets we already had (that I needed help with yesterday) bolt up to the new brackets.  The towbar itself then drops down onto posts that protrude up from those brackets, and locks on with rods and cotter pins.  They even added a secondary safety cable.  I provided measurements and photos of the hitch and ball on the rear of the motorhome, and since the CR-V is lower than the Jeep was, they made up a new hitch so the matchup is level..


Through the use of cotter pins, we have three options: a) we can drive with the towbar attached as it is; b) we can lift the towbar itself off and drive the CR-V without it, leaving two mounting bars protruding from under the front end (you can see where the towbar is attached, with the Master lock on  the right end and cotter pin on the left); c) we can also remove the two mounting brackets, and to the untrained eye, there is no indication that the CR-V is a towed vehicle.  I’m a bit paranoid about theft, so I use a series of locks.

The trailer hitch and ball on the back of the motorhome has a lock; the brackets at the frame are locked on; and the towbar itself is locked to the brackets.  In addition, the towbar is also locked onto the trailer hitch.  Anything that isn’t locked on is bolted on, and since these guys use hydraulic power guns to tighten bolts, it would be a chore to remove them in a parking lot.  It may be overkill, but I’m comfortable knowing that not only can the car not be taken when it’s attached to the motorhome, but the towbar itself can’t be taken from the CR-V when sitting in a shopping center parking lot.


We will experiment with the different options to decide what our preference is in different circumstances.  The towbar wasn’t all that noticeable on the front of Jeep, although one man did follow us into a grocery store once and asked what it was for.  The industrial vibe of the towbar kind of blended in on the Wrangler, and we never took it off.  It looks a little different on the CR-V.  Also, one guy at Master Hitch reminded me that the CR-V isn’t sprung the same way as the Jeep, and the extra hundred pounds of equipment  and steel brackets hanging on the front might have an effect.

After driving it back in freeway traffic, I found no noticeable difference in the way it handles or brakes, but I do wonder if the added weight might cause the front tires to wear prematurely.  I’m guessing that, aside from towing, we’ll keep the towbar attached when we’re only making short grocery runs, etc. from an RV park or campground, but will probably remove it for longer sightseeing drives or when we’re parked for a week or more.  We would probably leave the brackets on the car, but the towbar itself is pretty heavy.  I wouldn’t want to be lifting it and carrying it every time we stopped, but once a week or every couple of weeks wouldn’t be too bad.

The CR-V can be towed with the Automatic transmission in Neutral, after performing some specific steps.  The CR-V Owner’s Manual has a section titled “Towing Your Vehicle Behind a Motorhome”.  It details a very specific series of actions that involve engaging the parking brake and starting the engine, then with a foot on the brake pedal, shifting through all the gear positions, then from the Drive position, shifting into Neutral.  Let the engine idle for three minutes, then turn it off.  After releasing the parking brake, turn the ignition key to the Accessory position so the steering doesn’t lock.  This little operation isn’t much more complicated than the one for the Jeep.  The only difference is that the procedure should be repeated if the CR-V is towed for more than 8 hours in one day.  That’s not likely to happen for us, so we just have to make sure we go through the process before pulling out each morning if we stop overnight without unhooking from the motorhome.

There are, of course, a wide range of towbars from different manufacturers that are easier to hook up and lighter weight.  I chose the Roadmaster Stowmaster originally for the Jeep, because it was an economical, yet really strong towbar.  Economically, it just made sense to reuse it on the CR-V.

We made a trip to Walmart yesterday afternoon, and I was delighted to be able to load groceries through the hatchback without having to stoop, stretch, or avoid hitting my head.  Nell drove, by the way, for the first time in weeks.  She loves the car.

One Comment leave one →
  1. May 25, 2013 10:23 pm

    Looks a good setup Ralph, smart new car.


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