I've had a Vertex for five years and haven't had any serious issues with it. It's built for four bikes and generally transports my xc, fatbike in winter, occasional long distance trips with up to three bikes (including a dh) and occasional trips fully loaded with four bikes.

The plastic holders on the arms are pretty rough, and on a couple the spot where the strap connects to are worn off. Not a big deal to me since I rarely max out the spots on it.

What I wonder though is how long the unit itself is meant to perform.

Do they ever fail? Are there general guide lines on life spans of these? Is there a way to give it a safety check?

Any input is greatly appreciated. I do tons of driving with my bikes. My biggest nightmare is for the unit to fail on a highway and cause an accident and or someone to get hurt. I just got back from a two week road trip with two bikes, and am planning my next trip, and this is something I ponder as I drive drown the highway.