Want to install a 3rd party trailer hitch to a new 2010 Ford Transit Connect delivery van. Safe?
October 9, 2009 8:15 AM   Subscribe

Want to install a 3rd party trailer hitch to a new 2010 Ford Transit Connect delivery van. Safe?

We just bought a 2010 Ford Transit Connect delivery van (4-cylinder engine). We have read the spec sheet, spoke with our dealer and even called Ford's technical department with no luck...We just get a canned answer with no real thought behind it. Ford does not make a trailer hitch for the Transit Connect and they also do not recommend using one. However, there is a well-known company on the west coast (Valley Industries) that makes aftermarket trailer hitches for almost every vehicle known to man. Here is an online dealer who sells the trailer in question:
Trailer Hitch for 2010 Ford Transit Connect.
The vehicle has a maximum cargo capacity of 1600lbs…that much we did verify. Here is the reason why we think using a trailer ought to be fine. We deliver large boxes (30” x 18” x 18”) but they are relatively light, about 45lbs each and the Transit Connect can only hold about 10 of them at a time. If we fill the cargo space to capacity, the cargo will weigh only 450lbs. Therefore, we are still 1150lbs away from reaching the cargo max weight. This is the primary reason why we feel that pulling, say an 8ft U-Haul trailer hauling an additional 15 boxes ought to be fine. Any help and/or thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
posted by orehek to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total)
How much does an 8ft U-Haul weigh?
posted by BobbyDigital at 8:37 AM on October 9, 2009

A 5' x 8' Uhaul weighs 900 lbs empty
posted by ghharr at 8:50 AM on October 9, 2009

They recommend you do not install a tow hitch because it could void your warranty. Those 8' trailer weigh about 900lbs the next size down weighs 630lbs. You are going to have trouble if there are any hills to climb. Unless for some reason you managed to get a diesel w/ manual transmission.
posted by bravowhiskey at 9:02 AM on October 9, 2009

While an 8' Uhaul is crazy heavy you can get open utility trailers that weigh much, much less. Snowbear for example makes an 8' flat deck that weighs only 325lbs. This 4X6 from red trailers is 280lbs and you could shave some of that by removing the ramp gate. A tarp or some packing saran and you are good to go. Even 4 sheets of 1/4" plywood to construct your own enclosed box would add less than a 100lbs.

The European versions of this van are available with tow bars[PDF] so a hitch should be able to be fitted safely.

I'd do it. Just keep in mind the weight of the driver and the draw bar. And generally it's a good idea not to load a vehicle to the absolute max; leave yourself 10% or so as a safety margin.

If storage is a problem you can stand utility trailers on their end at the end of your drive way if you have something to tie them to.
posted by Mitheral at 9:39 AM on October 9, 2009

We operate out of NYC and so it's not our intention of buy a trailer (no space)...although the Snowbear would have been perfect. We just want to be able to rent a U-Haul utility trailer from time to time for big deliveries where the destination is too far away to make multiple trips (about 150 miles) away. One of the smallest open utility trailers U-Haul offers is the 4' x 7' and it weighs 630lbs as bravowhiskey said above. We could fit about 10 boxes in that trailer which would be another 450lbs plus the 630lbs of the trailer itself plus the original 450lbs worth of cargo already in the van for a grand total of 1530lbs....just under the Transit Connect's limit of 1600lbs. Not climbing major hills either, it's pretty flat around here. Sound feasible and safe? Thank you.
posted by orehek at 11:21 AM on October 9, 2009

Make sure your driver weighs less than 70 pounds, is a breatharian and will never be driving with a passenger.

Also - check your brakes often (they'll wear really quickly) and don't be surprised when the transmission dies an early death (ditto).

You may want to check with Ford about voiding your warranty with the installation of a hitch/towing a trailer.

Is this a four cylinder/auto trans drivetrain?
posted by torquemaniac at 2:23 PM on October 9, 2009

torquemaniac writes "You may want to check with Ford about voiding your warranty with the installation of a hitch/towing a trailer."

The Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act prevents dealers or manufacturers from denying warranty claims just because an aftermarket accessory is installed. They have to prove that the accessory caused the failure.

However that trailer is not light enough. 70lbs is not enough excess capacity unless, as troquemaniac pointed out, you only weigh 69 lbs.

Have you considered a roof rack? Your vehicle is designed for substantial roof loads with the correct accessories. You could fit ten boxes in two rows single stacked easy.

Even without an aftermarket rack Ford rates your roof for 225 evenly distributed pounds[PDF] directly on the roof. Combine that with a class three hitch (allows 500lbs tongue weight and a cargo carrier (this one holds 500 lbs) and you could skip the trailer all together by putting 4 boxes on the roof and 6 on the cargo platform. Or 10 on the platform though I like to minimize the amount of unbalanced load I have behind my rear wheels. Putting boxes on the roof helps keep the front axle planted.

Keep in mind that renting a U-Haul trailer is a serious pain in the ass. It'll cost you a couple hours each time. They often don't have one available (even if you reserve it). The out the door price is often twice the advertised price after you buy insurance. Especially for in-town/round trip applications you end up with the crappiest, barely road worthy (if you are lucky) trailer you can imagine.
posted by Mitheral at 6:06 PM on October 9, 2009

Some type of cargo basket could prove more practical and permanent without the pain of rentals and warranty voiding. It's expensive but I'd imagine it'd be close in price to the tow hitch plus the installation and wiring for the lights.
posted by bravowhiskey at 7:43 AM on October 10, 2009

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