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View Full Version : What is this thing on my front bumper (and my sister's Prius)?


Boyo Jim
01-02-2016, 01:28 PM
Here is a pic (https://photos.google.com/search/_tra_/photo/AF1QipOWXN3NdYBP1FIBIf7hxU_W2vrKlrUOQBeCUW2N). It's a 2016 Mazda 3. It looks like a tiny door, except as far as I can tell it doesn't open. Or maybe it's something to be punched out and replaced with ... what? Here's another pic of a different model year (https://photos.google.com/search/_tra_/photo/AF1QipOBFlgkjPMJQbHrnZRSF4K5Kn2BwwHpbpgsgJQe) which has the thing on the other side of the front grille. My sister just had her 2006 Prius's front bumper replaced after a collision, and the replacement has a similar thing. She didn't notice whether it existed on the original bumper.

There is not a corresponding hole on the other side of the bumper, so it's not as if it's filling in a space where fog lights or some other optional equipment might go.

engineer_comp_geek
01-02-2016, 01:35 PM
Your links didn't work for me.

According to a site I googled, the cutout on a Prius is where the bullets come out if you have the machine gun installed.

Ahem.

Ok, according to a more serious post I googled, it's for towing. You pop out the panel and insert an eyelet screw, and a tow truck can safely attach a winch to that and tow the car from there.

Chefguy
01-02-2016, 01:46 PM
Can't see the photos on the link. They could also be blanks for the installation of an RV towing package (I had them on my Saturn Vue and used them).

Boyo Jim
01-02-2016, 01:56 PM
Is this pic visible now (https://photos.google.com/search/_tra_/photo/AF1QipOWXN3NdYBP1FIBIf7hxU_W2vrKlrUOQBeCUW2N)?

davidm
01-02-2016, 02:08 PM
Can you post a pic that doesn't require logging in to a Google account?

Bijou Drains
01-02-2016, 02:08 PM
pics still not visible

Boyo Jim
01-02-2016, 02:14 PM
pics still not visible

The ones from the OP or the ones from Post 4?

Boyo Jim
01-02-2016, 02:15 PM
Can you post a pic that doesn't require logging in to a Google account?

According to their glurge, an account supposedly isn't necessary. Try the lonk in post 4 -- does that work for you?

davidm
01-02-2016, 02:20 PM
Are you talking about the two rectangular things in this picture?

http://priuschat.com/attachments/photo-9-jpg.52264/

Interestingly, my Honda Insight hybrid has something similar but only on one side. Is the Mazda 3 a hybrid?

Iggy
01-02-2016, 02:21 PM
According to their glurge, an account supposedly isn't necessary. Try the lonk in post 4 -- does that work for you?

Nope. Still wants a log in.

davidm
01-02-2016, 02:21 PM
According to their glurge, an account supposedly isn't necessary. Try the lonk in post 4 -- does that work for you?I already tried it. It wants me to log into a Google account. My guess is that it would have to be your account.

leftfield6
01-02-2016, 02:22 PM
neither works for me.

Is this the port/plug you are trying to show?

mazda 3 (http://bjf2k.com/led4you/images/MAZDA3_TOW_HOOK.jpg)

This is an aftermarket tow hook screwed into the bumper. The threads are behind (usually) a plastic body colored cap.

Has nothing to do with the prius being a hybrid. The plugs are used to attach a tow hook. Supposedly also how the car is tied down during transport on ships, but I've seen some disagreement with that.

Iggy
01-02-2016, 02:25 PM
Found a Ford photo here: http://g04.a.alicdn.com/kf/HTB1.9r5IpXXXXbRXFXXq6xXFXXXS/Front-bumper-tow-eye-cover-cap-Towing-Hook-cover-for-fordfocus-2-for-focus-3-for.jpg

That webpage calls the little door things Towing Cover Caps.

Boyo Jim
01-02-2016, 02:28 PM
Found a Ford photo here: http://g04.a.alicdn.com/kf/HTB1.9r5IpXXXXbRXFXXq6xXFXXXS/Front-bumper-tow-eye-cover-cap-Towing-Hook-cover-for-fordfocus-2-for-focus-3-for.jpg

That webpage calls the little door things Towing Cover Caps.

That's pretty damn close, though a different location.

Bijou Drains
01-02-2016, 02:29 PM
my RAV4 has similar things on the bumper

Mortimus
01-02-2016, 02:51 PM
I'll bet if you ever have to pop those little caps off they'll take $600 each to replace.

BrotherCadfael
01-02-2016, 02:52 PM
We use the towing hook to anchor the front tie down straps when carrying a canoe or kayak on top of the car. Yup, the little plastic cap comes off, and you screw in the hook that is included in the car's toolkit (basically your tire-changing tools plus the hook).

(By the way, the hook has a left-hand thread in an oddball size. I presume this is so you have to use the real hook, and not just some old bolt, which could break and give you an excuse to sue the company.)

(Also by the way, the tow hook is actually a ring, but it's called a hook. Go figure.)

Arcite
01-02-2016, 03:49 PM
Like everyone else, I can't see the pics, but I assume it's the cover for where the tow hook goes like people are saying.

Also, as I discovered after moving from a no-front-plate state to a front-plate state, for people who don't want to drill into their front bumpers, various companies make plate mounts that can connect there.

Chefguy
01-02-2016, 03:50 PM
(Also by the way, the tow hook is actually a ring, but it's called a hook. Go figure.)

That's called an eye bolt (http://amazon.com/MINTCRAFT-LR295-Eye-Bolt-4X4-Inch/dp/B000M2YLMY/ref=sr_1_3?s=industrial&ie=UTF8&qid=1451771416&sr=1-3&keywords=eye+bolts+threaded) in the trades. If it has a screw end for wood, it's usually called screw hook (for an open hook) or screw-eye (for a closed hook).

Sigene
01-02-2016, 03:58 PM
I've avoided looking at the pictures, but I've been told this is for transport (not necessarily towing). When the cars are put on the ship (or train, or car transport) the little cappy things are not on there. The cars are strapped down at this point. When the get to where they are going they are unstrapped and the little cappy things are put on. I've heard that the caps are stored in a bag with the rest of the paperwork that the dealer gets with the car.

I have no cite for this, so I'm talking "unencumbered by the thought process"

Rick
01-02-2016, 04:00 PM
Here is a pic (https://photos.google.com/search/_tra_/photo/AF1QipOWXN3NdYBP1FIBIf7hxU_W2vrKlrUOQBeCUW2N). It's a 2016 Mazda 3. It looks like a tiny door, except as far as I can tell it doesn't open. Or maybe it's something to be punched out and replaced with ... what? Here's another pic of a different model year (https://photos.google.com/search/_tra_/photo/AF1QipOBFlgkjPMJQbHrnZRSF4K5Kn2BwwHpbpgsgJQe) which has the thing on the other side of the front grille. My sister just had her 2006 Prius's front bumper replaced after a collision, and the replacement has a similar thing. She didn't notice whether it existed on the original bumper.

There is not a corresponding hole on the other side of the bumper, so it's not as if it's filling in a space where fog lights or some other optional equipment might go.


It's a tow hook cover, they use this when they transport the cars to tie them down. I have been on a car transporter ship and seen the cars tied down via hooks screwed into the spots front and rear.
Here are some pictures (https://goo.gl/photos/C2s9JJC7EvxvbGgp7) I took a previous time this subject came up.
After shipment, as part of the PDI process the covers are fitted and the car is delivered. Some (most?) car come equipped with tow hook in with the jack and tire iron.
Mortimus No they aren't that expensive, but they have to be painted, so that brings the cost up, probably about $40-50 after paint.
BrotherCadfael I've never seen one with a left hand thread, what kind of car was that?

Fubaya
01-02-2016, 04:45 PM
They aren't only used for transport, they are used for -you'll never guess- towing. Most cars that don't have an actual hook have holes for a screw-in eye bolt and a cover for looks. Some cars have one, some have two.

boytyperanma
01-02-2016, 05:39 PM
They aren't only used for transport, they are used for -you'll never guess- towing. Most cars that don't have an actual hook have holes for a screw-in eye bolt and a cover for looks. Some cars have one, some have two.

More correctly they are used for vehicle recovery. You can watch endless videos of idiots trying to pull their vehicles out of snow banks and such and pulling the entire front bumper off.

A lot of uni-body cars don't have easily accessible points that can handle you pulling the full weight of the vehicle, so manufacturers have started putting tow hook mounts to if a car needs to be pulled back to the road there is a point strong enough to handle that. In a lot of cases(especially the off center ones) the tow hooks aren't actually very good for towing, they are just to get the car out of a ditch.

Prius: https://youtube.com/watch?v=QYE6MOyyeBk

BrotherCadfael
01-02-2016, 07:15 PM
BrotherCadfael I've never seen one with a left hand thread, what kind of car was that?VW.

SCAdian
01-02-2016, 09:16 PM
Nope. Still wants a log in.

I already tried it. It wants me to log into a Google account. My guess is that it would have to be your account.

Doesn't ask me for a login. Just says 404.

Digital is the new Analog
01-02-2016, 09:55 PM
Doesn't ask me for a login. Just says 404.

I'm logged into a google account, and get a 404.
If I log out and try the link, I get a login request.

I think the OP needs to get a shareable link - click in the photo. Near the top right, there should be a row of icons. The first one is three dots, connected by two lines. Kinda a lopsided triangle. That's the share button. If you click on that, one of the options is something like "Get Link." That should give you a goo.gl link, which should be public.

enipla
01-03-2016, 08:00 AM
More correctly they are used for vehicle recovery. You can watch endless videos of idiots trying to pull their vehicles out of snow banks and such and pulling the entire front bumper off.Saw a couple of guys do just that last winter. They really trashed the car.

I winched them out by hooking up to.... The trailer hitch :smack:

Me_Billy
01-03-2016, 09:01 AM
Those are parking sensors. If the car has this feature, it "beeps" to the driver if you are getting close to or about to hit something when parking.

http://auto.marine-news.biz/64905/car-tips/how-to-choose-parking-sensors-for-car/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parking_sensor

http://cartransplants.co.uk/used-parts-breaking-vehicles/part-details/Saab-9-3-2003-To-2007-Vector-Sport-Bumper-Rear-Proximity-Sensor/0/6493/

Fubaya
01-03-2016, 09:52 AM
It could be except the OP said there was only one. If their pics worked, we'd know for sure but here (http://booautoparts.com/image/ebay/MAZDA3/MD5-1.jpg) is a pic I found. That's a tow hook cover. Sensors on the front bumper are kinda rare until you get into more expensive cars. I can't find parts diagram for a 2016 Mazda 3 because it's too new but the 2015 doesn't have them. The OP said their sister's 2006 Prius has one too and here (https://parts.olathetoyota.com/parts/2006/Toyota/Prius/Base?siteid=216493&vehicleid=187563&diagram=8545005) is a 2006 Prius diagram showing nothing but a tow hook cover.

race_to_the_bottom
01-03-2016, 11:21 AM
As a retired dock worker, I can tell you that this is an attachment area for an eyebolt to attach lashing straps to secure vehicles in the hold of a ship.

Wallaby
01-03-2016, 04:08 PM
How do you pop the covers off - just press in and pop out? Is there a catch that needs to be lifted? Can you damage the covers?

boytyperanma
01-03-2016, 07:03 PM
How do you pop the covers off - just press in and pop out? Is there a catch that needs to be lifted? Can you damage the covers?

On most cars you kinda pry them out with a screw driver. On the Prius video I linked earlier the cap appears to overlap the grating so you can put your screw driver(or in his case tire iron behind it to pop it out.

Yes you can damage the paint, you probably won't damage the plastic that makes up the structure unless you are particularly reckless.

elfkin477
01-03-2016, 09:00 PM
How do you pop the covers off - just press in and pop out? Is there a catch that needs to be lifted? Can you damage the covers? Yes, you can damage it. My father did when he pried one off my car wondering what it was. :rolleyes: Now it doesn't go back on properly.

Voyager
01-03-2016, 11:02 PM
Those are parking sensors. If the car has this feature, it "beeps" to the driver if you are getting close to or about to hit something when parking.

http://auto.marine-news.biz/64905/car-tips/how-to-choose-parking-sensors-for-car/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parking_sensor

http://cartransplants.co.uk/used-parts-breaking-vehicles/part-details/Saab-9-3-2003-To-2007-Vector-Sport-Bumper-Rear-Proximity-Sensor/0/6493/

Maybe now, but I have a 2010 Prius with one of these just like in the video, and I don't have a parking sensor.
I wondered about towing with this thing, since it is so off center, but they guy in the video notes it is only for recovery, not long-term towing, so that makes sense. Using it to tie down the car makes sense also.

Something about my car I didn't know. Neat.

Isilder
01-03-2016, 11:51 PM
[QUOTE=engineer_comp_geek;18983368

Ok, according to a more serious post I googled, it's for towing. You pop out the panel and insert an eyelet screw, and a tow truck can safely attach a winch to that and tow the car from there.[/QUOTE]


yes its for attaching a solid towing hook, common on Japanese cars now.
(as I have seen brand new japanese cars a few times in the last few years.)


The little wire bracket type tow points below the vehicle are terrible, they aren't strong enough at first, and then they become damaged. Using the underneath tow points was also silly, as the tow rope would have to touch the bumper bar, and that would cause damage. The gov wanted to be able to tow a vehicle without causing any damage, but how ? Pull the vehicle up a slippery tilt tray...

jasg
01-04-2016, 12:27 AM
BrotherCadfael I've never seen one with a left hand thread, what kind of car was that?Cars sold to the Southern Hemisphere use left hand thread so that things don't unwind as the earth rotates. Similar to the way drains work down south...

troub
01-04-2016, 10:14 AM
Yeah, whatever. Apparently nobody R'sTFM. From my (2014) car's Owner's Manual:
Tiedown Hooks
CAUTION
Do not use the front and rear
tiedown eyelets for towing the
vehicle.
They have been designed only for
securing the vehicle to a transport
vessel during shipping.
Using the eyelets for any other
purpose could result in the vehicle
being damaged. (emphasis mine)

Tiedown Hooks
1. Remove the tiedown eyelet and the lug
wrench from the luggage compartment
(page 7-3).
2. Wrap a flathead screwdriver or similar
tool with a soft cloth to prevent
damage to a painted bumper, and open
the cap located on the front or rear
bumper.
3. Securely install the tiedown eyelet
using the lug wrench.
4. Hook the tying rope to the tiedown
eyelet.
https://mymazda.com/MusaWeb/pdf/manuals/2014_CX5_OM.pdf#mk_page_443

There are pictures. This is the thing the OP is talking about. Maybe people tend to use them for towing/recovery, but it's pretty clear that's not what they're "supposed" to be for (other than maybe securing it to a truck or flatbed). If someone has a manual that specifically says differently, then great. But "according to a post I Googled" isn't authoritative.

iceiso
01-04-2016, 11:24 AM
Ha, good to know.

I've only ever noticed them on 4WD cars. I always thought they were for headlight sprays/wipers for an upgraded variant.

boytyperanma
01-04-2016, 12:12 PM
Yeah, whatever. Apparently nobody R'sTFM. From my (2014) car's Owner's Manual:

https://mymazda.com/MusaWeb/pdf/manuals/2014_CX5_OM.pdf#mk_page_443

There are pictures. This is the thing the OP is talking about. Maybe people tend to use them for towing/recovery, but it's pretty clear that's not what they're "supposed" to be for (other than maybe securing it to a truck or flatbed). If someone has a manual that specifically says differently, then great. But "according to a post I Googled" isn't authoritative.

The Prius Manual mentions them for 'Emergency Towing':
If a tow truck is not available in an emergency, your vehicle may be
temporarily towed using a cable or chain secured to the emergency
towing eyelet. This should only be attempted on hard surfaced roads
for short distances at low speeds.
A driver must be in the vehicle to steer and operate the brakes. The
vehicle’s wheels, drive train, axles, steering and brakes must be in
good condition.

I don't think any owners manual really goes into how to get a vehicle out of a ditch. They'd rather avoid any responsibility and let the tow truck drivers deal with it. Given the option of leaving your car in a ditch vs having it pulled out be a towing eyelet most people will take their chances.

md2000
01-04-2016, 12:31 PM
I think the posters are confusing ultrasonic distance sensors with tow hook covers. Sensors are about the size of a quarter, maybe 4 spaced around the back and also possibly front bumper. Tow hooks screw into a hole under a plastic cover on the bumper about 2" x 4".

Some of the older and cheaper-made cars, or higher SUV's and trucks etc., would have a set of U-hooks below the back bumper about where the license plate is. Basically, there's nothing solid and obvious to hook onto with unibody cars, so the manufacturers provide a specific point. All my newer, fancier cars (BMW) have had a tow hook. My 2000 323i IIRC had one only on front and back offset midway between the edge and the middle. My latest BMW IIRC has 2 on each bumper, again midway between license plate and edge.

The big eye-hook is in the little toolkit. I don't think I've ever used one, I never had to pull out any stumps.

AskNott
01-04-2016, 04:43 PM
It's a buncle. A carbuncle.

Fubaya
01-04-2016, 08:48 PM
Yeah, whatever. Apparently nobody R'sTFM. From my (2014) car's Owner's Manual:

https://mymazda.com/MusaWeb/pdf/manuals/2014_CX5_OM.pdf#mk_page_443

There are pictures. This is the thing the OP is talking about. Maybe people tend to use them for towing/recovery, but it's pretty clear that's not what they're "supposed" to be for (other than maybe securing it to a truck or flatbed). If someone has a manual that specifically says differently, then great. But "according to a post I Googled" isn't authoritative.

That must be Mazda's CYA wording. When I said they were used for towing, I meant pulling them up onto a flatbed, which is what 90% of tow trucks are these days. That puts a lot of weight on the hooks so it's odd that they say they're only for tying the car down. But, the owner's manual is aimed at the owners who might try to actually tow it across town using the hook which would be dumb enough to put in the manual "do not use it for towing!!".

I think you nailed the Mazda question, but other manufacturers can be different. Infiniti G37/Q40 manuals call them recovery hooks and say to use them to pull the car out of mud/snow etc.

Ha, good to know.

I've only ever noticed them on 4WD cars. I always thought they were for headlight sprays/wipers for an upgraded variant.

Some cars do have headlight washers that look similar. Audis come to mind because a lot of Audis have them, but some BMWs and other cars do too. Here's a youtube video (https://youtube.com/watch?v=b6wReCrPvlA) of one in action. It looks like a towhook cover. It's hard to see in the video but if you look very closely, to the right and slightly lower is a perfectly round cover that is for the towhook.

snowthx
01-04-2016, 10:47 PM
That must be Mazda's CYA wording. When I said they were used for towing, I meant pulling them up onto a flatbed, which is what 90% of tow trucks are these days.

Learned something new on the Dope today!

I have a 2010 Mazda3 and the wording in the manual has not changed on this item. I wish it were more specific - this link (http://csedan.com/tiedown_hook-4647.html) is suggesting the front eyelet is to be used for pulling the vehicle up onto a transport, as you say, but not for towing, proper:

CAUTION:
Don't use the tiedown hook under the rear for towing.

It is designed ONLY for tying down the vehicle when it's being transported. Using it for towing will damage the bumper.

Tiedown Hook-Front...

Perhaps the wording in the manual is what the lawyers say is all that should be said on the matter.

I have noticed some "designer (http://ebay.com/itm/Elevo-Aluminium-Racing-Tow-hook-Suzuki-swift-Mazda-2-5-6-RX-8-M20x2-5/251878306858?_trksid=p2047675.c100011.m1850&_trkparms=aid%3D222007%26algo%3DSIC.MBE%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D20140602152332%26meid%3De35aa73c9e5e4d95ae7 3582f5519ee88%26pid%3D100011%26rk%3D6%26rkt%3D10%26mehot%3Dlo%26sd%3D262069829788)" eyelets of varying colors on tuner cars - they are left there installed and exposed - I guess these guys are expecting to be towed a lot.

Colophon
01-05-2016, 10:19 AM
I have noticed some "designer (http://ebay.com/itm/Elevo-Aluminium-Racing-Tow-hook-Suzuki-swift-Mazda-2-5-6-RX-8-M20x2-5/251878306858?_trksid=p2047675.c100011.m1850&_trkparms=aid%3D222007%26algo%3DSIC.MBE%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D20140602152332%26meid%3De35aa73c9e5e4d95ae7 3582f5519ee88%26pid%3D100011%26rk%3D6%26rkt%3D10%26mehot%3Dlo%26sd%3D262069829788)" eyelets of varying colors on tuner cars - they are left there installed and exposed - I guess these guys are expecting to be towed a lot.

Because nothing says "expert drifter" like needing to have a tow-hook pre-installed to get you out of a ditch :D

gigi
01-05-2016, 05:18 PM
Are you talking about the two rectangular things in this picture?

http://priuschat.com/attachments/photo-9-jpg.52264/

Interestingly, my Honda Insight hybrid has something similar but only on one side. Is the Mazda 3 a hybrid?

My Impreza and my father's Forester both have these on only one side of the bumper. I will have to poke gently at it since it didn't look like it opened.

http://mycarworx.com/artwork/CarWorx_Impreza_5Door_RearStepPlate_650w.jpg

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