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Warning on unsafe towbars

25 November 2004

Warning on unsafe towbars

Hyundai has sounded a safety warning over questionable towbars being sold in New Zealand.

As there are no regulations, the brand says suspect towbars have found their way onto the market.

"Often customers have no idea the bar they buy is not up to scratch ... sometimes even the spare parts companies don't know," said the General Manager of Hyundai in New Zealand, Philip Eustace.

"This is an extremely important safety issue that impacts on every road user," he said.

"If your towbar fails, you are placing in jeopardy the lives of your family and of other road users. And that's not to mention the equipment you are towing, say a boat that could be worth up to $150,000.

"It's no place to be using second-rate equipment, yet there are people who try to save one or two hundred dollars on the towbar.

"Some of the towbars we have seen produced in New Zealand simply don't come up to scratch."

Mr Eustace says a key element is testing of the bar on the vehicle for which it is designed.

"Bench-testing and even scientific loading tests don't reveal the whole picture," he explains.

"In the past few days we saw an apparently safe towbar doing all sorts of damage where it was attached to a vehicle. It was so poorly designed it had slogged out the mounting holes and twisted the towbar 11 degrees out of line, so far the bar was pushing against the vehicle exhaust.

"That's all bad enough, imagine what it is doing where it mounts to the chassis of the car. A problem like that will invalidate your vehicle warranty."

Mr Eustace says towbars sold as Approved Parts through Hyundai dealers are tested on the vehicle for which they are designed.

"We have these bars made here in New Zealand to the highest standard and properly tested, so we can assure Hyundai owners they have no worries about warranty."

Hyundai is also warning companies fitting towbars of the dangers they face. "If the corner garage fits a sub-standard bar and there's an accident, the garage can be liable under more than one section of law.

"There have been similar cases in New Zealand and the penalties are very heavy, as you would expect in an area of public safety.

"We look forward to the day when regulations are introduced; it can't come soon enough, Mr Eustace said.

"When that arrives, we are confident the Hyundai Approved Parts towbars we are selling now will comfortably meet and exceed the standard.

"But we can't do much about unsafe bars. The only way a Hyundai owner can be sure to stay safe, is by fitting an official Approved Part from a Hyundai dealer.

"Sometimes there may be a difference in price, but it is minor in safety terms"


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