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Can CR-V handle hauling scooter?

| Friday, Nov. 11, 2016, 10:27 p.m.

Question: I'm considering adding a trailer hitch to my 2011 Honda CR-V so I can haul my mobility scooter around on a platform. How difficult is it to do this? What kind do I need?

Answer: This is reasonably easy to accomplish.

There are many choices available for a bolt-on receiver, which is a type of hitch that allows accessories such as a platform, step or bike rack to be plugged in and pinned in place.

Receivers are classified by their weight capacity. Class 1 and 2 receivers have a 1.25-inch square socket and are for light loads such as small trailers, light duty platforms and bike racks. Maximum tongue weight (downforce) with these is about 200-300 pounds, and maximum trailer weight is 2,000-3,500 pounds. These light duty receivers fit more snugly under the back bumper than the larger receivers I'll describe next.

Class 3, 4 and 5 receivers all have a sturdier, less attractive structure, a 2-inch square socket, and can tow up to 5,000, 10,000, and 17,000 pounds, respectively (typically with the use of much larger vehicles).

I researched ramp-type scooter platforms and found that virtually all require the use of a 2-inch, class 3 receiver, due to tongue weight and twisting load considerations. This bulkier receivers can carry tongue weight as high as 675 pounds and trailer weight up to 4,500 pounds (far beyond the CR-V's 1,500 pound towing capacity). Looking at scooters and platform weight, it seems you'd want to have a receiver rated at 350 pounds or higher tongue weight. In order to bolt on the receiver, the exhaust system must be temporarily lowered, and the rear underbody panel must be either trimmed or removed. This a job for a pro or an accomplished do-it-yourselfer, requiring about an hour of time. If you drive in places with abrupt angle changes (driveways, for example), there's a chance of bottoming out the receiver or ramp on the ground. So, choose a receiver that hugs the CR-V body as closely as possible.

Question: My brake warning light came on the other day. How serious is this? Can I drive carefully until my day off to take it in, or do I have it towed as soon as possible?

-Chrissy H.

Answer: Are you referring to the amber-colored anti-lock braking system light, or the red-colored brake warning light? If it's the amber light, you're OK to drive for a few days or more before having it checked out. Your brakes will work normally but there won't be any anti-lock assistance, should you need it. The red light is another story. It could be triggered by a number of issues, depending on the vehicle make, and some are quite serious.

Among the possibilities: a faulty parking brake switch or circuit, low brake-fluid level, hydraulic imbalance, electronically controlled braking system fault, and worn brake pads.

Check your brake master cylinder fluid level. If low, add the appropriate DOT 3 or 4 brake fluid (check label or listings to be sure of which to use).

Also check to be sure your parking brake handle or pedal is returning fully to the unapplied position. If neither of these fix the light, you need to take this seriously and get it checked right away. If the brake pedal feels normal, and the car stops as it should, I'd drive it to the shop. If anything doesn't feel right, be sure to have it towed!

Brad Bergholdt is an automotive technology instructor at Evergreen Valley College in San Jose, Calif. Readers may send him email at under-the-hood@earthlink.net.; he cannot make personal replies.

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