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Old 10-07-2011, 08:36 AM   #1
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2 Wheels Down v/s 4 Wheels Down

I have read a lot on this forum about towing and the discuss generally sides on 2 wheels or 4 wheel applications. I can't find any discussion about the pros or cons regarding the difference. I have not purchased my toad and I am not hung up on any model so I am open to suggestions. My major concern has to do with cost of a dolly v/s cost of a towing rig, bar, plate, braking system, cost to have all this installed, an quickness of getting ready to tow. It would appear on the surface that the dolly would be quicker to hook up the toad and the cost may be less then all of the stuff you need to do to tow 4 wheels down.

Any and all comments are welcome to help us make up our minds
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Old 10-07-2011, 08:46 AM   #2
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I use a 2 wheel dolley for our front wheel drive PT Cruiser. I went the dolley method as I didn't know how long we would keep this car and didn't want the expense of changing a 4 down mounting plate to suit a new vehicle. I paid about $1100 used (after new tires) for the one we have with electric brakes. Takes me about 10 minutes to hook up and go.
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Old 10-07-2011, 09:10 AM   #3
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I considered both 2 and 4 wheel down recently during my extended toad purchase research. Here's what I came up with:

1. Cost: I was able to completely setup my Wrangler 4 wheels down for about $1300 with a braking system and the whole nine yards. That was with all new equipment. A good quality dolly was going to be significantly more than that.

2. Ease of use: Most dollies require you stop to check / tighten the straps every couple hundred miles or so. Although some see this as a welcome break and are stopping that frequently anyway, we generally don't stop that frequently when we're long-haul cross-country. YMMV. BTW, some 4 down toads require you stop and run the engine periodically too, so depending on what you get for a toad, this issue may be a wash.

3. A lot of people worry about where to put the dolly while camping. I considered this issue but was fairly confident it would not be that big of a deal, compared to a full car trailer. The dolly I was looking at folded up as well which made it a lot shorter for storage.

4. Time to hook / unhook. I think once you get the hang of either setup it's going to be fairly quick either way.

5. Backing up lands squarely in the tow dolly column. With a dolly you can, 4 down you cannot.

6. Paperwork / documentation. Apparently some states require a tow dolly to be registered like a trailer. CO does not so I didn't get too far into this one. I doubt it would be a major expense but some people don't like the hassle of yet more paperwork to deal with every year.

7. Transferability (word?). You can change toads easier with a dolly since most FWD cars can be dollied without any modification. 4-down you would need a new base plate and possibly even braking system depending on how you set it up to begin with.

As with most things RV, a lot of it comes down to what fits your situation / needs / way you RV. For us we wanted an easy to setup toad that we could use to go exploring. I also use it as a daily driver for work. For us the Wrangler 4-down was the way to go so that's what we did. Doesn't fit everyone's needs though.

I'm surprised you haven't found much discussion on this issue already, I found tons searching here and other RV forums.
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Old 10-07-2011, 09:23 AM   #4
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I can hook up my car and connect the brake in less than the 10 minutes quoted above. I think there are two issues to consider. The first is cost. A tow dolly will be cheaper. The second is convenience. A tow dolly can be a pain to hook up the straps and reach around the tires for the safety chains, especially if it is raining or muddy. You need to have a front wheel drive car for a tow dolly or it gets more complicated too. Where are you going to store the dolly when you park? Are you physically able to manhandle the dolly? A dolly adds about 800 pounds to the weight of your toad. Do you have the extra capacity to still stay under your hitch rating? By the way, you cannot back up either system. I have seen one person back up the dolly without a car attached but it can be tough since you have to rely on your backup camera to even see the dolly and it tends to jack knife easily. Another thought: have you ever heard of someone switching from a four wheels down toad to a dolly? I have head of several switching from the dolly to the four wheels down toad, so that says something to me.
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Old 10-07-2011, 09:26 AM   #5
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Cost wise the Dolly is faster to set up for the first pull.
After that 4 down is faster and easier to hook up & unhook to use the toad.

Price wise can almost be a wash depending on what kind of Dolly or 4 down setup you get or want. Used or New?

Tow Bars can range from price at less then $160 to over $800.

4 down with tow bar attached to MH. No need to find room for Dolly storage.
When stopping the 4 down will have 4 brakes helping and without all the extra weight of the dolly's only 2 brakes to stop in a emergence.

Less weight without dolly can be more MPG.

In some cases the extra weight of the Dolly plus toad can put some MH's over their GCWR.

You can also buy a Dolly that will cost a $1,000 or more then a 4 down setup complete with parts/labor.
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Old 10-07-2011, 09:27 AM   #6
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I feel the 4-down method is definitely easier/quicker to hook up, but neither is a real big deal. I don't think it takes us more than 5 minutes to hook up or detach the car with our Blue Ox Aventa tow bar, and we can do it in 2-3 minutes if in a hurry.

Cost difference depends a lot on what you buy for 4-down tow bar and brake system, cause there is a quite a spread of price for basic vs the most elegant tow bars and systems. And I assuming we are comparing a dolly with brakes to 4-down with brakes.
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Old 10-07-2011, 10:39 AM   #7
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Thanks to all for the quick replies and all of the information and suggestions. Now I need to select a Toad and check with my local RV dealership to see what kind of cost we are talking about for the 4 wheels down option. I have priced the dolly delivered to my home so now I need to understand the cost for the tow bar, etc. There dosn't appear to be a clear advantage one way or the other...it is what you want to do based on the toad you are towing and your personal preference.
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Old 10-07-2011, 10:49 AM   #8
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The biggest issue for me is "what the heck would I do with that dolly when I wasn't using it?"

I tow a wrangler 4 down. most of my tow equipment was pruchased used on here or craigslist.

Wrangler tow bar brackets, new from blue ox $52.
alladin towbar, used, included wiring umbilicle and safety cables $250
SMI stay n play, used $450

About 8 hours total of my labor to setup the tow baw brackets, braking system, and toad lighting.

Hookup and unhook time is about thirty three seconds each.

Towbar stows on the back of the motorhomes, as do all the chains and cables unless I feel like taking the time to lock em up.
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Old 10-07-2011, 11:22 AM   #9
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4 Down is the way to go.
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Old 10-07-2011, 09:09 PM   #10
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I guess I went against the grain. We just switched from towing 4 down to a tow dolly. May be the first ever for all I know.

Whatever the wife drives is what we tow. She tends to need/want to change vehicles every 3 to 4 years so it does get expensive setting up the new vehicle plus there is a limited selection of towable vehicles. The last one we bought this summer is towable but she said she hated having to cut the front of her new car for the baseplate. So I looked at other options and a dolly is it.

After considering the costs a dolly is best for us as we buy it once and as long as we get a front wheel drive vehicle, which we always do anyway, we're good to go. I've only used it once but did not find it to be any big deal. It weighs 540 lbs so it does add some weight but I can't tell any difference than when we towed 4 down. I guess that may depend on the coach your have. Everything did take longer because I am more cautious as it is all new to me. With time I think it will be wash. The issue of what to do with it at the campground may or may not be a problem depending on where we are. My plan is to get a pull thru site whenever possible. At home, it fits nicely in my garage so storage is not a problem.

I know folks who have done both will generally say 4 down is better but I refuse to go down that road. I will say they both have their pluses and whatever fits your needs is what you should do.
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Old 10-07-2011, 11:06 PM   #11
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I've towed the same vehicle both ways and frankly they're about equal. Four down has pluses and minuses, just as does the dolly.
If you remove the tow brackets between towing four down then the dolly and four down are about equal in setup time.
Our Honda requires that I run the engine for 3 min to lube the trans for four down towing, I use the time to set the braking system in place.
With four down there is the chance of having more transmission trouble, plus the extra wear on the CV joints, brakes and tires.
Costs more to tow four down when you change vehicles as you need new brackets, wiring and brake install.
Dolly is harder to store, and move. Only once have I had to store the dolly someplace else (FMCA rally in Albany OR).
Dolly wheels stick out beyond the MH by a few inches but it follows the MH better, Four down the Ody cuts the corner more so I have to stay away from curbs further.
I stop after a few miles when towing to check everything over so no difference there.
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Old 10-20-2011, 06:52 AM   #12
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I have tried both ways, what you want to tow will have the most imput on what will work best for you. Front wheel drive car and you trade often a dolly. 4x4 truck or jeep, most likely 4 down. I keep reading about some having problems keeping the tiedown strapes tight on the dollies On all the trips from Texas to North Idaho and back no problem. Check first gas stop may get one more click on handle after that check each gas stop and have never had to retighten.
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Old 10-20-2011, 10:58 PM   #13
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I've towed both ways and as far as I'm concerned 4 down is the way to go for me. Don't have to find a place to store the dolly and don't have to have straps loosen up when they stretch and/or get wet.I also had a dolly fender vibrate enough to break off. y
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