travelenman

4 Wheels Down Or Tow Dolly

28 posts in this topic

I am about to be a new camper at 63 (towed a popup when the kids were young but nothing since then) and my first dilemma is to decide whether or not to tow my 2010 Honda CRV and tow it 4 wheel down or use a dolly. Everything I see seems pretty negative about dollys but I worry about what I read about dead toad batteries, transmission damage etc. HELP

I will be towing with a Super C by Nexus (Ghost).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We're using a dolly, and I'm not certain to what extent I can recommend the practice. In the past, I've been a strong advocate of dollies, but now think they fill a specialized niche in the RV community.

Yeh, you can haul different vehicles (guests arrive Wednesday with a rented* minivan that'll go on it for our upcoming trip). And, storing it at campsites or event venues has never been a problem. But, the dolly requires special considerations absent in 4-down towing.

The engineering of our Roadmaster is anything but optimum: its Load Range C tires are marginal, and the OEM Carlisle tires -- I dare you to Google "Carlisle" along with "failure" or "dangerous" or "blowout" -- are notoriously dangerous. Two have exploded on ours, destroying the fender each time. I'm using Karrier Loadstars at present, but plan to upgrade both tires to Load Range D models.

However, even if the dolly came with good tires that possessed a large weight range margin, the it must be maintained at regular intervals. The suspension as designed is ridiculously sloppy, making precise alignment impossible. After experiencing uneven wear of my new Loadstars, I've modified the steering arm, and have dialed in the alignment to perfection. It requires a complete re-torque, alignment and lube every 3,000 miles. Not a challenge for even a modest home shop, but daunting to many RV'ers.

Most people gripe about the effort it takes to hook up and unhook the vehicle, but I don't regard that as a problem. Most of the time, I'm loaded or unloaded faster than a 4-down unit. My wife easily mounts the car onto the dolly, has made several solo trips towing her car.

And, dolly use doesn't leave its mark on a car: no excessive mileage, holes in the bumper, wear from the braking unit, etc.

In all, I'd say that dollies are a bad deal unless you meet all three of the following conditions: you wish to tow a variety of vehicles, bending and crouching aren't problems, and you have a shop. If any of those are missing, spend the extra money and give up a little flexibility; tow 4 down.

* All applicable legal and safety precautions have been addressed

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you go into Canada you will need to have brakes on the rear axle of the vehicle if it is on a dolly as well as the dolly wheels.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks so much to those who responded.

Your information is very valuable and now I am a little closer to deciding.

This forum has convinced me that I must become a member of FMCA.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you go into Canada you will need to have brakes on the rear axle of the vehicle if it is on a dolly as well as the dolly wheels.

I don't understand this post. You need brakes on the tow vehicle & the dolly?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Every axle on the road must have brakes in Canada.

How do you make the rear brakes come on, lets say, my Impala, when it's on a dolly?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The same way as towing 4 down. Either with air, diesel pusher or any other brake system for 4 wheel towing. The tow dolly will have its own brakes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am about to be a new camper at 63 (towed a popup when the kids were young but nothing since then) and my first dilemma is to decide whether or not to tow my 2010 Honda CRV and tow it 4 wheel down or use a dolly. Everything I see seems pretty negative about dollys but I worry about what I read about dead toad batteries, transmission damage etc. HELP

I will be towing with a Super C by Nexus (Ghost).

The Honda CRV is probably the most common 4 down towed in use.

There are simple ways to address the dead battery problem and I don’t know of anyone who has had a transmission problem if they follow the directions in the owner’s manual.

Bill

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This forum is a wonder, wonderful resource for new and experienced RVers. My thanks to all of you for your advice and thanks to FMCA for sponsoring this forum.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I started this chain and I followed the advice that I receive by trading my wife's car for a newer used car with a manual transmission. I know that I have to have a skid plate installed on the car and have a tow bar. What else should I do to tow this car? What should I know about towing a manual transmission Honda Accord. Thanks in advance for your help!!!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was not aware that Honda approved of towing the Accord, even with manual transmission. As to whether that is a legal decision or mechanical-based decision, I don't know.

And, with any toad, toad BRAKES are an excellent idea and/or legally required.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I used a Dolly to tow a Toyota Camry and a Nissan Sentra. Really liked both vehicles, but they can not be towed 4 down with auto tranny. The tires on the Dolly had to be replaced twice. The manufacturer indicated if I got 7k miles out of the tires I was doing good. I got 10 k out of them. No shocks, no springs.

I have been towing 4 down with a Jeep Liberty and now a Sonic.

When I was younger and full of P&V, the Dolly was fine, easy for me to use, move around, and could load the car without assistance with practice.

However, the 4 down towing is much easier for me now. I would not go back to a Dolly

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I started this chain and I followed the advice that I receive by trading my wife's car for a newer used car with a manual transmission. I know that I have to have a skid plate installed on the car and have a tow bar. What else should I do to tow this car? What should I know about towing a manual transmission Honda Accord. Thanks in advance for your help!!!!!

As far as the transmission is concerned when it is in neutral the gears still rotate and since the lubrication is done by the dip and splash method all the bearing surfaces are lubed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This dilemma goes on. The Honda Accura even with standard transmissions can't be towed 4 down. So we will tow the Honda SRV and mind all of the Honda CRV and mind all the Honda rules. I really appreciate all of the comments and advice. I will have a Blue Ox base plate installed and use a Blue Ox Tow Bar. Since my coach is being manufactured I have requested a four point connection be added in addition to the regular hitch electric connection. I will use that for the lights and use the car power for the brake unit on the driver's side floor board.

Thanks again, my wife and I have joined FMCA because this is such a valuable resource for newbies like us.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We used to tow my wife's Mini-cooper on a dolly (CVT tranny). I'm a young feller, so not a big deal to bend over and tie down the wheel straps etc. I was probably overly cautious and also used chains on the front axle and attached them to the dolly. Did it for three years. Sold the Mini cooper and purchased another vehicle in which I can tow 4-down. Mind you, I have not yet towed 4-down, so I don't know how much longer it will take to attach the toad to the back of the rig vs. dolly. What I can tell you is that with the chains, and all the bouncing the mini cooper took while towing, the chains inevitably binded. And upon arriving to our destination, I always had to finagle a way to undo the bound chains. Also, I would make several stops on a journey and would always have to cinch the straps one or two more "clicks." Seems with all the bouncing and left/right turns, the straps would stretch and become slightly loose.

I suspect towing 4-down also has it quirks as well. Making sure your aux. brake is working, toad battery drain, not being able to back up with the toad still attached to your rig, adding mileage to your toad, etc. So, both methods have their respective + and -'s. But what I have noticed is that most of the rigs we see on the road, by far I see way more 4-down toads than I do front wheels up and for that matter, 4 wheels up. Just because I saw alot of 4-down toads, didn't convince me to sell the mini. We needed a larger car because we are a family of four and a couple of dogs. Wanted to take the dogs with us to some excursions once we arrived to our destination. Cooper simply wasn't big enough to do this. Also, I was also just getting tired of the hassle of loading and unloading.

Let's see if the grass is greener on the other side once I start towing 4-down.

Rob

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the lengthy reply.

My Honda CRV says to stop every 200 miles (my back usually requires a stop that often anyway) and while stopped it says to start the car, foot on brake, run through all the gears and within 10 minutes you are back on your way.

Check your manual to see if they have any towing instructions.

Thanks again,

Travelenman

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've used a tow dolly for several years and quite a lot of miles. Mine is a rigid axle dolly with a rotating deck plate. I also use tow cables attached to each side of the front frame of each of the two vehicles Ii tow. They stay attached to the vehicle and I unwind enough of each to reach and attach to the anchor bar on the dolly deck plate when I'm mounting either vehicle to the tow dolly. These tow cables are the common type available at any auto parts store. They come precoiled with end loops which I secure together using a chain link of the type secured by a screw threaded sleeve. They are easy to unscrew but are very strong and secure.

I'm a bit of a safety nut having had a trailer break away once on the road! However, I feel comfortable that these safety cables will keep the car and dolly together even if a wheel harnesses brake.

The main problem with this system is that to hitch or unhitch i have to get down on a mat on the ground to attach or detach the safety cables! The rest of the process is no problem since I use a socket and long handled wrench to tighten the harness takeups on the dolly.

My dolly, of course, has its own brakes and I quess if I expect to go into Canada I'll have to install a system to operate the car brakes as well! A word of warning about tow dollies like mine with a rigid axle and rotating deck ; when used with a wide vehicle like my Ford Windstar be careful not to make too sharp turns because the dolly fenders can contact and damage the towed vehicle.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just finished a 4,000 mile 2 month trip towing my Prius on a Kar Kaddy dolly http://www.pplmotorhomes.com/parts/towing/tow-dollys/demco/demco-kar-kaddy3.htm which from the research we did is the top of the line. It has hydraulic brakes instead of impulse and several pivot points. It is suppose to be the best.

One of the first things I did when I returned is trade the Prius in on a 2012 Jeep Liberty. As far as I'm concerned I'd sooner give up RVing rather than tow on a dolly again. The reason I chose the Jeep (after considerable research and hours of conversations in RV parks) is because they are, as near as I can tell, the only manufacturer that takes towing behind an RV in consideration. There is a switch (a button) on the transfer consol that you depress in an easy process and it electronically disconnects the drive shaft. Other manufacturers give instructions on how to tow 4 on the road, but the car is not manufactured with that in mind.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Started out with a dolly in 07 for wife's WV. Quickly tired of the hastle of storing and connecting the dolly, having someone to help guide me onto the ramps, then strapping down the tires. What a pain in wet weather and even worse when you had to disconnect after driving in wet conditions. Bought a 07 liberty and a blue ox and could not be happier. Totally a one man operation. Takes 5 min or less to be ready to roll. No worries with battery drain or milage on toad odometer. Has worked fine for approx 10,000 miles.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I started this chain and I followed the advice that I receive by trading my wife's car for a newer used car with a manual transmission. I know that I have to have a skid plate installed on the car and have a tow bar. What else should I do to tow this car? What should I know about towing a manual transmission Honda Accord. Thanks in advance for your help!!!!!

I have been towing 4 down for a long time, and I've never heard of the necessity of a skid plate.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We also started with a tow dolly in 2010, since our car couldn't be flat towed. Used it for 2 years. It was ok, but as one other said, we'd have to tighten the straps along the way, get on the ground to get everything attached properly & if you were on a really rough road, you really had to watch it.

Last year we bought a Chevy Equinox & a Ready Brake tow bar & brake system. It's so easy now. We're hooked up & ready to go in about 5 minutes. Instead of pulling the fuse, we installed a homemade switch, so we never have a problem with the battery. We do run the car before hookup, during our lunch break & after stopping or unhooking. It is definitely easier.

We'll never go back to a tow dolly!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The CRV is a great vehicle to tow four down. The owner's manual spells out what you need to do...the stop (in our manual) to start it and run it through the gears, is eight hours, there is no mention of miles.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The general consensus is that 4 down is the way to go except if you tow multiple vehicles, don't have a vehicle that can be towed 4 down and want to tow more economically. We purchased our 40' dp last fall and realized that we needed to tow a car but didn't have vehicle that could be towed 4 down nor did we know exactly what 4 down systems we might want. We found an almost new Mastercraft tow dolly with surge brakes, safety chains, led lights and towed one of our existing vehicles. Things went fairly well other than the need to get on the ground to connect and disconnect the safety chains and use some 2x6's to keep the vehicle cowl from being ripped off when backing off the dolly. We also timed ourselves against neighbors who had 4 down systems and found that we spent 10-20 minutes more depending on the circumstances. We are fortunate that both of our storage facilities have enough room to accommodate the dolly without paying for an additional space but can't say that all of the campgrounds for our upcoming trip out west will be able to.

So we have just completed most of our 4 down purchases except a wiring harness that included a Saturn Vue (sold two existing vehicles and just about came out even), tow bar, base plate, hitch for the Vue for bikes and braking system. When we sell the dolly we estimate we will still have at least another $1500 into to package. We hope the ease of connecting/disconnecting the toad, lack of storage space requirements for the dolly and the elimination of some vehicles will make the process easier for us and support the additional cost. We look at it as the same type of investment we made purchasing the dp vs a gasser. You get what you pay for.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now