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Debating Dolly Against Tow Bar, And Need Help

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Koliver.

A Tire Pressure Monitoring System will prevent a lot of this kind of damage. It will alert you of a loss of tire pressure on coach or toad.

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Brett:

I had no loss of air, just overheating due to too much bouncing, wear and friction. Not sure what the pressure was doing, but likely it was going up a bit with the temperature. So whatever story the TPMS would have told would need someone with a lot of expertise to figure out. Once I had new tires on the dolly, the temp remained the same as on the rear wheels of the car. I don't think I would want to wait for a loss of pressure before realizing there was something wrong.

Regular temperature readings with the IR gun will always tell you when one tire is too hot. I also take readings on others pulled into rest stops beside me, so as to see what the heat of the day is doing generally to other rigs and trucks.

Harbour Freight has an IR gun in this month's flyer for $34.99, so there is no excuse not to own one.

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With a tire pressure monitoring system, as that tire heated up, the PSI would rise along with it. Pretty easy to see that one tire is higher pressure than the other(s) on that axle.

So, they can alert you to too much PSI (due to heat) as well as too little (due to a leak).

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Wow, so much extra information with this thread. All of it is good; we've got great field reporters.

Reference the earlier notes:

  • We've never had a problem, stowing the dolly during stopovers. But, remember that a dolly can only remain hooked up at a longer pull-thru site. Otherwise, there is some muscle and dexterity needed, rolling the thing around. That aspect, rather than setup, will deter less fit individuals from using a dolly.
  • A dolly adds maintenance and storage obligations. Per manufacturer procedure, I align mine and calibrate the brakes every few thousand miles.
  • Unlike 4-down towing, dolly tires don't have a big margin between load rating and actual loading in many cases. Both OEM tires (cheap Chinese Carlisles) that came on my Roadmaster 2000-1 blew, with perfect inflation, within the first few thousand miles of use. Such a blowout will destroy the dolly fender, could mar the toad.
  • Accomplished dolly owners can hook up their toads without kneeling, in less than five minutes. My wife and I work as a team, starting with her driving to the base of the ramps and then allowing me to steer the car onto the dolly from alongside. I provide perfect alignment, and she can stop at the exact point based on feel and the <Clunk> of the lock seating.
  • TPMS is critical, no matter which type of towing is employed. Due to higher loading, dolly tire temps will be higher, the pressure must be carefully maintained at the sidewall value (cold inflation). Our TireTraker system requires no signal boosting, I'm a big fan of the company.

We all seem to agree that if money is no object, or physical fitness is an issue, or you have no intent on using more than one toad over a long period of time, 4-down towing is probably the way to go. But, for physically fit RV'ers who'd like to change cars (either amongst a fleet, or over time), with ample storage at home, the dolly is a real asset.

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I've done this a short distance with my Tundra, and it worked fine.

However, from what I'm hearing, not a good idea.

  • Heavy rig, would definitely need brakes on dolly
  • Some have said it wrecks front end alignment of the toad, wears out tires
  • The steering wheel lock is the only protection you have against slinging the front end into oncoming traffic
  • It might warrant law enforcement attention, out on the road

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"The steering wheel lock is the only protection you have against slinging the front end into oncoming traffic"

Sounds like you need an alignment. Your car will be aligned with some caster, so when towed, it will naturally track straight, and in a turn, the wheels will follow the turn. While the car is on the dolly, the wheels remain in the straight ahead position at all times, as it is the dolly that steers.

The same applies to a tow dolly, which will track identically the way a car would track, unless no load is on the dolly, when there is a locking pin that keeps everything in a straight line.

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I used a tow dolly for almost three years because I had a non-towable vehicle and didn't want to buy a new car. I became so sick of the tow dolly because of having to crawl under to unhook safety chains and all the other stuff. I was such a headache to have to unload the car and then move the dolly around in an RV space. The only saving grace I had was the fact that I had a hitch ball on the back of the car to help with moving it around. I finally got smart and purchased a Chevy HHR which takes very little modification to tow. I'm not necessarily saying the HHR is a great car though! However, I find it so easy to unhook the car and stow the tow bar on the back of the motorhome it's almost a pleasure. Literally, I can have it unhooked and ready to drive in about 5 minutes. I've never had any problems with towing with the tow bar. I just check it each time I stop to make sure the safety chains and lights are still OK.

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Yes a dolly can be extra work but I ended up with 3 vieacals that could not be towed 4 down. Who would have thought Honda would make the 2012 Civic so it couldn’t be towed 4 down. I didn’t want to spend the money on a different car right now so I bought a dolly from Acme. This unit has disk brakes. I looked at several used units but they were verrey used and were nearly as expensive as the new ones. So far I have used it on a couple of short trips (under 500 miles) and had no problems. The last campground had pull through sites that were long enough I didn’t un hook the dolly as it didn’t stick out in the way. I went to a bigger rally and they made you down load and park the dolly by the entrance. There was a stout fence to chain it to. Yes it is a little harder loading the dolly and getting every thing tied down but I watched some other people having there problems with their tow bar. Yes I may end up with something I can tow 4 down but for know this works.

Just a note to Andy Shane, you have to leave the key on so the steering is UNLOCKED. I have read several posts that mentioned leaving the wheels locked when towing on a dolly and that is incorrect.

Bill

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I presently own a dolly, but I am considering going to a tow bar. The reason is I live in New York and for me to travel south through N.J. I was told that you can not tow with a dolly on the Jersey Turnpike and also the Garden State Parkway by a fellow camper. He told me a friend of his got pulled over by state trooper and was told to exit immediately. I don't know where you'll be traveling but that might be something to consider. If anyone else has had a problem in Jersey maybe you could share it. That would help with my decision to go to a tow bar

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I tow with a Kar Kaddy dolly. We tow a Prius which cannot be towed on all 4. I have no problem hooking up and unloading etc. The tow dolly has surge brakes which work very well.

I have looked at 4 down towing and I find it pretty expensive for the equipment. I purchased the Kar Kaddy for less than $1200.00 used and can use it with any front wheel drive car. The Prius is cheaper to drive than my motorcycle so that helps a lot when we are parked. YMMV ;)

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I presently own a dolly, but I am considering going to a tow bar. The reason is I live in New York and for me to travel south through N.J. I was told that you can not tow with a dolly on the Jersey Turnpike and also the Garden State Parkway by a fellow camper. He told me a friend of his got pulled over by state trooper and was told to exit immediately. I don't know where you'll be traveling but that might be something to consider. If anyone else has had a problem in Jersey maybe you could share it. That would help with my decision to go to a tow bar

I'd check with the NJ authorities for verification of "a friend of a friend" information. Sometimes things get lost in the translation when being passed around.

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Phone man if you check the towing guide it says that the 2000 F150 can be towed with the manual 4WD shift only or lever operated and the center disconnect must be locked out. I don't think you can tow a 4 WD vehicle with 2 wheels off the ground without damaging the trans or 4WD trans, be sure to check it out with a good mechanic before you try it, guess how I know!

On towing a 2 wheel drive vehicle 4 down, Guys have you thought about letting the car idle when towing instead of the installing a transmission pump, most cars transmission pump pumps the fluid around when in N but not sure all do. We had a member that towed a Lincoln car 4 down for yrs from Alaska to Florida every year-- he just let it idle. I have towed rear wheel drive autos and pickups to the Auto auction for yrs on a dolly forward with the engine running with no problem but I would check with someone to make sure the trans pump is pumping at idle.

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