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Old 07-16-2012, 04:30 PM   #1
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4 down 'vs' trailer

I see so many motorhomes on the freeways towing 4 down so there must be something to it. Why not tow it on a trailer so that you're not racking up the miles on your toad? Plus I've been told that you CAN'T back up if you are towing 4 down but you can with a trailer. And you're putting wear & tear on 4 tires instead of 2 trailer tires... so whats the benefit, theres got to be some because I see so many doing it?

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Old 07-16-2012, 04:35 PM   #2
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The main reason I know of to tow 4 down is not having to deal with the trailer or tow dolly. One less thing to deal with. With 4 down, you pull into a camp ground, unhook the car and your done. All other options you unload the car and now what? There are of course benefits to using a trailer, one you mentioned.

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Blythewood SC
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Old 07-16-2012, 04:37 PM   #3
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The towing miles don't show on my Jeep + no trailer to fool with when we get there.
Russ, Sue, and Max ( our killer Maltese ) in a 2011 Monaco Knight 36PFT, 2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
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Old 07-16-2012, 04:54 PM   #4
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I have done the tow dolly and there is no comparison,it pulls better and not trailer to deal with and as the other post stated miles don't add up trany is not turning. One other thing you don't have the weight of the trailer either.
2007 Fleetwood Revolution LE 40V
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Old 07-16-2012, 04:59 PM   #5
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I pulled a car trailer when we had a off road vehicle. We hardly used CG's and it was OK. Later we used CG and it was a PIA.
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Old 07-16-2012, 05:14 PM   #6
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I have done it both ways, and having to deal with the trailer can be an issue. If you are going to a campground you will usually need a place to park the trailer, unless you have a LONG pull-thru camping spot. Campgrounds sometimes have a place you can park the trailer. You will need to unload the trailer, then park the trailer somewhere, it helps to have a hitch on the car so you can move the trailer around without using the MH, then park the MH. Then pretty much reverse the procedure when you get ready to leave. I would usually call the campground ahead to find out if they have a spot for me to park the trailer. A tow dolly is a little different then a flat bed car hauler trailer. It's not as long, a car trailer can be 22 to 24 feet long, and you can usually push the tow dolly around by hand.
We usually tow a Jeep four down but take the trailer for a show car.
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Old 07-16-2012, 05:21 PM   #7
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I've towed the same vehicle both on a dolly and four down. After the last trip towing four down I'm going back to the dolly. The Ody (2005 EX-L) needed a wheel alignment and got lots more rock chips. Plus the battery ran down several times (new battery just before we left). I could run a charge line but I think the dolly pulls easier and definately tracks better than the Ody four down.

By the time I fool around with the removable hidden connectors, brake setup and running the engine through the gears for 3 min. (plus having to do it when we stop) it's just as easy or easier to just use the dolly. Only once have we had to store the dolly away from the rig and that was at an FMCA rally in Albany OR where the elec. handicapped were crowded way too close together.

We have a Demco KK-460, the wheels stear and it has surge brakes with folding tongue and ramps so storage is easy.
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Charter Good Sam Lifetime Member, FMCA, SKP
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Old 07-16-2012, 05:24 PM   #8
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When my tow dolly is not being used I stand it upright against a wall, when I had my trailer it was always parked in the wrong spot and took up a lot of yard space,
a trailer needs 10% to 15% of total weight as tongue weight to handle nicely, makes no difference with a tow dolly, no added downward weight on the rear,
but with a tow dolly you have to think way ahead when pulling into a place because you can only back up a few feet before things get all cattywampus,
where I live trailers must be registered and licensed, but not tow dollies.
1990 34' Hawkins Motor Coach, Oshkosh/460 Ford EFI. '97 Subaru Impreza 5 speed towd, NorthEast Alabama.
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Old 07-16-2012, 05:47 PM   #9
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We used a tow dolly for almost 2 years. It was ok BUT, it takes more time & effort to connect, one time one of tire straps snapped. Thank god, we had made a stop & of course we checked out the dolly & found it, before something really bad happened. Toward the end of using it, we had a flat on the front tire while on the dolly - a real pain getting the car off & the very last trip, which was the last straw for my husband, we blew a tire on the dolly, at night on a 3 lane highway with no shoulders. I can't tell you how difficult it was to get the car off that dolly!! That was our last trip for 3 months & before we started again we bought a new car that could be flat towed. As stated above, there is a fuse to be pulled so the miles don't accumulate & the battery doesn't drain.
Karen & Collins & Snuggles (our Shi-pooh)
Full timing & loving it!
Monaco Diplomat 2006
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Old 07-16-2012, 06:02 PM   #10
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Most towed's do not "Rack up miles" (At least on the odometer) when being towed, Modern cars have electronic odometers and it is easy to disable those whie towing, Some cars you use an axle lock or drive shaft disconnect and leave the tranny in PARK so even older gear driven odometers do not rack up miles.

IF you trailer, or dolly the car you have this heavy dolly or even heavier trailer to tow, this adds to the cost of towing and if you have a gasser, exceeds your tow limits, though I know folks who do it that way. They are overloading their hitch and this is a formula for bad things happening.

Plus you have to find a place to stow the trailer when parked.

It is also harder to load and unload than to hitch/un-hitch.

However. if you trade toweds often and have a Diesel, IT is really easy to park the new towed on the trailer instead of instaling the aux brakes, tow bar base plate and lights on the new car every year.
Home is where I park it!
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Old 07-16-2012, 08:53 PM   #11
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Let's see: many people are close to the towing limit with their car - add anywhere from about 700 lbs to 1500 lbs for a trailer and it'll put them over their towing limit. All that weight puts added stress on the motorhome's drive train, possibly increasing operating costs. Not to mention the added hit to fuel mileage.

Then there's the issue of purchasing the trailer, registering it, and maintaining it. On top of that is the need to store it somewhere, both at home and when stopped in a campground. Many campgrounds don't allow room to leave the trailer connected on the site, or provide room to store the disconnected trailer on-site so it must be left in a common parking area somewhere.

Tow dollies are another option, but again you need to add 500-700 lbs to the towing weight to account for the dolly. Again, you've got the registration and maintenance costs to think about. And tow dollies are difficult, if not impossible, to back up. Again, storage at home and in campgrounds can be an issue.

Towing 4-down is the choice of many, assuming the vehicle is capable of the feat. Although you add physical miles to the tires, bearings, and axle shafts many do not rack up odometer miles while towing. Backing up is discouraged, but other than the tow bar, which usually stays connected to the RV there's no issue with storing anything at home or on the road. Purchase cost rivals the cost of trailers, but there's no registration issues, and maintenance is minimal.
Alan Hepburn - San Jose, Ca
2007 Bounder 35E being pushed by a 2008 smart fortwo Passion
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Old 07-16-2012, 10:08 PM   #12
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  • cost of the trailer
  • weight of the trailer
  • parking the trailer - at CG, at home
  • maintaining the trailer
I have towed Jeeps 4 down many thousand of miles.
Vince and Susan
2011 Tiffin Phaeton 40QTH (Cummins ISC/Freightliner)
Flat towing a modified 2005 Jeep (Rubicon Wrangler)
Previously a 2002 Fleetwood Pace Arrow 37A and a 1995 Safari Trek 2830.
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Old 07-16-2012, 10:12 PM   #13
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No miles are put on my 2011 Chevy Malibu when towing 4 down.
Marc & Jan
Molly, Abby & Katie | The Cocker K-9 Kids!|Toad 2014 Cadillac SRX
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Old 07-16-2012, 10:23 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by karencollins View Post
As stated above, there is a fuse to be pulled so the miles don't accumulate & the battery doesn't drain.
Not on the Ody as it's not approved for four down towing anyway although people do it. It doesn't accumulate miles while towing four down with the ignition switch on either.

2009 45' Magna 630 w/Cummins ISX 650 HP/1950 Lbs Ft
Charter Good Sam Lifetime Member, FMCA, SKP
RV'ing since 1957, NRA Benefactor Life, towing '05 Odyssey
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