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Old 08-12-2012, 05:38 PM   #1
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Towing a car

We are pretty new to RVing with a 30' Coachman Freelander. Have taken a couple of 1 week trips, staying in our state. So far we have taken our mtn. bikes to get around, but it is limiting. We want to be able to have a bit more freedom and tow a car.
What is the best towing system - tow dolly or tow bar? Which is better for rocks hitting car, getting in and out of RV parks, gas milage, wear and tear on the car etc.

Would love to hear what you do.

Thanks
UncleSam
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Old 08-12-2012, 06:40 PM   #2
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I choose to tow a lightweight Chevy HHR with my 29 ft Jayco because I could tow 4 down and not need a dolly. I bought the fuse bypass switch, Roadmaster all terrain tow bars, and Roadmaster even brake system. We tried the first year without, and it was awkward. We also did the Enterprise rent a car after we parked somewhere, which sorta worked, but was a hassle. So we found a clean used low mileage HHR that only affects gas mileage about 1 mpg unless in mountains.
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Old 08-12-2012, 08:56 PM   #3
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We have towed 4-down as well as with a dolly. Personally if we were to go back to a motorhome, I would go with a good dolly with electric brakes. This gives you the benefit to be able to tow various cars. When you trade cars you do not have to deal with the expense of setting up a new car with the brackets and brakes.

But you do have to deal with the storage of the dolly and some states require a dolly be licensed.

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Old 08-12-2012, 09:20 PM   #4
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We tow four down. A Honda CR-V which is a great tow vehicle and a really good car.

The most used is 4 down towing; must be some reason? I believe it is the easiest even though each time that is said someone comes along and tells the world record time they can hook up their dolly. A dolly is a third vehicle so that is a consideration but some people like dollies as much as I like towing 4 down.

A lot has to do with economics. IF you already have a car that you want to tow and it is not towable 4 down then going with a dolly might make the best choice.

The popular 4 down tows are the HHR, the Honda CR-V and the Jeep Wrangler, I think Chevy Malibus are towable 4 down as well, and the Colorado Chevy truck. These are the ones I see the most. these are fairly light vehicles, if you want some heft then the Buick Enclave is popular.

MAke sure your hitch can take what ever weight you intend to tow. And then you must set up your vehicle with baseplate and tow bar and brakes for four down. You can find good used equipment but it cost a fair amount to get set up regardlass of how you go.

At any rate if you get a car for four down towing make sure it is capable. IF you search the threads you can find websites that give the information or check the owners manual for specific reference for towing.

No matter what you tow it will get some road wear from the experience. There are a number of protective covers, and screens etc to consider. We think they are more trouble so we just tow. We had the front of the CR-V repainted once, not two expensive and restored it's looks.
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Old 08-13-2012, 12:20 AM   #5
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We towed a '95 Odyssey on a dolly with our '97 Type C MH. Not much of a problem although I did burn the brakes out on the dolly on a long 10% grade out of Jackson Hole.
Personally I prefer on a dolly. Less chance of damage to the paint and I can tow pretty much any front wheel drive vehicle. Now towing a '05 Ody on a KK-460 dolly.
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Old 08-14-2012, 07:21 PM   #6
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towed with a dollie about 5000 miles altogether sold dollie will go four down with our hhr couldn't use back in spots with out unhooking and was a bit of a pain to get the straps right due to low ground clearance.
sold the dollie and will use the money to buy towing gear
just my experience
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Old 08-14-2012, 07:37 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr_D View Post
We towed a '95 Odyssey on a dolly with our '97 Type C MH. Not much of a problem although I did burn the brakes out on the dolly on a long 10% grade out of Jackson Hole.
Personally I prefer on a dolly. Less chance of damage to the paint and I can tow pretty much any front wheel drive vehicle. Now towing a '05 Ody on a KK-460 dolly.
Guess I should add that I'm probably one of the few that has towed the same vehicle both four down and on a dolly with the same MH and went back to the dolly.
Last time I went four down it drained the battery (new battery one week before we left) almost daily even though I started and ran it, more rock chips and had to have the Ody realigned when we got back (thanks CA roads!).
However I did keep the towbar and will take the break away unit out of the Ody since I think we'll get a CR-V or another Jeep later on.
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Old 08-14-2012, 07:48 PM   #8
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Tow dollies are an evil invention. Too much work loading and unloading. I can set up my Blue Ox towbar and Brakebuddy system in less than 5 minutes, without having to crawl under the car to attach tow dolly safety chains. If you are just starting out and have a choice, go with 4 down absolutely.
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Old 08-14-2012, 08:14 PM   #9
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A dolly is safe and easy to use.
Most all new front wheel drive cars/SUVs work on a dolly.
And, there are many different types from $1600 to over $6000. It's all in what you want.

Pros for the Dolly are:
No miles on the driveline of the Toad.
No modification to the Toad.
Elevated Toad front end = less contact w/ road debris.
Easy to change Toads anytime you want (no relocating the towing equipment).
Price point (but you can spend more on a dolly if you want)

There is the issue of where to put the dolly when parked. But it's easy to just roll the dolly under the RV's rear end...or since they are pretty short, just leave it attached to the RV. Also, I have a hitch receiver on my SUV Toad, so it can be hitched/locked to the Toad, towed just like a tiny trailer, and parked anywhere the Toad goes.

This is opposed to 4 down - where you have to pick a car that can be flat towed without damage to the driveline, you have to accept the miles being placed on the Toad's driveline, and you must buy and mount the towbar and (should have a) brake system in the toad.

But just like a dolly, backing-up with a flat tow is an adventure that is best kept to short distances.

Here's a LONG and informative thread on the topic:
Need info on car dollys before I buy

I use a dolly for the reasons above and in my opinion the best dolly for cost, ease of use, and customer service is the EZE-tow:
See it here: Car Tow Dolly -The Lightest and Toughest Tow Dolly For All Car Towing Needs - Acme Car Tow Dolly Company

BEST OF LUCK!
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Old 08-14-2012, 08:23 PM   #10
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Smart buyer

Now that I made my Dolly pitch...here's an idea...

Why not run a test before buying anything?

Just go to U-haul and rent one of their dolly's to see if Dolly towing will work for you and the car you own/want to tow now.

It's cheaper than buying all the stuff to flat tow your car and if you don't like it - no problem, U-Haul will want the dolly back.

I did this 2 times plus I borrowed a Master-tow from a friend...I made my decision slowly.

As a side note...the U-Haul dolly's might not have brakes, and THEY ARE HEAVY (to live through all the rental abuse). These are things you can mitigate if/when you buy a dolly.

Best of luck!
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Old 08-14-2012, 08:38 PM   #11
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I did the u-haul thing and just bought an American Car Dolly. Like the EZ-tow, it has detachable ramps. If you have detachable ramps, it's pretty easy to make a couple of attachments that hang off the back of the unit, which can then be pivoted vertically against a fence or wall and out of the way, without goobering up the fenders.

I'll be welding some up in the next few weeks and post pics.
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Old 08-14-2012, 09:49 PM   #12
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I towed with a dolly for 10 years and then went 4 down witha PT Cruiser and a Remco lube pump. I sold the dolly and the fellow who bought it offered it back to me free. When our daughter was along it was OK to load a car on a dolly. Just the DW & I and it was most of the morning before we would speak again. It takes us about 2 minutes to hook up or unhook the car now. On a dolly it was at least 15 minutes and it always seemed to rain. I would need a shower many times after getting down and hooking up the straps on the dolly. I will go without a car before going back to a dolly.
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Old 08-20-2012, 03:17 PM   #13
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I just finished a 12,000 trip from Florida to Sitka Ak. Towing af Ford Fiesta on a dolly Think God the towing was one way. Sold the dolly in Sitka after dropping off my daughters car. Will never use a dolly, will flat tow next time. Getting the straps tight was a beast. Taking the car off was not bad but putting it on was a PAIN.
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Old 08-20-2012, 03:31 PM   #14
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I used a Demco Kar Katty tow dolly for over 25 years. During those many years and 4 motorhomes we had numerous cars available for tow. We sometimes took the stationwagon, sometimes a smaller car, we once towed a Van (way overweight, but it was a short 120 mile level trip each way). Only once did a park ask that the dolly be stored off site, and then they offered a small tractor to take it to storage and return it later. Never had a problem at a campsite with the dolly, it would either detach and slide partway under the rear of the MH or we would unhook and push it into the site before we parked.
With out latest MH, and as we have aged, we find it easier on the back and knees to tow our Saturn 4 down.
As for the feel on the road...it's the same, it just follows you around, and you have to watch your rear on turns as the tow may track just a little wider than the rear of the MH.
Happy Trails.
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