For some vehicles, flat towing just simply isn’t an option. Whether it be due to a manufacturer no longer making proper equipment for your model/year or because your vehicle simply cannot be towed. This is where you would begin to seek out alternate forms of towing in order to save you the hassle of packing up your campsite every time you want to run an errand/explore your area. Have no fear; Tow Dollies are here.
While it may seem disappointing to not be able to set up a Tow bar/ base plate flat towing setup, there are several benefits to Dolly towing.
- Loading and unloading your vehicle is fairly simple and upfront.
- Requires no installation of internal or external components (simply hook up and go.)
- Most dollies have their own braking system, which also requires little to no modification of your vehicle!
- In contrast to trailer bed towing, tow dollies take up substantially less room when it comes time to store them.
Tow dollies operate similar to a trailer, without the bed. Utilizing a 2 wheel setup, one hooks the front wheels of their car onto the 2 wheel trailer, and because most modern/compact vehicles you’d want to take with you are Front Wheel Drive this setup will have put the car at risk of minimal damage and will not interfere with the drivetrain or odometer. Installation is fairly simple! Just drive onto the dolly, strap down the wheels of the car to the tow dolly, and for added safety, we recommend chaining the vehicle to the tow dolly – in case of mechanical failure. (This is in addition to adding a tow chain between your RV and the tow dolly, not in place of! Safety First, always!)
1.) Center Pivot Towable Dolly – This type of dolly utilized a single center pivot point, allowing cars to take corners without cutting them. This is a somewhat more economic option of the two.
2.) The second option utilizes a kingpin-style system, allowing the dolly’s wheel to take corners themselves, similar to a car would.
In most dollies, additional braking systems are not required because there are usually braking styles built into the unit. These are:
1.) Electric brakes that work communicate with your RV, by installing a brake controller to your motorhome, to apply brakes when the coach does.
2.) Surge brakes – this style of braking requires no additional equipment because they sense a shift in weight when you slow down.
For more information on Tow Dolly braking, please check out Ready Brake’s handy law outline by state/province here.
While most dollies come with tow lights attached to the fenders, as you know towing lights are required in order to be compliant with the law and avoid timely and expensive fines.
Luckily setting up tow dolly lighting is much easier than one would think, and there are two ways you could go:
1.) Hooking up the wiring from your motorhome to your car, and then set it up so that your motorhome controls the car's lights directly. (turn signals, brake lights, etc.) This can be achieved in one of two ways: First, you may use the vehicle’s lamps with diodes to prevent the RV power from feeding back into the car, which can result in damage to the towed vehicle. Or secondly, you may wish to drill holes into the taillights and installing separate bulbs to work with the Motorhome system.
2.) Alternatively, one could set up an external light bar to the rear of the towed vehicle to produce a simpler, but similar effect. The easiest way is to use magnetic lights and can achieve the same effect as wiring it directly.
All in all, dolly towing is relatively simple, and most U-Haul rental sites have the pivot style dolly as mentioned above – so if you can’t spring for one to own right away there are options!