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SpiderJ

Bike Carrier / Tow Bar For S-Max

13 posts in this topic

I recently purchased a nearly new 2012 S-Max Titanium, for long family journeys abroad, as well as for our camping trips.

When camping we often have enough gear to warrant a roof rack, but this year I also wanted to start taking mine and my kids bikes along with, too.

Having done some research it appears that the rear door of the S-Max is a composite material that isn't strong enough to hold a rear bike carrier safely (especially when laden with 3-4 bikes). Is this correct?


If so, then I've started to look at getting a tow bar fitted and a bike carrier attached to the tow bar. This is my first experience with tow bars and bike carriers, so some advice would be welcome:

  1. My local Ford dealer said they don't supply either, so is there a recommended tow-bar fitter in/near North London?
  2. Some of the tow-bar sites I have read say that they would need to cut into my rear bumper in order to fit it. Is this going to compromise the safety of the bumper and/or my warranty?
  3. Are all tow bars alike? Or is there a recommended brand? I'd prefer to get one that can be removed when not-needed, both to reduce the likelihood of damage while parking, and to stop it interfering with the rear parking sensors
  4. It seems like the whole wiring thing is horribly confusing and a bit of a kludge. Is there a simple solution to what kind of wiring I would need and a way to ensure that its not going to screw up the electrics of the car? I merely want to be able to put a bike carrier on - I have no intention or desire to hook up a caravan or trailer, etc.

thanks

S

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You don't need a towbar. The Halfords high-lift bike carrier is fine on an smax. I have it on mine and there are at least 10 other owners on the smax owners club forum who have the same.

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Thanks. I'll be honest - I'm a bit surprised. I spoke to Ford and they confirmed that the rear door isn't strong enough to support a bike carrier on it, and Halfords themselves list the smax as a vehicle that they don't support for their bike carriers. How many bikes are you able to carry on it? S

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The shape of the SMAX and the location of the main bumper bar means that it is a possibility that if they cannot get a strong enough tow bar with a long enough stem, that there may be a small amount of cutting required on the bumper.

I see no reason why this should affect your warranty, however any cuts to the bumper would affect its integrity.

I would advise that you should contact ford and get their advice on a tow bar, if they fit them, ask them if a third party fitment would affect your warranty. It may affect some parts if your seen to use a "third party" tow bar that may "compromise" the vehicles behavior, but as always its best to get in writing such things from Ford Customer Services....

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Yes we all know what the *official* lines are on bike racks, but as I say there are a lot of us who carry them no issue at all.

I have 3 bikes in my family, other have 4.

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Thanks for all the feedback - all very interesting, although seems a bit conflicting, too.

Jeebo advocates talking to Ford for their official line on towbars (having spoken to my local Ford dealership, they said that going to a reputable tow-bar installer won't invalidate the warranty and cutting the bumper is fine, too), while Feet says to ignore the official line :)

Feet - any particular reason why that carrier? In your opinion would any rear carrier fit?

cheers

S

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Im one who says that if I have something in writing, I can argue the toss at a later time if I have the proof. Then if it ever comes up in question...

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I have only tried the high lift carrier. As I say over on the smax owners club website forum they all recommend the same carrier. I happened to have it because it is the one I used on my old Zafira - but works perfectly on the S-max.

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Just had Indespension fit a tow bar for £200 with no visible cut to the bumper. It works fine with my Mottez four bike carrier. The one thing to recommend is to have it removed before you sell the car - as the webuyanycar etc. will try to knock about £700 off the value of the car as 'it could have been towing something'...

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I have a removable towbar fitted to my 2008 smax titanium since 2010. I use it to carry 3 bikes or more. I also use it to tow my gardening trailer. It has a lifetime warranty. I used Towbar Technix tel 01202 661646 or 07764347990 give them a call for advice I found them very helpful.

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I would never buy a car that's had a towbar fitted - as you cannot be sure what it's been used to tow.

Just bear this in mind before fitting a towbar purely to allow fitment of a bike carrier -it DOES affect resale value (negatively).

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as regards cutting the bumper - this is a cosmetic cover and has no structural purpose at all - the Ford twobars required the bumper to be cut (not a visual location). remember the Titanium X is a no go at all for towbars because of the rear bumper. OF course having a towbar and necessary electrics fitted and the software update is around £400 minimum

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Gents, be careful when cutting the rear bumper. As a chartered Mechanical engineer I can confirm that your rear bumper might not be a structural element in chassis loading but it is definitely a crash worthiness element in the event of a collision. The rear bumper is designed as an energy absorption module to take the force from collisions and any change to this will affect the vehicle integrity, I would definitely not recommend cutting any bumper on modern cars.

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