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Old 01-11-2017, 10:36 AM   #1
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Dolly Tow - Mini Cooper - Safety Chains/Straps

When we upgraded from a trailer to our ACE 30.1 last year, we also replaced the Nissan Armada tow vehicle with a 2015 Mini Cooper S and bought an American Car Dolly in order to tow the Mini.

When Gary delivered the dolly, we discussed safety chains between the dolly and the Mini and he said that the Mini has no place to connect them. He appears to be correct as the Mini has a bottom cover which makes access to the frame impossible without removing or modifying the cover. Even then I'm not sure there is a suitable place to tie to.

We towed the Mini about 4000 miles last year without incident, but I would stop and check the wheel straps about every 1-2 hours and often needed to take up a click or two on the straps.

I'm not comfortable towing without some secondary protection and am trying to figure out the best way to provide it. Right now it appears that a second set of straps through the front wheels may be the only practical answer.

Anyone also dolly towing a Mini? What do you do, if anything for secondary tie down?
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Old 01-11-2017, 11:26 AM   #2
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Not sure if the Mini has the same features as BMW, but our BMW had a small cover in the bumper that could be removed to install a BMW provided tow hook. Not sure it would survive the impact but might be worth investigating if the car has a similar feature.
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Old 01-11-2017, 11:30 AM   #3
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My wife is interested in getting a Mini Cooper... I take it that you cannot tow them 4 down and have to use a tow dolly? I haven't really looked into them but they sure seem to be a quality vehicle.


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Old 01-11-2017, 05:19 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Sheriffbubba View Post
My wife is interested in getting a Mini Cooper... I take it that you cannot tow them 4 down and have to use a tow dolly? I haven't really looked into them but they sure seem to be a quality vehicle.


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I believe you can pull a Mini with a manual transmission 4 down, but not the automatic. I didn't check too deep into what it would take to pull the manual 4 down, so you'd need to discuss that with Mini.

With the automatic, we have found that we do have to tie down the steering wheel (The American Car Dolly has a turntable, but from what I read, you wouldn't need to do that with an Acme). The ACD is plenty low enough to get the Mini up the ramps. Some others aren't so accommodating for low clearance cars.

One thing we experienced is that about half the time upon pulling the Mini off the dolly we get several diagnostic errors such as Power Transfer Malfunction, ABS malfunction and once TPMS malfunction. All these clear after we drove the Mini a couple of miles. I've discussed this with Mini and they say they have a Sofware update to fix the appearance of the errors. Just haven't gotten it down there for them to do it.
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Old 01-11-2017, 05:27 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by vettenuts View Post
Not sure if the Mini has the same features as BMW, but our BMW had a small cover in the bumper that could be removed to install a BMW provided tow hook. Not sure it would survive the impact but might be worth investigating if the car has a similar feature.
I think you are referring the to tow fixture that screws into either the front or rear. Mini is pretty clear that this isn't anything other than a place to allow a tow truck to pull the car up on a ramp. It certainly doesn't look very substantial.

From some posts I've found on Mini forums is that the slots for the transport hooks are located under the jack points. Apparently the jack pads are shipped inside the car and then installed by the dealer (sometimes, some owners reported finding them still in the back storage well). I believe I can get T hooks to fit the slots, but am not sure how secure they are without the tension of a hold down strap. Also the jack pads aren't simple to get off (basically a destructive removal), so I'd have to keep a set of new pads in back storage and do a field install if I ever needed to jack up the car.
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Old 01-11-2017, 05:45 PM   #6
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We towed the Mini about 4000 miles last year without incident, but I would stop and check the wheel straps about every 1-2 hours and often needed to take up a click or two on the straps.
We tow a RAV4 on a tow dolly and have learned to make sure the slack behind the wheel is pulled up as much as possible before tightening. The straps would catch on the tire, and we'd think it was tight, but there was still slack behind it that would work loose.

Another trick that I've learned here is to pull the car up to an inch or so from the stop then strap it down and let the straps roll the wheel forward against the stop. This will effectively keep the strap from binding on the wheel and let it tighten uniformly in front of and behind the tire. I can sometimes get another click on the ratchets at the first stop, but they're still tight enough to hold the car in place.
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Old 01-11-2017, 05:56 PM   #7
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I used to tow a Mini Cooper convertible on an Acme dolly. Several things I eventually did to make a good tow:

The Acme dolly is wider than the Mini which allows the wheels too much freedom to move around. This was solved by shortening the width by about 10 inches. Next, 2x4s were bolted to the dolly that trapped the wheels in place, leaving only about 1/2 inch clearance between the wheels and the dolly. With the dolly modified specifically to fit the Mini it towed with no need to retighten the straps during travel.

There are holes in the tubular frame of the mini just behind the front wheels. A plug with a threaded hole was slipped into this hole and maneuvered inside the tube such that an eyebolt could be threaded into the plug. I tested the eye bolt connections by pulling the Mini up a hill by the eyebolts. Chains were bolted to the Acme dolly with carabiners on the ends so I could simply snap them on the eyebolts.

The dolly is no longer used since I now tow a Jeep 4 down. It sits in my yard yearning to tow another Mini
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Old 01-11-2017, 06:06 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DenverTP View Post
What do you do, if anything for secondary tie down?
All of the Minis I have seen have spoke wheels. Buy a couple of axle straps like THESE - https://www.amazon.com/Keeper-04226-Premium-Strap-D-Ring/dp/B000CO9QNQ/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1484178601&sr=8-3&keywords=axle+strap

Thread them through the spokes of the front wheels and tie the loop ends together with a carabiner and attach to a cable or chain the dolly frame or the rear of the RV.

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Old 01-18-2017, 10:38 AM   #9
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All of the Minis I have seen have spoke wheels. Buy a couple of axle straps like THESE - https://www.amazon.com/Keeper-04226-Premium-Strap-D-Ring/dp/B000CO9QNQ/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1484178601&sr=8-3&keywords=axle+strap

Thread them through the spokes of the front wheels and tie the loop ends together with a carabiner and attach to a cable or chain the dolly frame or the rear of the RV.

Tim
Thanks for the advice. This approach looks like the best fit for my situation. I did order the straps and when they arrived I found that the D-rings were too large to fit in the slots of my wheels. The make it through the slot but not around the brake disc. When I went to return them Amazon said not to both returning them, but refunded the purchase cost (a whole $8) anyway.

I did find a set of Blue Ox safety cables on eBay that look like they will work. These are 37" long and look small enough to fit through the spokes and around the brake discs. I found a recent post in another thread where the OP used a similar set of cables (but home made).
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Old 01-18-2017, 11:05 AM   #10
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I did this. Push the vinyl coated cable thru the wheel and clip inside.
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Old 01-18-2017, 12:03 PM   #11
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Twinboat's idea is so simple and elegant that I intend to replace our EZE-Tow's safety chains with cables like these.
The center (vertical) piece is only a stick to show the cable.

Chains will rattle and swing, so much less preferred.
Obviously this would only work on rims with slots.

Safe travels
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Old 02-25-2017, 07:14 PM   #12
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No more crawling underneath to chain the lower control arms.
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Old 02-25-2017, 07:44 PM   #13
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We tie a 2007 Cooper S convertible behind our motorhome on a tow dolly. I thread the safety chains over what I would guess are the control arms.
We've towed it over 10,000 miles in the last year and a half from Illinois to Texas to Tennessee and up to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
It's not as solid as going through frame but it's done no damage.
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Old 02-25-2017, 08:02 PM   #14
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That will do it
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