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Old 05-19-2013, 09:55 PM   #1
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Tow Dolly with manual FWD car

Going to be towing for the first time this weekend and just want to make sure I get it right... I'll be towing a FWD manual transmission VW Passat behind my 39 DP with an Acme EZ tow dolly trailer.

My 2 questions are:

1) should I tow in neutral or do I tow in gear?

2) do I need to have the key in the ignition?

I already know not to use the ARS system with the chains and have watched the YouTube video on how to load the car on the dolly. Any info on the above is appreciated.

Thanks
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Old 05-20-2013, 01:07 AM   #2
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#1. And I'm not positve on this ; but I think that being in gear would cause the engine to rock back and forth with any change in acceleration and braking of the M/H. Park in an auto trans , stops the drive shaft, but a manual trans in gear transmits any rotation of the tire to the engine .
In your case the tire is tied down , but the weight of the car can cause the trans to turn the engine slightly, possibly damaging the rings as they would be moving with no fresh oil, for lubrication.
#2. Do you have a steering wheel lock ? Do the dolly instructions say to tow with the steering unlocked?
If you have a steering wheel lock, and the instructions say to tow with the steering unlocked then you need the key in the ignition, turned so the steering is unlocked.If the key being on activates any of the car's systems you may have to disconnect the battery.
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Old 05-20-2013, 09:07 AM   #3
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Thank you Skip! ... I spoke with Acme this morning and they said:

#1) you can tow a manual FWD vehicle either in gear or in neutral... it's your preference... Really??? I would think there is ONE proper way... If you have an automatic transmission FWD vehicle, they said you should tow in Park, and not in neutral. In that case, there is ONE way... That would lead me to initially conclude that I should tow in gear... I feel like this would help reduce any chance of a catastrophic lung forward or fall off backward from or causing a strap failure...

#2) I was told that with regards to a locking steering column I could set the key to unlock the wheel and then pull the ignition fuse or disconnect the battery... I would think pulling the fuse is the easier and quicker way to stop the battery from dying.

If either of these findings are not the conventional wisdom, used out there or if you have been towing a certain way for thousands of miles with a similar vehicle, please let me know...

Thanks!
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Old 05-20-2013, 09:28 AM   #4
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Stevie, I can understand the lunge control but would still worry about the piston's slight movement.
If your just pulling fuses read your car owners manual carefully there may be a couple of fuses to pull , you'd hate to arrive with fault code in the ABS.
Travel Safe.
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Old 05-20-2013, 09:34 AM   #5
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Quote:
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Stevie, I can understand the lunge control but would still worry about the piston's slight movement.
If your just pulling fuses read your car owners manual carefully there may be a couple of fuses to pull , you'd hate to arrive with fault code in the ABS.
Travel Safe.
Skip, if I understand you correctly... if you were in my situation, you would most likely tow in neutral to avoid any internal engine damage and not be "as concerned" about the motion aspect if properly lashed down...
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Old 05-20-2013, 06:52 PM   #6
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I tow with my transmission in neutral. The engine rocking would be a big concern with me. Not really the piston movement but the valve train movement. The timing chains and or belts are sensitive to rocking and moving the in the opposite intended direction. Then you also have the constant hitting in the transmissions gear lash. It is always neutral for me.
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Old 05-20-2013, 07:15 PM   #7
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FWD on a dolly should always have the trans in Park for an auto. Depending on the dolly the wheels may need to pivot as you turn. A dolly with a pivoting pan or steering wheels the steering should be locked, on those that have no pivot on the dolly they should be allowed to turn.
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Old 05-20-2013, 08:09 PM   #8
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FWD on a dolly should always have the trans in Park for an auto. Depending on the dolly the wheels may need to pivot as you turn. A dolly with a pivoting pan or steering wheels the steering should be locked, on those that have no pivot on the dolly they should be allowed to turn.
His transmission is a manual transmission and not an auto trans.
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Old 05-21-2013, 07:18 PM   #9
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I was at the VW dealership today to get my 20k mile service. After a lot of thought... The service manager told me (most unsuredly) to tow in neutral... Geez! Then I broke out the manual. It says regardless of transmission type... not to tow over 30 mph or for more than 30 miles...
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Old 05-21-2013, 07:45 PM   #10
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I was at the VW dealership today to get my 20k mile service. After a lot of thought... The service manager told me (most unsuredly) to tow in neutral... Geez! Then I broke out the manual. It says regardless of transmission type... not to tow over 30 mph or for more than 30 miles...

was that for wrecker flat towing or was it in the recreational towing section. If it is FWD only, there should not be any issues with it being on a tow dolly with the drive wheels not moving.
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Old 05-21-2013, 08:05 PM   #11
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So does FWD stand for "Front Wheel Drive" or "Four Wheel Drive?" If its "front" then it doesnt seem to matter much what gear you put the tranny in, the rear wheels arent connected. If its "four," you need to make absolutely sure the car is towable. Dealer probably knows but I'd double up and call the VW tech center for full instruction on gears, steering, and fuses.
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Old 05-21-2013, 09:11 PM   #12
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So does FWD stand for "Front Wheel Drive" or "Four Wheel Drive?"
FWD = front wheel drive
4WD = 4 wheel drive

James, the Passat manual dedicates 1 page at the end of the book (page 360) to towing and doesn't differentiate between the two.

As far as the steering lock, I am able to turn the key to a position that keeps the wheel unlocked, the battery connected, and without the dash lights all on. It's a 1/4 turn. The manual says if you tow to make sure the electrical is not disconnected. I'll make sure to bring the jumper just in case... What a freakin PITA!!!!
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Old 06-11-2013, 09:35 PM   #13
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Tow Dolly and VW (Jetta in this case)

Hi;
I have a tow master dolly that I haul my VW Jetta on (front wheel drive). Manual transmission, etc. I have towed this rig 25,000 + miles back and forth across the country several times with no problems, except... on the front of the jetta is a spoiler that drags a little when I load/unload. I am just very careful to be on level ground when loading... the dolly wheel cradle pivots therefore I DO NOT leave the steering wheel unlocked nor to I leave it in neutral once loaded. I have not had any trouble with it rocking on the dolly because if you're securing it correctly it will not roll nor turn over the engine/move the pistons or any of that other crap noted by other authors replying to this post. Sheese..... you have to be kidding me. If the car is loose enough to roll in the wheel cradle while running down the road you're not securing the load correctly and it's not if but when it comes off the dolly while you're rolling down the road. Not the situation I want to be in rolling through Dallas on I-35 at 60 mph...

My procedure to load and secure is simple and after 3 plus years towing this way I think results speak volumes.
1. load the vehicle on the dolly and roll it on till the tires are touching the front of the cradle, then I set the e-brake.
2. I strap the vehicle to the dolly with one wheel, then release the e-brake
3. Strap the other wheel making sure the front of the tire is touching the front of the wheel cradle
4. re-tighten the first wheel strap to assure that the tire is touching the front of the wheel cradle.
5. then I move the whole rig a couple hundred (thousand, whatever is convenient) feet, stop and check the wheel straps, tighten straps if needed.
6 Haul 'a' to your next location.

I do check the straps each time I stop just because the last thing I want is that dang car coming off the dolly. My theory about leaving it in gear is it would be much harder for the car to roll off the dolly while running down the road if in gear if a strap were to give away.
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Old 06-11-2013, 09:41 PM   #14
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Quote:
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His transmission is a manual transmission and not an auto trans.
It would still be the same. In gear.
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