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Toyota warranty requirements leave towing owners damned if they do and damned if they don't

February 19, 2010
Toyota warranty requirements leave towing owners damned if they do and damned if they don't

Toyota is confusing owners who tow with ambiguous towbar and Weight Distribution Hitch (WDH) requirements. For warranty to apply Toyota requires a genuine Toyota towbar for its LandCruiser.

It recommends a WDH when towing caravans and trailers. Toyota does not make a WDH. If a non-genuine WDH is used warranty cover can be denied.

If a non-genuine Toyota towbar is fitted then owners have no warranty on the chassis from Toyota.

GoSee Forum member Dennis O'Brien of Cairns, Queensland who tows with a Toyota 79 Series V8 diesel tray-back ute is - Not Impressed, he says.

My own experience is with a LandCruiser tray back ute under warranty and a cracked rear cross member, he said today.

When he is on the road Dennis has 3040kg behind loaded with 300kg on the towball.

The handbook states that if towing a trailer or caravan then a weight distribution hitch (WDH) must be used, Dennis said.

Hayman Reese (WDH) would be the most popular so that is what I used.

I rang re warranty on cracked chassis and was told that as I had used a non-genuine WDH the warranty was void.

The problem is that Toyota don't make a weight distribution hitch.

Editor's note: Nor does Toyota make an anti-sway device which is also recommended in the owners manual if the caravan is heavier than the tow vehicle.

So if you dont use one you void the warranty as the handbook says you must use one, if you use one it will void the warranty as it is non-genuine, he said.

GoSee sent this email to Toyota asking for comment:

The LandCruiser manual says that a genuine Toyota towbar and a Weight Distribution Hitch (WDH) should be used when towing.

Would you advise which WDH is covered under warranty by Toyota and what towing capacity and ball weight for the LandCruiser 100 and 200 Series and new Prado?

Is the Toyota warranty actually limited to a towing weight of 1600kg?

Garth Morrison Editor

Hayman Reese Weight Distribution Hitch package
Hayman Reese Weight Distribution Hitch package

A Toyota Customer Relations team member said today that the Toyota Owners manual was not necessarily ambiguous as it had a world-wide application. He said that LandCruisers were not built as a tow vehicle and once purchased it was up to the owner how the vehicle was used and what was fitted and added to the vehicle in terms of accessories.

He said that the LandCruiser 79 Series tray-back ute was rated to tow 3500kg with a maximum ball weight of 350kg.

He said he did not agree that these claimed figures raised an expectation with potential buyers that the Toyota LandCruiser was a vehicle which could be used to tow caravans and trailers.

He said he was unable to comment on technical matters and that decisions on warranty issues of the kind relating to Dennis O'Brien and the cracked Landcruiser cross member were handled by the repective Regional Representative.

Hayman Reese told GoSee today that it has a lifetime warranty on its towing products against manufacturing faults and defects, lifetime is as long as you are the original purchaser of the item, provided the product has not been used outside of its stated ratings or capacities.

Any claim for consequential damage to the vehicle or towed items etc from the failure of a Hayman Reese towbar will also be reviewed by Hayman Reese and if found to be as a direct result of the failed towbar is generally covered, Hayman Reese said.

From Toyota owners manual
From Toyota owners manual

Hayman Reese quality control records show that if a towbar is fitted incorrectly its failure can apply extra vertical load to the chassis.

This can lead to cracking similar to that shown in the picture of Dennis O'Brien's LandCruiser ute.

Hayman Reese records show that in the case recorded as the bar was fitted incorrectly all the repairs required were covered by the original installer.

Toyota is not alone in this ambiguous policy on towing equipment. Other vehicle makers are involved too and chassis problems in towing vehicles are unfortunately not uncommon.

From the owners side a must do is that a WDH must be properly set-up. The pressure on the WDH springbars can be critical.

Hayman Reese emphasises this point. GoSee believes that towbars and their bolts and fitting should be checked before and after each towing session.

Editor's Note: Vehicle manufacturers have a big selling point for suitable products if they state that they approve and highly recommend the use of devices like weight distribution and anti-sway on vehicles that are popular tow tugs. It would be a good thing for safety on the roads too.

Wear marks show on bolt point
Wear marks show on bolt point
Genuine Toyota towbar
Genuine Toyota towbar
40,000km service record on Toyota ute
40,000km service record on Toyota ute