Towing eyes

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Jonathan.
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Towing eyes

Post by Jonathan. »

Like many others, I’ve been in the habit of using my car’s towing eye to attach the bow of boats on my car roof. I think of it as insurance - should either roof rack or straps fail, then the extra tie still stops boats flying off and through another car’s windscreen.

Now, however, I’m having second thoughts. From what I gather, car bumpers are designed to crumple on impact reducing their deadliness in a crash. But when a towing eye is rigidly protruding from the chassis it’s hard to see that safety feature continuing to work. Instead, the jutting out steelwork must represent an extra danger both to other cars and - worse still - to pedestrians.

Not sure there’s an easy answer but I’d value others’ thoughts.
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dorsetyeti
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Re: Towing eyes

Post by dorsetyeti »

Depending on the model of car I have found a good solution is to open the bonnet of the car and use one of the bolts that holds the wing on to attach a loop of webbing with a d ring on it inside the bonnet when I want use it I open the bonnet flip it out use it to tie down the boat and when finished put it back under the bonnet again out of the way, I have a loop both sides of the bonnet to use
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Mrstratos61
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Re: Towing eyes

Post by Mrstratos61 »

I do as above. Thinking about it though why have them in motor racing as a requirement if they're dangerous?

neonbowhawk
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Re: Towing eyes

Post by neonbowhawk »

In a big ( say anything over 30 mph )accident with another vehicle it wont make much difference, as the main crumple zones are in the chassis, and they will still work. The plastic bumpers etc dont do much to absorb any impact energy against something large really and many vehicles still have a large metal cross member close behind that anyway.

The main danger is to predestrians in very low speed impacts then, something you would usually walk away from. In that case I suppose it could increase the likelyhood of serious injury than otherwise would happen.
Anything other than a very low speed impact would most likely result in serious injury anyway. If you are being flung down the road after being struck by a car getting hit on the leg by a towing eye is the least of your worries.

The main downside is probably banging yourself on it when walking around the vehicle like when roofbars stick out too far or on a tow bar.

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Northern Blue
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Re: Towing eyes

Post by Northern Blue »

I agree with the previous comments, in a collision with another vehicle, it won’t matter much. If you’re a decent driver, the chances of hitting a pedestrian are pretty remote and if your luck did run out, the chances of the towing eye hitting them are lower again.

I don’t have a front towing eye on the passenger side of my camper, so I fitted a Motamec strap to the front cross member and have it held up with small diameter elastic rope. I tie the kayak ropes through the strap.


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Mac50L
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Re: Towing eyes

Post by Mac50L »

Jonathan. wrote:
Fri Aug 16, 2019 9:28 pm
Like many others, I’ve been in the habit of using my car’s towing eye to attach the bow of boats on my car roof.
Yes, exactly what I recommend.
Now, however, I’m having second thoughts. From what I gather, car bumpers are designed to crumple on impact reducing their deadliness in a crash. But when a towing eye is rigidly protruding from the chassis it’s hard to see that safety feature continuing to work.
I presume you mean those that are put there by the vehicle manufacturer? They are certainly the ones I use so vehicle safety authorities must think they are OK to have on the vehicle. So what is the question?

The alternative as also mentioned is straps to bolts in the bonnet gutter. Our local shop sells them and here is what they look like -
https://canterburyseakayak.wordpress.co ... a-vehicle/

charleston14
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Re: Towing eyes

Post by charleston14 »

Probably the biggest single factor you’re in control of , to yours and everyone else’s safety, is how you drive.

Falling back to maintain a gap, not excessive speed, cornering a little slower due to the lateral windage on your kayak etc etc

Bumpers, crumpling zones ...it’s all a last resort. It’s already gone badly wrong.

Surely how you drive is a bigger safety factor than whether you use a towing eye or a bonnet loop, I’d suggest focusing on how you drive over and above this or that tethering system.

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Robert Craig
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Re: Towing eyes

Post by Robert Craig »

Mac50L wrote:
Sat Aug 17, 2019 8:18 am
.... so vehicle safety authorities must think they are OK to have on the vehicle. So what is the question? ....
I've always assumed that these towing eyes are made removeable for a good reason - ie they are OK for brief periods towing, but not as a permanent feature - ... but tht's just an assumption.

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Jim
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Re: Towing eyes

Post by Jim »

Thread in towing eye is designed to tow the weight of the car as an axial load on the thread, putting a much lower shear load on the shank will be absolutely no problem at all, especially since many people choose to take the same kind of load as an axial load on the much smaller thread of a sheet metal screw that holds the wing on.

If you crash into something or someone it might cause a concentrated load on your cross member where it would otherwise have been distributed, but if you hit something small/sharp like a tow ball or lamp post you are going to get a concentrated load from that anyway. Personally I unscrew mine any time I don't have a long load actually tied to it, it can be quite hard to track down a replacement if it gets stolen...

CM2
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Re: Towing eyes

Post by CM2 »

I am fairly sure when I got my roof rack it said that long loads (like kayaks) must be tied down to prevent windage and lift putting excess stress on the attachment of the roofrack to the car. On my car it would be difficult to use anything other than the towing eyes.

As others have said the front towing eye create a risk of more severe injuries in the (hopefully) unlikely event of hitting a pedestrian, when travelling with my kayak I think it is safer to tie down my kayak to the towing eyes but when I don't have the kayak on the roof I remove the towing eye.

Mac50L
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Re: Towing eyes

Post by Mac50L »

Robert Craig wrote:
Sun Aug 18, 2019 4:18 pm
I've always assumed that these towing eyes are made removable for a good reason - i.e. they are OK for brief periods towing, but not as a permanent feature - ... but that's just an assumption.
"assumption."

I've never ever seen anyone ever remove and refit those eyes. Have you done it? What type/make of vehicle?

My van, Ford Econovan, eyes welded to brackets which are bolted (2 bolts per bracket) to the chassis. The car has them welded on as far as I can see. So, do you have a welder at home for fitting and removal? Incidentally there is chassis ahead of the towing eyes on both vehicles.

"assumption" - check first.

andynormancx
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Re: Towing eyes

Post by andynormancx »

You are talking about two different things.

One of you is talking about the tie down loops under the body work that are there to stop vehicles moving about when they are being shipped (and on some vehicles at least are not designed for towing the vehicle with). The other one is talking about the towing eyes that are screwed into a hole in the bumper when you need to tow a car (or more likely nowadays winch it onto a breakdown truck).

Very different things...

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Robert Craig
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Re: Towing eyes

Post by Robert Craig »

My own car has welded-on loops at both ends. The front one wouldn't work as a tie-down point for the car, as there is bits of bumper in the way, so I guess it's for towing. Both are buried well out of hazard way. I've worked with other cars with screw-in eyes, which stick out the front substatially when screwed in. At least one had a left-handed thread, though I don't understand why. Yes, we screwed it in for towing, and took it out after.

I use mine when I'm carrying a Canadian, but not for a sea kayak.

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Re: Towing eyes

Post by Ken_T »

As I understand it if your car has screw in towing eyes that protrude past the bodywork they should be removed when not in use, to protect pedestrians in very low speed inpacts such as when the car is parked & someone has to cross the road between parked vehicles or when walking round a car park.
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Mac50L
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Re: Towing eyes

Post by Mac50L »

andynormancx wrote:
Mon Aug 19, 2019 7:41 am
You are talking about two different things.

One of you is talking about the tie down loops under the body work that are there to stop vehicles moving about when they are being shipped (and on some vehicles at least are not designed for towing the vehicle with). The other one is talking about the towing eyes that are screwed into a hole in the bumper when you need to tow a car (or more likely nowadays winch it onto a breakdown truck).

Very different things...
Well actually yes and no. Both our vehicles have only hold-down/towing eyes. The van is 2000 and the Sabaru is 2013. Neither have any place for a screw-in eye.

So the answer is - it depends on the make and model.

If all vehicles have hold-down loops, why not use them?

And as pointed out, webbing loops fastened to bolts in the bonnet gutter is the alternative.

Mac50L
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Re: Towing eyes

Post by Mac50L »

Found! Yes, the Sabaru does have a towing eye position hidden behind a plastic cover. Remove it with a screwdriver. So the question is, why think of using it if hold-down eyes are common, out of harms way and definitely strong enough to hold a few kayaks?

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Re: Towing eyes

Post by andynormancx »

On my Subaru Impreza I use the screw in eye to tie down the front of my sea boat, rather than the under-body ones.

The reason I use the screw in one is that it means you don't have to run the strap over the body work. On all the cars I've ever owned, to secure a boat from the under-body loop, you'd have to stretch and tighten the strap across plastic bumpers. In that situation far prefer strapping to the screw in eye.

I expect on some cars this isn't an issue, but on all our cars the geometry has never worked out to have the strap clear of the body work.

On our Skoda estate we use loops connected to bolts under the bonnet. That only works of the car is long enough though and the bolts are in a sensible place, it would be useless on my Subaru.

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Re: Towing eyes

Post by Sean_soup »

Mac50L wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 12:29 am
..why think of using it if hold-down eyes are common, out of harms way and definitely strong enough to hold a few kayaks?
One possibility is that eyes tucked away underneath the body meant for strapping the vehicle down (or indeed towing with a horizontal rope) aren't in a good position for a strap going up the way instead and the strap is likely to end up bearing heavily on relatively flimsy plastic bits of bodywork.

On the up side though, using them that way could provide a great opportunity to learn some plastic welding skills. ;-)

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Jim
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Re: Towing eyes

Post by Jim »

None of my vehicles have had tie down loops on them, recovery truck crews lash vehicles down by the wheels for transport so I don't think thay are needed are they? My Vectra had a fixed welded on towing eye underneath at the rear (which I have always used to tie my sea kayak down, and yes it does run over the bumper, but it is a 2001 car with 265k miles... and I intend to get it back on the road at some point). The others had positions for screw in eyes front and rear, but on the estate cars I use the cargo lashing points inside for the rear and run the rope out under the tailgate. I did get a second eye for the Peugeot, but the thread in the cross member was rusted/stripped so I never used. Anyone need a towing eye for a 307?

My van had 4 loops underneath, but these were the jacking points, Mercedes supply a bottle jack with the van the base of which is curved and the top (ram end) has a semicircular cup which matches the curve of the jacking point - as far as I can tell the arrangement is designed to ensure the jack doesn't end up transferring to an edge support which would create a wedge effect and fire the jack out from under the van. They are no good for tying the ends down being between the axles. I think the van had a welded eye on the front cross member which poked out under or through the bumper - I never used it, the van was big enough to pop my Taran inside....

Mal Grey
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Re: Towing eyes

Post by Mal Grey »

As others above, I add webbing straps to an under-bonnet bolt where possible, or have in the past tied 6mm cord round things that looked solid so as to avoid being seen to have "altered" the company car. I'm also of the opinion that a towing eye can't help in a bump, though suspect they wouldn't be allowed if they added a real danger to occupants, pedestrians, or other vehicles.

I also have a "pool" car from work at the moment. I've just ordered some of those "trap it under the bonnet" type straps; webbing attached to a solid rubber tube that gets trapped by the bonnet with the straps poking out. I feel that with my 16' open canoe, the main thing the front tie downs do is help protect against side winds causing torque trying to twist the canoe, and as such am happy that the strength should be OK. I use other straps/my lock to prevent forward movement. This is a bit of a test though, ready for a new company car coming soon that doesn't have many options for adding webbing loops to bolts. [I may be unusual in that one of my main things in the car dealer before ordering the car was popping the bonnet and looking for strapping points, checking the height of the solid stumpy aerial to see if it would foul a canoe, and measuring the boot. I did glance at the interior, to see if it would wipe clean easily.]

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Re: Towing eyes

Post by on the rocks »

With good J cradles (not too close together) and straps do you need front and back tie ins?

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Re: Towing eyes

Post by Chris Bolton »

With good J cradles (not too close together) and straps do you need front and back tie ins?
Two reasons. I know of at least 3 people who have had sea kayaks come off due to failure of a roof rack / roof bar fixing or component - end restraints reduce the twist stresses in a side wind so may reduce the risk of failure, and if something does fail they give you a chance to stop before the boat goes onto the road. Secondly, the instructions on my Thule bars say the ends of long loads should be tied. In the event of a boat coming off (rack breakage, strapping error, car being in a collision, etc) it's possible that insurers would decline to pay out if I hadn't followed the instructions.

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jet
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Re: Towing eyes

Post by jet »

My understanding is that an impact with a pedestrian is likely to cause them to flip up and over, striking the bonnet which is designed to collapse under pedestrian impact. Depending on speed and design of car, the pedestrian will continue to flip up and over the top or will be deposited forwards as the car comes to a stop. I would think, the large, pointy, boaty, thing overhanging the bonnet would hurt them more than the towing eye.

That said it is painful when you take the boat off, then bash your shin on the towing eye when you walk round the vehicle.

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Re: Towing eyes

Post by Ken_T »

Hi Jet,
It is concern that a pedestrian crossing between parked cars or in a car park & not expecting a towing eye to be sticking out (they are low down), which could cause a significant bruise or a significan injury to an elderly or infirm person. So I remove them when they are not in use.
Ken

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Re: Towing eyes

Post by Mac50L »

on the rocks wrote:
Wed Aug 28, 2019 9:36 pm
With good J cradles (not too close together) and straps do you need front and back tie ins?
YES. Most definitely.

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Re: Towing eyes

Post by on the rocks »

We have our two kayaks on a Karitec with J cradles on Rhino bars on our T5 which always seems very solid even in gales. We check and re-tighten of necessary the straps soon after start of a journey. Very rarely see people with a similar set up using fore and aft straps, having said that it would be quite easy to set up aft lines onto the tow hook and we will probably do so in future, more problematic for the front. Conversely I've often seen boats strapped to a single upright on roof bars wobbling about and kept a safe distance.

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