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Insight (1st gen) as a motorhome towed vehicle

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First a bit of background, I have a rather small 23' motorhome with a 2001 Ford E150 chassis and 5.4L V8 engine. It has an empty vehicle weight of about 9,200lbs and a max total gross vehicle weight of 11,500 making it only able to tow a car weighing less than 2,000 lbs considering passengers and all the stuff you take with you. I had been searching for a small lightweight car to tow but other than a Smart car, there didn't appear to be many. I test drove a Smart but hated it's ride and fuel economy since I expect to drive the towable vehicle for day to day errands as well. I had just about given up hope when I stumbled on a motorhome forum where one guy had towed an 2002 Insight. He mentioned a 1600 lb. curb weight but I soon discovered it was more like 1800, about the same as a Smart. That got me looking and I found a 2001 Insight with only 100K, one owner, and new tires at a Toyota dealer about 3 hours away. Price $5500. I spoke with the salesman on the phone and he took photos of the underside to show what appeared to be a nearly rust free car in upper Michigan. I was able to take him down to $4800 due to unknown battery condition and put a deposit on a credit card. Once I finally made it up to purchase, we discovered it had a brand new IMA battery installed 2 months earlier as well so I was very pleased.

Drove it home and purchased a towbar and baseplate from Blue Ox. The baseplate was a bit challenging to install but securely attached to the octagonal bumper mount frame as well as the aluminum casting attaching to the main frame, so a very secure setup. It protrudes through the grill to attach to the towbar. I installed tail light wiring, brake cable for the surge brake towbar, and a battery minder to keep the 12v battery charged since you need to leave the key in unlock mode to allow the steering to free steer as it is being towed.

All in all this appears to be one of the most fuel efficient, lightest weight towed vehicles available for motorhomes to tow. I have a manual transmission so it is not an issue to tow 4 wheels down. Heading to Florida in the near future to escape this horid winter weather.

Rick
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Bringin this one back from the dead. So, if I want to tow the insight with the sprinter, here is my current understanding:


Hookup of gear:
-Buy BlueOx BX2223, listed to fit MYs 2001-2002, but will fit my MY2000 just fine
-Install it on the insight by removing front bumper cover, bolting it on, then reinstalling bumper cover
-Select a tow bar to use with baseplate. (Does it have to be BlueOx model tow bar? I'm guessing these things are fairly generic in their attachment but not sure I've never used a tow bar)
-Wire from the sprinter plug back to xxx? to make the honda lights mirror the sprinter lights

Towing:
-Put shifter in N (I have a 5 speed)
-Put key in ignition. Turn to first click. Ensure steering unlocked. Turn back to off. (Seems sketchy. Also seems sketchy to leave car turned on draining 12v battery for hundreds of miles)
-Lock car doors with second key


Seems legit overall if the wiring for the lights isn't too bad.
BlueOx tow bar is $250 for a class 3, Craigslist has plenty for $40-$200, so I guess I have some research to do there still.

Anyone care to chime in on any of my questions above? Thanks
 

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BlueOx BX2223: You'll have to order it. It's a 6+ week lead time, as Blue Ox will have to build it. Yes, they make it and can. But it's not a high runner kit, which is why you won't find it on the shelf anywhere. Despite what you find on the internet or any RV site. They say they have it, but it's a drop shipment from BlueOX. And it'll be 6+ weeks. Just plan ahead.

Just went through this with my parents. I talked them into getting an insight to pull. Then found out the lead time to get the tow brackets was a long lead time item. Didn't fit their schedule for vacation, which led to them buying another car already set up. And I bought the Insight as a backup car.
 

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I am surprised Blue Ox haven't updated the years covered. Mine may have been the first 2000 MY Insight that had that base plate installed on it 5 years ago. My mechanic had them on speed-dial and they were very interested in the results. My guy said the directions were exactly right for the 2000 year too. I was happy that I didn't have to do the wiring of the tail lights. He put a diode in that allowed him to use the lights as they stand, driven from the hitch.

I never remember to turn the key back off, it doesn't make sense to me, I fear the wheel will lock again, so I just have the empty car listening to the radio. The mechanic told me that he hooked a wire to provide power to the Honda when I am towing it, but I haven't remembered to check it out yet. But I have never arrived out of juice, although the hybrid has a really big battery so not sure I would run out of juice in the time I tow the car w/o turning it on.

-Randy
 

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Forgive my not reading the entire thread. I towed a 30' Airstream with a Dodge/Cummins 2500 all around the US and Mexico for a few years. Now I did not tow a vehicle behind the trailer. I am not even sure you can do it safely. But, if it were me doing what you are planning to do I would have the steering/drive wheels off the ground. No matter how safe it may seem you only have to be wrong once. And, those wheels that would be supporting the Insight front end are way cheaper to maintain that the front wheels on the Insight.

And if the front end does engage the gearbox or the front end wheels turn from straight ahead the repairs would be pretty expensive if you survive the ensuing crash. YMMV, of course. I am not saying that towing with all wheels on the ground is wrong. I am just saying I would never do it. Expose yourself to as little risk as possible. Color me cautious.
 
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