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Old 02-16-2014, 05:53 PM   #1
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Near Austin, TX
Posts: 42
Tow dolly / steering wheeel questions

Used a tow dolly (uHaul, with a pivot plate) for the first time the other day, just to see what using a dolly is like, as we're trying to decide on a towed vehicle, can we use what we have or should we get one that can be towed 4-flat, etc. (We have a 2003 Lexus RX300 FWD, which cannot be towed 4-flat.)

We went to a nearby state park, 30 or so miles away, since this was also our shakedown cruise for the MH, as we've never had one one of those before. Hooking up and unhooking turned out to be a lot easier than I was afraid it might be. As per the instructions on the dolly, I left the car in Park. When we got to the state park and unloaded, the wheels were still straight. When we got back to the house yesterday, though, the wheels were locked, slightly turned.

I went out to the car today to test it, and realized that the steering wheel will turn about half of a rotation to either the left or the right before it locks. It apparently will not lock in a straight-ahead position. I have some concern that pulling the dolly with the toad's wheels slightly turned could have an adverse effect on either the tracking of the dolly or on the tires of the toad itself. Do I have reason to be concerned about that? (At the least, I wonder if that doesn't make the unit slightly wider than it should be when going straight, as the car itself is perhaps at a bit of an angle?)

Seems I've heard about leaving the key on Accessory so the steering wheel won't lock, but Accessory brings up the information screen at a minimum, and I don't know what else. I'm concerned about battery drain, especially on a multi-hour trip, which will be our next step. Is there a fuse(s) that need to be pulled, or would stopping periodically and running the car for a few minutes give sufficient recharge to the battery? I imagine one of the last things I'd want to do is arrive at a CG with a dead-battery toad!

Thanks for y'all's words of wisdom!


Larry & Nancy
2016 Itasca Sunstar LX 35F
2000 Saturn LW2 station wagon
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Old 02-16-2014, 06:33 PM   #2
Winnebago Owners Club
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Mansfield, La. 71052
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The wheel being slightly turned on the toad will make no difference whatsoever. The car will still pull straight, even if the front wheels were at max angle. The distance from front to rear tire does not change, so the distance from dolly wheel to rear tire will not change. It only looks better and makes it easier to hook up if the tires are straight. Pull on brother, no worry there.

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Old 02-16-2014, 06:43 PM   #3
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Leaving the steering unlocked is only needed with dolly's that have a fixed tray. This kind of dolly is hard to miss with no parts that turn or twist. No steering in the dolly wheels and no pan for the tires that twists on a center pin.

All U-Haul dolly's have a pivot pan, and U-Haul directs the steering to be locked or tied to keep the steering fixed.
See the last line under loading here:
U-Haul: Tips: Tow Dolly User Instructions
I very much doubt that having the tires one half turn off center would make much difference, but if you are worried, you could wrap a seat belt around the steering wheel.

You are very smart to test dolly towing...and I am not surprised at all that you found it easy to do.

Best luck
Kim and Steve, Mustang LCDR (USCG Ret), Outlaw #1193
"I have seen gross intolerance shown in support of tolerance", S.Coleridge 1797
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Old 02-17-2014, 02:42 PM   #4
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Near Austin, TX
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Use seatbelt??

Originally Posted by Scarab0088 View Post
I very much doubt that having the tires one half turn off center would make much difference, but if you are worried, you could wrap a seat belt around the steering wheel.
Went out today and tried out the seatbelt idea. I do believe that will work! It certainly limits the left/right capability.

Thanks so much!
Larry & Nancy
2016 Itasca Sunstar LX 35F
2000 Saturn LW2 station wagon
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Old 02-17-2014, 03:17 PM   #5
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I was told you should not lock it on a dolly but this does depend on the dolly.

Dolly tow you have to strap it down and check it often, You have to do something with the dolly when you camp

4-Down with a good "Stows on the motor home" tow bar SUCH AS ones made by, nearly every company that makes tow bars.

Stowing the tow system is easy (You just fold it up) it's easy to hook up, you save around a kilopound (Important if you have a gas powered motor home with limited tow rating) and it is easier to hook up.

Watch some campers hooking up a 4-down a few times to see how easy it can be.

Costs, Same range for some cars

NOTE: Not all cars can be towed 4-down See following.

Some can be towed 4 down with nothing more than a set of baseplates added. Some you need to modify.

Remco towing has a web page that tells you about YOUR car and towing.
Home is where I park it!
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Old 02-18-2014, 09:11 AM   #6
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We tow using a tow dolly a lot going and selling at a wholesale auto auction and have found out the wheels need to be straight and locked ( our tow dollys do pivot) or the straps will try to rool off the wheels, we also start the engine and let it idle on rear wheel auto trans. If your transmission pump pumps fluid at idle then it makes sence to me that leting the engine idle is a simple and cheap way to lube the trans, check with a good trans mechanic to see if the pump lubes the trans at idle.

Walt & Will
2000 Dynasty
2017 Ram Big Horn Crew C 4X4 w/ M&G
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dolly, steering, tow dolly

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