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Old 10-10-2010, 10:34 PM   #1
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Confused about tow dollies

I am relatively new to RVing. I have taken two trips in my Class A for a total of 7,000 miles. I have come to the conclusion that I need a tow car! I have a 97 Buick La Sabre that I wish to tow. If I tow on all four I will have to modify the car for about $1,000. I have decided on a tow dolly. I am looking at one now and the owner says it is a "swivel dolly" and a sharp turn can damage the cars doors?
What is he talking about? Are all tow dollys swivel?
Bill
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Old 10-10-2010, 11:25 PM   #2
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I have been using a Dolly for over 5 years and no damage yet. My unit does swivel, as I guess they all do. When you put the vehicle on the dolly, it's important to make sure the wheels are equally spaced in the center of the loading ramps. The vehicle and the ramp pivot as one unit, making it almost impossible to damage the car. You cannot "BACK UP" a dolly, maybe that's what he referred too. Good luck,
David G.
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Old 10-10-2010, 11:26 PM   #3
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Bill, I used a tow dolly for a few years until I could afford a tow bar system. I have towed a Buick La Sabre,a Chevrolet Lumina And a Toyota p/u with the same dolly and never had any trouble. My dolly does swivel and has never caused any damage to a vehicle. The Buick and Chevy were both frt.whl drive vehicles and needed to be loaded w/frt.wheels on dolly. The p/u was loaded w/rear wheels on the dolly and the steering wheel locked. Never had any problems. I hope this answers some of your questions.

Carey Saucier
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Old 10-11-2010, 07:20 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mstrbill2u2 View Post
I am relatively new to RVing. I have taken two trips in my Class A for a total of 7,000 miles. I have come to the conclusion that I need a tow car! I have a 97 Buick La Sabre that I wish to tow. If I tow on all four I will have to modify the car for about $1,000. I have decided on a tow dolly. I am looking at one now and the owner says it is a "swivel dolly" and a sharp turn can damage the cars doors?
What is he talking about? Are all tow dollys swivel?
Bill
Go to the search feature at the top and type in dolly. I would wait until some rainy day because it will take you that long to read all the discussions. You'll read the good, the bad and the ugly.

Personally, I've used the Demco SS dolly for approx 28,000 milles with no problems. I chose to tow because I have a Toyota Avalon that I refuse to give up. Good luck and as I've said several times, buy the best you can afford. If you have to replace the tires after less than a thousand miles or grease the wheel bearings every 3000 miles or add a third wheel or safety chains or on and on...what have you really saved?

Safe travels and
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Old 10-11-2010, 07:47 AM   #5
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I used a tow dolly for about 10 years and had no trouble until I towed a wider Toyota Sienna minivan. In two instances I was in a tight gas station and the bottom of the door driver door hit the dolly fender resulting in about $1500 damage EACH TIME!

Before that I towed Caravan and a Montana mini vans with no trouble. There are two different widths to tow dollies (77 inch and 80 inch for Master Tow). I owned both and even the wider dolly was not wide enough for the Sienna.

Best thing is to pull your car onto the dolly (make sure the dolly is hitched to something before you drive on!) and see how much clearance you have. If it is your fist width or less, you are cutting it too close.

I now tow a Jeep 4-down with much less hassle...
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Old 10-11-2010, 10:52 AM   #6
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Dollies come in a couple of configurations.. One has a solid axle and the "Bed" is on a king pin, As you turn the fenders on the dolly move toward the car (Well one does)

The other kind has a axle that is like the front axle on your car (The wheels and fenders stay put relative to the car)

My recommendation is to tow 4 down.. The mods are not that bad, You add a few things to the car (perhaps only one)

Switch (Optional, you can just pull the fuse)
Axle Lock or Drive shaft disconnect or Lube Pump (NOTE: I do not favor this)
Diode kit for the lights
Aux Brake System (My choice: US Gear Unified Brake Decelerator)
Tow bar system (Assorted too many to describe I use a Blue-Ox system)

You may or may not need the 2nd item depending on the car.

Let me describe why I like 4 down
1: IT is less to tow, Nothing to stow.
2: Hook up...
dolly: Make sure you drive up square, Strap it down, safety chain it, and then re-check in a few miles.
4-Down.. Drive it up close (Need not be square, need not be centered, if you have a good tow bar it will "Self Center" as you start to drive away. Once pinned and locked it's done.. I can hook up in less than 5 minutes. On my system the tow bar stows on the motor home so it's no problem either.

With both systems you do not want to back up.

One other advantage of 4-down with an aux braking system

With a dolly the rear wheels on the car are always "Free wheeling" so when you calculate your stopping distance.. Well.. Let me give you a simple figure

On an "Average" paved road, I does not matter if you are driving a Mini-Cooper or a full size semi truck.. LOCK them up and at 20 miles per hour you will skid 22 feet.

Towing 4-down with a good brake system. You will skid 22 feet

Towing with a dolly.. YOU WILL SKID FARTHER

Why? Beacause some of the weight of the car is supported by wheels not braking.
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Old 10-11-2010, 03:37 PM   #7
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Thank you. Your information has been helpful. Thanks for replying so quickly.
Bill
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Old 10-11-2010, 03:40 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by justimagination View Post
I have been using a Dolly for over 5 years and no damage yet. My unit does swivel, as I guess they all do. When you put the vehicle on the dolly, it's important to make sure the wheels are equally spaced in the center of the loading ramps. The vehicle and the ramp pivot as one unit, making it almost impossible to damage the car. You cannot "BACK UP" a dolly, maybe that's what he referred too. Good luck,
David G.
Thank you for your comments, they have been helpful.
Bill
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Old 10-11-2010, 03:42 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by justimagination View Post
I have been using a Dolly for over 5 years and no damage yet. My unit does swivel, as I guess they all do. When you put the vehicle on the dolly, it's important to make sure the wheels are equally spaced in the center of the loading ramps. The vehicle and the ramp pivot as one unit, making it almost impossible to damage the car. You cannot "BACK UP" a dolly, maybe that's what he referred too. Good luck,
David G.
Thank you for sharing your experience. It has been helpful.
Bill
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Old 10-12-2010, 10:23 AM   #10
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We towed our 97 LeSabre on a Roadmastter dolly for over 25,000 miles without any problems. We chose the Roadmaster because it has steerable wheels. This feature allows tighter cornering since the wheels of the dolly follow in the tracks of the rear wheels of the motorhome. It is also adjustable for different width cars. It has electric brakes and storage compatrments for the straps and safety chains.

Here's a link to the one we use:
Roadmaster Inc. - Tow Bars, Braking Systems & RV Accessories

About 5 years ago we switched to pulling our Jeep Wrangler 4 down. It seemed pointless to tow the car all over the country then rent a Jeep for off roading. We still have the dolly and intend to use it to tow our 08 Lucerne if we get tired of off roading.

The nice thing about a dolly is that you can tow almost any front wheel drive car without any modifications. In my opinion it's a wash money wise for either a dolly or the 4 wheel down (with braking) configuration. It also takes about the same amount of time to hook up the Jeep and braling system as it does to load the car on the dolly. We've never had a problem with either system. The only downside I can see to a dolly is it's another piece of equipment to maintain and store.
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