Friday, July 05, 2013

Blue Ox Baseplate Install Issues


Wesley Chapel, Florida 

As I mentioned in a previous post, we had a problem with one of the base plates on the truck coming loose. We tow our Nissan truck behind the motor home.  Base plates are installed onto the front of the tow car to connect with the Blue Ox tow bar, which is attached to the motor home.  It’s critical everything is connected and mounted properly.

When we were getting ready to leave Georgia, Al noticed one of the brackets mounted on the truck appeared to be loose.  Upon checking, he found a problem with two of the three bolts on the drivers side.  One was broken off, and one one was stripped so that it couldn’t be tightened.

We had the original face plates put on last August, at a place nearby in Clearwater, called  Rentz Trailer Hitches.   We had some issues with them, but ended up getting everything resolved and we were happy.  You can read about that here.  There was some sloppy work to be dealt with.

One of the problems was the owner was rude to us when we wanted some problems resolved.  I don’t like spending thousands and getting rude treatment just because I want the job done right.  They had a new tech working there and he was making mistakes.   When Tony, the shop manager got involved things improved.

Anyway, we have been traveling all this time thinking everything was okay.  Al checked the brackets and tow bar occasionally and all appeared to be fine until last week.

When we got back to Florida, we called Rentz to tell them about our problem and make an appointment to bring the Nissan in to have the base plate fixed.  Al was told by the owners son, that they no longer took appointments and it was first come, first serve. That’s nice in theory, but what if the technicians haven’t finished their work from the day before?  You could arrive first thing in the morning and have to wait all day while they finish up.   We chose not to do that, because it’s a long drive over there with no guarantee that anyone would be able to look at your vehicle. They also didn’t seem to be too concerned about our problem.

We decided to go to Rv Medic here in Tampa to have the work done.  They are where we should have had the work done in the first place.  In order to get at these bolts, the entire front bumper cover had to be removed.  Vaughn, the mechanic showed us what the problem was after he got it all torn down.

Apparently,  these bolts were put on without using “RED Lock tight.” They became loose, which was what caused them to eventually break.  Vaughn said in the instructions from Blue Ox, clearly state that RED Lock tight must be used on these bolts.  

Vaughn showed us the bolts and there was NO lock tight used at all.  Apparently, it would still be visible on the bolts.

Vaughn wanted to check the bolts on the other side as well and he found a broken bolt there as well and one that would break when he tried to remove it.   No Lock Tight there either!

$400 later,  we left with the problems resolved. Vaughn was very thorough and we trusted his work.  Sure wish we had used him in the first place!

Vaughn saved the bolts for us and they wrote up exactly what they did and the problems that were  found.  It was his opinion that not using Lock Tight was the cause of the entire problem.

My guess is the new technician at Rentz never read the instructions for the Blue Ox faceplate install and no one ever checked his work.

We are going to contact Rentz on Monday, but from our past dealings with the owner, we aren’t expecting much.  We will try to deal with the shop foreman Tony if we can.  

We feel they should cover the entire cost to repair their error, but we’re not too optimistic.  Now that it’s over, I’m glad we didn’t bring it to them.  I have no confidence in their work at this point.

If we don’t get any satisfaction from them, we will be spreading this story out all over the RV world and internet.  We will also be making a call to Blue Ox, since they were on their website of recommended shops. 

We can cover the $400.  That’s not the most important thing. The main issue, is that our lives (and others) were put at risk because they didn’t read the manual.  (RTFM is one of my favorite sayings).

Our recommendation to everyone that tows a vehicle behind your motor home is to check all the brackets before each trip.   Check tow bar itself and then also check the face plate brackets. 

We’ll see what happens when we call Rentz on Monday, but in the meantime….just in case, any recommendations of where to spread our story?

Stay tuned to part two!


  1. small claims court. . .it's easy. . .AND you will get satisfaction. . .as a matter of fact. . .just filing the claim and having it served will probably get you your $400 back without even having to deal with them again. . .I highly recommend it! Good luck. . .I hate paying for sloppiness. . .

    1. thanks Janice. Good idea. Hope it doesn't come to that.

  2. Good luck with your claim!
    Sure hate when sloppy work is done especially when you pay big bucks for it.

  3. Well, that is a great thing about RV blogging. Everyone will know where to go and where NOT to go. Interesting.

  4. You mentioned, more than once that, you have should have gone to RV Medic initially.

    Just wondering, why didn’t you. Didn’t know about them? Trying to save a buck?

    I do appreciate your comments. When you spend that kind of money you have every right to expect that the job would be done properly.

    1. No, we were not trying to save a buck. The prices for the job were about the same everywhere we looked. Al did call Rv Medic, but the guy he was talking to kind of scared us away because he was wishy washy about the estimate. He kept coming up with different figures and the price kept changing. Now that we know them a little better, I think he was just trying to set our expectations for what might possibly happen. Also, they weren't going to be able to get the drive shaft disconnect for 3 months.

  5. We also use the Blue Ox base plate. After having them inspected every year, at year six they found one bolt busted, probably due to repeated loads and sudden stops. It sure is important to check them at least annually.

    We know one couple that had their base plate (Blue Ox) pull out from under the car and ended up in the middle of the road. Luckily the brake buddy did its thing and no one was hurt.

  6. Good luck with this, I see a fight ahead. Hope everything goes in your favor.

    The important thing is now you know it is fixed right, peace of mind when traveling.

  7. Although we don't tow 4 down, thanks for the warning about this pretty unethical business. Allowing an only partially trained mechanic to work on something this important shows no concern at all for your customers or your reputation. I hope you do take them to court AND please file a complaint with Better Business and with the Car Talk guys on line about where NOT to take your vehicle.

  8. Report report report. Best thing to do is get the word out. Who knows how many other people have been hosed by these dough heads?
    Just makes you want to spit!
    ANYONE can read the manual, what's so hard about that? Too embarrassed? Didn't go to school? If there's not enough schooling, I don't want you working on my vehicle.
    Hope you get satisfaction.

  9. July 6, 2013

    Hi we purchased our Demco tow bar and base plates from RV Medic. They installed the base plates in early 2008 and have towed over 35,00 miles with no problems. The routes including up and down roads greater than 8,560 feet in altitude. Now the end of last month we retired the HHR for a newer Enclave and will have new base plates installed here in Texas at Texas RV Products.

    We chose RV Medic over Camping World there in Tampa area for our installation.

  10. I sure hope Blue Ox pulls their products from that shabby installer Rentz Trailer Hitches. Places like that gives a good product a bad name.
    Congrats to Al for having a sharp eye to catch the problem before a terrible accident would have happened.

  11. As for reporting about Rentz Trailer Hitches, this blog is as good a place as any to start. I doubt many folks reading this will ever go there.

  12. I'm going to be having a Blue Ox installed soon and appreciate the heads up.

  13. The worst thing, in my opinion, is that this is a SAFETY issue. A bad accident could have happened and people could have been killed. Blue Ox absolutely should be pulling their product from this business. Good luck talking to these people, I hope they realize how shoddy their work was, apologize, and give you a refund. :)

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