See why a cheap tow hook can be risky

https://www.youtube.com/embed/qGR45KtUons

That cheap tow hook should be just fine in case you need to get rescued from an on-track incident, right?

To find out, we compared a tow hook from 034Motorsport–the one we put on our Volkswagen GTI project car–against the cheapest tow hook we could find on the internet.

Presented by CRC Industries.

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Fueled by Caffeine
Fueled by Caffeine MegaDork
2/2/23 9:26 a.m.

Pedant warning. Nothing wrong with aluminum.   Everything wrong with cheap under engineered garbage with very sketchy metallurgy. 

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
2/2/23 9:44 a.m.

I have the Toyobaru version of that exact same cheapo hook, I bought it mainly so I would have a 2nd hook and could attach two at once, but I thought it could be a totally functional hook. I already had one fun incident when I first took it out of the box, played with it a bit, and put it back. I then noticed that my hands felt slick, some protective oil from the tow hook perhaps? No, it was blood, the CNC'd edges were so incredibly sharp that they cut my hands up and I didn't even feel it. I filed down the edges after that.

I think I'll put that tow hook up for sale now with a warning that it's for ornamental use only.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
2/2/23 10:57 a.m.

Is hitting it from the side with a hammer really testing the hook properly? They're designed for pulling. This test best approximates a side pull using a chain or a non-kinetic rope and a running start on the tow vehicle. Totally plausible in a redneck mud recovery, but is it likely with a racetrack recovery? How does the cheap tow hook do on a sustained hard off-angle pull if you don't leave a gap between the lock nut and the body - it could have been at least a half turn closer? What exactly is wrong with the threads on the cheapie?

Also, how did the sponsor's tow hook deal with the hammer test? 

RadBarchetta
RadBarchetta New Reader
2/2/23 11:22 a.m.
Keith Tanner said:

Is hitting it from the side with a hammer really testing the hook properly? They're designed for pulling. This test best approximates a side pull using a chain or a non-kinetic rope and a running start on the tow vehicle. Totally plausible in a redneck mud recovery, but is it likely with a racetrack recovery? How does the cheap tow hook do on a sustained hard off-angle pull if you don't leave a gap between the lock nut and the body - it could have been at least a half turn closer? What exactly is wrong with the threads on the cheapie?

Also, how did the sponsor's tow hook deal with the hammer test? 

My thoughts exactly. That particular test may not show how it performs under a tow, but it does show how it'll perform if you hit a wall. Of course, if that happens, you got bigger problems than worrying about how the tow driver decided to hook up your car. 

Also, I wouldn't hit a $150 tow hook with a hammer either. :)

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
2/2/23 11:32 a.m.

I really like the part where you acknowledge that the OEM tow hook is perfectly fine and then decide not to use it.

APEowner
APEowner UltraDork
2/2/23 11:32 a.m.

Before deciding that you want to use the factory tow hook lug take a look at how it's attached to the car.  A surprising number of them are welded on in such a way that any side pull will bend them brining the hook in contact with the bumper cover.  

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
2/2/23 11:44 a.m.

Some backstory: The idea for this video came when I ordered a tow hook for the 350Z, and was appalled at how poorly what they sent me was made out of. I expected cheap, but I didn't expect dangerous. So we put this together with the three options: Cheap, OEM, and blingy aftermarket. 

The hammer definitely wasn't a perfect test, but the goal wasn't to do a perfect test: It was to spotlight what the cheap tow hook was made out of in a very easy to digest way. I did draw up the plans to use the F-250's winch, a tree, a salvage Golf bumper beam, and an industrial force gauge to do some scientific tests without shock loads and without any deflection, but ultimately we decided against that for a few reasons: 1. The cheap tow hook was so bad it wouldn't have survived even a few seconds of testing. And 2. Simplifying all of it to meet YouTube's demands just didn't seem possible. So we went with the hammer, as a shock-loaded side pull is super possible at the track: Spin into gravel and you'll get one free courtesy of the track safety workers.

As far as this vs. the OEM hook: different people play at different budgets, and I think it was right to acknowledge the 034 hook is part bling, and part leaving it on the car all the time, but ultimately no better for towing than the OEM hook.

034 Hook Hammer Test:

 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
2/2/23 11:48 a.m.
Keith Tanner said:

What exactly is wrong with the threads on the cheapie?

They're a completely different profile than the threads in the bumper beam. The 034 and OEM hooks take the load across those big flat 45-degree faces of the threads, while the cheap one puts all that force on the edge of those square shoulders.

stafford1500
stafford1500 Dork
2/2/23 11:50 a.m.
Keith Tanner said:

 What exactly is wrong with the threads on the cheapie?

When I watched the video, I noted that the factory threads appeared to be BUTTRESS threads, not typical symmetric threads. More or less designed for better pullout strength. They are likely also slightly tapered to lock in the receiver more solidly.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
2/2/23 11:54 a.m.

In reply to APEowner :

That's been a thing with Miatas since day 1. The cars come with "baby teeth" tie downs that are used for shipping. If you use them for towing, you can easily get into the bumper cover and Mazda warned very strongly against trying. They're just so tempting! You're supposed to pull the teeth on delivery of the car, but it didn't happen on a very large number of them.

You could hit one of those with a hammer until your arm fell off though :)

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