Author Topic: Suspension Damage to Towed Fusion  (Read 1660 times)

Bob Bulot

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Suspension Damage to Towed Fusion
« on: July 16, 2019, 03:00:40 PM »
We flat tow a Ford Fusion Energi, using a Blue Ox base plate and tow bar.  The setup has been properly installed, with the tow bar correctly angled down to the baseplate, etc.

Yesterday while driving straight down 101 on a flat level roadway, just north of Yachats, Oregon, we heard a load noise, and pulling over, found that the right front tire and suspension components had been heavily damaged.  It looks like the car hit something in the roadway.  My confusion is that there had been no obstructions or imperfections in the roadway, nor any other apparent explanation for the damage.

My question:  Has anyone else experienced this problem, particularly with the Fusion in tow? Reason I ask is because the car sits quite low to the ground.  I am concerned that some small imperfection in the roadway might be enough to do this kind of damage.

Mike Shumack

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Re: Suspension Damage to Towed Fusion
« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2019, 03:45:56 PM »
What kind of damage? Can you post a picture?
- Mike

'05 Beaver Patriot Thunder 525, Vicksburg, CAT C13, Allison 4000MH, HydraLift
Orlando, FL

Bob Bulot

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Re: Suspension Damage to Towed Fusion
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2019, 04:14:10 PM »
I realize that there will not be an overwhelming number of damaged Fusions out there.  I am just casting about, trying to figure out what happened in my case, where there is no apparent explanation.

Bob Bulot

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Re: Suspension Damage to Towed Fusion
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2019, 04:16:48 PM »
The aluminum lower A Arm is torn away from the frame, the half shaft and cv boot is pulled out of the trans.  There is no corresponding damage to the lower front of the car.

Gerald Farris

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Re: Suspension Damage to Towed Fusion
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2019, 08:18:34 PM »
Bob,
Without inspecting the damaged areas, there is no way to tell what originated the failure. As a retired automotive suspension mechanic, I have seen many failures that were a developing issue over time. Things like a damaged part that was not caught or a loose attaching point that was not addressed until it failed for no apparent reason until you look closely at the failure. A careful inspection will very probably reveal the reason for the failure.

Some cars not have a very heavily built chassis and are more susceptible to road damage than others (all makes of cars). This is a design aspect of the modern car in a quest for better fuel mileage. Before I retired, I saw many efforts to lighten cars from a transmission drum that had holes stamped in it to lighten it by 2 pounds to replacing steel parts with aluminum and using hollow castings instead of solid ones to save weight. The designers even made suspension hubs and brake rotors so light that brake rotors will warp and cause brake pulsation if the lugs nuts are not torqued to the proper specifications.

Gerald 
     
2002 Solitaire (2017 -  )
2000 Marquis, C12 (2004 - 2017)
1993 Patriot  (2000-2004)
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Mike Shumack

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Re: Suspension Damage to Towed Fusion
« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2019, 08:18:44 PM »
There are some reports of problems with the lower control arm and ball joint. Possibly yours started acting up but with no one in the car to notice, you continued to drive (tow it) until a catastrophic failure.

https://static.oemdtc.com/TSB/11-11-03.pdf

https://www.carcomplaints.com/Ford/Fusion/2012/suspension/suspension.shtml

http://www.carproblemzoo.com/ford/fusion/front-suspension-control-arm-problems.php
- Mike

'05 Beaver Patriot Thunder 525, Vicksburg, CAT C13, Allison 4000MH, HydraLift
Orlando, FL

Joel Ashley

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Re: Suspension Damage to Towed Fusion
« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2019, 10:47:33 PM »
  The setup has been properly installed, with the tow bar correctly angled down to the baseplate, etc.

When you say “angled down”, Bob, do you mean just that or do you use a drop hitch?

Our Explorer tended to tire edge wear even though I thought the hitch was relatively level enough.  But the Explorer’s Roadmaster baseplate was actually higher than the coach’s receiver.  The car’s air suspension auto-adjusts in response to ignition on or not, high-low or no 4X4, and load changes, but should stay put while towed.  Roadmaster Vancouver added a drop-hitch adapter, but upside down.  The towbar now rides virtually level.

Your Fusion sits far lower than our old SUV, and our particular Monterey is likely lower at the tail than your Marquis.  A drop-down insert I’d think appropriate.  A non-level towbar will either pull slightly up or slightly down on a toad’s front, theoretically affecting wheel alignment and stressing specific parts.  In our instance the receiver was originally pulling down on the car’s front end... I just never considered it could be significant enough.  I’m sure Gerald or others more expert with suspensions than I would know best, but that was the theory I was given to understand.  If you didn’t notice unusual front-end tire wear after long towing, you’re likely adequately level.

As others postulate here, in this case some prior damage to your car probably finally escalated to breakage, expedited by some imperceptible road bump, perhaps in the narrower car’s track but not the coach’s.

Joel
Joel and Lee Rae Ashley
Clackamas, Oregon
36.9 ft. 2006 Monterey Ventura IV, aka"Monty Rae"
C9 400HP Cat
towing a 1997 Ford Explorer Limited, aka "Pearl"

Bob Bulot

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Re: Suspension Damage to Towed Fusion
« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2019, 12:28:25 AM »
Joel, by properly installed, I meant that, when connected, the tow bar is around 4” higher on the Motorhome end than on the car end.  This is so that, during an emergency stop, the momentum  of the car pushes the front of the car down.  If the towbar angles up from the coach to the towed, during an emergency stop, the car can tend to pole vault over the towbar.

Bob Bulot

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Re: Suspension Damage to Towed Fusion
« Reply #8 on: August 10, 2019, 05:45:11 AM »
Here’s a little update:

I picked up the repaired car today, paid my deductible, and continued on My northbound trip. 

After driving for around 100 miles on I-5 without incident, I exited th Interstate to park for the night. I stopped for the light at the bottom of the off ramp.  When the light turned green, I started a left turn, and immediately saw that the car had put itself in park, and that I was dragging the locked up (brand new) right front tire around the corner.

I’m starting to think that  something similar happened to cause the original damage.  If the car put itself in park at 55 mph, I believe that this could explain the damage.






Bill Sprague

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Re: Suspension Damage to Towed Fusion
« Reply #9 on: August 10, 2019, 06:37:43 PM »
Thanks for posting this Bob.  We have a Fusion Energi and may tow it someday.  So far, we've not put a tow bar on it.  I will remember this!
Bill Sprague
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Past 3 year owner '15 PleasureWay Pursuit
Past 12 year owner of '04 Monterey w/Cummins ISC 350

Bob Bulot

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Re: Suspension Damage to Towed Fusion
« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2019, 04:34:33 PM »
 I should have clarified that the Ford Fusion has a feature which automatically puts the transmission in park when you step on the brake and turn the engine off. In order to flat tow the car, it is necessary to defeat this feature, as towing the car in park makes the already bad mileage of the Marquis even worse. The Fusion has a procedure by which you can lock the car in neutral for towing purposes. 

For some reason, in this second incident, the car changed its mind at the light and put itself in park.
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Allyn Ayotte

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Re: Suspension Damage to Towed Fusion
« Reply #11 on: August 15, 2019, 12:29:30 AM »
I am responding to this thread because I am towing a 2018 Ford Fusion Hybrid, which is very similar to the vehicle noted in the thread. I am also using the Blue Ox tow system. My experience is a bit different but wanted to pass on a couple of things, for what its worth.

The vehicles in question both have a built in "Neutral" towing capability. The instructions for use are quite specific and the function does work well in the "Neutral" mode. I didn't see anything in prior messages regarding the presence of the blinking "Neutral" light in the center of the shift button. If that light is not slowly and continually blinking, the "Neutral" function is not engaged. This is critical. When I am towing, I stop about every 2 hours to make sure it is still "Neutral" engaged, even though I have been told there could still be severe transmission damage in that timeframe because of a lack of lubrication.

I have towed my Fusion over 6,000 miles and have had one incident I will share with you, that could have been catastrophic if it happened at road speeds. I was in a cloverleaf transition from one freeway to another, at a speed of about 22 MPH. I began to feel a violent side to side shaking from the rear of the coach. I instantly looked at my camera and saw the Fusion "whipsawing" wildly behind me, even at this very low speed. I was able to pull off the road and the whipsawing stopped. I immediately thought I had a flat tire, which was not the case. I checked the hitch, tow bar and the base plate and saw nothing unusual. I immediately called Blue Ox and related the incident to them. They said they had no reports of any kind on Ford Fusions but they were aware of a similar unexplained incident with a Jeep product.

After the above incident, I towed the vehicle a very short distance with no problem and immediately took it to a local dealer to have the entire system checked. Everything checked out OK. Since that incident, there has been no recurrence.

I have wondered if this lone incident was a "perfect storm" situation, caused by the combined geometry of the roadway, the towbar and the Fusion's turning wheels on the toad. Hopefully, I will never know.

I had a discussion with the tech person at Blue Ox about the height of the towbars, between the coach hitch and the fusion's connections to the towbar. There is about a 3 1/2" drop from my coach to the Fusion which, Blue Ox said, was too much. They said that the best situation is to have the tow bar "flat" between the vehicles, which doesn't seem to match with prior comments on this thread and that's something I want to check further with Blue Ox.

On another note, I installed an Air Force One braking system and had it installed at the same time as the Blue Ox system was on the Fusion. The installer is a long-time reputable dealer. On my first trip after the install, I stopped for my self- imposed 2 hour vehicle check and found that the brakes on the Fusion had been destroyed---the rotors, pads and calipers were completely gone. I disconnected the hose to the AF One system and towed it to the nearest Ford dealer, where all 4 brakes and, even the fluid, were replaced. The vehicle had 300 miles on it at the time. I decided not to reconnect the braking system until it could be checked out by another installer and we soon found that a valve connection on the motorhome had been installed backwards by the installer and was putting constant pressure on the brakes, even when the brakes weren't applied.

So, even though the dealer claimed to have installed "many" of these systems, and said that they had tested the system, it seems they didn't tell the truth. So, it's buyer beware. Make sure these sophisticated systems are properly tested---and retested---before you ride off into the sunset.


Bill Sprague

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Re: Suspension Damage to Towed Fusion
« Reply #12 on: August 15, 2019, 03:54:18 PM »
Thank you Allyn.  We have a Fusion and may tow it someday.  I read your post carefully. 

I've towed two other cars for about 60,000 each and concur that the towbar needs to be as close to level as possible.   I also agree that brake systems for the towed car can be an unpredictable mess of design, application, settings and installation.   

Our current solution is a 26' motorhome designed for and suitable for "touring" without needing a car in tow!
Bill Sprague
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Past 3 year owner '15 PleasureWay Pursuit
Past 12 year owner of '04 Monterey w/Cummins ISC 350

Mike Shumack

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Re: Suspension Damage to Towed Fusion
« Reply #13 on: August 15, 2019, 05:01:59 PM »
Our current solution is a 26' motorhome designed for and suitable for "touring" without needing a car in tow!

Or - don't tow, carry!  ::)

- Mike

'05 Beaver Patriot Thunder 525, Vicksburg, CAT C13, Allison 4000MH, HydraLift
Orlando, FL