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Old 05-03-2013, 09:14 PM   #1
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Toad vs. Dolly

My parents bought an 08 Jamboree, now we are trying to figure out whether to go with a tow dolly for my Fusion or purchase something used for a toad. I've looked at a few Saturn cars, but the prices are steep for the mileage and condition. We were told by the dealer that it had a class iii hitch rated at 5k pounds, and their grand caravan is almost to that weight. My Fusion is only 3600lbs, and I've rad horror stories about flat towing Fusions even though the dealer set the car up for it. The thing is, I've been told that dollies are unsafe and present their own set of challenges, which any trailer does. At this point, we are confused as to which direction to go. Any help, advice, suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you.
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Old 05-03-2013, 09:53 PM   #2
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If your Fusion has a build date after March of 2012, it cannot be flat towed. However, built prior to that, they can be. But, following the flat tow guidelines are critical. Even though Ford does say they can be flat towed, I would not. The cooling while flat towing is no where near the Escape and they can fail during flat towing from excessive heat if the guide lines are not followed. Both my vehicles (Edge and Fiesta) can be flat towed but I do not like the idea of flat towing. I bought a tow dolly. It does take a few minutes more to set up than a tow bar but I do like it. Not sure on what horror stories are with dollies but I don't see any real draw backs right now.

If the Fusion is front wheel drive and not All Wheel Drive, I would use a tow dolly. But that is just me.
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Old 05-03-2013, 10:00 PM   #3
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Several threads here in discussion of tow dolly vs. flat tow. Search and you will find.

Myself, I would not want to handle the tow dolly - flat tow for me.
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Old 05-03-2013, 10:09 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by jamesrxx951 View Post
If your Fusion has a build date after March of 2012, it cannot be flat towed. However, built prior to that, they can be. But, following the flat tow guidelines are critical. Even though Ford does say they can be flat towed, I would not. The cooling while flat towing is no where near the Escape and they can fail during flat towing from excessive heat if the guide lines are not followed. Both my vehicles (Edge and Fiesta) can be flat towed but I do not like the idea of flat towing. I bought a tow dolly. It does take a few minutes more to set up than a tow bar but I do like it. Not sure on what horror stories are with dollies but I don't see any real draw backs right now.

If the Fusion is front wheel drive and not All Wheel Drive, I would use a tow dolly. But that is just me.
Thank you.
The horror stories I've heard about the Fusion are enough to make me squirm. Its a 2011, and even though it can supposedly be flat towed, I've read a few stories of people following Ford's guidelines and still frying the transmissions. As for dollies, the RV dealer said dollies were "ok", but they did not recommend using them, why I do not know. I've read here on the forum that people have had alignment and wear issues with their dollies. I'm leaving towards dolly, but only because I'm not having any luck finding a toad in my price range that is worth me buying. I know most manual transmissions are for down towable, and I've contemplated towing my Jeep, but its weight is pushing my comfort zone for the MH. With 31" tires I'm sure its in the 43-4400 pound range. Since three tow capacity of the MH is 5k, I'd prefer a little more of a buffer.
Thanks for your input.
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Old 05-03-2013, 10:13 PM   #5
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Tough Choice

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Originally Posted by vsheetz View Post

Myself, I would not want to handle the tow dolly - flat tow for me.
We opt for the dolly, but it is indeed a pain. The sole advantage is that you can tote a variety of cars.

I'd never recommend a dolly for anyone who is not mechanically inclined, or unable to stoop/bend/pull. Dolly owners need to basically overhaul their dollies every two thousand miles; not terribly difficult, but it requires a shop, tools, expertise.

One caveat if you go with a dolly: some manufacturers still use Chinese-made (strike one) tires that have a C Load Rating (strike two). Two flaws, right out of the box. Even with better tires, doing regular safety checks, maintaining perfect tire pressure*, and monitoring running temperatures of the tires is critical.


*Unlike your motorhome, dolly tires are inflated to the DOT sidewall maximum pressure when tires are cool. Motorhomes are always inflated to the manufacturer's (never the interior placard) recommended value.
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Old 05-03-2013, 10:18 PM   #6
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one thing to remember is the failures we have seen the customers always state they have followed the guide lines exactly. But....it is hard to prove exactly what is the truth. But I have seen how much heat is generated from flat towing and personally im not comfortable with it. But I may be over couscous do to my line of work. But there have been enough issues where Ford said no more flat towing after a certain build date even though there were no transmission changes at all.

A dolly works fine for me and I store it where I store my motorhome. No extra charge. I bought a Stehl tow dolly. This is my first year towing so time will tell and what info the experienced guys have will help with my learning and everyone else's (even though I have been towing trailers for 15 years).
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Old 05-03-2013, 11:01 PM   #7
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I understand the two strikes. Anything the Chinese make is usually cheap and worthless.
Both my father and I do not mind using a dolly, it basically boils down to price and long term investment. Another cart means registration yearly here in California, where a dolly need not be registered. I've rad that one if the first things to do with a dolly is replace tires and have them balanced prior to putting them on.
I've towed all kinds of trailers for over 20 years, drove tow trucks in that time as well. I've always been taught to keep your tow weight at least 1000 pounds below your max. Maybe that's just be over cautious, but if the hitch is rated at 5000k, I'm not sure I want to put more than 4100 or 4200 pounds on the MH hitch... My Jeeps curb weight is 3900 pounds. I have bigger tires, a lift and another 100-120 pounds in my tool box. I figure it probably weighs in around 4500 pounds. In my brain's tow guide, that's more than I should put on the MH. I know things change because it is rolling on its own tires, but I'm not sure how much that changes things... The dealer said we could tow 5000 pounds with it. But that goes against everything I've been taught...
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Old 05-03-2013, 11:25 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by RVNeophytes2 View Post
Dolly owners need to basically overhaul their dollies every two thousand miles; not terribly difficult, but it requires a shop, tools, expertise.
That's funny!!
I've towed with the some dolly for close to 20,000 miles and have never had to do much other than reconnect the wiring that pulled lose and replace a broken fender. This is a Demco KK-460
My original dolly was a cheap one built by a local utility trailer builder. I towed it even more miles but I did have to rebuild the brakes once due to overheating coming west ot of Jackson Hole.
Never even had a flat tire on either one.
I should add, our Odyssey is also set up to two four down. Tried towing it four down to Phoenix last year. New battery went dead three times, lots more rock chips, and tire wear. Ended up having to get an alignment and four new tires. Will not try towing the '05 Ody four down again!
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Old 05-03-2013, 11:50 PM   #9
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That's funny also! I tow several vehicles on a trailer and I can back around the block if I feel the need. And I am not wearing out the tires, bearings or drive train components of my toad. And with the two foot high rock guard n the front of the trailer the toad will stay like new. I would never buy any vehicle that had been pulled four down ,or on a dolly as that is a very hostile environment that they live in. They remind me of a bull being dragged around by a nose ring!
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Old 05-03-2013, 11:54 PM   #10
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That's funny!!
I've towed with the some dolly for close to 20,000 miles and have never had to do much other than reconnect the wiring that pulled lose and replace a broken fender. This is a Demco KK-460
My original dolly was a cheap one built by a local utility trailer builder. I towed it even more miles but I did have to rebuild the brakes once due to overheating coming west ot of Jackson Hole.
Never even had a flat tire on either one.
Thank you for your input Mr_D.
I've seen several dollies for sale on craigslist. A couple were in "almost" new condition, and one had only been used once since purchased this year. I have been trying to sick with a dolly that has brakes. I found a really nice one without brakes. But I think having them is a requirement...
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Old 05-04-2013, 12:03 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by ArmyVet717 View Post
Thank you for your input Mr_D.
I've seen several dollies for sale on craigslist. A couple were in "almost" new condition, and one had only been used once since purchased this year. I have been trying to sick with a dolly that has brakes. I found a really nice one without brakes. But I think having them is a requirement...
It is to me!!
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Old 05-04-2013, 12:10 AM   #12
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It is to me!!
Thank you again Mr_D.
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Old 05-04-2013, 01:33 AM   #13
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We're approaching 10,000 miles on our dolly and we bought it second hand.

Only issue we ever had was it threw a hubcap on one of the vault hubs. I blame that one on California roads...probably some of the worst in America. That's an easy fix with a new cap from Wal*Mart or a trip to a tire store or most any mechanic.

We use a dolly for many reasons...
~Save the miles on the driveline of our front wheel drive toad.
~Don't want to spend more money than the cost of our dolly to install the baseplate and braking system on just 1 car.
~Have needed to tow several different cars.
~Dolly lifts the front fo the car up to decrease the chance of rock hits on the toad.

Finally - I believe that my dolly wheels roll easier than the drive wheels of a toad in neutral to help the MPG.

My dolly weights only 400lb, so it is EZE-To move around.

Best of luck on your selection.
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Old 05-04-2013, 06:23 AM   #14
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My toad is a Wrangler. Before that a Saturn. Both superb 4-down.
I have few of the physical capabilities to set up a dolly. None of which are required for 4-down. No choice!
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