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Old 03-21-2015, 07:12 PM   #1
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Four on the ground towing versus dolly and costs

We are new to RV-ing, and I mean REALLY new. Recently bought a 10 year old diesel class-A motorhome. We have a 2000 Subaru Outback with 120,000 miles on it, used as a "dog mobile." We have a 2010 Toyota Prius with 38,000 miles. We need to set up a toad to take with us on trips.

Our questions:

1. four on the road versus dolly. We know that we would need a dolly for the Prius. I really like the Prius, its great mileage and reliability. However, a dolly appears to be the only way to take it with us. Do we need to do anything with it, other than attach it to a dolly to take it? How much do you think a used dolly in good condition should cost? The Prius is very low to the ground, so I know we will need to build a ramp to get in up into the dolly.

2. four behind towing. We believe we can tow the Outback without a dolly. How much do you think a full package of used (but in excellent shape) hardware would cost us? What precisely would we need? A braking system for the toad. The plate for the Outback. The various items attached to the coach.

3. Any advise with regard to the dolly versus the four on the ground system? Nothing seems to be an easy issue regarding RV-ing. Many thanks for any advice.

PS Advice on where, how and from whom to buy the hardware and if it ends up for a four on the road towing, how much in labor to set it all up?
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Old 03-21-2015, 07:25 PM   #2
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full timers in 2014 Thor Palazzo 33.3 DP bunkhouse with 19k miles
across country twice in last 8 months...

toad: 2014 FordFiestaSE 4cyl FWD auto
tow system: BlueOxAlpha and baseplate(amazon.com)
installed: local truck accessory shop

would NEVER go back to tow dolly!

consider:1) you might damage your vehicle every time you
load and unload
2) you must have your dolly attached to your rig in order to load
or unload
3) you must unhook and move your dolly somewhere if you are
backing your rig
4) you must find a place to store your dolly when your car is off
5) you quickly grow tired of having to move a dolly around

just an FYI from someone who has owned both : )
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Old 03-21-2015, 07:34 PM   #3
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You can buy a decent tow dolly for under $2000 new. I have an Eze Tow and am setting it up to tow my Nissan Murano. From what I can tell, getting a 4-down set up is significantly more, especially if you have to have someone else install all the stuff.

Using a tow dolly is certainly more labor intensive plus you have to wrangle another piece of gear and store the dolly somewhere.

Maybe I'll get a 4-down car and set up some day. But for now I'm happy with the dolly. Maybe after I use if for a while I'll feel differently. Probably why you see so many used dollys for sale.
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Old 03-21-2015, 08:01 PM   #4
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four on the ground towing versus dolly and costs

I have the ACME dolly as well and my Malibu can be towed four down. But, the dolly was cheaper, can be used with any other front drive car and didn't require cutting up the front of the car to install the base plate. Baseplate installation required cutting out the radiator air baffles and the lower grill plus drilling the front crush member. Also creates car re-sale issues plus the parts being cut are very expensive to replace. Also, any new car we want to tow needs to have a baseplate installed. One thing I did do was install a hitch on the Malibu for not only using my small boat when home, but I can also move the dolly with it.

If I had a car that didn't have to be cut up as much, I might have gone four down but I also don't like the additional drive line wear either. Some cars also have speed limitations and must be run at each stop while towing.


I believe the latest video on the ACME web site is actually towing a Prius.
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Old 03-22-2015, 04:44 AM   #5
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I come down on the dolly side

As you can see we all have had varying experiences and developed differing thoughts regarding this question. I have towed both ways -4 down and now dolly.

After having used both approaches I like the dolly tow set up better. For me it was far less expensive(around $1500) using American Car Dolly with brakes and a movable swivel table for the front end, than setting up a four on the ground tow arrangement. My experience has been it really doesn't take me any longer than setting up the 4 down once you get used to it. Yes the straps aren't fun on a damp day, but getting an RV of any type on the road on a wet day is rarely a happy event for me! Set up time is relatively the same for me each trip.

I have not found the dolly to be much of a hassle.

The American Car Dolly was delivered to me (no charge), I was taught how to use it, they walked me through it all and it was ready to use when I got it. I was on the road with it in about 20 minutes. I added a few bells and whistles for my own comfort like an emergency breakaway battery and set up for peace of mind and towing in Canada. I used it immediately when it arrived (and the deliver was fast and easy). It is a very stout dolly.

The dolly gives me far more choice in what I tow. With the mandate from the Mrs that she would only allow me to tow an automatic transmission-- well that narrowed the field a bit for my choices. So we went dolly this last time with a Ford Focus--- and we are glad we did!
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Old 03-22-2015, 06:16 AM   #6
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A Huge advantage of the dolly has over the flat tow, with the dolly, you can tow anything with anything (almost). If you purchase a dolly, make sure its wide enough to tow what you want. I would specify it must be able to tow an F150 pickup, thats about as wide as it gets.

If your life is like mine, I also serve as "Dads Auto Repair and Towing Service". Having a dolly is a big advantage to retrieving the kids or neighbors broken down cars. HHUUMM - Maybe this is a disadvantage...:-)

Flat tow - However, for ease of operation, loading/unloading, We flat tow a little 2001 Honda Civic. We bought a very inexpensive tow bar and I lucked out and found used plates. Total investment around $300

Fast hookup compared to when we tow the Civic on the dolly.

I get the tow bar and pins out of the trunk and attach them to the front of the car. I then hold the bar up by the chains so its level with the MH ball while the wife moves the car so the tow bar is directly over the MH ball. She gets it first time, in less than 10 seconds.

Hook up the chains and lights - total 5 minutes. Unhooking is a little less, probably 3 minutes, disconnect the tow bar and pins and put them in the trunk of the car.
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Old 03-22-2015, 07:10 AM   #7
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Also, you may have noticed some nuances here regarding towing, What equipment you use and how you configure it depends on things like is your car front wheel dive, rear wheel, all wheel drive. If any of the powered wheels are on the ground does the transmission require a lube pump (if available)? Do you have a pivot dolly or fixed? Does your steering column lock? Will you need a strap to lock your steering wheel or do you need to pull a fuse to keep your locking steering wheel from engaging?

Its actually not that complicated but does take a bit of research.
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Old 03-22-2015, 07:19 PM   #8
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All the above is true. I have done both 4 down and now dolly as our car cannot be towed 4 down. Granted 4 down is a bit easier but can be more costly. You have your tow bar, tow plate which involves labor to install either yours or your wallet and you also need a tow brake and they run upwards of a $1000. If someone thinks they don't need a tow brake they need to read some of the stories of run away cars. Plus it is a law.

I would prefer to tow 4 down but the dolly does certainly give you the option to tow more than one vehicle. I have over $800 in base plates that went with cars I don't have anymore. That is a big downer. Tow bar and brake are interchangeable though that is a big plus.

Ps don't forget you either have to wire your lights on the car or add magnetic lights. Granted yu should do that with a dolly also and I do but a dolly has tail and turn lights on it.
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Old 03-22-2015, 11:25 PM   #9
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Acme EZE-tow dolly

Thank you all for the advice. I think I will go with the EZE-tow dolly for now. Lower initial cost. Use with multiple toad cars at no additional costs. Recovery of at least some of the cost of the dolly if I later sell it.
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Old 03-23-2015, 03:17 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjva343 View Post
Thank you all for the advice. I think I will go with the EZE-tow dolly for now. Lower initial cost. Use with multiple toad cars at no additional costs. Recovery of at least some of the cost of the dolly if I later sell it.
Make you talk with them about the vehicle your towing and the size of it's wheels as you may need the larger basket straps.
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Old 03-23-2015, 06:08 AM   #11
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bike rack AND dolly

I am assuming there is some sort of addition to place a bike rack for two bikes and then the dolly at the rear of the motorhome. Anybody done this? Have a hot link to where I could find such an item? Again, many thanks for the advice from all and I will look into the other dolly manufacturer mentioned above before ordering one.
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Old 03-23-2015, 06:30 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by jjva343 View Post
I am assuming there is some sort of addition to place a bike rack for two bikes and then the dolly at the rear of the motorhome. Anybody done this? Have a hot link to where I could find such an item? Again, many thanks for the advice from all and I will look into the other dolly manufacturer mentioned above before ordering one.
I think there is an extension that can be used to mount bikes or mount them on back of car. Also i have somewhere seen a mount for the ladder of motorhome.
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Old 03-23-2015, 06:32 AM   #13
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CURT Manufacturing 45810

http://www.carid.com/curt/class-3-mu...FVc6gQodF2YAJw

Ladder mount http://www.summitracing.com/parts/su...FYk2gQodR3EAtg
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Old 03-23-2015, 06:48 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jondrew View Post
You can buy a decent tow dolly for under $2000 new. I have an Eze Tow and am setting it up to tow my Nissan Murano. From what I can tell, getting a 4-down set up is significantly more, especially if you have to have someone else install all the stuff.



Using a tow dolly is certainly more labor intensive plus you have to wrangle another piece of gear and store the dolly somewhere.



Maybe I'll get a 4-down car and set up some day. But for now I'm happy with the dolly. Maybe after I use if for a while I'll feel differently. Probably why you see so many used dollys for sale.

I just set up my new 2014 chevy cruze for 1300 dollars. I already had brake buddy so no cost there.
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