U-Haul Won't Rent Trailers To Explorers, Idiot Lawyers (Not Unibody Construction) To Blame

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

Should you be afraid of towing in a new Ford Explorer? Though the newly-unibody Explorer is rated for up to 5,000 pounds, Jack Baruth noted in his review that

My experience pulling my race car on an open trailer with my Flex indicates that the D4 chassis is more than up to the job, but that the transmission just feels delicate. Serious towing with a sideways gearbox frightens me, and it should frighten you, too.

And though you might well share Jack’s nervousness about towing in a new Explorer, the law of the land says it’s safe pulling up to 5,000 pounds. Even so, Consumer Reports found out the hard way that not everyone believes in the Explorer as a safe, effective towing machine. Namely the equipment rental company U-Haul appears to have some kind of problem with the Explorer, as CR’s Eric Evarts explains

I called U-Haul to see about renting their largest, 6×12-foot open trailer to drag the mulch home. “Come on down! $29.95 for the day,” the friendly attendant said.

Eager to finish that day and save $18 by delivering the mulch myself, I trundled off to the local U-Haul lot. As the workers started to fill out the paperwork inside, their faces went ashen the second I said, “Explorer.”

“Sorry, we won’t let any equipment out behind an Explorer,” they said, and began putting away their pencils.


Huh? is right. One might well worry about the long-term effects on ones “sideways transmission’s” health, but that should hardly concern U-Haul. Do they care if you need a rebuild at 50k miles? Not so much. Nor are they concerned that unibody construction makes for a less capable or safe hauler. In fact, U-Haul’s concern seems to date back to the previous body-on-frame Explorer, to which the new CUV is in no way related.

“Corporate policy, since the Firestone lawsuits,” they said. “Sorry, there’s nothing we can do for you.” (Ford was sued in a class-action lawsuit in 1998 over defective Firestone tires on early Ford Explorers, which led to several deadly rollover accidents. The lawsuit was eventually settled. But this new Explorer has zero in common with those early SUVs except the nameplate.)

When we called U-Haul corporate later to check on the policy, Joanne Fried, director of media and corporate relations confirmed the policy. “Every time we go to hire an attorney to defend a lawsuit, as soon as we say ‘Ford Explorer,’ they charge us more money.” She said the policy also applies to Jeep Wranglers, unless they have a hard-top installed.

As we waited on hold for a few minutes, the corporate recording recited: “If you need to tow, U-Haul is the only name you need to know, and the only place you need to go.” Apparently not if you drive a Ford Explorer. In that case, you need to go elsewhere.

Talk about a perfect illustration of the state of legal liability in this, our most litigious society. Because the new Explorer is called an Explorer, and because layers charge U-Haul more for doing business with any Ford Explorer owner, U-Haul and its obviously scrupulous and detail-oriented lawyers have completely failed to notice that the new Explorer has literally nothing to do with the old one. Which would be akin to arguing that the CR-Z shouldn’t be called a hybrid because it’s the “spiritual successor” to the CRX. Or buying a new Buick Regal or Scion xB because you liked the previous one. Earth to U-Haul: the new Explorer has no more to do with the Firestone recall than the Ford Edge or Flex. Time to tell those lawyers they have their heads up their… pocketbooks.

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  • Musiccitymafia Musiccitymafia on May 29, 2011

    It boils down to corporate U-Haul still being on the legal liability hook for customers who are "mistaken" about the year of their vehicle. Simple.

  • Jem287 Jem287 on Jan 03, 2013

    I had a 95 Explorer 4 door 4x4, my grandfather bought brand new in 95 and I just traded it in last year with 155,000 miles and we towed a good bit with it for the last 11 years and it did feel top heavy but I was never really worried and we pulled a 17' Lund boat with it for years, but after I bought my Dodge Dakota crew cab it felt like I went from a truck to a sports car handeling wise I never really knew what I was missing though I cant complain besides for reg. maint. for a 100,000+ mile vehicle it only needed two trannies, and got 5,000 on trade in.

  • Tassos I also want one of the idiots who support the ban to explain to me how it will work.Suppose sometime (2035 or later) you cannot buy a new ICE vehicle in the UK.Q1: Will this lead to a ICE fleet resembling that of CUBA, with 100 year old vehicles evetually? (in that case, just calculate the horrible extra pollution due to keeping 100 year old cars on the road)Q2: Will people be able to buy PARTS for their old cars FOREVER?Q3: Will people be allowed to jump across the Channel and buy a nice ICE in France, Germany (who makes the best cars anyway), or any place else that still sells them, and then use it in the UK?
  • Tassos Bans are ridiculous and undemocratic and smell of Middle Ages and the Inquisition. Even 2035 is hardly any better than 2030.The ALMIGHTY CONSUMER should decide, not... CARB, preferably WITHOUT the Government messing with the playing field.And if the usual clueless idiots read this and offer the tired "But Government subsidizes the oil industry too", will they EVER learn that those MINISCULE (compared to the TRILLIONS of $ size of this industry) subsidies were designed to help the SMALL Oil producers defend themselves against the "Big Oil" multinationals. Ask ANY major Oil co CEO and he will gladly tell you that you can take those tiny subsidies and shove them.
  • Dusterdude The suppliers can ask for concessions, but I wouldn’t hold my breath . With the UAW they are ultimately bound to negotiate with them. However, with suppliers , they could always find another supplier ( which in some cases would be difficult, but not impossible)
  • AMcA Phoenix. Awful. The roads are huge and wide, with dedicated lanes for turning, always. Requires no attention to what you're doing. The roads are idiot proofed, so all the idiots drive - they have no choice, because everything is so spread out.
  • Leonard Ostrander Pet peeve: Drivers who swerve to the left to make a right turn and vice versa. They take up as much space as possible for as long as possible as though they're driving trailer trucks or school busses. It's a Kia people, not a Kenworth! Oh, and use your turn signals if you ever figure out where you're going.