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Old 08-16-2016, 11:10 AM   #1
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Need education on flat towing vs tow dolly.

If I buy a Class A, I would have to get a tow dolly for our '16 Honda Pilot (weighs 4k and is front wheel drive so it can't be flat towed ) But it got me thinking.
What are the pros and cons of flat towing over tow dolly towing? We only have 3k miles on our Pilot and would take a hit trading or selling. But.... If flat towing is so much better, it had me thinking. Pilot can carry 6+ passengers which could often be needed.
I guess I'm not sure about the math involved? Does flat towing reduce the hitch weight? Lots of questions here, so sorry.
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Old 08-16-2016, 11:29 AM   #2
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Virtually no hitch weight with flat towing. Many threads here regarding pros and cons of flat vs tow dolly. Check your manual under recreational towing and online listings regarding your Honda. Being front wheel drive does not eliminate it being flat towable. Search here for Honda pilot as well.
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Old 08-16-2016, 12:49 PM   #3
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I flat tow, but if I were you I'd use a dolly until I was getting another car. Flat towing is much easier to hook up, and I think a more secure attachment, but you would take a BIG hit trading it in.
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Old 08-16-2016, 12:55 PM   #4
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I use a dolly, a quality dolly costs about $1500 with a swivel plate and electric brakes. The benefits are easy on and off, very low hitch weight, you don't put miles on the drive trane, there are no additional parts to purchase when you change cars and you can back up without damaging the dolly or car once you get used to it.
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Old 08-16-2016, 01:13 PM   #5
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Need education on flat towing vs tow dolly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vsheetz View Post
Virtually no hitch weight with flat towing. Many threads here regarding pros and cons of flat vs tow dolly. Check your manual under recreational towing and online listings regarding your Honda. Being front wheel drive does not eliminate it being flat towable. Search here for Honda pilot as well.

New Pilot has a 9 gear auto tranny.
Cannot even put it in a car wash conveyor without special steps and will only stay in neutral for 15 minutes.
It cannot be flat towed. I doubt if there is a vehicle that can carry 6+ people that's under 5k pounds that can be flat towed. Maybe an explorer??
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Old 08-16-2016, 01:26 PM   #6
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I do both, flat and dolly. As everyone said, flat tow is a lot easier and more convenient to load/unload.

But the dolly offers more options, as you can tow almost any FWD vehicle on the dolly.

Another data point - If you don't plan to use the toad while in transit, it would be one load and one unload at the destination . However, if you'd like to unload and maybe do some site seeing at each stop, the flat tow would be more convenient.
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Old 08-16-2016, 01:44 PM   #7
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New Pilot has a 9 gear auto tranny.
Cannot even put it in a car wash conveyor without special steps and will only stay in neutral for 15 minutes.
It cannot be flat towed. I doubt if there is a vehicle that can carry 6+ people that's under 5k pounds that can be flat towed. Maybe an explorer??
Our '05 Ody is not flat towable according to Honda. I've towed it four down and on a dolly since we bought it. Now have 107,000 miles and have had only normal maintenance. Weighs less than 5,000#'s and seats 8.
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Old 08-16-2016, 02:31 PM   #8
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We have a FWD Cherokee and we went with the dolly because we would have lost a lot trading a one year old vehicle. There are pros and cons for both. Four down seems the easiest and dolly towing the simplest to get started. You have a lot of set up expenses for four down towing, but hooking up is easier once the initial setup is finished. With a dolly, you pretty much just decide what type of brakes you want, buy the dolly and go. Not much set up involved at all, but it does take more time to hook up every time. We'll probably go to four down at some point, but the dolly was a cheap and easy way to get started. We found a Master Tow with electric brakes brand new for $1175.
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Old 08-16-2016, 05:32 PM   #9
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I really struggled with the same decision. In the end it was the thought of climbing/granning/trying to reach under the car to hook up safety chains and wrapping those tire covers on while on a dolly that convinced me to flat tow. I put my cars up on those rental trailers and recall it was not something I really liked. Never mind if it happens to be wet or raining/muddy when you have to pull up on the dolly and do it.
Now that I have connected and disconnected a number of times I am happy with my decision to flat tow.
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Old 08-16-2016, 08:59 PM   #10
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All the above true. Why don't you spend $5k on something used you can flat tow for a year, just to see what it's all about. You could probably still sell it for $4k, and you would be better equipped to make an informed decision.
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Old 08-16-2016, 10:31 PM   #11
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All the above true. Why don't you spend $5k on something used you can flat tow for a year, just to see what it's all about. You could probably still sell it for $4k, and you would be better equipped to make an informed decision.

Too complicated for me. Now I'd be paying insurance on a Motorhome and THREE cars. Besides I need to be able to carry 6+. Doubt you'd find that at that price.
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Old 08-16-2016, 10:44 PM   #12
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Our '05 Ody is not flat towable according to Honda. I've towed it four down and on a dolly since we bought it. Now have 107,000 miles and have had only normal maintenance. Weighs less than 5,000#'s and seats 8.
Need to add: we have about 30,000 miles towing it four down and have had no problems other than towing with the parking brake partly on. So, now I need to do another brake job!
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Old 08-17-2016, 12:00 PM   #13
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I doubt if there is a vehicle that can carry 6+ people that's under 5k pounds that can be flat towed.
GMC Acadia, Chevy Traverse, Buick Enclave, Ford Edge, to name a few that qualify.
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Old 08-17-2016, 12:10 PM   #14
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We just began dolly towing after 12 years of flat tow. We wnated to bring our little Buick Verano sedan with us instead of the big GMC SUV, and the Verano cannot be flat towed (for a variety of reasons I won't go into here).

There are two significant differences, but both boil down to convenience. First of all, it's just plain more hassle to load and unload. Not a terrible job, but you need to bend over, probably kneel on the ground, and do other manual tasks that are more effort than a 4-down hitch-up. Second, you have to do something with the dolly at the campsite once you unload. What that is depends on the campsite size and local rules, but it's an extra thing to deal with regardless.

We don't move around much any more, basically drive to a summer site and stay 4 months, so using the dolly is a minor drawback. But we no longer unload the car when making overnight stops enroute, whereas doing so was a breeze with the 4-down method.

I'll let others debate how much extra effort is involved. There are so many variations of vehicles and situations that most of it is meaningless anyway. The only important opinion about the convenience, or lack of it, is yours.
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