I don't write a lot of online reviews, but I thought I would share my experiences with these two products:
The ACME Car Tow Dolly
& the Tow Car Shield
I normally use my coach to pull my race car trailer to the race track. My family and I have also used it for short trips, but our last trip was an over 2,000 mile vacation.
First, I must say we loved vacationing in a Motorhome. We have a 2 year old son, and it is an amazing way to vacation with kids. Most campgrounds are very kid/family friendly and offer a much better experience than a hotel.
This trip was planned in short order. We knew where we were going, and knew we'd want to leave our various campgrounds for site-seeing and activities. I didn't really want to lug the enclosed race trailer with me, so I looked for options for towing one of our cars.
I have some manual transmission vehicles that could be flat towed with a tow bar, but those are sports car. Sports cars aren't exactly a great family vehicle. My daily driver, a 2008 Mercury Milan, isn't anything fancy, but it does a great job of getting the entire family from point A to point B comfortably. It is front wheel drive, so I knew I could use a tow dolly.
Next I considered the options. I have owned and used multiple tow dollies. I've never been a big fan. They have all seemed heavy, had ramps that would hit the car over big bumps, and made you worry about running the dolly into the car in tight corners.
The other problem I've experienced with a tow dolly is lots of rock chips on the front of the car from the tow vehicle.
I'm happy to say the products mentioned above alleviated all my problems and concerns.
The Tow Car Shield
On the forums, people seemed to have mixed feelings about the need for this product. I know from my own personal experience (and a $700 bill to repaint my front bumper and hood on the last car I towed on a dolly) that I wanted some paint protection. I settled on the Tow Car Shield because I liked the design and the ease of installation.
The spring loaded fasteners secure the shield well. It was much easier than the old car bra's I had used years ago. The fit was good, but didn't quite come far enough down on the front of my car with the Primier trim body work. Still it provided a lot of protection.
By the 3rd time I installed the shield, I could have it on in less than 5 minutes. It is really quite easy and very secure. It didn't seem to flap much when traveling 75 mph with the car in tow on the Texas Interstates, either.
As I mentioned above, my trip was a bit last minute. When I called to order it, the guys at Coastline Manufacturing went above and beyond in getting my shield manufactured and shipped to me in just 10 days.
A couple of tips about the Tow Car Shield:
ACME Tow Car Dolly
- Always clean the front end of the car before installing to prevent scratching.
- Store in a clean dry location to keep from contaminating the shield with dirt and grime that could be caught between it and the car's paint.
I decided to try this dolly because I liked the fact that it doesn't have a pivot plate. It instead relies on the car's suspension/steering to allow the car to articulate. This means leaving the ignition unlocked (but my newer cars don't even have locks anymore), but it was worth it to me to eliminate the possibility of the dolly making contact with the car.
Another feature is the removable steel ramps. These are the best ramps I've ever used on a tow dolly. The ramps have an extremely grippy surface. I had no problems loading the car in wet conditions. And although ACME doesn't recommend it, I had no problems loading the car on gravel, either.
Again, I only had 10 days until I left for my trip when I ordered the Car Tow Dolly. When I called I wanted to order a unit with electric brakes because 1) it was cheaper, and 2) I already has an electric brake controller installed. They didn't have any electric brake units manufactured, so the cut me a deal on a unit with hydraulic disc surge brakes to meet my time line. Three days after I order the dolly, it was sitting in my driveway. That is service!
The dolly took me about 20 minutes to un-crate and install the fenders. Moving it around my driveway was a breeze. It is by far the lightest dolly I have ever used.
Everything is top notch on the dolly. The construction and welds looked great. The straps work great. And the coupler is a great design.
I was concerned about the turning radius since the axle is fixed, but I found I could navigate extremely tight corners. 90 degree right hand turns were no problem at all. That said, the tires do scrub a lot in a parking lot. I'll be interested to see what kind of life I get out of these tires.
The small size of the tires makes for an extremely low loading deck. The draw back is that the tires might be difficult to replace while traveling. That's why I bought a spare that store in the trunk of the car while traveling.
As for the hassle, I can load/unload the car in 10 minutes or less. In fact when I was loading up and leaving Pine Mountain RV resort, my neighbor was preparing to leave at the same time. I was hooked up and on the road faster than he was with a tow bar setup!
I am extremely happy with the ACME Car Tow Dolly!
About 3 hours into the first leg of my trip, I heard a strange thud after going over a bump in the road. I looked at my review camera display and saw nothing but sparks. I was dragging my new dolly!!!
As luck would have it, I was in an construction zone. This meant I was going slow and that they had a full lane closed. Since the closed lane was unoccupied, I pulled over into it to inspect the damage.
The bottom nut had fallen of the ball and the ball separated from the ball mount when I hit the bump. The ball was still in the tongue of the trailer. In fact it was the ball that was dragging the ground. It had held the dolly up and kept the dolly itself from dragging. One of the safety chain broke, but the other was intact. The biggest surprise was that there was no damage to my motorhome or my car--not a scratch!
We had a late start leaving for our trip, so it was 11 pm when this happened. As luck would have it, this all happened 2 miles from a 24hr Wal-Mart. Thus after a short trip up the road and back, I had a new ball mounted and we were back in business.
I have 10's of thousands of miles towing and I've never had anything like this happen. I hope I never have anything like this happen again. Thankfully the Car Tow Dolly did what it was supposed to... the safety chains worked and the break away brakes slowed it down.