...I stand the lights inside the car on the shelf between the rear window and the back seat (you know, where you used to lay down to look out the back window when you were a kid)
A small piece of self adhesive velcro on the bottom of each light keeps them standing and in place. They are out of the weather, secure inside the vehicle and no danger of one falling off on a big bump.
X2 on this, this is what I do, using cheap, wired magnetic lights.
Lights never have to be removed, stay right where they are on that back shelf INSIDE the vehicle (where they can't scratch any paint). I didn't have to touch hardly ANY of the vehicle's taillight wiring, and entire thing can be taken out (and moved to a new vehicle one day) in a matter of minutes. And, costs less than $30.
Never have liked the idea of spending $70+ on a special kit to wire into taillights of a vehicle, only to have to spend that $$ all over again and do that installation all over again every time you trade vehicles.
As to where to run the wires: I ran the 'colorful' 4 wires underneath car along frame, then brought it up inside the trunk. From inside the trunk, wire comes out at top of back seats right where light is, so its barely visible. Works great.
Whatever you decide to go with, do not EVER run wires for magnetic lights across a painted surface (roof, hood, or sides)! Soon as you get up to speed, the wire vibrating, flapping in the wind will scratch your paint up but good. Route it under the hood, through the inside, whatever you have to do to keep it off painted surfaces. 'Twas one lesson I learned the hard, expensive way. After several detailing jobs including a 'wet sanding' procedure, the scratches on our toad are finally gone from that 'lesson'. :)
Well, you have the 2013 Dinghy guide now, so that should show you most if not all options out there.
As you've already probably found, if it must be automatic transmission, that rules out some options when it comes to 4 down towing. Since you don't want a pickup or SUV and need good mileage, that rules out a bunch of options many people on here like as well (Honda CRV, various Jeeps, etc). You still have some options, though.
Given that you want good fuel mileage, and automatic tranny, I'm going to shamelessly 'plug' for the toad vehicle we have, and highly recommend you look into it or something like it: One of Ford's hybrid vehicles, the Ford Fusion Hybrid or Cmax hybrid.
The mileage is just about unbeatable, and its one of the most simple and easy automatics to tow 4 down. No need to disconnect battery or fuses, no crazy procedure requiring you to start and run the engine every few hours like many automatic tranny vehicles do...None of that. Just hitch it up, throw it in neutral and go. Can tow up to 70 mph no problems. And, its really cool to have when camping, since it can run completely silent in electric vehicle mode at slow speeds.
The kind of everyday use you describe, long commute through city traffic, is also a very good reason to consider a hybrid - City commuting is where a hybrid really 'shines' and does really, really good on fuel mileage. You'd probably average around 48-50 mpg in everyday commuting with it like I do, if not better. You should definitely look into one.
Thanks. I have been running with only the fuse and didn't have any problems but only for short trips. Will add the diode.
..Or, you could get This more simple toad charge system, which will take care of all of it for you (fuse and diode), in a less expensive package than the one you mentioned previously.
I use a simple charge wire with a fuse, no diode. Been thinking about adding a diode for the reasons already mentioned. If I do, I'll probably just put in the RVi unit noted above. Not a bad deal for only $50.
....I do think the tire warranty is a good deal. I just read another post where someone purchased 8 new Michelins for $700.00 each and he had the rims. Planning a trip to AK I feel this would be a good policy for $899.00.
Possibly. The key is, read ALL the fine print to it, and make sure you understand exactly what is and is NOT covered. Frequently they have all kinds of verbiage in those contracts to weasel out of paying, or to limit how much they'll pay.
Yes, a trip to Alaska could be brutal on tires, and just two tire replacements and you'd be $$ ahead with that tire warranty. That is, assuming there isn't an exclusion for tires used on rough roads like found in Alaska, or some other 'weasel words' in the contract that make them only have to pay a small part of your tire expenses in some circumstances.
Like I said, you just need to understand exactly what you're getting, and what you're not getting.
..Agree with previous posts. Generally speaking, extended service contracts are a huge profit generator for dealers, and usually best to pass on them.
Look at it this way: Extended contracts, are like a gamble. You're gambling that there'll be enough COVERED repairs to where you'll save more than you spend on the contract. They (the ones that make all the rules, write the fine print, etc.) are gambling that any repairs needed will NOT be covered, or won't happen until after the contract expires. Hehe, guess who wins that gamble frequently enough to turn a large profit selling those contracts? Not you. :)
There'll always be a few here that will tell you that a service contract is a good idea, and will explain how having one saved them a bunch of $$ on repairs. I consider those folks as having done the equivalent of winning the lottery, they're the lucky ones. For every one that saves a bunch by having an extended service contract, there's many, many others that just lost a bunch of $$ on them. If that were not the case, they would not be selling those contracts. Are you feeling lucky? :)
Like already said, get a roadside service deal with Good Sam or CoachNet or whatever, and put that $$ aside in a savings account or whatever that you would spend on the service contract. 9 times out of 10 you'll be $$ ahead that way in the long run.
Hehe, when we bought our MH and were signing all the papers, finance guy did same thing you're talking about - pitched several different service contracts at us. After I passed on every one, he said at one point, "Ah, man, you're killing me!" IMO, that kinda said it all, about what those contracts are really about - Dealer profit. :)
I did this also to our MH last Spring. Like mguay and a few others mentioned, I went with the 15' length of 5050 SMD waterproof lights. Can be had on Amazon and other places online for around $20. Do NOT buy them from Camping World - They sell exact same lights at a RIDICULOUS mark-up, around $70 IIRC.
I also installed ours directly underneath the awning roller, up against the coach like others mentioned. There was a channel along there under the awning roller that seemed like it was made just for this light strip, worked perfectly. Was also enough cavity inside the awning arm to snake the wire for it down through there, and have it come out right at the bottom of the arm. To hook it up, I just pull the wire out from the storage bin, connect it to the connector at the bottom of the awning arm, and use the remote to turn it on/off. I had to buy an extra length of the wire and some connectors to do this, but it worked out great.
Have some adhesive caulk of some kind handy, and plan on using it at the ends of the light strip. The 3M adhesive the light strip comes with is good and holds well, but the ends WILL peel off shortly after you put it on. A small dab of adhesive caulk on each end solved that.
Provides great light outside, and is totally adjustable - Can make it one of several different colors, fade it in or out, make it as bright or dim as you want, etc. DW always used to like putting 'tacky lights' on the manual awning we had with the TT, but we did not want to do that with the power awning on the MH. These lights are what we did, instead. Highly recommend this, if you want some more light outside, but don't want to fool with having to constantly attach and remove lights from the awning roller.
Oh, one other really nice thing about using LED lights like this: They do not attract mosquitos and other flying critters, like conventional lights do. :)
So sorry to hear you were forced to go that route. :(
Being left with a loan to pay off, trashed credit rating, and no RV....Man, thats horrible. Glad to hear you got the loan down to 50 cents on the dollar, even though still sounds like you're on the hook to them for several thousand.
Anyway, like you said, your credit rating will go back up with time. Just chalk it up as one of those expensive life lessons, learn from it and move on.
I can think of much worse, much more expensive life lessons some folks have had to learn the hard way. :)
Traveling for business next month to Ft Mill SC. Googled and not too many CGs around the area. Ebenzer park came up which is only a few miles out of town. Full hookups and $28/day. Anyone stay there or know of another good CG. I saw a KOA near Charlotte but they can be hit or miss.
You'll be in our neck of the woods, Effy, we live not far from there. :)
Well, Ebenezer is a small park right on the Lake. Not a bad place, price is very reasonable, and is one of the only state (or may be county, can't remember) parks around that has full hookups. Bad thing is, you can't make reservations there, its first come first served. Lots of locals camp there, making it sometimes tough to get a spot depending on when you come in. Probably not the best choice if you're traveling from out of town, since you can't make reservations.
the KOA near Charlotte is OK, but I like the campground at Carowinds better, Camp Wilderness. Its just a mile or two further up the interstate (north) from the KOA, and IMO a nicer campground.
One other option, if you just want a quick, simple, no-frills, economical place to stay when working, check out Field Ridge Acres. Not a whole lot to it, but price is very reasonable, very accessible to the interstate. Road noise may be an issue there, though.
FYI, you probably should have posted this in the 'Campgrounds, RV resorts..' forum instead of Class A forum. Moderator may move it for you.
Feel free to PM me, Effy, if you want any other specific info about the area. :)
One thing he will know in the end, with as much of a job as that 454 engine has to do, he would be way ahead of the game just replacing the engine with new, than trying to patch what he has up.
Now if he did like Dave & went the 502 route, he would probably be one happy camper afterwards.
Haha, its always easy to recommend the most expensive route (crate motor), when its not your $$ being spent.
I wonder how many would see this issue quite a bit differently than posted here, if the cost for the repair (or replacement) was coming out of THEIR wallet. :)
Price often reflects quality in most everything we purchase.
..Or in some cases, higher pricing goes to pay for huge overheard, marketing, advertising, etc. In that case, spending more $$ doesn't necessarily mean you get a better product or better quality. You're paying in that case for having the most popular, well known product, not necessarily the better one. :)
NSA's Readybrake vs the more well known and marketed brands for braking systems (Blue Ox Patriot, Brakebuddy, SMI, US Gear, etc.) is a good example of that, IMO.
The big advantage a fifth wheel has over a bumper pull TT is simply physics. The pin sits directly over the pivot point of the truck, so there is zero "moment arm" magnifying the force of wind gusts. This makes the fifth wheel tow like a dream compared to a TT.
Yes, I know all about Hensley hitches, WDH's, etc. but they are all various and sundry ways to try to handle the physics that are working against the TT.
..You say you know about Hensley hitches, etc., but your statement after that suggests you do not.
A Hensley (or ProPride) does not 'handle the physics' as you suggest, its more like it changes the physics altogether.
You're talking about anti-sway devices (Dual cam, friction bars, Equalizer, etc). Entirely different animal from high end hitches like Hensley, ProPride or Pullrite.
The Hensley actually changes the physics of a TT and makes it nearly the same if not better than a 5er. Pivot point is projected forward close to rear axle, so it handles just like a 5er. Sooo, you get the towing physics similar to a 5er, but with a trailer that typically has a lower center of gravity (not as tall). Soo, actually, truth be told, a TT with a Hensley tows every bit as well as a 5th wheel, if not better due to lower center of gravity. Doesn't really cost anymore overall, either, when you consider the fact that 5ers typically cost several thousand more than a comparable TT.
Bottom line: With high end hitches like Hensley, ProPride, and Pullrite, towing stability is no longer a factor between the two. Either can tow solid as a rock now. The decision comes down to all the other factors already mentioned (floorplan, storage, use of pickup bed space, truck choice, etc).
We use the Brake Buddy Vantage and it has worked well for us. We did not want a system that is installed in the car because there is a cost to do that. When you trade cars there is also a cost to remove it and reinstall in your new vehicle.
Yes, I considered that too when we were comparing the various systems.
Readybrake does have to be installed, and there is a cost to that. Fortunately with Readybrake, its a very simple, non-intrusive installation - simply a cable routed from brake pedal, through firewall and out to your front bumper. Thats it. Many folks do it themselves, or any good mechanic can do it pretty easily.
Keep in mind, also, that you're going to have to do a similar install on ANY system, including your Brake buddy, if you have a break-away of any kind. For almost any breakaway system, you're still going to have to run a wire from the brake buddy (or whatever) out to the front bumper.
Keep in mind when it comes to cost as well, that a Brake buddy or other 'box' type system costs $1000 or more. Readybrake cost almost ZERO when you get the Readbrute Elite package (tow bar and brake system for almost same price as just towbar from anyone else).
Given that savings of $1000 or more up front... You can pay a mechanic to install Readybrake in a lot of vehicles over the years, and STILL be significatly ahead $$ wise from what it would cost for a system like the Brakebuddy. If you're doing the installs yourself (which in many cases is possible), the savings is even more significant.
I have found Brake Buddy great to work with even when it is out of warranty. Mine is almost three years and we developed a problem. I called and they had me send it to them. They returned it totally gone trough and tested with no charge for parts, labor or anything including shipping. They had it back to me in exactly 7 days from the day that I sent it to them.
Yeah, I've read of folks getting good service like that on Brake Buddy. Thats great they do that, other companies should learn from that.
However, I'd still prefer having a unit I can repair myself in 5 minutes with parts I find at any hardware store. That sure beats having to ship old one out, and wait 7 days for manufacturer to send a new one. :)
First off, you can get a break-away system for much less than $200 to $400 like you just mentioned. Readybrake's Readystop breakaway system, which will work with just about ANY vehicle or setup, is around $100.
I must say, though, your solution does sound interesting, and you've definitely done your homework with this very well. Kudos to you for that. My only concern with this, that may or may not be a concern, depending on how your Jeep truly is designed:
Break-away systems are designed to brake ALL FOUR wheels via the regular brakes. Not just the rear brakes like an emergency brake does. Engaging just the rear brakes at highway speed, in an unmanned vehicle....Well, that just seems like even MORE of a recipe for a huge disaster, even more so than if all 4 wheels were being braked. Much higher chances of it spinning and going who knows where, I would think.
Mowermech does make a good point, that the results of a break-away incident are not going to be pretty regardless, but I'd still want all 4 wheels to be braked in this case.
I know you said that your Jeep's emergency brake engages all 4 disc brakes. If that is true, then your solution should be OK (as long as you wire it right).
However, I would make absolutely 100% sure that it works that way (braking all 4 wheels) before going forward with this. Some comments previously about emergency brakes supposedly only braking the back wheels, makes me wonder if your Jeep's emergency brake does truly brake all 4 wheels.
Both of the systems you cite are "Box in the driver's seat" systems, These must be installed (By you) EVERY TIME you tow, the odds of a mistake go up with each install.. The odds also go up with time on an "Oh, I'm only going a short distance, I'll just forget it this one time" and later wishing you'd not forgotten it.
I much prefer an INSTALLED system.. These systems include in no particular order.
M&G (for motor homes with air brakes IF it will fit your towed)
Air Force One
Long list of others.
I have other issues with the box in the driver's seat too.. If you use one consider adding a towed-charge system to your consist. This helps to prevent towed battery run down.. Now I know folks who say they have towed 2 or 3 thousand miles without unhooking using one of these systems and no dead battery on towed... I believe them.. I also believe the ones who say they have towed 2 or 3 HUNDRED miles and the towed was dead. And I know why, (older battery). but, hey.. Why risk it.
Hookup with the US-Gear Decelerator is like 2 seconds. Same for the M&G and Ready Brake, not sure on Air Force one but guessing it's the same, Invisible brake is zero seconds.. YES, zero.. Believe it or not. (It is not called Invisible for nothing) all you do is plug in your tow lights.
Think about this.
wa8yxm makes some excellent points. I too am not a fan of any of the 'box in the drivers seat' type systems, for the reasons he alluded to here.
And, one other reason: Systems like that, and really ANY electronically controlled system, come with one huge risk: Electronics can fail, and cause it to over-break your toad. This can (and has) resulted in very expensive damage to toad vehicle brakes. Because of the 'nature of the beast' of towing such a small vehicle with such a large one, major damage could be done to the toad brakes before you'd ever know there was a problem.
With the ReadyBrake system, once its initially set up and installed correctly, it is darn near IMPOSSIBLE for toad over-braking to ever happen.
That, and one great thing about a simple, cable-operated system: You can visually inspect it for wear, and replace most parts easily for less than $20 from a local hardware store. Can't really check electronic components for wear, they just quit without warning. Not going to replace their parts quite as easily, either.
Does anyone know of any good deals on the ReadyBrute elite tow bar?
HitchSource.com is where I've bought most of my towing related hardware, and they've always been great to deal with.
That price they have for the ReadyBrute elite, $1050, won't last long. You better act quick if thats what you want. NSA recently increased their pricing, pretty soon everyone like hitchsource selling their products will as well..
Although, even with NSA's increased price, the Readybrute elite combination is STILL much, much less $$ (nearly $1k less) than any other tow bar and braking system you can get.
Brake Buddy is simple, portable, and expensive. From 12 years experience, I would look hard at the Ready Brake.
Ready Brake looks even simpler, inexpensive and just as portable.
But, I would not want a brake activation cable loop permanently sticking out on the front end of my daily drivers.
I do have a brake buddy activation connection hanging, but it is visually covered by my license plate.
Well, like your brake buddy activation connection, the Readybrake activation cable loop can be covered. There are a few ways to do that.
When anyone asks me what the cable loop is, though, I just tell them thats what I use to hitch the car behind the MH. Then, just watch the strange looks on their face. ;)
Neither. Do yourself a favor, save yourself a ton of $$ and headaches later on, and get you a ReadyBrake.
Costs less than half, no electronics to foul up and damage your brakes, nothing to have to put in and take out each time you tow. Just can't beat it, IMO.
On Edit: Haha, I see Dave beat me to it on this subject, by 'bout one minute. :)
The wireless lights cost $100.00 on sale. You can find them on e-bay and at many automotive shops. Cheap - no but only about the same cost as the Blue Ox bulb kit.
Each light takes 4 AA size rechargables. A charge is good for a couple of days. I got a recharger (Energizer) and 8 batteries on sale at Walmart for $19.99. So -- no big deal. I plan to buy 8 more rechargable batteries when I see them on sale next and then I will always have a set charged and ready to go.
Thanks for the clarification. Yes, I've seen those. Definitely something to be said for the simplicity of it, and not having to route any wires to them.
As I alluded to in my previous post, if they'd make a set of these that you could just connect directly to 12V power on your toad and forget completely about batteries, I could have been tempted. I do not want anything else that uses batteries, though. Already got waaaay too many things to deal with that require batteries. :)
Hmmm, those things take 4 AA batteries...Wonder if it needs 12 volts and gets that by connecting those 4 1.5V AA batteries all in series? If that was the case, you might could just hard-wire them up to 12V power from the toad like I said, and forget about batteries?
Of course, if you're wiring up to 12V on the toad, you might as well just run the 4 wires from the front and use the cheaper wired magnetic lights, haha.
Instead of mounting the magnetic lights outside your vehicle, on your trunk lid, stand the lights up on the upholstered deck between the back seat and the rear window. That way they are safe inside the car.
Use a strip of velcro on the bottom of the lights and this will keep them from tipping over. The velcro will stick to the upholstered deck material.
The lights are perfectly visible from behind and in addition your toads brake lights still work as well. No hacking into your cars electric system, no pesky wires to run that might damage your paint, really no downside at all.
Yes, this is exactly what I did with our Ford Fusion (after learning the hard way about wires on the outside, haha). Works great.
I'm curious about the wireless magnetic tow lights you're talking about? Only thing I've seen like that are the wireless light bars that cost a fortune, and have batteries you'd have to recharge after every trip. Would be cool if they'd make a set that you could just plug or wire into 12V with your vehicle, so you wouldn't have to deal with batteries.
Yeah...with my magnetic lights, one of them did fall off (into the bed of the pickup)first or second time using them.
I figured it out. 2 things:
1- make sure the surface where you mount them is FLAT. NO curves or radius.
2- WIPE BOTH surfaces with your hands...ANY kind of dirt will affect the security of the mounting.
After doing this...never had a problem. FWIW.
..One more thing to add to this, concerning magnetic lights:
3- NEVER, EVER run the wires going to the magnetic lights across any painted surface (hood, roof, side, etc) of your toad!! At speed, the wire will vibrate, resulting in bad scratches in the paint (don't ask me how I know this, haha). Run the wires underneath, through inside, under the hood, whatever. Just NOT across any painted surface.
I made this mistake exactly ONCE. After 3 detailing jobs including 'wet sanding' procedures...The scratches are finally gone.