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Old 05-02-2010, 08:09 PM   #1
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Question Towing questions

I just stepped up from a travel trailer to a motorhome. Curious about towing. What are the advantages of 4 on the ground towing vs. using a car dolly? I was thinking a small stick shift car to tow without a dolly. Don't some states require a brake hookup for a 4 on the ground car? thanks

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Old 05-03-2010, 06:21 AM   #2
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G'morning ronswank:

Well, you're likely to get a broad variety of opinions. But, here's our opinion!

We've been "real" fulltimers since 05, living and traveling in our motorhome and towing (4 down) our 05 Honda Element. After observing probably ALL the various ways that folks in MHm's tow their 2nd vehicle, we're pretty convinced that obtaining one of the cars/trucks that CAN be toad without a trailer, or a dolly, or a flatbed, IS the most convenient way to go.

I've watched too many folks arriving at various campgrounds fussing around with sloppy/muddy tow dolly straps, and/or then find a place to store their trailer or dolly and in general (especially in bad weather or after dark) having a heck of a time crawling around just to get their towed vehicle ready to either use, or, if departing, to hit the road.

Are there disadvantages to towing 4 down? Yup, ya can't back up your MH w. a 4down toad attached, but in the 5+ years we've been travelin (including, Alaska, Florida, AZ, Canada, Maine, rocky mountain states, you name it!), I've only once, had to actually unhook our 4 down toad due to being in a spot I had to back out of,....and....that was cause I wasn't paying attention when I got into the situation.

Another consideration is also that when purchasing a vehicle to tow in a 4 down manner, there is a limited selection of vehicles that you can get where the manufacturer's warranty WILL still cover your vehicle when towed 4 down (ie., Jeeps, Honda CRV's, etc.)

Yet, for us, it's definitely the "4 down" way to go.

Now.....wait to read the the other opinions!! THEN...hit the road...it's GREAT out here
Steve & Lynette

2014 Newmar 3103 BAYSTAR/Triton V10 w. Banks/05 Honda Element toad
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Old 05-03-2010, 07:10 AM   #3
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4-down is simply more convenient. Easier to hook-up and nothing to store at the campsite. Whether that's a big deal or not depends on you, but I like 4-down.

A vehicle towed four-down does not fall under the same brake requirement rules as a trailer in most states, but laws vary considerably. Regardless, a towed car over about 1500-2000 lbs needs to have auxiliary brakes for common sense reasons. It's extra weight that needs to be stopped and having brakes of its own will always shorten the stopping distance of the coach. Don't leave home without them.
Gary Brinck
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Old 05-03-2010, 07:17 AM   #4
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The previous posts pretty well said it.
I tow a Jeep Grand Cherokee four down. As for states requiring towed braking, most state laws require brakes on trailers being towed. That is open to interpretation as to whether it applies to towed autos. In my opinion, it does. At any rate, for safety, you need a braking system on your towed.
Joe & Loretta Fischer
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Old 05-03-2010, 09:22 AM   #5
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We started out with a Honda Accord and tow dolly. Ended up with CRV 4 down. If you have more than one vehicle you want to tow then the dolly is good. I could back the dolly 30 ft easily, if I locked the swivel pad I could back up forever. 4 down is more convienent but more costly too. As for brakes, my insurance agent says I don't need them, but that is another "heated" topic. (I recommend brakes)

I never had too much problems with the dolly set up, the switch to CRV was more of a retirement decision. If you are buying a vehicle for the purpose of towing behind a MH, I would recommend 4 down.
Charlie & Sherrie
Southeast Texas
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Old 05-03-2010, 09:49 AM   #6
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I'm with the rest of the folks here. 4 down is the way to go! As to the comment about backing, I don't think it would be safe to back a Toad on a Tow Dolly either, and I sure would not want to attempt to just back up with just the tow dolly either, that thing could jack knife in a heatbeat. Having said that, I did actually back up one time with my 4 down toad, but it was in a straight line and only for about 100 feet when I got stuck in a gas station, and then I had three truckers helping me!

The advantage to 4 down towing is not having to fool with a tow dolly, which is just another thing to have to store, both at home and at the campground. Some campgrounds won't let you store your tow dolly at your site. Hook up is much quicker as well, I can have our toad connected, tested, and ready to roll in under 10 minutes. Brake requirements vary by state, in GA it's required is your toad weighs more than 3000 lbs, but in TN it's only 2000 lbs, so even though our 2500 lbs Honda Fit is legal to two without brake assist in GA, it's not in TN, and being as and travel north requires driving through TN, we have the Even Brake installed. Also, some states and Canada require brakes regardless of the toad weight.

Google the Dingy Guide for a list of 4 down compatible vehicles. That should give you a pretty good idea of what you'll have to choose from. The cost of a good quality Tow Dolly is about the same as the cost of the required hardware and installation of the Tow Bar for 4 down towing, but the convienence of the 4 down far surpassed that of the Tow Dolly, IMO!
Paul, Sylvia, & Kacey (The Problemanian) - Powder Springs, GA
2009 Tiffin Allegro Bus 40QRP
Toad: 2012 Jeep Wrangler Sport
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Old 05-03-2010, 04:52 PM   #7
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Hi ronswank,
Welcome to iRV2. I tow both ways (not at the same time). The car we need for the trip determines if we go 4 down or the dolly. I have a Demco Car Caddy SS (the one that folds up to a small foot print). I have never had to store the dolly off of my camp site. When making reservations, I make sure they know I have a dolly and expect to keep it at my site. The tasks are different for 4 down vs dolly. But they are tasks that need to be completed. I will continue to tow with both methods. This allows me to purchase vehicles that meet my requirements when the vehicle is used solo.
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Old 05-03-2010, 06:33 PM   #8
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Welcome aboard. States have various weight limits on unbraked trailers or towed loads) from 1500 to 3500#. The gas motorhome chassis generally stated that any towed load over 1500# should have axillary brakes. Personally, with the cost of a motorhome and dinghy, I would spring for the few dollars to do it right. The brakes on the dinghy may only stop you a foot or tow shorter, but that foot may be the difference between stopping and an accident.

We have towed both 4 down and on a dolly. A dolly is a bit more trouble and you may have to unhook it and push it by hand to the rear of a site. But with a dolly, you are not limited to one vehicle to tow due to the tow brackets and brakes.

Having had both, I'd go back to a dolly with surge brakes for the simplicity and not being tied to one tow vehicle.

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Old 05-03-2010, 07:46 PM   #9
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thanks for the info. i was considering a ford ranger standard shift for towing 4 down
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Old 05-03-2010, 07:49 PM   #10
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thanks for the input
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Old 05-04-2010, 10:10 PM   #11
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Thanks for the feedback. I am leaning toward the tow dolly so as to have the flexibility to use different vehciles in the future. Do you know anyone that has tried the light weight Acme trailer featured on the pop up banner? I am only going to be towing a small compact like a Chevy Cobalt.
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Old 05-13-2010, 08:54 PM   #12
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Lots of good info Thanks two questions. Dose the odmeter continue to turn while the toad is being towed 4 down. And is there a cost difference between the dolly and 4 down while towing? Thanks in advance?
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Old 05-14-2010, 01:54 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by ronswank View Post
Thanks for the feedback. I am leaning toward the tow dolly so as to have the flexibility to use different vehciles in the future. Do you know anyone that has tried the light weight Acme trailer featured on the pop up banner? I am only going to be towing a small compact like a Chevy Cobalt.
i see that the acme has 10'' wheels, kinda small. they are gonna turn really fast.
my stehl dolly has 13'' wheels with 8 ply, 65 psi tires. i would rather have 14'' wheels with 8 ply tires.
01 WINNEBAGO 35U W20.8.1L SW Wa, Hi. Good Sam, SKP. AMSOIL fluids. BANKS ecm program. SCAN GAUGE II w/ Ally temp. 2 LIFELINE GPL-6CT AGM Batts on their sides. TST tptts. K&N panel air filter. AERO mufflers. TAYLOR plug wires. ULTRA POWER track bar. KONI fsd shocks, toad '14 smart car
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Old 05-14-2010, 10:25 AM   #14
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tow dolly

I appreciate everyone's good input. After going to look at a tow dolly closely, I realized all the hooking and unhooking, etc reminded me of why i upgraded to a class A from a travel trailer. Looks like I will go with 4 down and buy a car that will tow that way. Anyone had experience with the ReadyBrake? I like the way it is made and the way it functions. thanks

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