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Old 03-20-2012, 08:15 AM   #1
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Need info on car dollys before I buy

Do car dollys have title & registration like a trailer?

Are either surge or electric brakes necessary and are they legally required?

Are tail/brakes lights required on the back end of the vehicle being towed, or are the tail lights on the car dolly sufficient.

I'll be towing with a 34' class A, pulling an 04 VW Beetly, mostly in the western states.

Thanks!
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Old 03-20-2012, 08:35 AM   #2
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You'll have to check your specific state's requirements. It varies.

That being said, where I live (Michigan) tow dollys are not considered trailers, they don't have a title or registration. Brakes are not "required". Lights are required to "be at the end of the towed vehicle".

IMHO brakes of some sort and tail lights are "required" as inertia is a law and half-blind drivers exist. But your specific state laws will tell you what you need at a minimum. I have both on my dolly.
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Old 03-20-2012, 08:39 AM   #3
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I had a dolly for a brief time and will share my recommendations from that experience:

1. yes, get one with surge brakes.

2. wet ramps are slick and front drive cars can/will slip when trying to drive on to wet ramps so make sure there is some non-skid material on the ramps.

3. in my state, VA, dollies are titled like trailers. Lights on the towed vehicle are not necessary since the dolly has stop/turn/running lights.

4. If possible, avoid a dolly and plan to tow 4 wheels down.
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Old 03-20-2012, 09:54 AM   #4
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Check the specific requirements for your state. Texas did not require the dolly to be tagged or additional lights on the vehicle. I still had light son the rear of my car when towed. And by all means get brakes on the dolly and a break away system.

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Old 03-20-2012, 10:06 AM   #5
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Hi RVluvin,
In Florida a dolly is not required to have a title or tag. Your home state may be different. As to brakes and lights, I have all of it. Surge on the dolly. Lights are on the dolly and on the towed vehicle. The reason is simple, liability.
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Old 03-20-2012, 10:18 AM   #6
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Old 03-20-2012, 10:18 AM   #7
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I bought and operated a new tow dolly in Michigan and it came with a title. It had electric breaks and lots of lights. I did not like the dolly at all. I found it difficult to load and the wheel straps were always coming undone. I now tow 4 down and it is 1/3 the effort of a dolly.
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Old 03-20-2012, 12:38 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RVluvin View Post
Do car dollys have title & registration like a trailer?

Are either surge or electric brakes necessary and are they legally required?

Are tail/brakes lights required on the back end of the vehicle being towed, or are the tail lights on the car dolly sufficient.

I'll be towing with a 34' class A, pulling an 04 VW Beetly, mostly in the western states.

Thanks!
1. As others have mentioned title and registration are a function of where you live. In Wisconsin no title or registration are required for towing personal vehicles. If you're towing for a business title and registration are required.
2. In your case brakes of some sort are required since you have a gas powered motorhome. Both Ford and Workhorse "Highly Recommend" supplemental brakes on anything being towed that weighs over 1,500 lbs. While neither can legally require you to buy a dolly with brakes or equip your towed vehicle with a supplemental braking system the most they can do is "Highly Recommend" them.
In Fords case they rate the motorhome brakes for the GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) with the caveat that anything over 1,500 lbs. needs its own brakes. The GVWR is the total amount of weight you can carry on the motorhome itself. So if your motorhome is rated for 24,000 lbs. and you load it to 20,000 lbs. you could tow something that weighs less than 1,500 lbs. without needing supplemental brakes. If you're loaded to 22,500 lbs. or more, or your towed vehicle weighs more than 1,500 lbs. you need supplemental brakes.
3. Positioning of tail lights is also a function of where you live. In Wisconsin you are legal if the lights are within 2 feet of the rear of the towed vehicle.
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Old 03-20-2012, 12:58 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smlranger View Post
I had a dolly for a brief time and will share my recommendations from that experience:

1. yes, get one with surge brakes.

2. wet ramps are slick and front drive cars can/will slip when trying to drive on to wet ramps so make sure there is some non-skid material on the ramps.

3. in my state, VA, dollies are titled like trailers. Lights on the towed vehicle are not necessary since the dolly has stop/turn/running lights.

4. If possible, avoid a dolly and plan to tow 4 wheels down.
Brakes are good but not always required. Some states require them for toads over 3000#. Lights on the rear of the towed vehicle is a very good idea as stated before because there are some less than qualified operators of motor vehicles on the road. Rear lights are a simple trip to Habor Freight for a set of magnetic base for about 20 bucks. Now having said all that, I will now concur with smlranger. Been the dolly route with my Jeep Wrangler and Chev Monte Carlo and believe me when I say it is a great big PITA. 4 down is the only way to go. Hook up or unhook in about 15 mins. or less and no worrying about wheel straps in the rain and mud. I shopped around and found everything I needed on Ebay for less than the price of a dolly. Each to his own said the man who kissed the cow.
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Old 03-21-2012, 08:11 AM   #10
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Thanks all. I just switch over from a 5er, so lots to consider before I spend my hard earned money.
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Old 03-21-2012, 09:01 AM   #11
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Brakes are good but not always required. Some states require them for toads over 3000#. Lights on the rear of the towed vehicle is a very good idea as stated before because there are some less than qualified operators of motor vehicles on the road. Rear lights are a simple trip to Habor Freight for a set of magnetic base for about 20 bucks. Now having said all that, I will now concur with smlranger. Been the dolly route with my Jeep Wrangler and Chev Monte Carlo and believe me when I say it is a great big PITA. 4 down is the only way to go. Hook up or unhook in about 15 mins. or less and no worrying about wheel straps in the rain and mud. I shopped around and found everything I needed on Ebay for less than the price of a dolly. Each to his own said the man who kissed the cow.
I agree but our car has an auto transmission and you cant tow a 2 wheel drive auto transmission down on all fours..A tow dolly is the only alternative. PITA as they are....
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Old 03-21-2012, 09:10 AM   #12
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Your local DMV will have the requirements for your State. Laws vary from state to state so it's hard to answer you completely. One thing I would recommend is to at least make sure the dolly has surge or electric brakes. JMHO
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Old 03-22-2012, 03:02 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RVluvin View Post
Do car dollys have title & registration like a trailer?

Are either surge or electric brakes necessary and are they legally required?

Are tail/brakes lights required on the back end of the vehicle being towed, or are the tail lights on the car dolly sufficient.

I'll be towing with a 34' class A, pulling an 04 VW Beetly, mostly in the western states.

Thanks!
check the wheel alignment (tow in) on any dolly you are interested in before plunking down your money.
in washington, you do not need a license on a dolly as long as there is a licensed vehicle on the dolly.
in order to tow my dolly empty or with an unlicensed vehicle on it my dolly is licensed as a trailer.
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Old 03-22-2012, 03:59 AM   #14
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RVluvin,

Since all of your questions seem to have been answered, I won't answer them again.
However, after reading all of the posts, there seems to be several negative opinions of using a dolly, in spite of how many you see on the road.
My opinion is that these posters may not have the physical ability to kneel down on one knee or lack the manual dexterity to strap down a tire.
Or most likely of all, they bought a dolly that was awkward to use, too heavy and cumbersome to move it alone, had problems with steering tire alignment or pivot plate, and paid way more than needed.
They now are embarrassed by their lack of forethought in choosing a dolly and say bad things about dollys in general, just to cover up their lack of abilities to operate one.

Also in my opinion, it seems unlikely that you can get a complete 4-down towing system, with toad brakes and lights, with everything INSTALLED, for $1800.
Which is the price of a new dolly like mine, delivered.

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