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Open Roads Forum  >  Dinghy Towing  >  Vehicles

 > 2015 Ford Focus flat tow damage

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j wackerly

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Posted: 09/13/21 08:16am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

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j wackerly

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Posted: 09/13/21 08:18am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

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j wackerly

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Posted: 09/13/21 08:48am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

You can see on photo # 1 where the weld broke from the unibody . Photo # 2 where the roadmaster baseplate is still bolted to the unibody . It took the hole front of the car off safety chains and all . Good thing I was looking in my mirror when I made that turn from the stop sign when the car came off it wound have more serious ate hwy speed . I been tow this car for all most 5yr . The car was still under warranty and Ford would not do anything . I tried to get a attorney they won't do any thing because no bodily injury.If you tow a Ford Focus this could happen to you . It is like the Ford Pinto they won't do anything till a lot happened.

rdhetrick

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Posted: 09/13/21 09:13am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

That's pretty bad! I'm glad you were moving slowly, that would have been bad if you were on the highway!

Some interesting things I can see in the photos:

Photo 1 - the welds are all still intact to the connection plate.
Photo 2 - The frame tube is where the failure occurred. It looks like there might be some rust at some of the fracture locations, indicating a long term fatigue failure.

This tells me it was probably not a manufacturing defect, rather a design problem. Not necessarily a Ford design problem, just that the member sizes weren't adequate for the added stress of being towed.

On the other hand, Ford states that it CAN be flat towed. I suspect that they didn't have a full grasp of the stresses involved. If memory serves me correctly, 2015 was the first or second year the Focus was flat towable.

Anyway, sorry this happened to you, hopefully others can learn from it. Sure makes me glad I got rid of mine a few years back!


Rob
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j wackerly

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Posted: 09/13/21 11:26am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Ford states on page 185 of my owners manual it can be flat towed . I tow this car for almost 5yr with over 50,000 miles towing . You are right Ford didn't know full grasp of the stresses involved . Don't you think Ford should responsible the design problem . If this happen going down the hwy it could have been a serious accident . The car was still under warranty and Ford would not even look at it . How can we let people know this could to them with a Ford Focus ? Ford customer service would not help me, I tried to to tell them about my problem and sent them photos they hung up on me . I will never buy a Ford again .

rdhetrick

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Posted: 09/13/21 11:53am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I think Ford would be responsible only if the baseplate was designed and supplied by Ford. As an engineer myself, it's hard to predict what an end user might do - that I need to design around. Top be absurd, should Ford design the hood hinge bolts to handle being flat towed if someone wanted to pull the car with suction cups on the hood?!?!

I'm afraid the flat tow "endorsement" from Ford was probably geared towards the transmission only. The actual method of connecting the car was outside their design parameters.

For example, when I installed my Blue Ox baseplate, for each side, I used some existing holes, but I had to drill a big one to get the nuts into the rail. I seriously doubt the existing holes were placed there by Ford for this purpose, I could be wrong though. Certainly, they didn't design for the big hole that had to be drilled.

What would be interesting to know is whether there was any interaction between Ford and Roadmaster (or BlueOx, or any other baseplate manufacturer) when Roadmaster designed the baseplate, or whether Ford provides any design criteria for attaching parts to the vehicle. In addition to the baseplate, I installed a receiver hitch on the back to carry bikes. From what I remember, it used existing holes as well.

I'm in a different industry altogether, so I could be way off base here!

j wackerly

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Posted: 09/13/21 02:43pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I hear what you are saying but I didn't trust Ford to install it . When I installed it with loctite and torque per instructions. Bottom line it looks like if you are going to flat tow a car it should be a full frame or continuous unibody with no stops .

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Posted: 09/14/21 08:19am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Are you leaving the key in the ignition to leave the wheel unlocked?

Those frame extensions look to have been cracked for a while now. Have you had it inspected?

I’m willing to bet the steering wheel has been locked and the MH is pulling/dragging the car around corners which has been fatiguing the metal and this is why it broke loose.

My buddy has a 13 Focus that he has been flat towing since 2017 and it shows no signs of damage.

* This post was edited 09/14/21 08:34am by dodge guy *


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j wackerly

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Posted: 09/15/21 07:43am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The steering was unlocked and car is in neutral with negative battery disconnect. I did everything per Ford instruction . When I make a turn like that I always look in my mirror it see how the car is doing . When I made that turn the wheels were turning and I saw the front of the car come off . I pullover right a way to inspect the damage. I had the car towed to a Ford garage and Ford would not even look at it . I towed that car 50,000 miles i believe the stress on the unibody just gave out . I believe this was a blessing if I was going hwy speed it could have been more serious . This car was a lemon from day one Ford had it in the shop 4 times for transmission and module problem . My insurance totaled the car . I could not gotten that much on a trade . Bottline line if you are going to flat tow make sure it is a full frame or Unibody that is all one piece with no stops and stay away from Ford .

willald

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Posted: 09/15/21 03:03pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

j wackerly wrote:

...... This car was a lemon from day one Ford had it in the shop 4 times for transmission and module problem


transmission and module problems? Any chance one of those times when Ford was doing transmission work on it, they did something wrong that put some stress on those frame pieces that led to this happening? Just a guess.

Or if it was a lemon with lots of issues from day one, that would suggest maybe this was a manufacturing defect of some kind from the beginning on this one particular vehicle, and you were just the unlucky one that got the one that had this defect, among others.

Seems hard to believe this is a design defect with the frame on *all* Ford Focuses, or we'd be seeing about a lot more of these failures.

I've flat towed Ford sedans similar to this for 8 years (a Ford Fusion Hybrid for 5 years, and a Ford Taurus for last 3 years) for many, many miles. Have not had any issues with either of them.


Quote:

...Bottom line if you are going to flat tow make sure it is a full frame or Unibody that is all one piece with no stops and stay away from Ford.


Totally understand your concern with what you went through, and why you personally would never want to buy a Ford again (I probably wouldn't, either). And, I agree that full frame or unibody wiht all one piece around the front would be a safer bet. However, its probably painting with an awfully wide brush to suggest staying away from Ford entirely.


Will and Cheryl
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