DavDona

Debating Dolly Against Tow Bar, And Need Help

39 posts in this topic

We have just purchased a 2005, 40' Monaco motor home. I had no idea that pulling the dink was going to be so darn complicated. That said, we have a Huyndai 2007 Santa Fe, and would like to use a tow bar. However, it appears I would need a transmission oil pump, brakes and the towing equipment, which all sounds expensive and complicated. It would be far less expensive and little needed for car or motor home if we used a dolly. My question is just how convenient is a dolly to use when traveling for several months at a time? Are RV parks equiped to handle dollies? What do you do with the darn thing once you unload the car, and will parks let you keep it next to your coach? Can a 71 year old fuddy-duddy, with a bad back lift the tongue and roll it around if necessary?

Several questions, and I hope some one can give me some insight as which directions I should go. It appears that I may have to purchase a different auto to use the tow bar safely.

Dave Corbett////Punta Gorda, FL

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Hi

I am going to try to answer some of your questions.

The Santa Fe is it a front wheel drive car? If it's a rear wheel drive car then on a dolly you will need to tow it backwards. on the dolly (because the straps will be the only thing holding the car on the dolly) If it's a front wheel drive car the car will be in park while on the dolly, (more support while traveling) Tow dollies have electric brakes or momentum brakes which help stop your car. You can mount a front wheel on the tow dolly to help you move it around.

Most RV resorts have storage places for tow dollies. However some don't I used one to tow a an Acura for 2k miles It was great, However when I bought a Tracker, I needed to tow the tracker backwards on the dolly.

I got the dolly on Craigs list, with brakes for $950.00, my RV can with a mounted electric brake unit. Shop around.

I now use a Blue Ox to tow my Ford Ranger, I tow it flat four down, It's a stick shift and made to tow with everything in neutral, with the key on, however I need and use a brake buddy to help stop the truck. (2k#). Cost of blue ox >$900 + adapter for truck $350. Brake buddy $750. It may be a better tow. I will tell you this, it is far easier to unhook a Blue Ox then removing a tow from a dolly, You can't back up with either the tow dolly or the blue ox. unless you are a great great driver.

Any way you look at it, its a toss up and your choice. If your Santa Fe is a front wheel drive car I would get a dolly with electric brakes and a front wheel.

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Just a cautionary note on dolly towing in general.

It is not always a case of lifting the drive axle and letting the free wheels roll. Whether 4x4, 4x2, front or rear wheel drive, you see different information from different makes and also different year to year for the same model. Even some vehicles that can be towed flat, with all four wheels down and rolling, cannot be dollied.

Always a good idea to verify with the manufaturer on the specific vehicle whether it can be towed in any manner; even wrecker towing for that matter.

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A tow dolly is a PITA in MHO!

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...Always a good idea to verify with the manufaturer on the specific vehicle whether it can be towed in any manner; even wrecker towing for that matter...

Good advice. These dealers selling pumps, tow bars, trailers, etc, are in business to sell those things, not check to see if they will work on your vehicle.

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Personally I like towing 4 down. I bought my last car with that in mind. It had to have 4 down capability. If you already have a car and it can't do 4-down then a tow dolly is your best bet. I'm not a fan of transmission pumps.

Dan

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We've had two dollies (one borrowed to test the concept and then the one I bought), think it is the most economical way to go.

Now, after some 30 overnights, we've yet to find a place where the dolly was a hassle. The worst case I encountered was at the ABQ Balloon Fiesta, where I had to march it 50 yards to the fence line, lock it, leave it with others.

My hookup and takedown time is equal to a 4-down person; one of us has to bend over and hook up the safety chains. One day, that might knock us out of the running; but, for now, no sweat...

Something else that might propel you into 4-down: storage when not traveling. I've got 3,600 feet of garage floor, at home, so it's not a problem.

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To all of you that took the time to answer my question(s), I sincerely thank each of you. I'm still debating, but leaning to the bar. That said, the expense of all the gadgets required to tow my present auto, plus the bar, seems excessive. However, I sure don't want to buy a new car just to tow. Decisions, decisions.

Again, thanks to everyone.

Dave and Donna

PS: Jim: What does PITA mean? I got an idea that it isn't talking glowingly about dollies.

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PS: Jim: What does PITA mean?

Pain In The "anatomical feature-- not in front"

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PITA as opposed to the RPITA

We've all seen cars backwards on dollys, among the problems with that method is locking the front wheels perfectly straight, with an actual lock not just the ignition switch lock, nobody wants to see your car going down the road like a crab.

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I have a Roadmaster dolly, part no 2000-1, that I bought in California. http://www.roadmasterinc.com/products/towdolly/towdolly.html

I bought my coach in California, while there with my Volvo XC90, which I had to get home to British Columbia. Ended up getting the tow dolly, from Craigslist. Since then I have towed my Volvo S70. I have paid attention to the time it takes others to hook up their tow bars, and never found much difference in the time, from what it takes me to hook up the tow dolly.

One RV Resort has refused to allow the dolly on the site, all others haven't cared. I usually roll the tongue under the coach, front or back, and lower the ramps, so it is inconspicuous and not a trip hazard.

Backing up is tricky, but so long as I watch for the wheels to turn and stop backing before they are turned too far.

A "not so spry" 71 yr old may have some difficulty with the weight of the dolly (620 lbs.) if it needs to be pushed up a slope by hand, but so far I haven't been in a campground lacking in willing hands to assist.

The wheels are secured to the dolly with straps, and there are safety chains from the frame of the dolly to the frame of the car.

The coach has to be fitted with a brake controller that will apply the brakes proportionately when the coach brakes are applied. I had the dealer throw that in, but have seen them at Camping World for under $100.

Total cost of towing is less for a dolly, and you get to change cars without any hassles, but you need to weigh all the factors before making your decision.

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Something else that may come into consideration in the decision making process is weight. Three weight questions to ask:

Will the weight of my towed vehicle be more or less than the carry/tow capability of the dolly?

Will the combined weight of the towed vehicle and dolly be more or less than the hitch capability of the tow vehicle?

Will the combined weight of tow vehicle, towed vehicle and dolly be more or less than the GCWR of the tow vehicle?

Of course the added weight of the tow dolly could come in handy. "I'm sorry honey, (insert name of relative here) can't go. We'd be overwieght." :)

Something else that may concern some folks is a dolly could have a lower speed rating than towing four down.

In our case, could not find a dolly that could carry our initial towed vehicle (Ford F-150) and though the Jeep is lighter, it can't be towed on a dolly. The weight of the dolly would also put us within a few hundred pounds of GCWR and I'd rather carry other stuff.

On the time to hook/unhook: I don't move that fast, so many a dolly-person could probably beat us out the gate of the campground, but I'm satisfied any dolly would take me longer to hook up than the tow bars.

Dolly may be best way to go in some cases. Just would not work for us.

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Also keep in mind the number of people who have purchased toads that are touted as towable 4-wheels down, only to have the manfacturers suddenly change their minds...as well as provide an additional page in the owners manual saying they cannot be towed in that manner.

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Yes, just one question wrt to the steering wheel using a tow dolly. Is it better to leave the key in the column with the wheels free or remove the keys and have the wheels lock for towing.

Thanks.

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We have a MasterTow Dolly 80HD simply because we have two front wheel drive cars and we may tow one for one kind of trip and the other for another kind of trip. So this was the most economical route to go rather than out-fitting two cars for 4 down towing.

Regarding the physical challenges. I installed a flip-up dolly wheel ($20 at Northern Tools) on the tongue of our dolly and it helped tremendously in moving it around. You do have to get down on all fours slightly under the front of your car after it is loaded on the dolly to deal with a hinge pin when loading and unloading the car but this is not terribly challenging. I would say the weight and shape of the dolly is more awkward than heavy.

Although we were warned to the contrary, we have never encountered a problem with the dolly and RV parks. Either we got a long enough pull through site or we were able to unhook and store the dolly next to the rig.

Good luck with your decision.

Don

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I pull a tandem tow dolly behind our 2004 Monaco Diplomat on the dolly is our Harley Ultra and behind that being towed our GMC Envoy. We have not encounter and problems. The tandem tow dolly solved our problem of wanting to have the bike and the car.

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If you go with a tow dolly don't forget to buy a good pair of knee pads! You'll find out why the first time you have to hook or unhook in gravel or mud! That said, we use a tow dolly that folds up (Demco KarKaddy SS) and have had to do that only once in the last year and a half to fit into a site.

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I have a Fleetwood 39t w/ a Cat 350 turbo diesel engine. I want to pull a 2000 f150 4wd p/u. am i ok to use a tow dolly with the truck backed up on the dolly.

Empty weight is 4650 and gross is 6500. Aso I've had different opinions about electric brakes on the dolly.

Would I need the braking system on the dolly?

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I don't believe anyone recommends towing from the rear. One the Demco site, this note appears at the bottom of the page.

CAUTION: Read your motor vehicle owners manual to determine proper towing procedure. All vehicles must be towed with the front axle on the auto transport.

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We have been towing our '09 Ford Escape FWD Hybrid, behind Thor Serrano 31X for the pass year, using a Forest River Tow Dolly. No problems what so ever! Sure, the setup in bad weather is a drag........but it works well, after one has a routine established and the preparation of you towing accessories are well organized.We purchased magnetic base towing lights along with a magnetic "Car in Tow" sign for the rear lift door. Everything works well and no problems.

We are studying the feasibility of flat towing the our Escape Hybrid. However, through our research we found that many Escape owners have destroyed there transmissions. So for now, the safest way is to us the tow dolly.

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I don't believe anyone recommends towing from the rear. One the Demco site, this note appears at the bottom of the page.

CAUTION: Read your motor vehicle owners manual to determine proper towing procedure. All vehicles must be towed with the front axle on the auto transport.

CORRECT!

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Ford motor being one of manufacturers that are not telling the truth about their cars! :(

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Clearly, towing four wheels down is an easier situation. We've use a tow dolly because none of the four vehicles we owned could be towed that way. We are thinking forward to a new vehicle that could be towed four wheels down and have found that dealers at Ford and Subaru have said that none of their vehicles can be towed despite being on the FMCA list.

I use a Demco KarKaddy SS which has a tongue jack making it a little easier to roll around. But it you are not on pavement or not completely level, it does take some energy. This model had a tongue that folds up, so it only takes up 5 ft when folded. Most places accomodate a tow tolly. Some (higher end, with individual lot owners) will not let you store it on-site, but they also store it for you.

Biggest challenge is getting the car onto the dolly. Have to line it up and go up ramp with enough speed to get over the hump but not go to far. You tend to get your hands dirty putting straps onto the tires, and you have to get on the ground to hook up the safety chains to the frame.

We had our mechanic hook up independent brake lights putting the bulbs in the braike light housing. Our Saab has a light socket for a rear fog light which we used for the brake lights while towing.

Cl

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Last year our next door neighbours at the CG we were in told us about having a tire burn up on their Jeep that was following behind the MH, towed 4 down. The rt front wheel had, for unknown reasons, gone out of balance and bounced itself to death, then caused serious damage to the fender, wheel, etc. It was noticed in the rear camera eventually, when the smoke coming off the tire was obvious.

This year we had a similar occurrence, the rt side wheel of the tow dolly went out of balance and bounced itself to death. I found it when stopped for a break, when I used my IR temp guage, found the dolly tire at 140F when the rear wheel of the Volvo was at 80F. I examined the tires carefully and found the tire damage, so stopped freeway driving til I could get a replacement tire.

I would far rather replace dolly tires than have lost or severely damaged the car. Nice to have that extra layer of security.

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