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Old 05-24-2022, 07:16 AM   #1
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Easy flat tow self-install?

I'm looking for a flat tow system that is easy to install. New to the class A world but not to rving. Trying to reverse engineer a toad setup that I can install myself. My research on line isn't giving me the info I'm looking for, so I'm hoping someone here can help out.

What I'm trying to do is find the easiest install of the base plates to the toad and then pick the toad vehicle. For example, we have a friend that flat tows a Chevy Spark behind their class a. Looking at the options for a base plate system on etrailer for example, the instructions for installing the base plate to the car are frankly beyond my capabilities. I'm pretty handy at diy projects and have installed class 3 hitches, bike racks, brake controllers and tt stabilizers.

Is there an easy diy base plate system that I can pick, install and then match to the vehicle I need to buy?

I'm wanting to do this myself for a number of reasons. I'm a disabled vet and don't have an unlimited budget. I have the time to do the work and i can do it right and make sure the job gets the attention it needs. I really don't like paying someone to do something that I can do myself. We're all aware of the questionable quality of work that is coming from garages and the waiting list to get the work done.

Any help is greatly appreciated.
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Old 05-24-2022, 07:43 AM   #2
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Good place to start but with some definite limits.
I looked at install also and felt it was way beyond what I wanted on two different cars, so paid through the nose!

Part of the problem is now becoming much more difficult as we move further toward more effecient cars as the newer trans like CVT will not flat tow and the days of manual transmissions is about to go away. Maybe hybrid will take care of that but currently we have a more limited number of cars to tow easily.

For ease of install plus workable, we need to look for one which CAN be towed and then the easy to install. I find part of the install to be going with something that has a sturdy frame which is left exposed so we don't have to remove all the built in crumple zone to get to the frame. That makes Jeep of various flavors come up.
Not my style of ride, so we were cut off on that direction!
But the install IS easier if you can crawl under and also easier if you can look up and see the frame!

Second and big point is the type of transmission with manual being easiest choice and various going downhill into the electronic transmission which requires lots of wiring to disconnect the power to it but still have power to run other things on the car like lights.

I see it as being caught between what allows towing, so shopping that angle, or needing one set up for physical frame, etc and shopping that, while being able to combine the two, so that makes the final answer is pretty limited.
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Old 05-24-2022, 11:19 PM   #3
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By far the easiest install is the Jeep Wrangler. I bought an 2008 a couple of years ago and installed this Rockhard all aluminum front bumper and the Blue Ox brackets that bolt on to the front of the bumper. On a scale of 1 to 10 this is a 1 or 2. Just a little help with a friend to hold the bumper up til you get the bolts started. Blue Ox Brkt.
In 2001 I installed a very simple blue ox bracket to my 2000 Suzuki Grand Vitara. It was also very easy to install.
In 2013 I sold the Suzuki and bought a Lincoln MKZ and installed the very complex base plate myself. Lots of time and complications, it was a 10 level install.
In 2017 I bought a new MKZ and paid Redlands RV $1400 to install.
All total I've pulled these vehicles 120,000 miles.
Happy Trails,
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Old 05-25-2022, 07:10 AM   #4
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Also E trailer.com has great videos on self install. Also offers a range of hardware. I installed everything for a Honda CRV 2013. The wiring was the biggest challenge. Had to take front of honda off to install base plate. Found everything except base plate used on this site and Ebay. Total cost was $1340 but that is incredibly cheap. Do your homework and it can be done.
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Old 05-25-2022, 09:25 AM   #5
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It's not the base plate "system" that's the determining factor, it's the toad and the nature of its frame, strong points, etc. Installing a Blue Ox baseplate for vehicle X isn't going to be much different than a Roadmaster, etc.

Not that it's necessarily a two person job but having a helper will make things a ton easier than working alone.

I agree that the E Trailer videos and other resources are a great help.

Here's a good starting point:

https://www.etrailer.com/faq-towing-...-overview.aspx
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Old 05-25-2022, 05:12 PM   #6
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A jeep Wrangler is by far the easiest vehicle to rig up to tow.

I am good at DIY home projects and basic auto mechanic skills.

There is always an apprehension of the unknown, having never done this before, but has mentioned by others e-trailer has excellent videos that guide your through the steps. I also installed the Demco Stay-n-play duo braking system at the same time. Everything was relatively straight forward, not beyond my capabilities and working great!
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Old 05-25-2022, 06:57 PM   #7
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I like Duner's post. Straight to useful info. My post won't be like that. Ha!

What I've done twice now is buy a car I knew was towable 4-down. Many are not, and it seems to me that it's getting worse! Fewer vehicles I check show they are towable that way. There USED to be a magazine, Remco owned the site I think?, that published a listing of all the cars from that year which could or could not tow 4-down along with all the previous years but that's disappeared now, their link now owned and replaced by a company that tries to sell you towing accessories. I can't find that old link anymore and it's maddening. I have followed several links and none lead to that old database any more. Grrr.

Anyway, what I did, after finding out which baseplate was right for the car I knew from the charts was towable (and I suppose you can contact a base plate manufacturer to see what cars they have a plate for), was to go to small body shops. They are the experts and though it cost me $180 one time and ~$450 this last time, at least I didn't have to do it myself. Just not in good enough physical shape to do that work any more for the most part. Note that some of my links in those articles are dead now.

The way I looked at it was that the base plate needs to be correctly attached to the frame of the tow vehicle to prevent it from detaching...which I thought was pretty important. So I let a professional mechanic deal with it. I did provide the baseplate documentation and the plates themselves both times.
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Old 05-29-2022, 05:00 PM   #8
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Jeep Cherokee

I did flat tow with Jeep Cherokee. We looked at Wrangler. For the same price I could get a Cherokee with all the newest safety features.
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Old 05-29-2022, 05:24 PM   #9
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2016 hrv

My approach - pulling with a Vista 26P (same 6.8L V10 as most other gassers) - was a 2016 Honda HRV. Main drivers: vehicle weight at less than 3000lb and stick shift. It was a bit of a pain...to install the base plate to the frame, they have you drill a couple of holes in the frame through which you access some blind nuts that you thread through the bumper support (blue ox). Took about a day but was do-able. For pretty much any of these, buy some good cutting tools: the drill bits and/or hole saw. You'll be cutting or drilling through some precious steel so you want to get the job done the first time. The jeep does look awfully easy but adds another 1000lb compared with the HRV. Have about 25K trouble free miles with the blue ox setup.
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Old 05-29-2022, 06:02 PM   #10
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I have to agree with the Jeep Wrangler. I'm on my third. The easiest and probably the cheapest baseplate is installing the RockJock on a Wrangler JL with the factory steel bumper. Baseplate is $330. Took me 1 hour by myself from start to finish. They also make one for the plastic bumper that is just not as easy to install.

Get the Cooltech wiring harness about $150. Very complete. Install is not complicated but you do need to know how to read and follow instructions. It probably took me about 5 hours.

Bought a very lightly used Blue Ox Alpha with all the goodies for $500 on Craigs List. Found a new open box Brake Buddy on eBay for $500. Wire routing took about 3 hours.

All told we came in at $1500. I'm no mechanic. I'm just retired and handy.

eTrailer is a good place to buy a new complete towing package if you have the money. Installation by a mechanic one the complete package can run between $1500 and $2000 depending on the car and equipment. It is not unusual to have $4000 invested if you buy new and have the work done.
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Old 05-29-2022, 06:19 PM   #11
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I got lucky when I bought this '02 from a consignment lot. Came with a Blue Ox tow bar and Blue Ox brake system. Only needed the tow plate, installation, and the brake and running light's wiring which I did myself. The wiring kit was $70 or so? It all came to $870 ready to roll. That's with a professional installation of the base plate.

So that's another way to save money, buy an RV with some of the stuff already there!
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Old 05-29-2022, 06:26 PM   #12
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My wife an I have installed two Blue Ox base plates by ourselves. One on a '96 Ford Escort and last month on a '06 Toyota Matrix.
I'm 76 and not tellin' on the wife. It took all day (about 3 hours but that's all day).
We took off 2 days later and are still going 3200 miles later.
It's not a big deal, just read the directions. (Blue Ox was great in email with answers to questions)
Tow what you want to tow
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Old 05-29-2022, 06:32 PM   #13
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I've done a 2015 Jeep Wrangler, a 2019 Chevy Spark, a 2020 Ford Escape Hybrid and most recently a Chevy Colorado Z71. The Jeep was by far the easiest and least expensive to get ready to flat tow. After market tow rated bumper (no baseplate) and easy to use plug in brake light harnesses (no cutting wires!), and a battery charger. Another plus was the Jeep bumper was higher than the baseplates of the other vehicles so I did not need a drop hitch.
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Old 05-29-2022, 06:38 PM   #14
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Oh and Harbor Freight has lights you don't have to wire, they get the signal transmitted from a transmitter plugged into the coach outlet
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Old 05-29-2022, 09:00 PM   #15
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When we had a Class A I bought a used 2014 Ford Focus and installed a Blue Ox bas plate myself. eTrailer had a step by step video for my particular car which made things very easy. I am sure I saved a ton of money.
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Old 05-30-2022, 05:44 AM   #16
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I don't know how old you are willing to go for a 4 down tow. The newer you go, the more complicated, in my opinion. The 1969 VW bug tow bar is perhaps the fastest and easiest to set up. The tow bar hooks directly to the axle tube. The 1998 Chevrolet Tracker (same as the Suzuki Sidekick) base plate was a simple install. It had frame rails easy to attach to. The 2004 Saturn View was an easy vehicle to install a base plate onto. The 1999 Jeep Wrangler was the very easiest to install the base plate on. Lastly and presently, is the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox. It was a task to install the base plate. The front end of the plastic body had to be removed and reinstalled which included the lights. It was quite simple. But, I don't want to do it again. It was simply too involved for me to want to do another one.
If you can get down on your knees and view the front underside of the toad vehicle, Check to see how accessible the frame is and make a decision on whether it's a relative easy job.

The Jeep Wrangler wins the choice.
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Old 05-30-2022, 06:09 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 202235f View Post
I'm looking for a flat tow system that is easy to install. New to the class A world but not to rving. Trying to reverse engineer a toad setup that I can install myself. My research on line isn't giving me the info I'm looking for, so I'm hoping someone here can help out.

What I'm trying to do is find the easiest install of the base plates to the toad and then pick the toad vehicle. For example, we have a friend that flat tows a Chevy Spark behind their class a. Looking at the options for a base plate system on etrailer for example, the instructions for installing the base plate to the car are frankly beyond my capabilities. I'm pretty handy at diy projects and have installed class 3 hitches, bike racks, brake controllers and tt stabilizers.

Is there an easy diy base plate system that I can pick, install and then match to the vehicle I need to buy?

I'm wanting to do this myself for a number of reasons. I'm a disabled vet and don't have an unlimited budget. I have the time to do the work and i can do it right and make sure the job gets the attention it needs. I really don't like paying someone to do something that I can do myself. We're all aware of the questionable quality of work that is coming from garages and the waiting list to get the work done.

Any help is greatly appreciated.
I installed a complete Blue Ox system on my Cherokee Trailhawk (KL) by myself.
First you must decide what towing capacity you may pull. After that selection decide on a flat towable vehicle.
I agree with other comments that the Jeep Wrangler (JK) is the easiest setup for DIY.
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Old 05-30-2022, 08:40 AM   #18
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I would say the easiest way to go is buying a toad that's already set up.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/887849704574901
There is this facebook group for people selling their toads. Also the classifieds on this forum or on IRV2.
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Old 05-30-2022, 09:39 AM   #19
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I installed a towmaster on a 2003 Honda element without trouble.this base would also work for civic and crv of similar years.has worked great for 4 years.all of these can flat tow.
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Old 05-30-2022, 11:20 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 202235f View Post
I'm looking for a flat tow system that is easy to install. New to the class A world but not to rving. Trying to reverse engineer a toad setup that I can install myself. My research on line isn't giving me the info I'm looking for, so I'm hoping someone here can help out.

What I'm trying to do is find the easiest install of the base plates to the toad and then pick the toad vehicle. For example, we have a friend that flat tows a Chevy Spark behind their class a. Looking at the options for a base plate system on etrailer for example, the instructions for installing the base plate to the car are frankly beyond my capabilities. I'm pretty handy at diy projects and have installed class 3 hitches, bike racks, brake controllers and tt stabilizers.

Is there an easy diy base plate system that I can pick, install and then match to the vehicle I need to buy?

I'm wanting to do this myself for a number of reasons. I'm a disabled vet and don't have an unlimited budget. I have the time to do the work and i can do it right and make sure the job gets the attention it needs. I really don't like paying someone to do something that I can do myself. We're all aware of the questionable quality of work that is coming from garages and the waiting list to get the work done.

Any help is greatly appreciated.
I've been towing a Chevy Spark for 2 years. It only weighs 2200 lbs. The tow plate I got from E trailer was easy to install. It required 6 bolts and 2 small holes to be cut in the plactic grill. I was able to find a Blue Ox system that has the brake controller that sits on the floor in front of the drivers seat. Very easy to install and it works perfectly. Luckily I was able to find the Blue Ox system, used on Crags list for $600.
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